In this paper, I present a summary of my research on a topic that has interested me for several years, namely all the rings of bells that could have existed in North America, but were never actually installed in a tower. I feel a certain deference in setting myself up as an expert on this topic: after all, the NAGCR is less than fifty years old, and some of my readers will remember, or even have been involved with, the efforts that I’m going to describe. If that’s true of you, then I will ask your forbearance for anything I’ve misunderstood, and will suggest that you treat this as a combination of a trip down memory lane and a request for more and better information on the proposals that I shall describe. For those who, like me, approach this topic without much knowledge of what came before us, I hope that you find the topic as fascinating as I have. And I hope that everyone will be given the opportunity to think about how we might encourage the installation of new rings in the future, and what insights past experience can bring to that interesting question.
In what follows, my main source will be the pages of The Clapper, which for those new to ringing is the quarterly magazine of the North American Guild of Change Ringers. I have, at this point, read (or rather skimmed) through very nearly the entire run of that publication. Some additional information has been drawn from personal conversations, Guild publications such as There Was Life Before NAG, and miscellaneous internet research; but the Clapper remains the source for most of the instances that I’m going to describe.[i]
Proposals for rings of bells in North America, of course, go back a long way: they predate not only the foundation of the NAGCR, but that of Canada and the United States. As early as 1685, the vestry of Bruton Parish in Virginia (whose main settlement was renamed Williamsburg a few years later) considered “a proposition to the Vestry, concerning a steeple and a Ring of Bells” for their newly-constructed church.[ii] Several members of the vestry were asked to look into getting an estimate for costs and to start soliciting donations – in very much the same way as we might today. Sadly, nothing came of their efforts. Instead, their building was replaced by the current church, built between 1711 and 1715. The new church does indeed have a tower, but it has only a single Whitechapel bell, inscribed “The Gift of James Tarpley to Bruton Parish, 1761.” Other more recent examples could probably be found: I happen to know, for example, that at the start of the twentieth century there was an almost-successful attempt to install bells in the Customs House Tower in Boston.[iii] But the frequency of proposals for new rings naturally increased with the founding of the North American Guild of Change Ringers.
The Guild’s second annual general meeting, in 1973, sought to establish priorities for the newly-formed organization; and prominent among these were “Opening silent towers” and “Rapid increase in installing new rings of bells.” By the following year, they were able to celebrate the first installation of bells in New Castle, Delaware and the restarting of ringing at the Church of the Advent in Boston; but members had also collected information on other possibilities. Bill Theobald of Whitechapel had inspected the bells of St. Patrick’s Montreal, and “calculated that $75,000 [about $440,000 in 2020] might have to be spent to make the bells ringable again”.[iv] The 1974 AGM also discussed the imminent restoration of the bells at Old North, Boston, and a proposal to install bells at the University of Washington. The Montreal bells, sadly, have never been restored; Old North was made ringable a year or two later; and of course Seattle did get bells, although not until more than thirty years after this! Finally, there were other proposals whose details are now obscure. “There has been some correspondence,” the meeting noted, “about getting a ring of bells for Stoneybrook, Long Island, NY. Negotiations are proceeding with the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.” Another possibility was obscure even at the time. “There are rumors that bells are to be hung somewhere in Miami, OH, but no one at the meeting could substantiate this.”[v]
The early years of the NAG also illustrate what would be a recurring theme: that it is and was often difficult to tell which proposals would succeed. For example, the 1978 AGM reported a proposal to rehang and augment three Taylor bells at the Church of the Ascension Montgomery Alabama, hung dead, to a 6. This idea, incidentally, not only failed to go anywhere but was probably doomed from the start: it’s a lantern tower whose windows look down over the center of the church, so it would have been an unmanageably long draught. In addition, I am not certain whether there was really space in the tower to rehang bells for change ringing. The same report also brought up the possibility of restoring the unringable eight at Christ Church Philadelphia—a rather more feasibly idea that has tragically never been put into practice. But it also mentioned possible future towers at St. Michael’s, Charleston, St. Martin’s, Philadelphia, and “a cathedral in Little Rock.” There was no expectation that the augmentation in Montgomery would go nowhere, or that Little Rock’s bells would become a reality.
