Campanology is the art of ringing church bells. You will have heard these at Sunday services and at weddings at Daresbury Church.
Practices take place every 1st and 3rd Monday evening of the month between 7:30pm and 9:00pm. We are currently recruiting new or experienced ringers to join our band so if you’re interested then come and have a go!
For more information contact
Christine Owens on:
Bellringing is an old tradition which has spread throughout the United Kingdom and a few other parts of the world during the past 500 years, the technique is passed down through the generations. The main purpose of ringing is to serve the church – calling people to worship. This is usually for Sunday services, but the bells are also rung to celebrate weddings. There are over 5000 churches with four or more bells in the UK and around 100 towers can also be found in Australia, Canada and the USA. There are more than 40 000 ringers.
All Saints Daresbury has 8 bells. The lightest is the treble and the heaviest is the tenor, weighing 16 hundredweight – approximately 800kg. Bells are rung by people of all ages, anyone from 11 years old can learn – it is 10% effort and 90% skill. Some people like to stay ringing the easiest things while others always push themselves to learn something new. There’s always more to do (even if you ring for 60 years!) and there’s always a place for you if you want to keep ringing what you know.
Learning begins on a one-to-one basis with two skills to be learnt and developed. Firstly there is the physical skill of controlling a bell – speeding up and slowing down to change position – and secondly there is the mental challenge of learning the patterns of change ringing.
To ring well you have to concentrate on
several things at once – to be in the right place at the right time. There is a frequent misconception that ringing requires great strength. Although bells can weigh over a ton, the technique of balancing and controlling a bell is most important. The weight of the bell itself does most of the work – the ringer must control the rope.
As people become more capable at ringing, they may begin to ring peals and quarter peals. These are defined by the number of changes in the order of the bells. Peals are over 5000 changes and can last over three hours. Quarter peals are over 1250 changes and last around three quarters of an hour. At this more manageable length, they can be rung before services or weddings.
Each bell is mounted on a headstock – a beam attached to a wooden wheel – and these are arranged to hang in a circle. The rope is attached to the rim of the wheel, which it winds round. A multicoloured woollen tuft is woven into each rope – this is known as the sally and marks where the ringer must catch the rope. The bell starts at rest in the upward position and is balanced. When the rope is pulled, the bell goes over the balance, swings through 360º and back up to the same position on the other side.
As the bell rotates, the rope winds around the wheel and the tail end rises to a point where the ringer can just reach it (known as the backstroke). The rope then comes off the wheel again, as the bell turns the other way, and the ringer catches the sally (known as the handstroke). As the bell comes to a rest, the clapper catches up with it, and the sound is heard.
Each bell is a different note in the music scale, although different towers are in a different musical key. The sequence starts with the highest note on the lightest bell (the treble) and ends with the lowest note on the heaviest bell (the tenor). When this sequence is repeated it’s called ‘rounds’. To make it more interesting the order of the bells is changed and this is known as ‘change ringing’.