Interview with Jennie Town

Where are you based?

Northallerton, North Yorkshire

When and where did you learn to ring handbells?

I started in North Yorkshire with Plain Bob Minor/ Major and progressed beyond that when I went to London University.

Who has influenced your handbell ringing?

Probably too many to mention. Chris Rowson first gave me opportunities to ring with other people: Frank Price, David Moore, Bernard Groves amongst them. I was lucky enough to ring with the 'CY gang': David Brown, David Pipe, Alex Byrne, Paul Mounsey and John Hughes- D'Aeth - very much in the minority both in being a Cumberland and the only non-conductor in the band. More recently, Tom Hinks, Richard Pearce and Kath and Graham Firman have been an inspiration. In the north, James Holdsworth, Peter Sanderson and Alex Riley keep me on my toes.

Blue lines, place notation or structure?

A bit of everything at times - place notation only for specific bits when I need to know what happens at that point, so mostly blue lines and structure.

Trebles or tenors?

I do ring inside at times, but I would say that trebles are my specialist subject.

Quarters or peals?

I'm happy to do both, but mostly peals nowadays.

What is the most unusual place in which you have rung handbells?

I can't remember anywhere very unusual, I'm a very boring person. I'll say the platform on the Wensleydale Railway at Leyburn.

What is your favourite handbell-ringing anecdote?

I'm not sure about favourite, but one memorable occasion was in London many years ago when I was going for a peal of Plain Bob Minor with David Town and John Pladdys. It was a lovely day so we began the attempt sitting on chairs on the flat roof at St Olave's Hart Street (London University home tower). Suddenly the carillon at All Hallows by the Tower started ringing and did not stop! One by one we backed through the low doorway and ended up standing round the tenor rope just as the first extent came round. We got to the end of the 7th extent and John said: ' I don't think the end of that first extent was good enough' so we rang an 8th extent and only counted the last 7. We did rather wish that we had stopped and carried the chairs inside to re-start rather than standing up for the entire peal.

Any further comments about handbell ringing in general? 

I think handbells are a brilliant way to learn to ring by rhythm and to understand more about method construction. We try to encourage a lot of our learners to give it a try.


Next time: Pip Dillistone