Become a Tower Bell Ringer
"A timeless art, carried out by generations of ringers since the end of the 17th century."
We need some more people learning to ring at Ecclesfield. It could be the interest you are looking for.
There is a place for you. Do something different
Be part of a village tradition, help to keep the bells ringing out over Ecclesfield. When you are ringing these bells you are connecting with the history of Ecclesfield. There are over 40,000 people ringing bells in the UK at over 5,000 towers. It's a fun hobby open to everyone.
Contact us now, email: email@example.com for more information.
We are always interested in meeting and teaching anyone who would like to learn to ring our church bells. It doesn't matter what age you are, adults and young people are all welcome. This ancient art will only continue if we pass it on to others and to another generation.
Please come and watch us ringing, there is no obligation to learn. As we are in a room in the tower it's not like a public performance where an audience can see us. It's difficult for us to recruit when people can't see what we do.
What is Bell Ringing all About?
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers represents all who ring bells in the English tradition with rope and wheel, have a look at their website by using this link. It will help answer the question. But, talk to our ringers as well and see why they do it and why some of them have done it all their life. Or just read on as we explain why we do it.
Could I Do That?
YES YOU CAN - Church bell ringing is often wrongly portrayed as swinging on ropes with people flying up and down. In fact the way church bells are rung requires little strength or effort, is well controlled and with practice very accurate. Ringers remain standing on the floor and do not have to be acrobats. Tower bell ringing is still done in the same way as when it began in the 17th century.
Ringing does not require a large amount of effort, only an ability to count, a sense of timing, a willingness to ring for Sunday services and attend practice nights as often as possible. No musical knowledge is needed and no music is used. Ringing is well within the capabilities of most people.
We will teach young people but children must attend with a parent or carer on their first visit and first lessons and should be at least 11 years old. We have a Child Protection Policy.
Church bell ringing is a team activity that is good mental excercise, it challenges you to use your brain and helps to keep you fit. In learning to ring you will be part of a global group of friends, start a lifelong learning experience, maintain a traditional skill and serve your community. People from all over the world ring tower bells. It is a fun hobby open to everyone.
It's something unusual to do in this age of electronic technology. The bells are part of the village's sound landscape, they are probably the oldest musical instruments still being used regularly in the village. They are a link to the past. Ecclesfield residents hundreds of years ago heard the same sounds.
Our practice night is Tuesday from 7.30pm to 9.00pm.
Practice night is from 7.30pm to 9.00pm. On your first visit we will show you round the ringing chamber and belfry, you will see what we do and meet the ringers. Hopefully you will like us, like what you see and want to be part of it.
We have ringers who learnt when they were young, had a break then have taken it up again. If you can ring and are wondering whether to start again, please do come and see us. If you have moved into the area recently and you can ring, please call in.
I've been, I'm Interested, What's Next
To begin with we will teach you 1 to 1 with a few extra people to act as helpers until our instructors are confident you can handle a bell on your own.
Once you have mastered bell control and can ring with others in rounds (the bells descending down the musical scale), the next step is to learn to ring call changes. In call changes the team continue to ring the same repeating sequence until the conductor changes the order by calling a new change. This provides a bit of variation but its repetitive nature is pleasing to listen to particularly for weddings. Then we move on to Change Ringing.
The access to the tower is round the back of the church through the small wooden door opposite the old vicarage. Climb the spiral stairs, keep going up the straight stairs and in through the wooden door. To learn to ring at Ecclesfield you must be able to climb the 42 steps. If you are not able to climb steps, contact us and we will advise you where your nearest tower is with a ground floor ringing chamber. There is an accessible toilet in the Church.
What is Change Ringing?
Church Bell Ringers centuries ago realised that if you had for example 6 bells there are 720 different combinations of the 6 bells that could be rung. If you could change the order at every pull you would produce an ever changing sound and make ringing the bells much more interesting. This however required all ringers to know how the order changed at every pull and have a method of remembering how they changed. Thus change ringing was born. The changes (called Methods) are hundreds of years old but new ones are being composed regularly. There is a video on our Video Page which shows the bells ringing to Plain Hunt on 6.
For a band of ringers the ability to ring methods allows the art to continue, handed down from generation to generation and ringer to ringer. Ecclesfield does have a change ringing band so we can continue the long tradition of ringing the changes at St Mary's. But only if more people like you take up bell ringing.
What else do ringers do?
To make bell ringing more interesting ringers visit other church towers. There are over 5000 towers in the UK. The great majority of change ringing bells operate the same way so if you can ring at Ecclesfield, you should be able to ring at other towers just as easily.
As a ringer you will always be welcome at another tower's practice night. Anyone interested in architecture, history, photography, memorials and churchyards will find even more to do. You can have a ring and get to look around a Church, take some interesting photos and see the local area as well.
We arrange outings to other parts of the UK, ringing in some lovely towns and villages, seeing the sights and usually a nice pub lunch, picnic, chip shop to finish off the day.
Many of our ringers are helping out at other towers in the area. You could too if you wanted to.
And Keeping Records
Keeping a log of towers visited, bells rung along with photos is something most ringers do. If you holiday in the UK the temptation to go and have a ring where you are staying will probably find you attending a practice night or getting up early on Sunday to join the local team for Sunday Service ringing. They in turn will be very pleased to see you especially if they are short of ringers.
Every tower is different in its layout, access, the way the bells feel to ring, the sounds and the weights. The more unusual might have a detached tower (Wykeham N Yorks), a tower you go down into (Whitby) a ringing cage (Pershore Abbey), a small ringing chamber (Walkley), ropes that don't form a circle (Marr), ropes that go anti-clockwise (Foxholes), ropes that are in the Chancel (Melbourne Derbyshire) and many more out there to be discovered.
Most bell ringing teams including ours at Ecclesfield have a social side as well. We might go out for a meal, the theatre, after practice we might go to the pub, we have outings to ring at towers in other parts of the country. We occasionally practice at other towers, we've had barbeques and do a bit of handbell ringing.
To get an idea of what we do have a look at the Latest News section of our Latest News Page.
The Yorkshire Association of Change Ringers hold monthly ringing meetings at different towers for ringers to meet other ringers, try new methods, tick off another tower and generally socialise. Often the host tower's ringers will provide food known as a ringers tea.
There is much more to do as a ringer than just ringing the bells at your local Church.
You can email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org