The ’80s and ’90s were years of growth for the NAG: by my count nineteen rings of bells, from Toronto to Honolulu, were restored or cast, doubling the number of towers in North America. But that total was equaled by the number of other proposals that either never panned out, or that were fulfilled only much later. In some case, admittedly, I’m not even sure whether I shall call these “proposals.” For example, Alan Ellis published a list of all the bells that he knew of in North America in 1985. (Readers should recall that this was before the internet, so I don’t believe any similar guide existed at the time.) It included some towers that were clearly candidates for restoration or conversion to change ringing, such as the former ring at Trinity Church, Woodlands, Texas;[vi] but it also had tubular carillons, tubular bells, and other more obscure bell collections. Likewise, the Clapper mentioned various facetious plans (Aruba, or the Clinton Presidential Library.) But the remainder are fascinating.
What’s particularly fascinating is not merely the number, but the variety of proposals. The majority of North American rings were and are in Anglican churches; but the ‘80s and ‘90s witnessed proposals for towers at colleges in Montreal, Indiana, and Boston, for a memorial tower in Wisconsin, and for Unitarian, Catholic, and Presbyterian churches. (At least two of each of these last, incidentally.) The nature of the projects was equally varied. Some would have involved rehanging existing bells: First Presbyterian Church in Haddonfield, NJ, considered augmenting and presumably rehanging its four bells for changes in 1991. One could also mention Oakville, Ontario, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and probably others for which the details are now obscure, at least to me. Other proposals involved installing bells in an existing tower: alongside the carillon at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver, for example, or under the three steel bells of St. Luke’s in St. Louis. And still others would have called for building a totally new tower, as at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. Finally, in at least one case (in El Dorado, Arkansas), they already had a bell instrument (tubular bells, in this case), but were sensible enough to want to replace it and start change ringing. Sadly, that dream was never realized.
[Editor's Note: According to another member, Carl Zimmerman, there is no "St. Luke's" church in Saint Louis. He reports: "[t]he Episcopal cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, has a splendid Gothic bell tower with an octagonal belfry containing three very large German-made steel bells. While there is certainly enough space in the tower for a ringing room, the location is somewhat problematic, as the St.Louis Public Library is directly across the street in one direction and a tall building is directly across the street in another direction. I am not aware of any local discussion of the possibility of changes there. However, a few miles to the west, University United Methodist Church in University City was once the home of a serious proposal for installation of an octave of bells. About ten or 15 years ago, it reached the point of having the existing tower inspected by someone from Taylor, who apparently judged that it would be quite suitable. But then the person who was the driving force behind the proposal was transferred elsewhere, and the project collapsed."]
Geographically, the new proposals were equally various. There were plans for towers in five Canadian provinces and fifteen U.S. states. They spanned the continent from Montreal to Pasadena and from northern British Columbia to Virginia. Ringers hoped for additional towers for their local area (there were a couple of proposals for new rings in Boston, for example), or for a tower where there was an active handbell group but no tower bells (Colorado and Minneapolis). Still others held out the hope of expanding North American ringing to completely new areas: Kentucky, Missouri, California, Saskatchewan. (See Maps)
In some cases, the impetus came from ringers: Alice Shurcliffe sought to get bells installed at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, for example, and Roland Perschon personally bought the ring for the memorial tower in Pewaukee. But frequently it was the other way around: a church reaching out to the NAGCR for advice. Churches in Austin and Arlington, Texas reached out to the Houston ringers for advice on rings in the 1980s. The First Unitarian Church in Louisville Church burned in 1985; in the aftermath, church members contacted the NAG about the possibility of getting a light ring. The same (barring, of course, the fire) was true of churches in Edmonton (1992-3), Prince Rupert, BC (c. 1996) and Minneapolis (1998-9).
Looking through my lists of proposed towers from this period, three ringers’ names stand out. Alan Ellis of British Columbia has already been mentioned; in his term as President of the NAG (1992-3), he “pointed out that there are several new rings progressing, including Edmonton, Toronto, Atlanta, Berkeley, and a second tower in Charleston.” Toronto and Atlanta, of course now have bells, whereas I’m not even sure what institution in Berkeley California was interested in bells. Laith Reynolds, now a Nonresident Life Member, also shared my interest in possible new rings, and at various points in the 1990s proposed (or listed others’ proposals) for new rings in Hawaii, Montreal, Pasadena, Vancouver, St. Louis, and at Grace Church Cathedral, San Francisco. But above all, the name of Geoff Davies (of Boston) stands out. In a memorable speech to the 1981 AGM he laid out what he hoped the future would hold, and it included new towers for Richmond, VA, Montreal, QC, and Muncie, IN.[vii] He had been and was also, of course, the prime mover behind the restoration of the bells at Christ Church and the Church of the Advent in Boston. And in the 1990s, he was hoping for still greater things: a 30 cwt. ring of twelve, to be installed in Gasson Hall at Boston College. “The tower,” he noted, “has been inspected and is considered suitable;” he’d planned out the ring; but sadly, he couldn’t talk the College into it.
