Glossary of ringing terms

Please don't take these definitions as being particularly authoritative; I'm not that experienced a ringer, and wrote this page as I felt there was a gap that could do with filling!

I'd welcome corrections and additions Contact me (I can put them in either anonymously or with acknowledgements, as requested).


A method in which the treble spends a different amount of time in different places.


The last place in a change.
Back and hand
Backstroke followed by handstroke in the same place, rather than the other way round, which they more usually are especially when you've come down to that position (for example, to lead).
The part of a bell's cycle of movements that is started by the ringer pulling on the tail end. See also handstroke.
Back Rounds
The reverse of rounds, that is, ringing the bells in ascending order of pitch, from the Tenor to the Treble.
The heavy part at the end of the clapper, that strikes the bell to produce the sound.
A group of ringers sufficient to ring the bells required.
The device on which the headstock (and hence the whole bell assembly) turns about its gudgeon pins. Two kinds of bearings are commonly used for bells: ball bearings and plain bearings.
A resonant metal (or occasionally ceramic) object, closed at one end (the crown) and open at the other (the mouth). It is struck on the inside of its soundbow by the clapper which is free to swing in the direction of the bell's motion. A tower bell is mounted on a headstock which is turned by a wheel. A handbell is mounted on a handle. Bells are usually made of bell-metal (a kind of bronze) although a few are of steel.
Bell Chamber
The part of the tower containing the bells, which are mounted in the bell frame. See also ringing room and void. The windows of the bell chamber are usually louvred, sometimes with sound control.
Bell Frame
The frame holding the bells.
Blue Line
The path, marked as a line in the diagram of a method, taken by an inside bell.
At an appropriate point in the method (in most methods, a lead end, to modify the sequence of changes (in effect, to ring by a slightly different blue line) for a few changes. See also single, touch and plain course.
A platform on which a ringer stands; usually a removable one for when someone shorter than average has to ring a bell where they can't otherwise reach the rope, although some bells with large wheels have permanent boxes to reduce the amount of rope landing on the floor.
An old name for a muffle.


Called Changes
Ringing starting from (and usually ending in) rounds, in which each change is called individually by the conductor, either calling up or calling down. Changes are normally called only at the handstrokes.
Calling Before
Calling Down
Doing call changes by calling the bell which moves down (that is, toward the front of the change). So for example, to go from rounds (12345) to 13245, you would call "3 to 1".
Calling Up
Doing call changes by calling the bell which moves up (that is, toward the back of the change). So for example, to go from rounds (12345) to 13245, you would call "2 to 3".
A pretentious term for bell-ringing, universally loathed by ringers.
Ringing with closed leads.
Catch (or ``Catch and Hold'')
At the end of ringing down, the bells are chimed for a few rounds, ending with an instruction such as ``After three, miss one and catch in queens.'' meaning that after three more rounds of chiming, the bells are let swung freely for one swing, then caught (making a last note from each one) and held.
Catch Hold!
The imperative that tells people to go to the ringing area and take hold of ropes ready for ringing; either as in ``Catch hold for Plain Bob!'' etc, or just ``CATCH HOLD!!'' meaning ``Get a move on you lot, you're here to ring, not just stand around!''
A method on nine bells (possibly with a tenth covering).
A tuned set of flowerpots used as a mini-ring.
Ringing all the bells once; one row in writing out a method.
Ringing a bell while it is down, with just a small movement causing the clapper to strike the bell on one side only.
A method on eleven bells (possibly with a twelfth covering).
The metal rod which strikes the soundbow of the bell to make the sound. Each time the bell stops moving ready to change direction, the clapper continues to move until it hits the bell.
Clock Hammers
The hammers (separate from the clapper) used by a clock to sound the bells (which must be down at the time).
Causing a bell to sound (while it is down) by pulling a hammer against it, possibly from outside the bell.
Closed Leads
When ringing with closed leads, each handstroke change follows the preceding backstroke change without a gap. See also open leads.
When a bell is being rung up or rung down, the ringer has a lot of extra rope to handle; to stop it flapping around, it is coiled up. While ringing up, the ringer lets the coils out as needed, and while ringing down, takes in more coils.
Come Round
Return to rounds at the end of a touch.
A designed sequence of bobs, singles and changes of method (see spliced) for a touch, quarter or peal.
The ringer calling the bobs and singles in a touch, quarter, peal etc.
Coursing Order
The sequence of bells which each bell rings after in a method.
If the tenor rings at the back of every change (for example, when ringing a doubles method with six bells), it is said to be covering.
The top part of a bell (when it is in its down position).


