Ringing Ideas for Lockdown


With no end to lock down in sight, with many of the outstanding jobs in house and garden tackled and with the ringing withdrawal symptoms getting worse here are a few suggestions for how guild ringers might use this period of non-ringing ready for when we do get back into out towers.


You might think of it as a virtual training course: you don't have to do any of it, and only the truly obsessive or the terminally bored would attempt everything, but I hope there's at least one idea here to interest you.


A few things you might consider doing at home:


1) Learn a new method really thoroughly; the blue line, including place bells (i.e. a lead at a time from where each bell starts), the grid (i.e. a single lead written out with the bell numbers), coursing orders, similarities and differences to other methods you know.


As many will know, apps like Methodology and Blue Line have a useful practice facility so you can tap the method out on phone, tablet etc. but I think old-fashioned pen and paper still have a place in learning a method securely. Drawing out the blue line and writing out the grid on squared paper are both helpful.


There's a wealth of material available on how to learn methods. This is a small selection of some that I, and others, have found useful;


John Harrison's Learning Curve articles, originally published weekly in the Ringing World but now available as booklets, and more usefully in current circumstances online, cover all aspects of learning including one on learning methods: here's the link.



For those in the early stages of learning methods the ART (Association of Ringing Teachers) Ringer's Guide to Learning the Ropes is excellent and, in addition to basic ringing skills, covers from Plain Hunt to Plain Bob Minor clearly and concisely. The ART site's mail order facility is temporarily closed but I know some guild ringers already have their own copy.


I rate the Whiting Society's wide range of booklets highly, though some might find the forthright tone and the amount of detail a little off-putting. Persevere and you will find the material they contain is extremely helpful.


Carry on Counting and Doubles or Quit both by Karl Grave will help with the difficulties of learning your first method.


Plain Bob Minor - A Mine of Information by Anthony Bishop tells you more than you ever thought there was to know about the method, including good advice on how to learn it.


For those with more experience but still, as we all are, learning how to learn I recommend How to Learn Methods by Michael Foulds and the series of booklets on spliced treble bob and surprise minor (a Whiting Society speciality).


These and many others can be bought online from:



Learning Methods by Michael de Henshaw is also very helpful but more difficult to obtain.


Getting it into your head is, of course, only half the learning process and you can't at present do the other half of ringing it in the tower, although, with the recent arrival of Ringing Room you may now be able to do ringing at a distance as we are doing everything else.


2) Learn about an aspect of ringing theory you've not considered before; for a newer ringer this might be something like coursing order or getting to grips with the vocabulary of bell ringing, all those puzzling terms you haven't had the time or opportunity to ask about but still are not sure exactly what the mean - you could start your own ringing vocabulary book.


The link below is to a list of ringing terms by Alistair Donaldson who is a tutor on the Bradfield and Essex Ringing Courses.



For those with a bit more experience place notation (a shorthand way of defining a method) might be one of those aspects you know of but don't know about in detail that would be worth studying.

Below is a link to the Central Council's useful online booklet on place notation..



3) Think about calling touches. We can't all be great conductors but all method ringers can learn and call a few touches and all call change ringers are capable of calling into Queen's or Tittums and back to Rounds.


A comprehensive and confidence-building book on this is Steve Coleman's Bob Caller's Companion available from;

4) Delve into ringing history - you might be interested in the early days of ringing or you might like to research the history of your own tower, or look at a single aspect like bell founders, peal boards, women in ringing, or countless other aspects.

Back issues of The Ringing World from 1911 to 1970 and its predecessor Bell News (1881 to 1915), together with some earlier publications are freely available here:



John Eisel's Church Bells of Breconshire is the definitive work on the subject.


Steve Coleman's The Ringing in History Companion gives an entertaining take on various subjects (see link above).


Nearer home, the current state of Paul Johnson's collection of Newspaper Extracts on local bells and ringing, going back to 1809, can be found here:


This is still very much 'work in progress'.


Finally if you have questions on any of this do email or phone me, I may not know the answer but most probably can put you in touch with someone else who does. I've also got training notes on some of the topics I've mentioned which I can email on request.


Kath Johnson, Training Officer

email: kath.neuadd@gmail.com

Phone: 01874 658670