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Empty Tower Syndrome

The empty bell frame at Calstock Church

Empty Tower Syndrome is a little reported condition which occurs when ringers suddenly find the bells from their church tower have disappeared. What was once a vibrant and dusty belfry has become a clean and silent void. The ringers are forced to endure a lengthy period of abstinence or seek alternative towers in which to practice their art.

St Dominic ropes and glass door

The caring Tower Captain should support their ringers in this time of need and help them to find other places to ring. Neighbouring towers are often willing to help and may offer the use of their own tower or invite the bereft ringers to join their practices. The Tower Captain may have to act like a mother hen, encouraging her chicks to rise to the challenge of different bells; or possibly take on the role of a sheep dog intimidating the flock to move towards new ropes. Whichever approach works best, it is important to keep the group ringing; after all, their own bells will come back before too long and they need to remember which end of the rope to hold.

Pillaton ropes

The ringers at Calstock are fortunate to be close to towers at Callington, St Dominic and Pillaton all of which have extended invitations. But these towers are not that close, particularly for the odd stray ringer who managed to move to Devon just before the bridge at Gunnislake was closed for some weeks. There are sometimes glass barriers (a bit like glass ceilings but vertical). And there is the problem of remembering which day of the week to turn up to the new venue. With determination these problems can be overcome and the ringers can discover that the world outside their own tower is friendly and that other bell ropes are no more difficult to handle than their own.


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