Scroll down and click on picture to enlarge to see our recruits and scroll down further for more information.
Ringing is fun and a way of making new friends. To find out more, call Roy on 07788 746 157 or come on a Friday evening between 19:15 and 21:00. You don’t have to live in the parish. There is no obligation to learn – just come along and find out more! Also take a look at our testimonials’ page.
- Roy Peach (Secretary) on 07788746157 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hugh Deam (Tower Captain) on 07484 223014 or email email@example.com
If you learn to ring we do ask that you aim to commit to several service ringing sessions in the year. Our current ringing times for services, not including weddings, are as below.
- 10:00 service (ringing from either 09:00 or 09:25)
1st, 4th and 5th Sundays
- 18:00 service (ringing from either 17:00 or 17:25)
• Fridays 19:15 to 21:00
- Fridays 19:00 start
- Any other times by arrangement with the tower captain only
• Our latest meetings and events on our calendar page – click here
Learning to ring
A new recruit is reminded of a trained ringer’s commitment. Like any band, you are key to being part of our group. We appreciate lives are busy but there will be an expectation that at least in the early stages whilst you are learning to ring and handle the bell to a competent level, you will attend regularly. It is the best way to learn. What regular looks like depends on your availability. The standard process would be to attend on a Friday, but if this is not always possible, we can generally accommodate you at other times subject to agreement with the tower captain.
You can just turn up to the tower, but if you are able to speak to our secretary in advance (Roy – 07788746157) we can better tailor your learning experience and make the process more enjoyable.
You will be introduced to the tower and members of our band and assigned a tutor. This will normally be Hugh, our tower captain.
You will be taught how to ring at backstroke and will not be left alone. At all times, your tutor will have control over the bell. As you progress, you will ring handstroke, and then you will put them together. You are now ringing the bell with limited interjection.
As you grow more competent, we will add ringers around you. One either side, then two, and so on, until you are ringing fully with a band around you. The next step will be change ringing, where your bell will swap places with another bell. This requires strong bell handling, being able to ring faster and slower.
Then it’s on to method ringing, and that’s when the truly technical elements are brought in. For some, they take to it instantly. For others, it takes a little longer. We’ll put in the effort if you will.
The world is then your oyster. Ringing different bells, different methods, different lengths of time. Attending outings, ringing for services, ringing for weddings, and maybe even trying handbells. The possibilities are endless.
Below are some of the more common questions people ask us. Click on the cross at the end for the answer.
St Nicholas Bell Ringers
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Is it safe?
It is if you follow our instructions. Accidents can happen but these are rare. The main ‘injury’ we see are blisters and a little rope burn from time to time. Again, it’s rare. We want you to be safe and enjoy it, so we take it seriously whilst having fun.
Won’t experienced ringers judge me as a newbie?
More often than not, they’ll stand there in admiration that you’ve taken up the skill, and be glad to know they won’t have to be ringing all the time. The more ringers there are, the more the load is shared. You may find that everybody has their own feedback for you after watching you ring as we all learn slightly differently. Feel free to listen (they tell you in good faith), but the most important feedback is from your tutor.
Do people really fly up into the ceiling?
Not usually. Very few incidents have been recorded of this because ringers who have been taught well know what to do if something goes wrong. At Marston it isn’t far to the ceiling, so even if you were lifted off the ground (extremely rare) you won’t go far.
Can I break the bell?
If anything were to break, it’s either the rope or the stay, which is a wooden length designed to hold the bell in a resting position, that would probably go first. These are inspected regularly for their safety. Accidents can happen, but again, are rare.
Is the bell really heavy? I don’t consider myself strong.
The bells are heavy but once you have them over the balance point then you don’t need a lot of strength. Think of it like driving a car. Find the biting point and away you go. From there, you simply use your skills to keep it moving along. You change the rope length as you ring – that’s like changing gears so you can go faster or slower.
Do I have to go right up into the bells?
Most ringers don’t go any higher than the floor where the bell-ropes are. Sometimes there are tasks like putting on bell muffles or fixing a rope but you are not asked to do anything you are not comfortable with, so if you want to keep your feet on the ground with the majority, then stay right there.
What if I want to do more?
Please let us know. We always need people with technical skills to help maintain the bells. We can show you what needs doing. You may like to help keep the place clean by hoovering once a month. A little bit of admin support can also be useful.
Is there uniform? What do I wear?
Wear something comfortable. Jeans, t-shirt, and trainers is often a good bet. No flowing sleeves or high heels. You don’t want anything getting caught in the rope, and you’ll also be stood up whilst you ring, so be comfortable.
I may need the toilet. Are there facilities?
We keep the vestry open whilst we are ringing and there is a toilet there with access to cups for a drink of water too. We sometimes provide cakes and biscuits during practices to improve the social aspect of the evening.
I cannot always make a whole evening. What do I do?
Make what you can. This is not a fitness class or club where you have to be there all night. When you first start to learn to ring, regular commitment is an absolute necessity, but once competent, if you cannot make our evening, why not pop to another local tower. You may get to a point where you’re ringing a different tower each night if you want to.
Do you accept young people who are doing their Duke of Edinburgh Award?
We do but it is important to note that we do expect a regular commitment, perhaps more so than you are expecting. The DofE Award requires young people to undertake an hour of activity each week, but you may only get to ring for half an hour on a training night, therefore, three months for DofE could actually be six months of ringing in order to be signed off. Please don’t let this put you off. If you are wanting to use ringing for your DofE, we would love to support you, but if you only ring for three months with us, you may not reach the level you would like to in order that you feel you have made progress towards your award. We usually recommend you double the length of time you expect to commit for that section (i.e.: 3 months becomes six, six becomes 12; not always the case but a good gauge). Bellringing can be a great activity to use to show progression across Bronze, Silver, and Gold, committing yourself to a good couple of years, and a chance to ring in some magical locations.
If you have other questions, let us know. We’re always happy to answer them.
Grants for Bellringing Courses
Members of the Oxford Diocesan Guild are eligible for grants to attend certain ringing courses. Advice will be given as to whether the course is suitable, and that a grant would be available if accepted for the course.
We are a group of local people who share a passion for campology - the art of bell ringing. We are part of a tradition that goes back hundreds of years and are always keen to welcome new members who are interested in taking part.
In addition to the church bells, we also regularly meet to ring hand bells. Contact us to find out more.