Belle plates are a modern type of hand bell which is more robust than traditional hand bells although it is best not to drop them if you want them to stay in tune. The Church of the Good Shepherd has a 2 octave set of belle plates together with some additional belles which allows a team of 8, 9 or 10 to play at any one time. This allows the belle plates team, who normally meet on a Wednesday evening, to play when one or two members are missing. We are affectionately known as the Cox Green Clangers and have a knitted clanger, thanks to Church Member Barbara Barker, for those who can remember as far back as the Clangers.
The music we play could not be more varied. Of course there are hymns, including Jerusalem, together with Christmas Carols and Harvest Hymns. However the full repertoire includes Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, John Peel, Danny Boy, the Great Pretender, the Winner Takes it All and many many more.
Our musical skills are as varied as the music we play. Some are good musicians in their own right and we are very fortunate to have John Ford leading us and arranging our music. Others make no secret of having to ‘silently sing’ along to the tune and have all their notes clearly marked to know where they are up too. We all try our best but it is a fun session which makes us all concentrate. The accomplished musicians amongst us sometimes get it wrong and admit that it is more difficult to play as a team rather than being allowed to take the music at your own pace and in its entirety as a soloist.
So when and where do we play, apart from our practice nights. We play at special Church services of course, including Christmas morning playing before the morning service. We also play Christmas music outside the Wessex Way shops just before Christmas and it is amusing to see some people wanting to give us money and others trying their best to avoid us just in case they have to give us money. For the record we are not fund raising but rather trying to get everybody into the true ‘Christmas Spirit’. Other groups at the community centre also invite us to their Christmas party nights. They like us to play Christmas music along with Christmas Carols and some groups like to have a go themselves. I think they find it more difficult than they thought it would be but all can bash out a recognisable tune at the first attempt. Last but not least we play at social events, normally at the community centre.
If you are interested in learning more about the belle plates and perhaps joining a team please contact the Church Office on 01628 632567.
Pictures of belle plates :