St. Paul’s Parish, Riverside, Illinois

Back when there was warmer weather (ah, remember those days?), I visited St. Paul’s Parish in Riverside, Illinois to witness their beautiful ring. Allison Olson kindly showed me around.

The one of only two rings in the Chicago area (the other in Mitchell Tower at the University of Chicago), the eight bells ring from a wooden tower positioned in the courtyard of the church. It kind of looks like a water tower.

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Wooden tower inside courtyard
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the view from the bottom

These bells have a distinguished travel history. Whitechapel cast these bells between 1964 and 1974 and used them as a portable set in England to demonstrate change ringing. Their last performance in England was the most noteworthy: they rang in 1990 for the official celebration of the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday. The bells made their way to St. Paul’s in 1991 for their new permanent home.

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bell with bright red clappers

Allison and the other avid ringers practiced some changes, and let me have a shot. I pulled on the rope to ring the bell, which is quite a bit harder than it sounds. Pulling on the rope with just the right strength and speed so the bell makes a controlled rotation takes finesse. I was able to ring the bell okay, but I definitely wasn’t ready for full-blown change ringing.

Thank you, Allison, for showing me how it’s done!

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