A call to worship - bells and ringers

03 March 2023

The place a bell holds in church can be varied from an often heard reminder that the church is there or a seldom seen and seldom heard part of a church building.

Church bells ropes

For some, church bells are a call to worship and a reminder of the connectedness of us all.

Like many other activities in churches, bell ringing was ‘shut down’ along with churches during the pandemic and only as churches have gone back to face-to-face worship has there been a return to ringing. However some churches have struggled to reopen and with this rings of bells have been at risk as some churches don’t hold services, lack funds to maintain the bells and also have fewer events like baptisms and weddings which would have called for ringing.

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR) is working in partnership with the Church to assist with their initiatives to support churches to stay open, through focussed and targeted approaches on what is possible and sustainable. There is also a drive to recruit more ringers, particularly amongst younger people. For example;

  • The Young Change Ringers Association was founded during lockdown and has now held its first events. This is the first national bellringing organisation created by young ringers for themselves.
  • Lesson plans that introduce bellringing across the school curriculum have been developed and piloted in schools.
  • A major funding bid is being prepared to support the structured introduction of bellringing to schools including the use of a new ‘Mobile belfry’.

Bells tend to be out of sight and mind; because of this, maintenance of the skills of ringing as well as the bell may not always be at the top of the agenda. To avoid the loss of skills and the bell falling short in maintenance, churches are encouraged to maintain a good relationship with the ringers, to encourage ringing by supporting local and national events and to include bell ringing in funding and fundraising efforts. In return, bellringers themselves are looking to increase their visibility in the church both at local level by being represented on the PCC, and at national level by bellringing organisations developing closer links with Dioceses and the Church.

Our support for bell ringing ranges from guidance on our website to colleagues applying their specialism and personal experiences to support your church. Becca Meyer, one of our Risk Appraisers shared her experience of being a ringer and how it supports her in her role to support you.

“I learnt to ring when I was four years old and so the church has always been a big part of my life. It’s therefore exceptionally pleasing that by doing my day job I am able to return some of the support that the church has offered me. Other Risk Management Surveyors have turned to me for advice when they’ve stumbled across something a bit unusual in the tower whilst undertaking a survey – the one that sticks firmly in my mind was a home-made rope warmer! I was able to explain to the non-ringing surveyor the purpose of this bit of kit and how it was likely to be used, which enabled us to offer relevant and proportional advice about managing the risks whilst using it On the flip side, it is interesting to apply the knowledge I have learnt in my job role when I go to churches to enjoy my hobby – I can’t help but notice fire extinguishers and lightning conductors now!”

Ecclesiastical’s giving and volunteering schemes have seen some of the Risk Management Surveyor team spend their volunteering day in a church tower, applying preservative to an ancient (1706) bell frame. As part of this, a £1,000 donation was given to the project via personal grants. Benefact Trust, the parent company to Ecclesiastical, also donated £2,250 to this project.

Read our guidance note on Bellringing to support you to safely hold demonstrations and bell ringing events.

Bell ringing - guidance

Conditions of use applying to change–ringing bells