Breaking news December 2011.....
The bells have been augmented to a ring of 12
Watch the bells being rung on this youtube link
Black Bull Inn Frosterley Co.Durham DL13 2SL Tel 01388 527784
The only pub in England with its own peal of bells rung by rope and wheel in the traditional manner of English change ringing.
Campanologists travel from far and wide to ring at the Black Bull.
Change ringing in England dates from the 1500’s.
Most rings of bells are housed in church towers and because of the weight of the bells and fittings novices normally require months of training before becoming competent to ring unsupervised.
The 12 bells at the Black Bull Frosterley are rung in the traditional English manner with rope and wheel through a 360 degree circle.
Due to the construction of the Frosterley bells novices can be safely and speedily introduced to the intricate and fascinating tradition of English change ringing.
The first full peal rung by rope and wheel in a public house was rung at the Black Bull on the 14th December 2005.
It is commemorated on a wonderful peal board in the bar painted by artist and customer Gavin Mayhew.
Mathew Higby installing the new Tenor bell.
Coming to Blows at the Black Bull Frosterley ..........
A Bellringing Tale
The upper reaches of Weardale had always been wild and lawless.
Rich veins of minerals being the reason for a Klondyke type of culture developing among the people of the North Pennines.
The Bishop of nearby Durham having made the vast tracts of moorland his personal hunting ground was given permission from the King to raise an army in order to protect himself from local gangs of armed poachers who saw the fells as their birthright.
The King also bestowed on him the title "Prince Bishop" hence the description of Co.Durham
as the "Land of the Prince Bishops".
The Bishop's army also came in handy to keep out the troublesome marauding Scots.
Things of late have been more peaceable in Weardale to such an extent that a recent Bishop regularly felt it safe enough to leave his army to do the washing up in the tearoom at Auckland Castle while he pulled on his walking boots and ambled over to the Black Bull at Frosterley for a plate of local Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding washed down with a pint of the
local Allendale real ale.
So it came to pass one May Saturday evening while the patrons of the Black Bull were amiably devouring the contents of several casks of local ale that their peace was shattered not by invading Scots but by 26 Yorkshire bellringers from Tadcaster, come to try their skills on the ring of 8 bells hanging in the cellar.
These ringers had recently been successful in a Yorkshire Association striking contest (bellringing not boxing) and were self assured, some might say cavalier in over ambitious attempts at complicated touches. (bellringing talk whereby one of the ringers bawls at the others to ring in a different order and then curses when they don't.)
After worked up a thirst with their mental and physical exertions they repaired to the bar where by coincidence a band of Tyneside Whickham ringers had just ordered a round of celebratory drinks having just won their Association striking contest for the fourth year in succession.
Beer began to talk and before too long a challenge was issued as to which band could ring the most perfect course of
Plain Bob Minor.
An independent judge was appointed from the few sober imbibers and the 2 bands of ringers swayed gently towards
the ringing room to do battle.
The Tadcaster ringers were the first team to pull away and were giving a good account of themselves
dodging and hunting confidently but in the last lead disaster struck and old John Barleycorn made his prescence felt.
The glazed eyes of the treble ringer saw 2 ropes, in fact he saw 2 of everybody and everything.
Unsure which rope to catch he made a wild scooping motion catching the sallies and ropes of the ringers either side of him.
The effort descended into a chaotic sort of disco dance as the men from Yorkshire tried to disentangle themselves from the snaking ropes.
Whether it was the fact that Tyneside ringers were more used to the beer in the Bull or more used to the Black Bull bells is still being debated but the Whickham men were able to steer themselves successfully through a course of Plain Bob Minor without a serious hitch.
The judge from Batley, Mr. Brian Sissons, called for hush in a bar crowded with bemused drinkers and solemnly announced that the Whickham men had won the day.
The Tynesiders hugged their drinks and cheered but were soon stunned into silence and the glum expressions of the men from Yorkshire changed to jubilation as the landlord announced that the prize was a free round of drinks for the losing team!!!