Safety and safeguarding
To ensure adequate safety and safeguarding, all ringing activities must be supervised by the tower captain or deputy tower captain unless all ringers present are authorised by the tower captain to ring unsupervised.
This page contains descriptions of activities, reference material and resources for St. Mary's ringers. Any changes to the content will be advised in the 'News' section of the main page.
- Safety and safeguarding
- St. Mary's and joint practices
- Other towers' practices
- Training opportunities
- Resources Library list added
- Tower roles
- Tower policies
- Branch and guild matters
Bells are potentially dangerous. All aspects of safety during ringing and maintenance are the responsibility of the tower captain.
- Responsibilty for supervision of ringing and maintenance of bells when down may be delegated by the tower captain. No maintenance is to be undertaken without authorisation of steeplekeeper.
- Only the tower captain, deputy tower captain and steeplekeeper are authorised to inspect or maintain the bells when raised. If this is essential, and cannot be achieved with the bells down, one of these three individuals must be present in the bell-chamber and take responsibility for activities at all times. It is essential that you never work alone. The responsible individual must be accompanied at all times by at least one other ringer.
In line with church's safeguarding policies we must all take measures to ensure our activities as bell ringers comply with the PCC and Diocesan guidelines and other best practice.
Safeguarding and safety policy
Our insurers, the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc. publishes conditions of use applying to change-ringing bells by ringers not under training.
These conditions state that 'the resident Ringing Master, or other person responsible for tower safety, must take reasonable steps to ensure that they are satisfied that all adult ringers (those aged 18 years and over) including visiting ringers are competent. 'Competent’ means that ringers have sufficient experience in the opinion of the Ringing Master.'
A policy covering the proper supervision of ringing at St. Mary's exists in order to compy with our insurers conditions and to ensure that safeguarding and physical safety during ringing and maintenance are given the priority they deserve, The policy documents permitted delegation of responsibilities.
All ringers should be familiar with the policy on supervision of ringing; click here to see the latest version.
The ringing log book
Use of the "Ringing activity log book" underpins safety and safeguearding during ringing at St.Mary's. The leader of each session is responsible for
- ensuring the policy on the supervision of ringing is applied
- completing an entry in the log book.
Before ringing the leader should
- add a new heading with date and activity
- check the last entry to determine whether the bells were serviceable when last rung
- if serviceable ringing can proceed without physical checks
- if in doubt, pre-ringing checks must be completed and documented
- For all ringing other than service ringing, ensure each person present signs their name
After ringing, the leader is responsible for
- recording whether the bells are serviceable
- if appropriate (after practices, simulator sessions etc.) checking all ringers have signed the book
All communication with outside bodies and individuals about any aspect of St.Mary's tower, bells and ringing activities should be routed through the tower captain.This includes incoming and outgoing correspondence with the PCC, Chester Branch, Chester Diocesan Guild, visitors and others.
Click below for the latest correspondence from the Branch
Communicating availability for Sunday ringing
To avoid disappointment, check the list on the main page before coming ringing. The objective is to have at least 6 ringers on Sunday mornings; ropes will be shared if there are more.
A list is posted on the tower noticeboard for ringers to indicate availability/unavailability. This will be reflected on the webpage.
If you are not available to ring for a Sunday service and this is not reflected in the list above, please advise the tower captain. Notification received by noon on Saturday before ringing should appear above by 21:00.
If more than 6 ringers are listed and you prefer not to ring let the tower captain know.
If numbers drop below 5 ringing will be cancelled and notification posted on the main page.
Invitiations to ring for weddings and extra services
Ringers will be invited to ring for weddings and extra services other than regular (2nd and 4th) Sunday sevices. Bands for each will be posted on the main page when a full band has been assembled.
St. Mary's practices are Thursday between 19.30 and 21:00pm except on the first Thursday of every other month when we go to Tattenhall for a combined practice to share expertise.
