The art of bell or change ringing, as it is known, has existed for many hundreds of years. There is evidence of single or multiple bells being used to wake people, call them to work and prayer since 400AD. However, these bells would have been rung in a fairly random and tuneless way. In the 1500’s, experimentation started to take place in order to install bells so that they could be rung in a more pleasing and tuneful order. However, in 1536, the reformation took place resulting in most bells being removed from churches, Abbeys and Monasteries.
Following the Reformation, in the 1600’s many churches began to rehang bells, with most using the new technology of bells mounted on a whole wheel. This gave much greater control using the rope, but the final refinement was a stay and slider to be able to ‘set’ the bell. The ringer could now rotate the bells 360 degrees and stop and start the ringing at will. This is the way that church bells in England are rung now.
The main purpose of ringing the bells in St Mary’s church is to raise attention in the village that a service is about to take place. Other reasons are to celebrate a marriage or to raise awareness that other church events are taking place. Sometimes the bells are rung to celebrate or mark local or national events such as Armistice Day, the dawning of a new year or perhaps the death of a notable person such as a member of the Royal Family.
We are fortunate to have 8 bells in St Mary’s church the first of which date back to 1683. The final 3 bells were installed in 1938 and all have been in situ ever since.
The current ringing band was formed in September 1999 and has been together since. We have rung for every church service, wedding and many other events continuously since the inception of the current band. We meet on Monday evenings from 19.30 – 21.00 in order to practice and advance our skills.
In addition to regular ringing, we welcome new members or those who would like to learn to ring or perhaps discuss ringing and observe us in action. We have tutors who are able to teach this ancient art in the tower.
If you are interested in the bells and ringing, please contact the tower captain