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Meet the bell ringer on a quest to record in more than 200 churches

PUBLISHED: 15:49 24 January 2020 | UPDATED: 07:04 25 January 2020

Chris Richmond with his recording equipment in the bell tower at St Michaels and All Saints Church at Ingoldisthorpe, his 111th tower as he records the sound of Norfolk's church bells. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Chris Richmond with his recording equipment in the bell tower at St Michaels and All Saints Church at Ingoldisthorpe, his 111th tower as he records the sound of Norfolk's church bells. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

A unique and ambitious project to capture the sounds of bells ringing throughout Norfolk’s churches is firmly underway.

St Michaels and All Saints Church at Ingoldisthorpe. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSt Michaels and All Saints Church at Ingoldisthorpe. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

And the man behind the project, Chris Richmond, has recently marked a huge landmark by surpassing more than 100 recordings at different locations.

The 32-year-old, of West Raynham, started the project more than eight months ago while working with the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre in Norwich - a hub for church bell ringers in the county.

A sound recorder hobbyist, he explained how he became involved with the project.

"The centre opened in August 2018 and it consists of a ring of eight special training simulators," he said. "These simulate the behaviour of real church bells and they also simulate the sound.

"What started as an experiment to install the sounds of real church bells into the simulators soon snowballed into something much bigger, as I started recording the sounds of other church towers all across Norfolk."

It is estimated that there are more than 650 churches in Norfolk, with around 200 of them with three or more bells. Just before Christmas, Mr Richmond rang in his 100th tower.

He added: "The thing that drives me to do this is that they all sound different from each other. None are ever the same and every tower tells a different story.

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"Several hundred years ago, the way they sounded originally may not be the way they sound today. Bell frames are different and have been modernised over the years."

Speaking about the hundred plus towers he has visited, he highlighted Cromer Parish Church, St Peter and St Paul, as a gem.

"It has a massive chamber with eight bells and it was great to work in.

"Some towers can sound special, so old and mournful, while others give you a totally different sound.

"The project has really become a unique interactive sound archive."

Mr Richmond took up bell ringing himself more than two years ago and described it as "a bit of an adventure".

So far he has spent hundreds of hours on the project, with it taking roughly around an hour on location to record the bells at each church.

Currently he has recorded around 111 church bells ringing.

· To find out more about the project visit the website .

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