Bell ringers achieved a trio of ‘firsts’ at the Cathedral Church of St Marie when they rang a Quarter Peal on the Cathedral’s bells in February.

  It was the first Quarter Peal rung at the Cathedral since the 1960s and enabled a member of a band drawn from the congregation – Bob Rae – to qualify as a full member of the Yorkshire Association of Change Ringers (YACR).  Bob’s wife, Maggie O’Malley, qualified last year after ringing a Quarter Peal at St John’s, Ranmoor, the Anglican church close to Notre Dame High School in Sheffield, where she went to school.  It was also the first Quarter to be conducted at St Marie’s by Jeff Colbert, a regular ringer at St Mary’s Church, in Walkley.

  The Quarter was rung to mark the centenary of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Naumur establishing a convent at Oakbrook House, in Ranmoor and the fiftieth anniversary of the founder of their order, Julie Billiart, being made a Saint.

  The Quarter Peal involved six bells ringing in 1,260 unique combinations as part of a ringing method called Plain Bob Doubles and was rung in memory of three people:

  • St Marie’s longest serving priest, Canon Oswald Dolan, who died 85 years ago and played a major part in encouraging ringing at St Marie’s in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • The church’s third longest serving ringer, Robert Harrison, who was a member of the St Marie’s band for 40 years and died 75 years ago.
  • Dora Turner, the mother of current St Marie’s band member Tony Turner, who died two days before the Quarter Peal was rung and 11 days before what would have been her 90th birthday.


Members of the band that rang the Quarter Peal, pictured in St Marie’s Ringing Chamber: left to right Daisy Wolstenholme (St James’, South Anston), Peter Scott, (St John’s, Ranmoor), Bob Rae (St Marie’s), Elaine Scott (St John’s, Ranmoor), Jeff Colbert (conductor) and Ben Newsam (both from St Mary’s Walkley)

  St Marie’s six-strong band of ringers has recently been joined by five new ringers, four of whom have started to learn to ring following an appeal to the congregation.

The bells at St Marie’s

  Bob Rae said, “We still need more people to become trainee bell ringers at St Marie’s if we are to establish a sustainable band and would love it if people from other churches in the Diocese came along to our taster sessions to see if bell ringing is for them.  There are only 50 Roman Catholic churches out of the 7,000 churches with bells designed for change ringing, so it is really important that we keep St Marie’s bells ringing.”

  Bell ringing is about technique, rather than strength or size. You don’t need any musical training and age isn’t a limit either. You can learn to ring when you are younger than 14 or older than 60.

  Anyone interested in visiting St Marie’s Bell Tower and finding out about what is involved in ringing the bells at St Marie’s should get in touch with Bob Rae – e-mail: bob.rae@stmariecathedral.org or telephone: 07710 116701.  To see St Marie’s bells ringing, visit: https://goo.gl/yu1WCQ.