Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How many bells are there in Great Gransden Church?
A. There are six bells. 

Q. Are there any age restrictions to learning?
A. Not really. We don't set a specific age range. For young ringers it mmight depend on how tall they are but we would say around 10 years of age. For older ringers it might depend on how fit they are. The older you are the more difficult it is to learn new motor skills.

Q. Are Safeguarding measures in place to protect young people and vulnerable adults?
A. Yes, the church has a comprehensive safeguarding system in accordance with National Church Guidelines and management of the tower falls within that process. The Tower Leaders have been DBS checked and received safeguarding training. See our Safeguarding page.

Q. Do I have to attend church services to be a bell ringer?
A. No. Some ringers are members of the church congregation but many are not. You are not expected to attend.

Q. Do I have to ring on Sundays for church services?
A. As a member of the local ringing team you will be expected to attend weekly practices and ring on Sundays for services. Obviously there will be times when you can't make it. This is why we need more ringers than we have bells, to make sure that we always ring six.

Q. Why are people interested in bell ringing?
A. There are many reasons. Many people come along just to see what ringing is about and become interested when they see how ringing is done. Others just love the sound of bells and want to ring them. Some like the idea of swinging several hundred kilos of metal.

Q. How heavy are the bells?
A. It varies from church to church. Our bells range from 213kg to 617kg but there are many lighter and heavier bells in other churches.

Q. Is it very loud?
A. No, in Great Gransden the bells are two floors above the Ringing Room. The bells can clearly be heard but they are not too loud.

Q. Do I need to be strong?
A. Not particularly. The bell wheel gives you the leverage to ring the bell. Ringing is about skill, not strength.

Q. I have a disability, can I still learn?
A. It might depend on the disability but we would assess this before you start to learn. For example, deaf and blind people have been taught to ring. 
We welcome everyone into the tower to join our group where possible. 

Q. Are there lots of steps to climb?
A. There are 12 steps to the Ringing Room in Great Gransden church. In some towers there are more but in many churches ringing is done from the ground floor.

Q. Is it dangerous?
A. All activities have a risk but generally speaking bell ringing is not dangerous. Trained teachers help you ring a bell safely.

Q. How long does it take to learn?
A. We initially teach in one hour sessions and you should be able to handle a bell fairly competently after 10 weekly lessons, but everyone learns at a different pace and this process can take longer. 

Q. How will I know if I am going to be good enough?
A. Progress is continually assessed and after the initial ten sessions your teacher will be able to say whether or not you will make the grade. 1:1 teaching continues according to your skill but you will possibly join a group session before week 10.

Q. Are there any awards for ringing?
A. The training programme awards certificates of achievement for each of five skill levels.

Q. Does it cost anything to learn?
A. We ask for a donation to cover the cost of training materials and the time given by the teachers. All donations go to the Bell Fund, which contributes to maintenance of the bell installation and ringing room. See Table of Fees

Q. Do ringers get paid for ringing?
A. There is a fee for the bells to be rung for weddings. Each ringer taking part receives a set amount (reviewed periodically). See Table of Fees

Q. Can I ring at different churches?
A. When you are competent and confident you can attend other churches to ring on practice nights or for services.

Q. Does the tower organise any social events?
A. Yes, we have a Christmas party and an summer evening supper every year. We occasionally goto the pub after practice. We also arrange outings to ring at other churches.

Q. Are the bells rung other than for practice or services?
A. Yes, we ring for weddings, sometimes funerals, and village events such as the church fete. We ring for national events too such as Remembrance, and in 2022 we rang extensively for the Platinum Jubilee and later the funeral for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In 2023 we rang for the coronation of King Charles III.

Q, I have heard the term Change Ringing. What does this mean?
A. Change ringing is an advanced form of bell ringing which we begin to teach once basic ringing skills have been accomplished. It is complex but highly interesting and satisfying. Learning is a continuous process with new things always on the horizon. Warch some change ringing on twelve bells here.

Q. Do I have to be able to read music?
A. No. There is no music to follow but a useful skill is to be able to hear when your bell rings amongst the others and for you to have a good sense of rhythm.

Q. Do I have to learn change ringing?
A. No, you go at your own pace and ring to the level that you want to. 

Q. Is ringing "just for Christmas, or the coronation of King Charles III?"
A. No! Ringing is a lifetime activity and there is always something new to learn or places to visit, new skills to aquire and new experiences to be had. It is phenomenal teamwork and friends can be made all over the country and indeed overseas.

Q. Will I have to become a member of anything?
A. We encourage ringers to become members of our local ringing association, the Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers. The annual subscription is currently £10. If you are interested you will be proposed for membership once you can competently ring.

Q. This sounds really exciting, I would like to try it. How do I get started?
A. Please send us a message using our Contact Us page. You can also read our Learning to Ring page and follow some of the links to get a bit more information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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