The bells, the bells!

I am a church bell ringer. I took it up a few years ago. I always liked hearing the bells, but during one December (including Christmas) it saddened me to only ever hear five of our six bells ring, I thought it must be a sign that I should take up this activity, and I did.

When I started I was given this book to help me.


The Ringers’ Handbook. The apostrophe after the s in Ringers does remind us that ringing is a team game.

I felt honoured to be given this book, bearing, as it does, the name of T Gye.


Tom was still ringing when I started but age and frailty made him give up soon after. He rang our bells for 70 years.

The book was written back in 1932.


In fact, my copy is a 1970 reprint.

I now feel it was a mistake to give this book to a starting ringer. It is just so technical and complex and off-putting. Just look at this extract.


As a starter, not one word of this made any sense to me. All my thoughts were on catching ropes at the right place and pulling with just the right degree of firmness. Giving a raw novice all this technical stuff would be enough to make a lot of folks give up immediately.

Actually, two of us started at much the same time and we were a great mutual support duo. We managed to get an understanding of what great tables of numbers might mean.


Simpler books are available and I’d recommend new ringers are not given a book like this one. After my 6 years of ringing I still only manage the more simple changes. Most of old Tom’s former book remains a complete mystery to me.

I’d better add that I enjoy my ringing. It is great to be part of a supportive and friendly team who help, gently cajole, and offer much encouragement. And there is real pleasure when things go well.


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4 Responses to “The bells, the bells!”

  1. Thom Hickey Says:

    Thanks. The sound of church bells is one of the most glorious and evocative sounds of England. Keep ringing! Happy New Year. Thom.

  2. Pete Says:

    Do they still ring the bells in ML on New Years Eve at midnight? I have an early memory (age 5) of being up in the middle of the night at my bedroom window with my Mum, being told that it was now 1983, and listening to the bells ringing in the new year, presumably from Market Lavington – not that I ever remember hearing the bells any other time from Twentylands, but perhaps I just didn’t listen out for them.

    • locksands Says:

      I’m afraid we don’t ring in the New Year now. It was last done about 6 years ago. The thought is that it is very noisy and would disturb people. I have to say, so do fireworks and the general happy people noise in the village.

      We can hear bells from three neighbouring villages if conditions are right so I’m sure you could have heard them up on the sands.

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