Nelson Cathedral joined other churches around the world on 26 June 2021 to ring in the 200th anniversary of the Ellacombe chimes.
The Cathedral joined 115 churches in NZ, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Ireland, USA, Gibraltar, India, Guernsey and the UK.
A book will be published to mark the event, describing the history of the Ellacombe Chimes and its inventor Rev H.T. Ellacombe as well as a page for each of the participants.
Nelson Cathedral’s eight bells are housed about halfway up the high tower facing Trafalgar Street and the Ellacombe ringing apparatus is two floors below them. The apparatus enables the bells to be rung by one person and almost represents a solo musical instrument for the bell ringer.
“We currently have three bell ringers who ring for the 8am, 10am and 5:30pm Sunday services with others in training. In addition to Sundays, the bells are rung for funerals, weddings and special services and events, including in September each year to welcome the godwits home from their long flight from Alaska,” said bell ringer David Lucas.
“We’ll all be sharing the ringing when we join in the global bells for the Ellacombe bicentennial at 12 noon on June 26th.”
Rev Ellacombe couldn’t tolerate the wayward behaviour of his bell ringers at his St Mary’s Church in Bitton, near Bristol UK, and this led him in 1817 to invent his apparatus which requires only one person for the bell ringing. Apart from behaviour issues, the apparatus has come into its own again recently with Covid restrictions around the world.
Nelson Cathedral’s bells were donated in 1966 by local businessman and NZ cricketer Sir Jack Newman and his family.