Common Time 2019

Bell Ringing

The Bells
The Bells are housed on the floor immediately above the ringing chamber

Winchester is the only school in the country with its own ring of six bells in its own chapel still rung by boys of the School for services in the Chapel. The ringing chamber (shown in the accompanying photographs), is accessed from outside the chapel and indeed forms an entrance foyer for the organ loft - again accessed from outside the chapel. (Assistant organists have been seen racing around the chapel during a service in order to gain access to the organ after conducting the choir or vice versa.)

The art of bell ringing comes under the heading of the Graeco-Latin term campanology. This inclusive term refers to all aspects of bells but includes methods of ringing which can be varied, but in England and other British-influenced countries around the world, it usually takes the form of change ringing or method ringing. Winchester has a ring of 6 bells (see below) and with change ringing it is, with skill and training, possible to carry out peals (a sequence of changes in order of the ringing of the bells) which can take hours to ring and give much pleasure particularly for those with a penchant for such things. Mastering Cambridge Surprise Minor is intellectually satisfying in addition to aiding physical co-ordination.

One of the joys of bell ringing is that it introduces one not only to others with an interest, but to the upper, out-of-normal-reach quarters of church towers. It can be practised all round the world wherever there is a ring, for bell ringers are a welcoming bunch wherever they may be. They are indeed known as ‘bands'.

There are five bells in St Michael's Chapel (Micla) but they are unplayable for reasons various.

Novices are taught once a week for twenty minutes until they are capable of ringing for services. Those who progress well often ring at the cathedral. Boys who think they might be interested in this art can seek out the don in charge.

An interesting and informative web site which lists bells around the country and the bell-ringing world is Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers.    

Name Measurements Pitch Date of manufacture
Tenor 3' 3 3/8" G 1637
Fifth 3' 1" A 1593
Fourth 2' 10 1/8" B 1737
Third 2' 6 13/16" C 1952
Second 2' 5/15" D 1659
Treble 2' 3 9/16" E 1866