What is ringing all about?

For centuries church bells have been rung to call people to worship, to celebrate special occasions and to mark important national events.

Ringers come from all walks of life and all ages. Most ringers practice once or twice a week and ring before or after church services on Sundays, as well as for weddings, funerals, other local events and sometimes just for fun.

Ringers also organise outings to other towers and join with ringers from other areas for special practices.

Learn to Ring

Almost anyone can learn to ring and you can start at any age. Learning to ring is more about technique than it is about strength, musicality or mathmatical ability.

Ringing involves learning and developing two types of skill which are probably entirely new to learners. First is the motor skill of learning how to control a bell that has been hung for 'full circle' ringing - this more generally known as bell handling. The second is the cognitive process of learning 'change ringing' - this is the music of the bells that you hear.

Learning to ring takes commitment but is well worth the time you put into it. Give it a go and see if it’s for you! You can register your interest and a member of the Guild will be in touch to direct you to your nearest teaching tower.

Basic Bell-handling


First, you will be taught the technique of 'handling' a bell, which will require a number of one-to-one lessons over the course of several weeks.

The lessons may be held before the band's regular practice night, so that you get to meet the members of the band and can see and hear what you are aiming for. Some towers may initially teach you separately from the band at a time that suits you and the teacher.

You start with learning the back stroke, then the hand stroke and finally you will put the two strokes together.

When you can pull both hand and back stroke you will begin to feel what the bell is doing as it turns through 360 degrees and back again. With practice you will learn to pull at just the right time catching the fluffy 'sally' at just the right moment.

This is what a bell looks like when it is animation-24-16 dingringing full circle. You can see the ringer is pulling both the handstroke (fluffy stripy bit) and then the backstroke immediately after (tail end of the rope).


Join the BandStokePractice2011c

Ringing is a team activity, so after the initial teaching you will be able to join in with the rest of the band and start to make a glorious sound!

Ringing in Rounds

When you can safely handle your bell you next step will be to join the band to ring rounds.

This means you will ring your bell in a sequence of descending notes starting with the lightest bell (treble) and finishing with the heaviest bell (tenor).

This is what ringing in rounds looks like.

Animated bells


Moving on to MethodsST Marychurch ringing room crop

After rounds you will go on to learn the basics of method ringing. This is where you change the position of your bell in the sequence and typically your bell changes its place on every stroke. Some one will stand with you and help you by pointing out which bell you need to follow until you are able to do this on your own.

There are thousands of methods to learn and your tower captain and the rest of the band will guide and support you as you learn new methods.

Once mastered, ringing is a skill for life and offers a wealth of new experiences and much enjoyment.

More information

Learners can find lots of helpful information on these ringing websites on you can contact the Guild Education Officer Education Officer who can put you in touch with a ringing teacher near you.

Learning Change Ringing

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