Practices will not normally be cancelled even if numbers are low. Please arrive promptly so as to make the best use of the time available.
Please email or text the tower captain if you are unable to attend so a plan can be made to best use the time, for example by revising handling 1-on-1, inviting Tattenhall ringers to visit or using the simulator.
Silent simulator practices will be held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month . They will start at 19:30 and the simulator will be allocated in 30 minute pre-booked slots. Bookings will only be taken in person at a regular Thursday practice.
The aim is to use technology to make this practice more effective for learning and more efficient for those that attend. Specifically, there is no obligation to arrive before your slot or to stay after; you could ring a touch of 720 changes and be back home within 45 minutes of leaving.
This practice is for ringers who are competent at handling a bell. There will be no instruction, just help with running the simulator for your chosen exercise. You may want to concentrate on improving striking by ringing rounds in the company of 5 perfect (if virtual) ringers or increase your method ringing repertoire on 6 or more bells with touches called by the simulator, the choice is yours.
Once you are able to strike basic methods well on five bells at St. Mary's, you can do a lot to improve your ringing by visiting other practices where the band is able to ring the methods you are learning. Tower captains at all the Branch towers welcome keen ringers that visit to learn in this way, but best practice is to make contact first to discuss your objectives.
When visiting any practice, you will be expected to have studied any method that you plan to attempt. The minimum is to have committed the blue line to memory, including the coursing order, the order of work and treble-passing cues.
A joint practice is held with the Tattenhall band on the first Thursday of each month, alternating between the towers. Ringing will be at Tattenhall on the dates shown on the main page, when there will be no practice at St. Mary's.
Competent St. Mary's ringers have been invited to attend St. Oswald's practice on the second Wednesday of each month; ringing starts at 19:00.
The minimum standard is to be able to ring plain hunt on 6 competently and with good striking; if in doubt, please speak to the Tower Captain before attending this practice.
Methods will initially be Plain Bob doubles and minor plus Plain Hunt on 8. Please do your homework if you intend to come along.
The Chester Branch of the Diocesan Guild organises a programme of training and other activities. Training sessions that are suitable for our band are listed below with the date and location of the next session.
The full programme of Chester Branch activities is availablehttps://chesterdg.org.uk/events-201/
Branch training events are highly recommended for any who are serious about learning to ring methods. However, you will be expected to know any method you want attempt thoroughly, so do your homework in advance so as not waste others' time. You can rehearse on paper, using a "method tutor" app or the St. Mary's simulator.
Helen Mitchell runs training meetings (a.k.a "ringing days") on Saturdays throughout the year. Two sessions, one at a 6-bell tower and one at an 8-bell tower, are held each day. They provide opportunities to ring new methods with the help of experienced ringers to stand behind and prompt when needed, or to consolidate methods already attempted at St. Mary's.
The 6-bell practice is usually in the morning and is aimed at those who can ring rounds and call changes and wish to progress to method ringing and those who are wishing to be competent ringing up to a plain course of Bob doubles or minor.
The 8-bell session is aimed at those who wish to progress to ringing plain courses of plain bob triples or major.
Places will be normaly allocated on a first come first serve basis. When booking, please state your preference of either the morning OR afternoon session. Places will not be available on the day.
These are aimed at all ringers from those able to ring rounds and call changes up to and including surprise ringers. St. Mary's ringers attend to practice will also get to hear more advanced ringing that may provide inspiration!
Ringing master's practice:
The ringing master’s practices are aimed at competent change ringers wish to practice Stedman and surprise methods. This is the logical next step after attending Malpas practices and learning to ring advanced methods on 8 bells.
Non-digital resources (a.k.a 'The library')
A selection of ringing books is available on loan from the Tower Captain. Most, but not all, are valuable training aids, some easier to use than others. Many more are available in the Guild library and archive
Camp, J. (first published 1968). Discovering Bells and Bellringing: Shire Publications Ltd.
