Bell ringing is a wonderful hobby and is also a service to the community and church. It is accessible to just about anyone from age 9 to 99 and it costs very little, (except maybe the odd drink in the pub on practice night!). Bell ringing is a team activity that exercises both body and brain and it is great fun.
At St Mary’s we have a ring of 6 bells, which are rung from the ground floor. They are quite light and very easy going making them particularly accessible to young and old alike. We practice on Wednesday evenings, with a learner’s/improver’s practice from 7:00pm to 8:00pm and the general practice from 8:00pm to 9:30pm, followed by drinks in the pub. We ring for Sunday service, 9:30am to 10:00am (except for the 1st Sunday of the month at the present time), and for weddings.
Learning to ring
We teach the skill of bell ringing following the
Association of Ringing Teachers’
Learning theRopes scheme. Tuition is free and is most effective if you are able to commit to an initial intensive course of one-to-one tuition for example over a weekend, or a couple of mornings or
afternoons in the week or at the weekend. Typically, the basic handling takes most people between 10 and 20 hours but you may learn quicker or
slower – it doesn’t matter. You will always have plenty of support and we make the bells available as much as we can to help our learners.
We have a bell ringing simulator which means that we can silence the bells but they can still be heard in the ringing chamber so don’t worry
about upsetting the neighbours!
Do I have to go to church?
No. You do not have to attend the church service, but once you have reached a suitable standard we encourage and expect you to ring for Sunday service, 9:30am to 10:00am.
How old do I have to be to start bell ringing?
Normally you need to be at least 9-10 years old, but more usually our young learners are between 12 and 14 years old. We have boxes you can stand on to help if you are a bit short. There is no upper limit on age, and there are many ringers who are in their nineties. Bell Ringing keeps you healthy in mind and body. If you are under 18 we require a parent or chaperone to be present.
Are bells heavy or hard work to ring?
Bells are quite heavy ranging from about 50kg to over 4 tons but they are not hard work to ring. Our tenor bell (number 6) is the heaviest and weighs 5cwt (about 250kg) but a child can ring it. Most bells require very little effort to ring because they are carefully hung on ball bearings and are swung using a rope and a large wheel!
How long will it take me to learn?
This very much depends upon how much “time on a rope” you can get as well as your aptitude. Some people naturally take to bell ringing and can reach “service ringing” standard within a month or two. Others may take much longer. But the vast majority of learners usually master the basic skills within 4-6 months. It depends a lot on your level of commitment.
How much does Bell Ringing cost?
Virtually nothing, especially if you can walk to your local tower! We give our time in teaching for free. Actually, bell ringers usually get paid for ringing at Weddings.
Can I visit any bell tower?
One of the great things about bell ringing is that you will receive a warm welcome at almost any other tower if you get in touch and come to their practice – or even on Sundays, especially if they are short of ringers. Once they have some basic skill, we encourage our learners to attend other practices as visitors to get experience on different bells and to make new friends. Towers arrange bell ringing outings, visiting between 3 and 6 towers in a day and some also arrange breakfast, lunch and dinner too! Our local Bellringers’ Guild also organises many district practices and training days throughout the year giving more scope for ringing at other towers.
What tuition do you offer?
We teach the “Learning the Ropes” scheme run by the Association of Ringing Teachers’. This is a structured scheme split into 5 levels beginning at Level 1 (Bell Handling) through to Level 5 (Change Ringer). Each level is assessed and you receive a certificate when you complete the level. If you want to learn at St Mary’s, you will be registered with ART and will receive a login and access to all sorts of resources. You will also receive your own log book which we use to record your achievements. Our teachers are enhanced-DBS checked and have public liability insurance. One of our teachers (Adrian) has gained ART’s accreditation and is now an associate member of the ART.
We welcome visitors and new recruits, whether you can already ring or want to learn.