LEARN TO RING

Bellringing is an activity like no other – a unique mix of physical exercise with mental agility that is a deep part of our history but still practised and evolving today. Discover the world of bellringing, and enter a hidden world that provides the traditional soundtrack to our nation!

 

The origins of modern bell ringing begin in the sixteenth century, when technological developments gave ringers greater control of their bells, enabling them to work together and create patterns. This is known as change ringing, and the more complex of these patterns are called ‘methods.’

 

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be particularly strong (it's all in the technique!), musical or religious to be a bell ringer.  We do however hope that all the ringers we train will help out ringing for Sunday services once they have reached the required standard, as this is the payback we give to the Church for them allowing us to ring their beautiful bells.

 

We normally recommend children learn to ring from about the age of 10, as they do need to be tall enough to handle the bell. (We find children usually pick up bell ringing skills really quickly!)   You can learn to ring at any age - one of our current learners is in their 70s.

 

 

Ringing is an enjoyable hobby which fosters mental engagement and improves physical fitness. Its also a great way to meet people and be part of a supportive community.  For many bell ringing becomes a lifetime hobby (it's very addictive!) and we have a couple of ringers in the St Anne's band in their 80s, one of whom has been ringing here for over 60 years!  One of the great things about ringing is that it is open to everyone whatever their age, background, walk of life, etc. and we all work together as a team (called a "band") to ring the bells.

 

"They have taught me everything I know about bell ringing so far and I have enjoyed every minute of it with very welcoming people. The free taster session got me hooked nearly 12 months ago and here I am a year later still enjoying ringing the bells, I highly recommend to everyone!”
Shaun

 

Learning to ring is a bit like learning to drive a car or ride a bike. There are lots of individual elements to learn before you can put it all together and ring a bell independently.  The speed people learn this skill differs from person to person, but it usually takes in the region of 10-15 hours of 1:1 lessons to achieve this.  Once you can ring a bell safely and independently you can start learning how to ring with the rest of the band and that's when the real fun starts!

 

"Bellringing is a skill I've always wanted to learn so when a call for 'Ring for The King" went out on BBC's Breakfast, I thought, wow, here's my chance! It was meant to be, as I could have quite easily missed the piece, whilst rushing around getting ready for work that Wednesday morning, February 22nd!! After some very swift email replies before I knew it, two days later, I was climbing up the stone spiral steps to St.Anne’s Parish Church's bell tower!!! I met with our lovely instructors; Monica and Stuart and fellow newbie Fay plus most of the Tower's ringers and was instantly made to feel so welcome. I'm thoroughly enjoying honing my new-found skill, improving week by week, thanks to my patient, kind coaches Monica and Stuart - I was so, so proud to 'Ring for The King'. To be honest I wish I'd taken up Bellringing years ago as the sense of belonging to such a lovely group of people, a team, is really rather wonderful."
Jane

 

Our teachers are accredited members of the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART) - or they are working towards accreditation.  ART developed a learning scheme called Learning the Ropes.  The scheme is based on best practice taken from the world of ringing, other hobbies and education; supplemented with university research findings into how best to coach practical skills.  The  Learning the Ropes scheme has five stages, known as levels, with each level developing key skills. This works in a similar way to learning a musical instrument where the teacher takes you through a series of grades to build your skills:

Level 1 - Bell Handling: Safe and competent bell handling
Level 2 - Ringing with others: Able to dodge, make places, and ring simple call changes.
Level 3 - Introduction to Change Ringing: Competent at plain hunt and covering.
Level 4 - Novice Change Ringer: Ringing and calling touches of a doubles or minor method.
Level 5 - Change Ringer: Ringing and calling a second method.

 

“I've always been interested in old churches mainly for their architecture, location and local history connected with their communities through the ages. When the opportunity came up for "Ring for the King" it was an absolute joy to start learning to ring church bells. Like most beginners, l suppose, l didn't realize how complicated it was but, once I'd actually learnt basic bell control, it became less scary and l'm really looking forward to learning more of this fascinating skill. I am so grateful to my patient and encouraging tutors Monica and Stuart and also encouraging advice from my fellow ringers who vary in age from teenagers to octagenarians; a very friendly community. I love hearing the sound of different bells and methods in various local churches; l hope one day to be competent enough to ring regularly for my local church services.......look to!”
Carole

 

If you are interested in learning to ring please contact us to book a free trial lesson so you can see what it's all about and whether it is something you would like to pursue further.

 

 

Cost

We ask people to make a donation when they start having 1:1 bell-handling lessons.   Our teachers are volunteers who give their time for free, but donations to the school enable us to make a regular donation to the Church towards the  maintenance of the bells we use, to contribute to the school's and Church's running costs and make an annual donation to ART to support their work.  Our learners also receive a free copy of the Learning the Ropes Log Book and the Ringer's Guide to Learning the Ropes book. 

Please contact us for more information. 

 

"I started learning with Jane, a fellow recruit, in February, with Stuart and Monica as teachers. We have been so lucky to have them as instructors. Stuart took us through the basic techniques step by step. Both showed unlimited patience. For many weeks, I kept going wrong but finally things fell into place and I managed to do the hand stroke and tail stroke unaided!  I have discovered bell ringing is a fascinating art and I love the fact that it is an ancient practice that gives me a connection with bell ringers down the centuries.”
Fay