Pic of St Mary's from the mill pond - Swanage Bellringers -

Bellringing Swanage Bellringers home page
The Bells
For those unfamiliar with Imperial measures, the weights are given in hundredweights (cwt), quarters (qtr) and pounds (lb).  The approximate conversions are:
1 hundredweight = 112 lb = 51 kg
1 quarter = 28 lb = 13 kg

In the belfry there is an Ellacombe Apparatus, which enables the bells to be sounded by pulling on a system of ropes. This can be carried out by one person who can ring simple rounds or may decide to ring hymn tunes by reading numbers from a card.  This only tends to be done once a year when Christmas carols are “played” on the bells for one of the Christmas Eve services.

The Ellacombe Apparatus being used at Swanage.  This is rarely used! It is a useful back up either when you have insufficient ringers, or as in this case, as the clappers have been removed from the bells temporarily so that they can be refurbished.

"Ellacombe apparatus is a method for performing change ringing of church bells requiring only one person. Unlike the traditional method, where the bells are spun 360 degrees to sound them and one person is needed for each bell, instead the bells are kept static and a hammer is struck against the inside of the bell. Each hammer is connected by a rope to a fixed frame in the bell-ringing room. The ropes are taut, and pulling one of the ropes towards the operator will strike the hammer against the bell.

The system was devised by Reverend Henry Thomas Ellacombe of Gloucestershire, who first had such a system installed in Bitton in 1821. It is believed he created the system to make bell-ringers redundant, so churches did not have to tolerate the behaviour of unruly bell-ringers just so they could have their bells expertly rung.

The Ellacombe apparatus has been removed from many towers in the UK, but there are still visible holes in the ceiling which the ropes would come through into the ringing chamber, and often the frames are still in the ringing chamber, without ropes. In towers where the apparatus remains intact, it is generally used like a Carillon to play tunes."

This a sound recording of the Swanage bells made by Tim Rose.