The sound of church bells ringing is something synonymous with the typical English village; something that everyone recognises, but probably something that few know anything about. For a start, it involves a group of people working together. Secondly, it takes a lot of learning which is why we have a weekly practice night. Thirdly, it is a very social group of people who are of a wide range of ages, enjoy going out (local pubs and eating establishments are not uncommon) and who have a lot of fun in the process! However, you may no little about change ringing.
A misconception: the sound of the clock chiming every hour is generated by the clock mechanism itself; ringers are not required for this (thankfully!).
How are the bells rung?
In mainland Europe, the general method of making a noise with the bells is to chime them (i.e. so the clapper bashes from side to side) with the result of a jangling sound of the bell.
In the UK, the method of ringing church bells differs quite a bit from this. Each bell is mounted on a big wooden wheel around which a rope is fed. When the bell is rung (by pulling on the rope), the wheel (and bell) moves a full circular motion, with the clapper striking the bell once for each direction the wheel travels. By the way the system is set up, you don’t actually need to be strong to be able to control and ring the bell.
What’s in it for me?
All sorts of things! If you are interested in:
- Working in a team
- Joining a social crowd of people
- Learning something all the time
- Having a hobby which is slightly ‘different’ to the norm
- Having a hobby which allows you to turn up to towers all over the world (they’re not all in the UK!) and be made welcome
then why not give it a try!
Can anyone learn?
Bell ringing is a hobby which can be taken up by almost anybody who is willing to learn – you do not need to be particularly strong or musical. However, learning to ring takes a while so you must be dedicated and prepared to come to a teaching session one evening a week – our practices are on Thursday evenings. There are no real barriers on who can learn to ring providing you are big enough (normally as long as you’re at least aged 11 this shouldn’t be a problem) and you are in reasonable fitness (for example being able to stand and lift your arms in front of you).
If you are interested, please get in touch (see the contact page above for details) and we can arrange for you to come along.
There are more than 40,000 bell ringers in the UK coming from all walks of life. They are young and old, men and women, girls and boys, short and tall, non-musical and musical, church-goers and non-churchgoers.
Do I have to go to church?
Whilst it is true that the ringing of churchbells is linked in with religion and the church, it is also true that many bell ringers do not regularly go to church in any other form! At Norbury we certainly leave it up to the individual as to whether they actually go into the church service.
So just because you do not regularly go to church doesn’t mean you can’t learn to ring!