A short and eclectic round up of the background, technique, history, traditions and miscellanea of bellringing (sic).
Tyler, M. (1981). A Beginner's Handbook: Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.*
The green book. The standard text for beginners at St.Mary's. Read the Yellow book when you get to Chapter 3 and before moving on to Chapter 4. All St. Mary's ringers should have a copy.
Grace, K. (2nd ed. 2009). Carry on Counting: The Whiting Society of Ringers.*
The Yellow Book. An introduction to Plain Punting and the plain course of Plain Bob Doubles. There is nothing in this that you will not have heard in the tower.
Harrison, J., Lewis, C. (2009). The New Ringers' Book: Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.*
Written to meet the needs of new ringers in the 21st century this 157 pp A5 book describes not only what to do and how, but also why. Well illustrated and very easy to navigate and use, look at it periodically to consolidate recent learning and prepare for new.
Smith, R., Tyler, M. (1998). Towards better striking: Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.*
6 pages of A5 that should be read by all.
Harrison, J. (1987, reset 2001). Raising and lowering in peal: Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.*
28pp A5, Notes written for the band at a tower where the standard of raising and lowering was even worse than ordinary ringing who, together, rang far worse than they would have done singly.
Lucas, G. (2004). Kaleidoscope Ringing: Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.*
A constructive alternative to call changes that helps to bridge the gap from rounds to method ringing.
Foulds, M. (2008). How to learn methods: The Whiting Society of Ringers.*
Originally a course handout, this fairly densely and idiosyncratically written and illustrated 80-page A5 book is addressed to those who enjoy the challenge of ringing a wide repertoire of method. It is not about methods; it is eponymous, that is it is about techniques for learning them.
Snowdon, J.W (14th edition , 2011). Diagrams : The Yorkshire Association of Change Ringers.*
What ringers used before apps. It contains the blue lines for the standard (and a other) methods from minimus (in 4pt font) to maximus (in 1pt font). And nothing more. No explanation, hints or tips, or encouragement.
Powell, E.S. & M., (1932, 9th Ed 1968) The Ringers' Handbook: Whithead & Miller.
Wonderfully arcane. From bell handling to Kent Treble Bob Minor via Plain Bob Minimus, Plaing Bob, Grandsire and Stedman Doubles in 72 action packed and fun filled pages. "Awesome", The Ringing World.
Snowdon, J.W (1987 reprint). Ropesight: Christopher Groome.*
'Ropesight: An Introduction to the Art of Change Ringing' was first published in 1879 and become the accepted standard textbook on change ringing. It says much of what you will learn from other texts, only in arcane and impenetrable language.
DVD training aids
A Guide to Bell Handling* is an Association of Ringing Teachers DVD that gives examples of proficient bell handling, demonstrates many of the common handling problems learners have and explains how to correct them. Reviewing relevant sections is a good way to develop exemplary handling skills and prevent occasional idiosyncrasies becoming habits that will ultimately prevent progress in striking and method ringing,
From Rounds to Ropesight* is a Whiting Society DVD and booklet that contains dozens of exercises to take the ringer from rounds to Plain Hunting on six bells. The exercises can be studied at home then practised in the tower. Anyone wanting to work systematically through this series of exercises should speak to the Tower Captain to agree a program for achieving this.
Everything you ever wanted to know about ringing (and much, much more)
Click the following link to see a series of exercises that can be rung as call changes, then memorised. These exercises, when combined, are sufficient to ring a new method that can be named "Tilston Bob Doubles" or "Tilston Centenary Bob Doubles"
Preparation for basic method ringning will use these exercise. However, here are a couple more exercises for call change ringers moving to plain hunt/plain bob, which we can attepmpt during practices if you look at them in advance.
