Full peal, St Mary Magdalene

A team of bell ringers successfully rang a full peal at St Mary Magdalene Church on Sunday 2 June, lasting 2 hours and 45 minutes and covering 31 different ‘methods’, which are effectively ‘tunes’ that the ringers learn, with the bells striking in different orders.

Conducted by Paul Mason, who is Tower Captain at Raunds, the team also Included Richard Allton (Thrapston), Paul McNutt (Hillmorton), Nich Wilson (Maidwell) and Nick Churchman from Rothwell, who is also one of the tutors for the Cottingham and Middleton team.

This intrepid group have challenged themselves to ring a peal at all the 5-bell towers (i.e. towers with 5 bells) in the Peterborough Diocese, during this, its centenary year. These 5-bell towers are not rung so often, and the last time a full peal was rung at St Mary Magdalene Church was on 29 May 2017, which is 7 years ago, almost to the day!

Both peals are recorded for posterity on the national Bellboard website, which you can view by clicking on the buttons below.

What is a full peal?

When rung on 7 bells, a peal is a non-stop sequence of a minimum of 5,000 changes, where each sequence is different and cannot be repeated. On 5 bells, which is what we have at Cottingham, the maximum number of permutations (different orders) is 120, so there is some duplication in the sequences, but the bells are still rung for around three hours to make the full peal. It is the bell ringers’ equivalent of a marathon, requiring concentration and stamina to complete.