Become a Bell Ringer

Become a Bell Ringer at St Leonard’s Wortley

Since the 16th century, English change ringing has been part of the British national soundscape. It is also a team-based public performance. Whilst many bell ringers are not members of the congregation, the vast majority belong to a wider group of church supporters committed to the church’s place as part of their community and the national fabric.

Bell ringing’s fusion of physical skill, music, engineering, history, and mathematics makes it a rewarding, almost immersive, pursuit for those who take it up. Bells ringing from churches is a traditional quintessentially English glorious village sound. It is the loudest noise made to the glory of God. Church bells can be heard several miles from the church.

Wortley is part of the Thurgoland and Pilley and Tankersley benefice. St Leonard’s has eight bells. Tankersley has three. Wortley is the ideal training facility for new ringers at Tankersley and Wortley. We teach ringing initially 1 to 1 with helpers from the team. It takes around six hours to learn to control a bell ringing full circle. After that you would be ringing at our practice sessions with the other members of the team. Almost all training is performed by our tower captain and a number of experienced ringers acting as helpers. We are all at different points in our ringing journey and all enjoy each other's successes.

Our ringing room is accessed by a long wooden ladder. We are sorry there is no disabled access to the tower.

Why Learn to Ring?

Bell ringing is a team activity that keeps you fit physically and helps stimulate your brain. It is a great way to connect with your local community and enjoy the historical environment.  Ringers range in ages from ten, to those in their eighties. You don't have to be physically strong, but you do need to be able to a ladder to the ringing room (see photo). We learn methods, we don't ring tunes, so you don't have to be able to read music.  

If you learn to ring you will have:

A global group of friends.

“We are a group of friends who ring rather than ringers some of whom are friends” This quote from one of our ringers sums up how a team of bell ringers can become friends for life. Once you begin ringing you may well do it all your life.

A mental and physical workout.

Bell ringing is about skill, not strength, but ringing is good for maintaining body core strength. Learning the methods also keeps your brain active.

An opportunity to visit other churches and amazing places.

Ringers have the opportunity to visit other churches and ring their bells. There are not enough ringers for all the bells in churches in the UK so visiting ringers are welcomed and ringing at other towers is part of the hobby that many enjoy.

Opportunity to get involved with ringing related social events.

Ringers enjoy social activities as part of their hobby. Visiting the coffee shop is something our team do after Sunday ringing. A pint in the pub after practice night is traditional in many teams, including ours!

Getting involved with church life

Bell ringing is an important part of the life of the church, however bell ringers spend most of their time hidden in the bell tower! There is much more to get involved with, for those who want to, for example Tea and chat groups, churchyard gardening, research, volunteering, fayres, festivals and Friends’ groups. Some team members serve on the Parochial Church Councils. Some ringers support and help organise music events in the church, for example concerts including Grenoside Singers and Bolsterstone Choir. Some ringers have given talks and presentations. For those who want it, there is much more to ringing than just pulling on a rope.

Handbell Ringing

At St Leonard’s Wortley we have an octave of handbells.

They were cast by Shaws of Bradford around the early 1900’s. Handbells are used to help with learning methods but can be used to ring simple tunes and Christmas carols.

Change ringing on handbells is a skill many church bell ringers like to develop and we have ringers who would be happy to teach you.

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