National Geographic : 1948 May
© Evening Standard Not until a Chipped-stone Roof Ages 200 Years May a Slater Be Needed Here, at Filkins, a Cotswold roof man skillfully hangs a flake, or stone tile, to a lath with an oak peg. Old time slaters can do anything with these slats, curving them around roof valleys and chimneys to make a leak proof joint without aid of lead (page 635). Largest stones are hung above the eaves, smaller ones near the ridge. Mr. Lynes explained change ringing, or the hand pulling of bells to sound them, in con trast to electrical ringing, or the use of a keyboard. "Change ringing originally was peculiar to the English," Mr. Lynes said. "Belgians play tunes on their carillons by striking a hammer against the bell's rim.* But in change ring ing the whole bell is swung in an almost com plete circle, the clapper striking near the end of the stroke. This swinging of the bell as she -a bell is always a lady-is struck mel lows the tone, but makes it stronger, more piercing. Come up to the bell chamber and I will have the big tenor rung for you." Up a steep ladder we climbed and through a trap door into the cavernous steeple. Six monster bells in a cluster hung from big wheels; ropes led from each through the floor to the ringers' chamber below. As I watched, the big tenor slowly swung upright, her bronze mouth yawning. I could clearly see the inscription on her side: "Pre- sented to Leafield Church by H. M. Queen Victoria, 1874." "She is set at the backstroke," Mr. Lynes said in my ear. "Hang on now and I'll give the signal for a handstroke." "And let me warn you, the sound of the bells terrifies some," Alan put in. "If you were locked up here during a prolonged peal, the concussion might drive you mad. "In Dorothy Sayers' novel, The Nine Tailors, one of the big bells was the murderer. The victim had been tied in the belfry. Old Batty Thomas drove him mad and finally killed him with her bonging." Suddenly the giant bell rolled over and bellowed a vibrant "Bom." The whole tower jarred. My hands and arms vibrated. Again the bell swung, in reverse this time, the back stroke. Again came the deep "Bom," like a 16-inch gun firing. * See "Singing Towers of Holland and Belgium," by William Gorham Rice, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, March, 1925.