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Nine tailors

Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:23 am
by incarnatus est
Why does Dorothy Sayres, in her book, The NIne Tailors, refer to the tower bells was "9 Tailors" ?

I checked OED to see if toller/tellers/taylors, tailers might interrelate, but they do not.

So, please, one would appreciate knowing...

Hugh Gilmore

Re: Nine tailors

Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:44 am
by Erik_Kowal
The Wikipedia entry for The Nine Tailors includes this explanation:
In some parishes in England the centuries-old tradition of announcing a death on a church bell is upheld. In a small village most people would be aware of who was ill, and so broadcasting the age and sex of the deceased would identify them. To this end the death was announced by telling (i.e. single blows with the bell down) the sex and then striking off the years. Three blows meant a child, twice three a woman and thrice three a man. After a pause the years were counted out at approximately half minute intervals. The word teller in some dialects becomes tailor, hence the old saying "Nine tailors maketh a man".

The bell used in the novel for the announcement is the largest (tenor) bell which is dedicated to St. Paul. Hence "teller Paul" or in dialect "tailor Paul". Sayers is here acknowledging the assistance of Paul Taylor of Taylor's bell foundry in Loughborough, England who provided detailed information on all aspects of ringing to her.

Re: Nine tailors

Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:24 pm
by incarnatus est
Erik:

Thanks very much.

Hugh Gilmore

Re: Nine tailors

Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:32 pm
by tony h
Erik:

that doesn't sound right.
After a pause the years were counted out at approximately half minute intervals.
With the way English bells work trying to maintain this for a lifetime of rings would be nigh impossible.

When I used to do change ringing for new year we strike the tenor 12 times and then pause. But we are always a bit nervous that we might not get the tenor to stay. So we were ready to go into a peel if the tenor didn't stay. Doing this consistantly for a life time - impossible.

Anyway I will do a bit more research and get back to you.
PS I will prepare some humble pie just in case.