Some readers are probably now wondering whether that was the largest ring ever seriously proposed but not installed in North America. The answer is, Probably Not. From about 1980 onwards, there were hopes that the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City would install a ring of bells. At the time, the bells were a proposed fundraising goal for the cathedral, which (in the medieval tradition) is even now still under construction, 125 years after work began. The 1980 AGM went so far as to appoint an advisory committee to provide consultatation, advice, and encouragement to the cathedral. As to the bells themselves, I can’t find any record of the proposed tenor weight, but the plan was for a ring of twelve plus an extra treble or flat sixth, and the estimated cost was $250,000: about $783,000 in today’s currency. Unless my understanding of the cost of bells and their installation is seriously flawed, that implies a ring of at least 33 cwt., possibly a great deal more: heavier, in any case, than any ring currently in North America.
On a somewhat more gloomy note, I would like to address another superlative: that of the attempts to get a tower that most nearly succeeded. That title must surely be borne by what are sometimes known as the Perschon bells. Roland Perschon ordered this 10 cwt. ring of eight from Whitechapel in 1996, for a memorial tower in his hometown of Pewaukee, WI—a tower that was ultimately never built. In 2016, after that plan had fallen through, he donated the bells to Nashotah House, an Episcopalian seminary in the same area, which had undertaken to build a tower. Sadly, financial and construction difficulties subsequently led that project to be put on hold, and my understanding is that it has now been cancelled altogether. What makes this example particularly tragic is that there was, for several years, a Pewaukee band in training, making regular trips to Chicago (and occasional visits to Kalamazoo) in order to learn how to ring tower bells. A somewhat similar process took place in the case of Christ Church, Edmonton, Alberta. The church looked into acquiring bells in 1992-3, hoping to start with a ring of four or five before augmenting to eight. During those years, several parishioners attended NAGCR ringing courses and were very interested in the art, but they were never able to practice it in their own parish.
2000 to the Present
I wrote earlier in this paper that the 1980s and 90s were a period of tremendous growth in the number of towers in North America. That is true; but as many of you know they were in some respects surpassed by the 2000s. In that period (2000-2009) sixteen new tower rings were installed, and at least two minirings were also acquired. These represent, of course, only a portion of the rings that were proposed during that period; but either because their authors had better luck (or more money), or more realistic expectations, the success rate was much higher than in previous or subsequent years. And for many of the remainder, we are faced with something of a semiotic quandary: should we describe them as unsuccessful proposals, or merely as not yet having succeeded?
There were, of course, also some proposals that one can only categorize as unsuccessful. At Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, the building of a new tower (for an elevator) in 2000 led to hopes that the cathedral might also install a light ring, much as happened at Smith thirty years earlier; but after one mention in the Clapper, nothing else is heard of it. At another Christ Church (La Crosse, Wisconsin), there was interest on the part of both the rector and a local handbell choir in getting change ringing bells for one of the church’s three towers; but in 2002, the Minneapolis NAG members noted that “the recent departure of Rev. John Klein, who was very supportive, and other major expenditures have now put the project at a low priority.” In Victoria, local ringers bought a chime for a redundant church in 2013 and planned to convert it to a ring of eight, but were unable to find it a home locally: the bells are now destined for shipment to Australia, to be hung as a chime in a cathedral in Bunbury.[viii] Finally, at yet a third Christ Church (in Rochester, NY), local ringers spent nearly ten years raising funds for a ring, only to have the vestry do a sudden about-turn and reject the idea. This story, at least, had a happy ending: The Church of the Ascension ultimately proved more receptive to the notion, and hence now possesses a ring of ten!
In other cases, I’m less sure of how to describe the outcome. Starting as early as the 1990s, local ringers hoped to get a tower in the Portland, Oregon area; their efforts ultimately centered on the First Unitarian Church in that city. Structural modifications to one of its two towers to allow the installation of a bell frame were completed c. 2010. However, the church then embarked on a major rebuilding project, leaving it (for the moment) without the funds for bells.[ix] Should one describe this as a failed proposal, or one that has simply been delayed? Likewise, in 2006 and 2007 it was confidently expected that the Charleston area would get its fifth ring of bells in the near future, but I can’t immediately find any information on what became of that project. Did it fall victim to church politics, unpleasant discoveries regarding the structural integrity of the tower, or shortage of funds? Or was it merely put on hold indefinitely?
