the Bells at Charlton Adam                      Information about the

More general information is available from:

Bath & Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers: supporting change ringing world-wide

An American, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote this poem, with a rhythm based on the very English custom of bell-ringing (though it originally had two more verses which referred to the American Civil War).

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men”

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

"The  original purpose of bell-ringing is to call parishioners to prayer or to celebrate a special occasion.  The bell does not normally hang down, but has its open end (its mouth) upwards. When the rope is pulled, the bell turns through 360 degrees and returns to the mouth up position. The rope is pulled again and the bell returns through a full circle to its original position. This sequence is repeated many times. Each time that the bell turns, a clapper inside the bell strikes the inside of the bell.  All the bells in a tower, known collectively as the ring, are tuned all together to a scale, and each bell is rung in very quick succession.  Altering the order in which the bells are rung produces ”music”. The changing of the order is governed by strict mathematical rules, and the different interpretations of these rules are known as Methods. The result of all this is Change Ringing, something that has evolved in England over the past 500 years and is unique to England and the English, being found only in those parts of the world where the English have settled.

Ringing is a satisfying social activity for anyone between the ages of nine and ninety. It requires some physical and mental skills, none too difficult to learn, and teamwork. Once you master the basics, you will be welcome to practices at any church tower.

Bells, and their associated tower and gallery, are also a way of providing a long-lasting memorial to a loved one or commemorating a particular event."