Bellringing what’s it all about?

I frequently get asked to explain what bellringers do when they ring the bells. Well watching the last series of Strictly Come Dancing it occurred to me how similar ballroom dancing and bell ringing are, apart from the obvious differences e.g. bells, ballrooms and & sequins.

The similarities are numerous, namely both are;

  1. very good exercise for mind as well as the body (and much more interesting than going to the gym),
  2. in dancing to be able to perform some of the difficult lifts you need to prepare the body for what’s going to happen next. Bellringers is the same, to make a heavy bell ring at a different speed, to carry out a manoeuvre in the right place requires a degree of anticipation,
  3. both activities require rhythm – dancing would be boring to watch and bellringing difficult to do without it,
  4. neither activity can be done on your own. Dancing requires at least two people and bellringing 1 per bell (that’s 5 people in South Scarle). Some large churches have 12 bells so that’s 12 people,
  5. the ability to count is vital. Dancers have to count the number of steps in the routine, bellringers count their place in the method,
  6. in both you learn various basic moves and sequences. In dance you could have a quarter turn, progressive chasse, a forward lock with a natural turn and you’d be dancing a basic quick step. In bellringing you could dodge 3/4 down, make 4 blows behind, dodge 3/4 up, make seconds and with a bit of hunting in between you are ringing plain bob doubles. So in each activity by learning and practicing all these various moves participants can eventually take part in some fairly exuberant and challenging routines.
  7. Bellringing and dancing each have a clear defining start and finish to a routine. In ballroom dancing its usually from a completely stationary position, while in bellringing we start in rounds and finish in rounds. Rounds is like playing the scales on a piano.
  8. Their are strict rules which must be observed in both pursuits when participating at higher levels.

There are currently a couple of excellent videos on You Tube showing bellringing from a beginners prospectus. Up the spiral staircase, & bellringing: its harder than it looks.
If any body would like to join us I am currently looking to recruit up to two more ringers. To express your interest please contact me on 01636 893 392.

Richard Sutton