The bells are tuned to a normal (diatonic) scale and it is usual to start with ringing down the scale, a sequence which ringers call “rounds”. The order in which the bells sound is then altered to give different sequences called “rows” or “changes”.
Changes may be called out individually by the conductor, and this style is known as call change ringing. The changes take place on the hand (sally) stroke only. The changes may be made to a pre-set pattern called method ringing and each ringer must learn that method in order to know when his or her bell must sound in each row. The changes take place on both the hand and back stroke.
Call changes and a few standard methods are rung in most towers and this makes it very easy for ringers to visit and ring with other bands. There are many more advanced methods for those who wish to have a more challenging ring.
Change ringing evolved in England in the early part of the 17th century. It has changed very little over time. Today there are more than 40,000 ringers in the United Kingdom varying from all ages and walks of life but they all share a fascinating hobby.
When are bells rung?
For church services, for weddings, for special occasions and for ringers practice and pleasure.
What’s in it for me?
A hobby which involves being part of a team, providing a service for the church, a good social life and continually learning something new.
Bell ringing is good fun. Once you have learned the basic technique you will always be made welcome. There are more than 5,000 church towers so it should not be too difficult to find a ringing band nearby.
How long does it take to learn?
Initial teaching takes place on a one to one basis and most beginners will be ready to ring with a band in a few months. The basic skill lies in being able to control a bell that rotates full circle using a rope attached to its wheel.
There is always something new to learn and ringers progress at their own pace, depending the time and effort devoted to increase knowledge.
Why not give it a go!