John Potter Briscoe in Curiosities of the Belfry (1888) brings us this tale of vengeful bells in England.
It is stated in a curious and rare little pamphlet on Catholic Miracles, published in 1825, that a band of sacrilegious robbers having broken into a monastery, proceeded out of bravado to ring a peal of bells, when, through prayers offered up by the “holy fathers,” a miracle was wrought, and the robbers were unable to leave their hold on the ropes. This state of affairs was depicted by the inimitable Cruikshank (114).
For those of you who don’t peal bells, the robbers are left dangling on the ropes because the rotation of the bell up (after the ringer has pulled the rope down to ring the bell) pulls a long length of the rope back up. Usually the ringer releases the rope as it returns back. But if you don’t (or can’t!) let go of the rope, up you go!