Gaia: For whom the bells toll

Gaia: For whom the bells toll

The Cathedral bells will play their part in welcoming Gaia to Gloucester.

During Gaia, the usual chiming schedule will be replaced by special tunes around the theme of Creation.  Visitors will hear ‘All things Bright and Beautiful’, ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’, and John Rutter’s ‘For the beauty of the earth’ among others.

Click here to download the full chimes schedule

These tunes will be heard at 9.00am, 1.00pm and 5.00pm (4.00pm on Saturdays).

On five days, there will be online webinars and symposia under the theme Hope for Creation: Building a Greener Future Together.  On these days a short eco-lament will be rung at one minute before each hour. The inspiration for this came from Luke Jerram’s own Extinction Bell artwork which tolls once, 150-200 times a day, at random intervals, indicating the number of species lost worldwide every 24 hours.  The Extinction Bell can be visited within Luke's other artwork Palm Temple at University of Bristol and more details are available here.

Gloucester’s new eco-lament tunes were written by Lucy Wilcox, Participation Manager of Three Choirs Festival. They specially feature the deep tones of Great Peter, the three-ton medieval hour bell. They will be heard each hour from 9.59am till 4.59pm, on October the 14, 20, 21, 22 and 29.  

The Cathedral has had a chiming system for over 500 years. Since 2013, the hammers which play the tunes on the bells have been controlled by a unique computer system. There is also now a ‘virtual bell’ which can sound the sharps and flats which are not available on the cathedral bells. This hybrid system is thought to be unique in the world.

The technology for controlling the chimes was developed by Rob Youngs of Tempus Consulting, Quenington.

Technical or historical questions about Gloucester’s unique chimes should be addressed to the Honorary Chimekeeper, Jonathan MacKechnie-Jarvis, at  or on 07443 487043.

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