Still more inscrutable is the case of Pauli Murray College at Yale University. Here, when the new residential college was designed (c. 2011), the plans included a belltower, which in turn had what appeared to be a ringing room, complete with rope circle. However, no bells have been installed since the college’s completion in 2017. Yale had apparently planned to commission bells from Whitechapel, so the foundry’s going out of business may have something to do with this; but on the other hand, Taylor’s built and regularly inspects Yale’s carillon, and it is hard to imagine that they would have forgone the opportunity to offer their services for a new ring. Did the Yale administration have second thoughts about the costs, or about the potential for noise complaints? Or are they merely waiting for a donor to appear?
I would like to close out this section – but not this paper as a whole – by giving a précis of the current state of various bell tower projects around North America. I feel that this is particularly important at this moment, since the relevant page of the NAGCR.org website is regrettably out of date, and a new page on Proposed Rings won’t be included in the initial release of the new version of the site. For completeness sake, therefore, I now present a list:
* Pewaukee, WI: Postponed indefinitely due to lack of funds (see above)
* Portland, OR: Postponed indefinitely due to lack of funds (see above)
* New Haven, CT (Yale): Status unclear.
* Austin, TX: Rosemary Cole attempted to persuade St. David’s Church, which was undertaking a major expansion project at the time (2018), to include a bell tower in their designs. Unfortunately, they were ultimately not interested. She more recently also approached All Saints’ Church in the same city: she hasn’t received a definite answer from them, but thinks this is likely a sign that they’re not interested either. This is particularly regrettable because Austin, from my second-hand understanding, seems like a city where bellringing could flourish.[x]
* Poughkeepsie, NY (Christ Episcopal Church): At the 2020 AGM, Chris Colon reported that there had been a proposal to transfer the currently unringable bells of the former Melrose School to this church. The nuns of the Community of the Holy Spirit were receptive to the idea, but the church, after initially expressing interest, declined the offer.
* Lebanon, PA (St. Luke’s Episcopal Church): I’m not certain whether or not this should even be listed as a Proposed Tower, but since I mentioned it in that light in the Summer 2020 issue of The Clapper, I felt that I should bring you up to date on my “project”. I was able to get in touch with Taylor’s of Loughborough, who cast the bells there. They confirmed that yes, it would be possible to rehang them for change ringing. However, they also recommended replacing at least some of the front four, since (as I believe is not uncommon with chimes) the higher bells are disproportionately light in comparison with the back four, which would make ringing all of them together somewhat challenging. (The “tenor” of the chime weighs about 8 ½ cwt., so much the same weight as Smith or Calgary; but the “trebles” are each only about 1 ½ cwt: half the weight of their counterparts in Northampton.)
Even apart from the possibility of buying additional bells, however, I hadn’t fully appreciated the costs involved with demolition, putting in a new bell frame, and rehanging. These (according to a couple of estimates that bellhangers were kind enough to give me) would probably bring the total cost to $100,000 or more – that is, around the cost of a new ring. That would be rather a lot for either the NAGCR or a church with no local bellringing tradition to raise; and so I’ve reluctantly had to agree that this project isn’t worth pursuing. It can, if you like, be added to my catalogue of Unsuccessful Proposals.
I hate to end this section of my paper on such a low note: fortunately, I don’t have to.
* Ruther Glen, VA (Sunderlin Foundry): Expected c. 2022. (See previous issue of The Clapper)
* Others: One or two NAGCR members are currently working on efforts to get bells installed in new areas that I haven’t mentioned, but since these projects are still in their very early stages, they’ve asked that I not publicize them.
Having surveyed the history of tower proposals in North America, one question inevitably comes to mind: what causes some tower projects to succeed, and others to wind up in this paper? I fear that I do not have a single, definite answer to that question; indeed, I’m far from certain that I’m even qualified to give an answer of any sort. I’ve only been ringing for about five years, and I’ve been fortunate in that my ringing experience has all been in places where ringing is flourishing. I haven’t been around to watch a bell tower project fail: I can only catch glimpses through the pages of the Clapper. And sometimes those glimpses don’t afford any information on what went awry: a proposed tower is mentioned, and then nothing is heard on the subject again.
