Bell Ringing & The Bell Tower
Bells have been rung for centuries to herald special
events, to warn of invasion, fire and flood, to notify
people of death and disaster, but mainly they have
been rung to call people to worship or in celebration
of weddings, festivals and anniversaries, and they
are rung to welcome in each New Year.
St Mary’s Church has had bells since 1542 and the
present ring of 6 bells were all cast by the same
founder, Thomas Janaway in 1771. Each bell has
an inscription and they are tuned to the key of F#;
the tenor weighs 15cwt (762 kg). In 1901, the bells
were re-hung in a metal frame and in 1950 they
were taken down, re-tuned and hung with self-
aligning ball bearings.
Change ringing began in Britain over 300 years ago
and it is only in the British Isles and at a few towers
in English speaking countries that bells are rung in
this way. By fixing a wheel to the headstock of the
bell and then tying the rope to the spokes, passing it
through a hole in the rim of the wheel and then
running the rope around the rim, it became possible
to control the bell. It could be raised to the upside-
down position and swung through 360
until it was
upside-down again and then swung back 360
other way. The speed of ringing could be controlled
by varying the length of pull on the rope, causing
the bell to travel through a larger or smaller arc. It
also allowed the bell to be held on the balance in
the upside-down position for a moment giving time
for bells to change place in the round.
A wooden stay was fitted so that the bell could be
rested when upside-down against a sliding stop. If
the rope is pulled too hard this can be broken, the
bell rolls right over and the ringer is raised from the
(The old bell ringing joke – very frightening and
Because bells can only change one place at a time
it is not possible to play tunes, so methods were
devised whereby the bells rang a numerical pattern,
weaving in and out and dodging with one another.
Methods with names like “Bob Doubles” and
“Grandsire Triples” go back a long way in time.
Bell ringing is a fascinating hobby requiring skill,
concentration and teamwork, an art that has been
passed from generation to generation and is
enjoyed by men and women of all ages and from all
walks of life.
If you would like to learn how to ring the bells, come
and join our regular Monday evening practices.
Contact Andrew Cook 01580 200594.
Created for Ticehurst and Flimwell Churches
The bells are rung regularly at:
11 a.m. Sunday Services
Monday evening practices
In addition, the bells are rung half-
muffled on Remembrance Sunday
and very occasionally at funerals.