Who Can Ring?
Almost anyone from 12 years old upwards(?) can learn to ring the bells at Headcorn. All that is required is that you are able to raise your hands above your head, can follow simple instructions, be able to count and have a willingness to ring for Sunday services and attend weekly practice nights as often as possible . You do not need to be physically strong, good at maths, musical or be a church goer. It is often said if you can ride a bike you can ring a bell!
Be part of a village tradition going back to a least 1714 and join the 40,000 church bell ringers in the UK by joining the Headcorn band of bell ringers.
Is it Safe?
Church bell ringing is often shown on Christmas cards and certain confectionary adverts as people swinging from the floor to the ceiling and back on the end of a rope. In reality you will keep your feet firmly on the ground and be taught to ring in a controlled and safe way. No learner will ring a bell on their own without the help of an experienced ringer until they can do so safely.
Bell Ringing for Fitness!
A study by The Churches Conservation Trust and fitness charity YMCAfit found campanology improves core strength, agility and co-ordination suggesting bell ringing is a good way of keeping fit.
Stages of Learning
The first thing you will learn is how to handle a bell safely and with sufficient control so you can adjust the speed of the bell and to start and stop it. This is done on a one-to-one basis and you should be able to achieve this level after about a dozen or so individual 30-minute lessons.
Ringing With the Rest of the Band
Once you are able to control your bell and ring with confidence you will start ringing with the rest of the band and learn how to ring rounds. This is where the bells are rung one after the other in a sequence from the highest pitched bell to the lowest. You will have an experienced ringer standing with you to ensure you are ringing safely and in the right part of the sequence.
Once you have mastered ringing in rounds and can ring unassisted the next stage is to ring call changes. The ringers start by ringing rounds then the conductor calls different pairs of bells to swap places. To change places the higher pitched bell needs to slow down so it can follow the lower pitch bell and the lower pitch bell needs to speed up so it rings before the higher pitched bell. Being able to controlling the speed of your bell is the basis of all ringing.
Once you are confident ringing call changes the next stage is to ring methods. This is when ringers follow a pattern called a method, where the bells change the order in which they strike each time. Methods vary enormously in complexity, providing additional challenges for ringers at all levels of proficiency.