St. Mary's ringers wanting to progress with ringing methods should learn them in the following order to give the best chance of progressing individually and as a band
> Plain Hunt on 5 - one inside bell, all inside bells, treble, tenor http://www.ringbell.co.uk/methods/ph5.htm
> Plain Bob Doubles - treble, tenor, one inside bell, all inside bells, http://www.ringbell.co.uk/methods/pb5.htm
> Grandsire Doubles - treble, second (hunt bell), tenor, one inside bell, all inside bells http://www.ringbell.co.uk/methods/gs5.htm
> Bobs and singles in Plain Bob doubles
> Bobs and singles in Grandsire doubles
> Plain Bob Minor http://www.ringbell.co.uk/methods/pb6.htm
> Minimus (4-bell) methods: Plain Bob > Reverse Bob > Single Court > Double Bob > Reverse Canterbury
Ringing up and down
Rope dynamics (download and play the animated gif file)
Ringing by ear; the best bit starts at 02:12 [do not try this at St. Mary's!]
Wednesday 30th October: A visiting band, with ringers from the Chester and Liverpool, rang a peal of spliced 6-bell methods in 2 hours and 30 minutes. Click the link to hear the first four minutes of the peal >
Liaises with vicar/PCC and ringers; manages the tower on behalf of the incumbent and represents the tower externally.
Receives and answers correspondence about the tower and bells. Forwards correspondence from the Branch/Guild to tower captain and others as appropriate.
Appoints a deputy to act in his/her absence
Arranges and authorises all ringing (services, practices, visiting bands etc)
Performs the role of Ringing Master unless this role is given by the Tower Captain to a suitably qualified ringer.
Runs the practice night and trains ringers.
Organises social events.
Ensures appropriate policies are in place, in line with best practice and enforced. These include policies for
1) the protection of young people
(2) health & safety
(4) ringing frequency and sound control
With the steeple keeper and others, makes sure that any changes to health and safety risks are considered and action taken accordingly, and any maintenance that is sufficiently significant to require a faculty, is pursued in the proper manner.
Deputy tower captain - Jill Farmer
Steeple keeper - Steve Farmer
Ensures proper and regular maintenance of the bells and bell frame.
Manages repairs and ensures all repairs are logged,
Ties clappers and muffles bells when necessary
Treasurer - Jill Farmer
Manages petty cash including donations from local and visiting bands.
Pays for minor repairs.
Liaises with the PCC treasurer to remit and draw on the bell account held by the PCC.
All ringing must be recorded in the log book that is kept in the cabinet containing the rope "spider" hoist. Add a new heading with date and activity and ensure each person present adds their name.
After ringing the person responsible for the session must record whether the bells are serviceable.
Comprehensive maintenance policies have been drawn up. It is necessary to follow these to ensure the validity of the Ecclesiastical Insurance policy that covers our activities.
- Before ringing up the leader of the ringing must check the log book to ascertain the serviceability of the bells. If not confirmed as serviceable a physical pre-ringing check must be carried out before the bells are rung up.
- Any maintenance is to be completed only after discussion with the steeple keeper.
There are notices in place in the Tower that should be used when the appropriate situation arises. Ringing is prohibited if the “Stay missing or Broken” or “People in Tower” signs are posted.
A policy exists covering the supervision of ringing. This is required to ensure adequeate safeguarding and safety of ringers and others All ringers should be aware of this policy. Click here to read the policy.
Click to read the latest Guild newsletter
2020 subscriptions for St.Mary's ringers are £10.00 each
- £8.00 goes to the Chester Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (CDGCBR, 'the Guild')
Guild subs make up about 70% of guild income, half goes directly to the bell restoration fund. The rest goes to general expenditure that includes (2018 figures), annual report (£568), committee and library expenses (£520), insurance (£346), training grant (£300**), advertising (£180), Central Council subs (£160).
- £2.00 goes to the Chester Branch of the CDGCBR
£1.00 of the branch subscription is reatined for the bell restoration fund
**St. Mary's received £66 of the 2018 training grant.