Learning to Ring


This is what happens when a bell is rung.  The bell is pulled up to the point of balance and just beyond.  This is called the handstroke.  Gravity takes over and the ringer's skill is to control the bell, by means of the bellrope, so that  the bell strikes at the right moment as it nears the top of its circle.  This is where the backstroke starts, the ringer controlling the bell so that it makes the reverse circle, striking again before the handstroke commences once again.



The Ringing Chamber is a large room located on the floor below the Bell Chamber. There are two floor levels in this Chamber, in order to give more height when ringing the bells.  Ten ropes fall in a circle (called the ringing circle) appearing through the ceiling via a garter hole.

The photograph was taken soon after the Ringing Chamber was redecorated in 2003, and before the peal boards were rehung on the walls.  One such peal board can be seen on the floor to the right of the picture.  This board is unusual in that it is of marquetry design with wooden letters - some restoration has been carried out by the father of Steven Triggs.


How long does it take to learn?

Initial teaching takes place on a one to one basis and most learners will be ready to ring with a band in a few weeks or months.  There is always something new to learn and ringers progress at their own pace, depending on the time and effort devoted to increasing their knowledge.  The skill lies in being able to control a bell that rotates full circle using a rope attached to a wheel.

 What happens next?

The bells are tuned to a diatonic scale and it is usual to start with the bells ringing down the scale, a sequence which ringers call "rounds". The order in which the bells sound is then altered to give different sequences of rows or "changes", as we ringers call them - hence the name Change Ringers. Changes may be called out individually by the conductor, and this style is known as call-change ringing, which we sometimes use at Oxton, especially for weddings. Alternatively, the changes may be made to a pre-set pattern or "method", and each ringer must learn that method in order to know when his or her particular bell must sound in each row. This style is known as method ringing. Call changes and a few standard methods are rung in most towers and this makes it very easy for Oxton ringers to visit and ring with other bands, since many of the methods we ring are what you may call 'standard' - they are rung just about anywhere where there is a band good enough. There are many basic and advanced methods which we ring for the more experienced ringers.

The names we give to methods are suffixed by a word denoting how many bells are used.  So, for example, Plain Bob Doubles is rung on 5 bells as are all Doubles methods.  Minor denotes 6 bells, Triples 7 bells, Major 8 bells, Caters 9 bells, Royal 10 bells.  If we ring at Chester Cathedral for example, we can ring Cinques on 11 bells and Maximus on 12 bells.

Once you have learned the basic technique you will always be made welcome when you visit others towers and there are more than 5,000 of them!


When are bells rung?

bulletFor church services
bulletFor weddings
bulletFor special occasions
bulletFor practice
bulletFor our quarter peals and peals


What's in it for me?

bulletBeing part of a team
bulletProviding a service for the church
bulletA good social life
bulletAn absorbing hobby
bulletContinually learning something new




Protecting Young People

Parents of young people can be assured that we will maintain a safe environment in the belfry. The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has established Guidelines which we will follow. The Guidelines can be viewed here.    Also, click for a Consent Form