Interview with Mark Eccleston

Interview Banner

Where are you based?


When and where did you learn to ring handbells?

As a student when ringing with BUSCR and then with the Stedman Triples handbell band based at St Chad's, Birmingham

Who has influenced your handbell ringing?

The St Chad's handbell band - Alan Burbidge, Charles Webb and Paul Biblio - who I've rung many peals of Stedman Triples with. In addition to that, ringing anything on handbells with any of the Pipe family is always a pleasure!

Blue lines, place notation or structure?

Mainly structure, but not exclusively. It also depends on what method(s) I'm ringing. Most of my handbell ringing has been Stedman and multi-minor. In both cases I rely heavily on the structure. For some fiddly methods I would adopt a blended approach of structure and familiarity with the blue line. I don't actively think too much about place notation whilst ringing.

Trebles or tenors?

Definitely not the tenors if ringing Stedman (too much pressure on keeping a metronomic beat with the left hand)!

Quarters or peals?

Peals - although always happy to ring in a developmental quarter.

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

Probably some random - and remote - location on Lundy Island.

What is your favourite handbell-ringing anecdote?

Someone told me once that they were so useless on handbells that one of the bells flew out of their hand, and across the room, during a course of Plain Bob Minor. I have no idea if that's true though... In terms of my own experiences, I remember scoring a peal of Stedman Triples at St Chad's after the four of us drew our pairs out of a hat. Charles Webb ended up drawing out the treble (for his right hand) and the tenor (for his left hand). When Queens, Tittums and the other feature rows came up, the rows didn't 'look' like Queens etc at all... Very disconcerting and one of those occasions when it's best to just keep your head down, don't look about too much, and just ring rhythmically! See:

Any further comments about handbell ringing in general? 

For me, learning to ring handbells was tough. Ringing two bells to Plain Bob Minor took a lot of brain space - but the more you do (especially if you're lucky enough to ring with competent handbell ringers), the easier it gets.


Next time: Gareth Davies