Bristol Rural Branch
The New or Potential Ringers page
Welcome to the new
or potential ringers page, below are a few questions you might be going to ask!
A young ringer
learning the back stroke.
you want to know
about bellringing? Is it something I could do?
What is it?
It's a traditional English activity, which provides exercise for the mind and
body, a lifetime of leaning options,
social contact, a guaranteed welcome in 5000+ church towers, etc., etc
How long does it take to learn?
Like everything else, it depends, but typically a few months to learn to ring a
bell safely and start to ring with
the other ringers (the 'band'). It's a bit like riding a bicycle - it seems hard
at first, but once you've got the idea, you'll never forget.
Who can learn?
Anyone between 9 and 90+ or click here
What happens when I've learnt to ring?
You'll be able to ring for Sunday church services (the prime purpose of the
bells is to call people to church) and for weddings.
You can start to enjoy visiting other church towers, learning different 'tunes'
(we call them methods), doing the ringing equivalent of the marathon (a peal,
roughly 3 hours of non-stop ringing), meeting people from all walks of life with
the same interest, sharing a pint with them in the local pub after the ringing,
the list goes on and on.
To see the ringing events which take place
How do I get started then?
click here and we'll put you in contact
with a local tower. Go along to see what it's all about, you'll get a very friendly
More about Bells and Bell Ringing
The style of bell ringing that we practice dates from the seventeenth
century. It had developed gradually over previous centuries despite efforts
of the Church to ban all religious bell ringing as part of the Reformation.
Indeed, ringing stayed largely apart from the church until the late
nineteenth century when associations were set up throughout the country
aiming to ensure that church bells were rung primarily to call people to
worship and to mark significant Church events.
There are many ways to make a bell sound: some have the bell fixed and
strike it by a hammer (clock bells sound like this) whereas others swing the
bell and it is struck by a clapper which swings independently within it. The
bell is normally pivoted somewhere around its neck and a rope is used to
swing it attached to a lever connected to the bell. This arrangement allows
the bell to swing up to perhaps the horizontal. Swinging the bell provides
more sound than simply striking it with a hammer.
Full circle ringing is almost peculiar to Britain and members of the
Commonwealth. The lever is replaced by a wheel over which the rope passes
and the bell is able to rotate through an entire circle starting from a
mouth upwards position. The bell can be stopped completely in this up
position. Full rotation gives the maximum sound from a bell because of the
higher relative speeds of bell and clapper. Although the ringer has no
control over the bell when it is in motion crucially he or she is able, by
pulling the rope to control when it starts its rotation. This ability allows
bells of widely different sizes to ring together in sequences known as
Ringers are aged from about eight to over ninety. They vary in skill
level from absolute novices to seasoned professionals. We must continue to
recruit and train new ringers if ringing is to remain a living art. The
ringers do not need to be particularly strong, musical or intelligent, but
do need to be patient as the physical and mental skills required take some
time to learn. The closest analogy to learning to ring is perhaps learning
to ride a two wheeled bicycle; it takes about six months to learn on average
but once learnt is never forgotten. A band of ringers normally practices for
a couple of hours in the evening once a week.
Ringing is enjoyable not only because of the ringing in itself, but also
because each band is in itself a caring, Christian community providing
friendship and companionship. Few other activities permit people of all ages
to mix together on an equal footing. Ringers are also proud of the welcome
extended to visitors in almost all towers; the degree of standardisation in
the ringing and bell-fittings ensures that they can readily fit in wherever
This web site lists the
towers in the branch, and the times
when the tower practices during the week.
The information above is from the Gloucester and Bristol Association web
site for which we are very grateful.
The Branch has a newsletter which is produced
on the fourth Saturday each month to coincide with the monthly branch practice,
have a program of ringing which you are very welcome to join and see what
is happening. You can find what is going on in the branch
by using the links below to the newsletter and the branch calendar.
If you would like further specific information use the email link on the left to
contact the branch.
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