The causes for why tower proposals fail, moreover, seem to vary considerably. It might be tempting to imagine that when local bellringers try to talk a church or other institution into getting bells, their efforts are less likely to be successful. I will not deny that cases like this exist; but the above paragraphs also include several examples of the opposite phenomenon, where a church approached the NAGCR or their nearest tower for advice on getting bells, and then changed their minds. And on the other hand, there are a number of existing towers, from St. Martin’s in Philadelphia to North America’s most recent tower (Christ Church Rochester), where the impetus came from local ringers who were ultimately successful in the efforts in this direction.
There are, of course, some recurring themes in why tower proposals fail; some of them also apply to those cases where bells are installed, but a local band fails to develop or falls apart after a promising start. One of these is what one might call The Case Of The Vanishing Vicar, where a member of the clergy or other leader in efforts to get bells installed moves away, and the project falls apart without him or her. Another is lack of funds, both in cases where an institution is interested until they get the cost estimate, and in those cases where an expected source of funds dries up, or where the institution in question is faced with more pressing capital needs. On the other hand, a high level of local commitment (both in level of individual enthusiasm, and total numbers of would-be ringers and other supporters of the project) increases the likelihood of getting bells installed.
None of these factors, however, is always correlated with success or failure; and none of them is entirely predictable, or necessarily within any one person’s control. Ministers changing jobs, for example, is somewhat beyond bellringers’ control; and local enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily translate to a project’s success, as the examples of Edmonton or Pewaukee indicate. The installation of a ring of bells, moreover, sometimes comes almost unexpectedly (as at Orleans.) Hence while there are some common reasons why proposals fail, the actual incidence of failure or success seems to rely heavily on luck; and predicting which will succeed almost seems a waste of time.
One thing I would stress, moreover, is that attempts to install bells sometimes bear fruit only years down the line, or on the second try. Nearly a decade separates the first proposal of bells for Little Rock, c. 1978, and their installation in 1987, while the tower at the University of Washington represents a revival of an idea from the 1970s that had fallen through. In other instances, attempts to get a ring are ultimately successful, but it works out far differently than expected. In Rochester, local ringers originally expected to get bells in Christ Church; but when that plan was rejected, they turned to the Church of the Ascension. And at Trinity Wall Street, there were proposals for years to restore the ring of eight from cast in 1797; but ultimately, the church opted for the more ambitious plan of putting in an entirely new ring of twelve.
Finally, all of this inevitably brings up the question of what we, as individuals and as a group, can do to foster the establishment of more towers.
That question, in turn, raises another one: Do we need more towers? Should we be actively trying to get more? Or, given the frequency with which new towers fail to thrive as centers of ringing, should we devote our efforts to fostering ringing in those places where bells already exist?
I would argue that Yes, we should work to increase the number of towers. Despite the enormous growth in our numbers since the Guild first identified “Rapid increase in installing new rings of bells” as a goal, we’re still just too spread out. We are all familiar with the phenomenon of the person who learns how to ring, and is making real progress, or even comes to play a key role in their local ringing group, but then moves somewhere where the nearest tower is hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Perhaps they’re the sort of person who starts a handbell band from scratch: there have been and are a number of people who’ve done exactly that. But it requires enormous determination, a considerable investment in time and money, and an active interest in ringing changes on two tiny bells instead of one awesome one, and most lack the skills, or the time, or the enthusiasm. And otherwise, the person who moves away either is never heard from again, or only gets to ring once in a blue moon when they make a pilgrimage to their home tower, or make the trek to whatever tower is nearest.[xi]
But there’s also the existence of the counter-example: the instances of mutual assistance among towers. Looking back through the early days of the Clapper, one thing that stands out is the contribution of the Groton School in giving the group that would eventually become the Boston band support, encouragement, and a place to ring at least occasionally. In more recent years, Boston ringers have returned the favor by helping struggling Groton bands, and about a decade ago they also helped ringing get established at Orleans. Matt Austin can take his students on field trips to Boston, or Groton, or New York. But that’s only because, despite the many-hour drives involved, the towers of the northeast are remarkably close together by North American standards. Wouldn’t it be wonderful – and wouldn’t it be a huge asset to North American ringing – if every group had another tower within one or two hours’ drive?
So how do we get there? (Or at least, nearer to there?)
