Special peals of 400 ‘Devon-style’ call changes have been composed by members of the Dartmouth Bell Ringers, to commemorate the Mayflower 400 events. These peals can be rung on 6, 8, 10 or 12 bells and will take just over one hour each to ring.
A usual set of changes is around 60 changes long and takes about 8 minutes to ring, so this will not only be a mental challenge to remember 400 changes but a physical one too.
“Full-circle” church bellringing is almost exclusively found in churches with Anglican connections. Although church bells have been used to call people to prayer for many centuries, it has only been practised in its current form since the early 1700s. The Pilgrims would not have heard bell-ringing as we know it today. However, three of the bells in St. Clement’s church, Dartmouth were in existence at the time the Mayflower left the town in 1620. They were cast in 1480 by William Chamberlain of London and are still rung regularly today.
Nowadays, bells are still rung to call people to prayer, but also to celebrate local and national events, such as weddings, jubilees, etc, as well as for competitions and for recreation. Mayflower 400 is a significant national event which should be marked by peals of bells.