A competitive sport?

Author: Mark Hibbard

Published on: 30 March 2018

Bells have been ringing from churches around the world for many centuries, but the ‘changeringing’ that we are familiar with became popular in England in the 17th century.

In the early days it was a secular activity, becoming popular as a means of gentle exercise and even a competitive ‘sport’. Reforms in Victorian times discouraged ringing other than as part of Christian worship, but since then the secular/non-secular boundaries have again become blurred, and most ringers today consider themselves to provide a service to both the church and the wider community.

For the church: Ringing is still a part of Sunday services, celebrating weddings, mourning the passing of loved ones, and marking festivals like Easter and Christmas. Ringing also providesan opportunity to engage local people with Church activities, and to attract visitors from further afield. An active band of ringers is usually able to take care of (and self-fund) the day-to-day maintenance of the bells. For the community: Ringing provides an opportunity for people of all ages and ability to socialise and enjoy a challenging/ rewarding hobby. The health and wellbeing benefits, for both young and old, have been studied in detail and are well documented. Bells are often rung to help mark national occasions which this year will include the Royal Wedding on 19 May and the Centenary of Armistice Day on 11 November. Last summer at Gressenhall we hosted a bell ringing competition and this saw teams of bells ringers from far and wide travel to our church. It also brought quite a few spectators to see the event. To find out more, visit: www.bigideascompany.org/project/ringingremembers/

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Mark Hibbard

Tower Captain, St Mary’s Church, Gressenhall

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