WHATSOC? Bell Ringers Society!

The Southampton University Guild of Change Ringers (SUGCR) is one of the oldest societies on campus, founded in 1954 and remains a small but active society. Change Ringing is the […]


The Southampton University Guild of Change Ringers (SUGCR) is one of the oldest societies on campus, founded in 1954 and remains a small but active society.

Change Ringing is the ringing of church bells to particular patterns (called methods). The bells are rung one at a time in a sequence and the pattern being rung dictates how the order changes for the next sequence of bells being rung.

Ringing on the 2014 Summer Tour

Ringing on the 2014 Summer Tour

It’s a deceptively challenging hobby but one with a very strong social element, which is probably the most important single aspect for many ringers.

We caught up with the Master, Alice Gibbin, to tell us more.

Bell-ringing is seen as quite a quaint hobby, what appeal is there for students?

I guess you could see it as quaint but that doesn’t mean it’s not open to young people. Ringing itself can be physically and mentally challenging but it’s also a great way to meet new people, make life-long friendships and learn a new skill.

As well ringing we also do a lot of socialising including tours around the country, meeting students from other universities and spending plenty of time in the pub.

What would you say to people who think bell-ringing is “too weird” for them?

Ringing might seem a bit weird, especially if you’ve never heard about it before. But if you’re willing to get over the fact that it’s something new and unusual then you might find you have a real talent for it as well as meeting lots of awesome people.

How have members got into bell-ringing and how open are you to beginners?

Our members will often have learned to ring before joining The Guild. They might have started because of a family member or as part of their D of E, but usually it’s just because they wanted to have a go.

Our members have a wide range of abilities and it’s always great to see people come along who have never tried it before.

What do you do on a typical practice night?

Each week we’ll ring at 1 of the 6 bell towers in Southampton. In each practice we make sure we cater for all abilities. The ringing practice lasts hour and a half (including the mandatory cake break). After which we adjourn to the local pub for the rest of the evening for drinking and other such merriment.

The guild on the 2015 Summer Tour to Kent

The guild on the 2015 Summer Tour to Kent

What would be your personal highlight of the society?

Every year SUGCR holds a formal dinner where we invite all current and past members for an evening including a meal, speeches, a disco and usually too much wine.

Everyone gets involved and is a great way to celebrate the guild’s achievements. It’s the major event for the society and is most people’s favourite part of the year.

 What sort of socials do you offer and describe a typical social?

SUGCR is a very socially active society. As well as our weekly pub sessions we do a wide range of activities, both alcoholic (e.g. wine and cheese night) and non-alcoholic (e.g. inflatable pool party). Socials are an important part of the society and so we make sure there’s something for everyone to get involved in.

Soton Tab or Wessex Scene?

I feel it would be dangerous to say anything other than Soton Tab in present company!!

If you are interested in joining for September, check out the Facebook group here or contact the guild via email here