Bellringing at All Saints Whitstable
Would you like to learn a new skill? Or perhaps return to an old one...?
If so please join us at All Saints church on a Wednesday evening from 7.45pm. All ages welcome.
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org
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A recent photograph of the All Saints bellringer team
Learning to Ring the Bells
My name is Julia and I started learning to ring the bells at All Saints Church in August 2021 and I wanted to share my experience with you.
To start at the beginning, I moved into All Saints Close 20 years ago and after moving in I was struck by the beautiful sound of the church bells ringing every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. I enjoyed hearing them and over the years I had considered that I would like to be able to ring the bells, albeit that consideration was sometimes brief and other times more thoughtful.
One of the reasons I suppose I never pursued my desire to ring the bells was because of the comedy sketches you see of (mainly) women pulling on the rope and being shot up into the belfry! Therefore, I thought it would be too heavy and quite difficult.
However, during a conversation with a fellow guest at a garden party in the summer of 2021, she was telling me how she was learning to ring the bells at a church in Faversham and when I said that I had thought about doing that, she told me to ‘just go ahead and give it a try’. It was a light-bulb moment but then I thought, how do I go about contacting the All Saints bell ringers? After some internet searching I eventually found a Facebook page for them and posted my desire to ‘have-a-go’. Howard, one of the ringers, contacted me and arranged for me to attend their practice the following Wednesday evening.
I received such a warm and friendly welcome from everyone and Peter, the Instructor, and Maureen, the Captain, explained the procedure and health and safety guidelines and there was, and is, a camera set up in the bell tower that enabled me to see the bells ringing on a screen when the rope was being pulled. I was allowed to pull the rope with Peter standing by guiding and helping and I can confirm that I did not shoot up into the belfry!
Learning to ring the bells is a careful process and I did not learn to ring them instantly, as I thought would be the case. I was taught each week how to pull and handle the rope safely and correctly; that, whatever happens and unless I am told otherwise, I must never let go of the rope while ringing; how to tie a knot in the rope when I have finished ringing (health & safety), which, with my lack of dexterity, took a while for me to master (perhaps longer then learning to the ring the bell) and, regardless of my misconception that the bells were heavy to ring, it is not about muscle but technique.
I am still learning but speaking to other bell ringers, they say they are always learning. I can now ring on my own and I attend the Sunday morning church service ringing sessions as well as the practice evenings on a Wednesday. I find the process of ringing the bells and being able to hear the bell I am ringing as part of the whole, extremely rewarding. I enjoy the camaraderie and friendship of all the other bell ringers, who are always so reassuring and if I have a ‘bad’ ring, they will never judge me and will be very positive and encouraging. We are a very social group as well, arranging outings to other church towers, holidays and the ‘odd’ drink at The Monument after our Wednesday practice session.
I would like to conclude by saying if you have ever considered bell ringing, do not hesitate to contact us and attend a Wednesday evening practice session between 7.45pm-9pm for a taster session. We are always happy to ‘explain, show and let you have a go’. If you find bell ringing is not for you, that’s okay as it’s not for everyone and we would have been happy to see you anyway. However, you might find it to be an extremely rewarding and enjoyable activity and you could soon be ringing as part of the All Saints Bell Ringers Group.
I thank you for reading my story and if it has inspired and encouraged you to ‘give-it-a-go’, we look forward to seeing you soon.