Great Peter of York

I was looking for some old York Minster choral and organ music from the Dr Francis Jackson days, and I came across something that really brings back old memories.

It is nothing other than Great Peter, the bourdon bell of York Minster. I heard it ring every day at noon from my school classroom. The recording doesn’t do it justice, and you don’t really hear the Eb fundamental very well. The microphone was set up in the stairwell next to the bell chamber, and it had to be done in mono.

There is a dissonant harmonic that gives the character of this bell cast by J. Taylor in 1927. This bronze bell weighs 10,800 kg (nearly 11 metric tons) and the diameter is 264,1 cm. It occupies the north tower of the Minster alone. Great Peter is rung manually, and it takes a few minutes of pulling the rope and building up kinetic energy before the massive clapper inside the bell begins to do its work.

It is nice to know that David Potter is still ringing master at York Minster.

Here’s the whole York peal with Great Peter joining in (it’s a pity you hear wind in the microphone):

This is how they do the Grandsir Cinques:

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