You can ring my bell: Tab tries bell ringing

It wasn’t exactly like that Mars advert, but it was a lot of fun


Following our adventure at BatSoc, my flatmate Kat and I were looking forward to a new challenge. Scouring the Guild website we found Change Ringers – a church bell ringing society. After emailing the group to confirm the meeting, I excitedly texted all my friends to let them know of my new hobby.

Before we left for the church our housemate gleefully warned us that she had heard many-a story of inexperienced bell-ringers flying up into the bell tower, still grasping the rope, and not coming back down. Cheers for that. I was also imagining a scene similar to the Mars adverts…

What I was imagining…

Fortunately, (or unfortunately), it became clear upon arrival that there was no such danger. The holes that the bells went through would barely pose a danger to a bell-ringing mouse. We were assured that you could not swing off the bells, nor would they be strong enough to pull you up with them, although bells can be very heavy, (the biggest in Britain being a 16.5 ton bell in St. Paul’s cathedral).

The reality

With my growing dismay I also suddenly remembered my aversion to churches in general, and with a statue of the Virgin Mary staring judgmentally at me, and the bells chiming out ‘Bob Minor’, the atmosphere was a little eerie.

Edgbaston Old Church…a little creepy

Luckily, at this point the president of the society invited us to give the bells a try ourselves. Having watched the professionals at work I doubted I was going to be strong enough to even move the rope, but it was surprisingly easy to get the bell going. But we were shocked to hear that they often played longer melodies on the bells, known as ‘peals’, which lasted anywhere between 45 minutes for a quarter peal, or 3-4 hours for a full peal! No wonder the Hunchback didn’t get out much.

The melodies can last a while…probably why Hunchback didn’t get out too much

If you’ve been considering building up yours guns a bit but don’t fancy heading over to Munrow, bell ringing is certainly a novel way to work on your upper body strength. However, the art requires a lot of practise and is all based on mathematical algorithms. When I asked a member if they ever followed any written music he proudly produced his iPhone and showed us some, confirming that there really is an app for everything!

If you fancy giving this a go the Change Ringers meet every Wednesday evening at 7.30 at Edgbaston Old Church, just past the Vale.