Sadly, I don’t have all the answers to that question. One thing that my research has taught me, somewhat to my chagrin, is that it’s definitely not enough to find a tower that looks like it would be a good place to install a ring, a set of bells without a home, or a local group of ringers with no bells. I’m probably going to keep on collecting interesting examples of potential towers, but I have to be realistic about the odds that there will ever be change ringing there. Perhaps the most important factor in raising those odds, as I have already said, is that of local commitment; and I must leave it to those who have experience in building that up to suggest better ways of doing so.
Nonetheless, there is one thing that I think I – and all of us – can do to help encourage the creation of new towers. That thing, as you may already have guessed, is raising awareness of ringing among the public at large. (Incidentally, I have one or two ideas about that that I’m hoping to put into practice once it’s safe to have things like reunions and festivals again.) And I also have one suggestion that ties back into the history of failed proposals for towers.
Might it be worthwhile for us to get back in touch with those places who considered getting bells at some point? (“Us” in this case could be the NAGCR’s officers, or people who were involved in the proposal at the time, or interested individuals: I hope that the discussion might be a place to discuss strategy on that front.) Regardless of who’s doing it, if we are to raise awareness that change ringing is a thing that people actually do on this continent, then it’s desirable that we should tell not merely our friends and relatives, but as many people as possible. But if anyone is going to listen, it’s better if they have a personal connection to the subject. One source of such a connection, in turn, is through the history of their own college, church, or city. Surely people would be interested to learn that their congregation (or university, or other institution) considered getting a ring of bells at one point: perhaps all the more so if they have no idea what a ring of bells is. Perhaps, if nothing else, some of them will remember later on, when they move away for college in Kalamazoo or Sewanee, get a job in Toronto, or retire to Charleston, and realize that they now have the opportunity to witness, or even try, this strange-sounding activity that nearly had a home in their hometown. Or perhaps some of them will start dreaming of getting a tower of their own. I know that this paper might be summarized as a collection of evidence that having a dream like that isn’t enough. But equally, it’s only because people dared to dream such dreams, and accept the risk of failure, that the NAGCR now counts fifty towers, rather than fifteen.
[i] Thanks are due to the several people who scanned the whole run of The Clapper and put it on the NAGCR website.
[ii] “Whereas there is a proposition to the Vestry, concerning a steeple and a Ring of Bells, the Vestry do request Mr. Rowland Jones, Mr. Martin Gardner and Fra[ncis] Page, that they make a computation of the charge of building the Steeple and cost of bells, and returne the same to the next Vestry; and in the meantime they endeavor to procure what donations they can from such persons as may be thereto willing.” Quoted in Simpson (ed.), There Was Life Before NAG; thanks to Thomas Erwin for his research efforts.
[iii] See There Was Life Before NAG, pp. 92-3.
[iv] NAGCR Annual Report, 1973, p. 2.
[v] The rumors probably originally concerned Miami University, in Oxford, OH, whose chime was augmented to 14 bells in 1979. The University now has three bell towers, since it also boasts a four-bell Westminster chime (1939-41) and a new tower with a 50-bell carillon (2001). (towerbells.org)
[vi] It was subsequently sold to the Verdin Company.
[vii] Geoff Davies’ speech at the AGM is most notable for its overall content: he was declining his nomination for Honorary Life Membership, arguing that his own efforts on behalf of the Guild were still unfinished. (He would accept an HLM only ten years later, in 1991.) He nonetheless tied himself with past recipients, whom he said “were elected because they had vision of what North American Ringing could be.” He then went on to articulate his own vision for the next few years: new bells at McGill University in Montreal, in Kalamazoo, at the cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, in Richmond, VA, and in Washington. These would be accompanied by an augmentation in New Castle, the commencement of regular ringing at the Perkins School in Massachusetts, and the restoration of the original bells of Trinity, Wall St. He concluded “The Guild must actively support all aspects of this new activity.”
[viii] Alan Ellis, personal communication (2020). He did not specify which of that city’s two cathedral is to be the recipient, but the Anglican cathedral of St. Boniface seems more likely: the Catholic cathedral already has a light ring of 8 (7 ¾ cwt.).
[ix] Joel Reitz, personal communication, 2018.
[x] Personal communications, 2018 and 2020.
[xi] With the advent of ringingroom.com, of course, the relocated ringer has a new way to do both these things; and I expect and hope that this perennial drain on the number of active ringers in North America will be at least somewhat reduced.