Bells and Bell Ringing 

What is Bell Ringing all about?

The primary purpose of church bells around the world is of course to call people to worship, and Sunday service ringing is our primary focus. In most regions of the world church bells are just swung fairly randomly singularly or together, and these days such random swinging of the bells can simply be achieved with the use of electric motors.
However, in the British Isles, since the early 1700's church bells have been rung in an altogether different way. Our bells are rung 'full circle' by skilled individuals meaning Copy of Picture 006that we can control exactly when they strike. This is acheived by the bell ropes being attached to a large wooden wheel attached to to the headstock of each bell as in this photo.
When we ring them together we are aiming to ring them in precise sequences and combinations called 'Methods'. This form of ringing, largely unique to the British Isles and Britains former colonies, requires signficant coordination and concentration to do well. It is both physically and mentally rewarding and there are always new things to learn. The intellectual reward one can get is is perhaps best likened to the feeling you get when you have completed a cryptic crossword or a tricky Sudoku! Good ringers get 'the bug'.
So yes, we ring for services,  but we also ring to practice and further ourselves in the art of Change Ringing and to keep this tradition alive. Ashtead has a long tradition as as a leading tower in the area and even before transport was easy, visiting ringers came to Ashtead because it was a 'centre of excellence' .
This photo shows one of the Peal Boards in the tower. This one commemorates the first Peal of Ashtead Surprise Major which was rung on January 18th 1932. Copy of Picture 020 A 'Peal' is over 5000 'changes'; in this particular Peal, 5056 unique combinations of the eight bells being rung together. For each of these eight ringers this meant 5056 pulls of the rope, hence why it took 3 hours!
The following links will help you to understand a bit more about what we do. They will also be of interest to you if you think it might be something that you would like to learn to do. 
If you think you might like to learn to ring, or just interested to learn more, then please get in touch so that we can arrange for you to come up the tower and see for yourself what is involved.
See the Contacts section.

Richard Trueman, 09/09/2008