The leader of a church bell-ringing group is appealing for people to help keep the tradition alive in Haworth.
Simon Burnett, the tower captain at the village’s famous parish church, made the plea after a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the marriage of Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell.
The historic occasion was marked by a highly demanding full peal of bells on December 29. The date was coincidentally also the wedding anniversary of the current priest in charge at the church, the Reverend Peter Mayo-Smith.
But numbers are dwindling and the fears are such occasions will not be marked in the future unless new recruits come forward.
Mr Burnett said: “The present band of ringers at Haworth is very active.
“However, we are down to the bare minimum needed to keep the bells ringing. We really need some more people to learn this skill.
“They do not need to be strong or musical. They would be joining both a friendly team with a lively social life and a national ‘fellowship of ringers’. But, more importantly they would be helping to keep the Bronte Bells ringing into the future.”
The six bells in the tower at Haworth Parish Church were paid for with money raised by Patrick Bronte, father of the famous literary sisters.
They were cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London in 1845. The largest, the tenor bell, weighs more than half-a-tonne.
Mr Burnett said this form of bell-ringing, specifically known as ‘change ringing’, was a fascinating and enjoyable skill.
“Change ringing is a particularly English art, hardly practised anywhere else in the world,” he said. “Its origins go back to the Reformation, and so it was well established by the time Patrick Bronte had the bells installed at Haworth.
“The aim is not to ring music, but a series of bell combinations known as ‘changes’.”
People interested in joining the Haworth bell-ringing team can contact Mr Burnett on 01535 643928 or 07815 186074. Alternatively, they can go along to one of the group’s practice sessions, which take place at the church from 7.30pm on Mondays.