A treble bob method in which an internal place is made some, but not all, of the times the treble is going from one dodge to another. Another kind of treble bob method are the Surprise methods.
A pictorial representation of a method, with the bells written out as numbers and the blue and red lines usually drawn in.
To change direction for one stroke.
Dodging Practice
A practice exercise in which two bells swap places on every stroke; sometimes taught as preparation for learners to progress from call changes to Plain Hunt. This is as hard physical work as you will get on a particular bell (other than ringing up or down fast, as on alternate strokes you make the bell ring faster (smaller swing) and slower (further swing).
I don't know what ``calling a double'' means -- it is mentioned in The Nine Tailors, but I haven't heard it used myself.
A method on five bells, possibly with a sixth covering.
Down (1)
The safe resting position for a bell, mouth down, with the stay pointing up and not in contact with the slider. When a bell is down, pulling the rope will make it swing slightly, perhaps chiming it if pulled hard enough.
Down (2)
Toward the front of the change; that is, ``hunting down'' (also called ``running in'' is ringing earlier each time.
The command to start ringing down.


Ellacombe Apparatus
A chiming mechanism that strikes the bell from below, in the direction in which it swings; this is probably less harmful than clocking hammers are.
To develop a method for more bells than the form in which you have it; for example, Plain Bob Major is an extension of Plain Bob Minor.
A touch in which all the possible changes are rung exactly once each.


Cornish term for sally; also for handstroke. ``Up next fallets!'' = ``stand!''.
A touch which repeats a change, when the touch is long enough not to have to repeat changes on that number of bells.
Could be described as a cross between a marlinspike, a cannula and a spoon; used (in my experience) primarily as the former. It opens the strands of a rope to enable the rope (or a strand of it) to be passed through in making a tuck or a splice, and is hollow so that the part being inserted passes along the concavity of the fid. The best fids are made in Sweden.
Fire out
To get badly confused while ringing; if several ringers try to ring at once during a peal attempt, the attempt has fired out. Firing is sometimes done deliberately for wedding ringing, either aiming to get all the bells to strike at once, or to ring a complete back rounds in the time normally taken for two bells to sound.
Part of the clapper.
The framework that supports the bells; traditionally made of wood, now more often of metal.


The call to start ringing the method, from rounds, usually given with the name of the method, for example, ``Go Plain Bob Minor!''. The call to finish is ``That's All!''.
Another name for Queens.
The complete collection of place bell lines, drawn for one lead.
Gudgeon (or Gudgeon Pin)
A peg protruding from the Headstock and reaching into the bearing.


Muffled on one side of the clapper only, so that handstrokes ring normally and backstrokes ring quietly.
Small bells rung by holding a handle attached to the bell and moving the whole bell. For change-ringing, they have a handstroke and backstroke just like tower bells, the handstroke being done by lifting the bell towards the ringer's shoulder and stopping it abruptly (more with a flick of the wrist than with a whole arm movement), and the backstroke being moving the bell back down again. Handbells are normally rung two in hand, that is, two bells per ringer.
The part of a bell's cycle of movements that is started by pulling on the sally. See also backstroke.
Hastings Stay
A design of stay that has no slider, but a diagonal curved track, two stop blocks and a dingler. It's too horrible for me to it describe further here.
A beam, of wood or metal, to which the bell is attached. It transmits the torque from the wheel to the bell itself, and turns on bearings to which it is attached by gudgeon pins.
See wrong.
See Plain Hunt and Treble Bob Hunt (and Little Bob).
A method in which the treble's path is asymmetrical -- such as treble bob on the way up and plain hunt on the way down.


On a method bell, i.e. neither the treble (for methods; not relevant for principles) nor covering.
Internal Place
A place that is neither at the lead nor back.




Lead End
The change on which the treble is leading at its backstroke; the last blow in rounds before going into a method is, in effect, the 0th lead end in the method.
Ringing first in a change.
To ring more than one stroke at the back.
The sequence of places a bell rings in in a method; and the graphical representation thereof in the diagram of the method. The line for the treble is conventionally drawn in red, and the line for other bells (drawn as the observation bell) in blue.
Little Bob
A method in which the treble plain hunts but only between lead and fourths place.
Long Fifths
To ring four strokes in fifths place, as done in Plain Bob Doubles. Likewise, there is long sevenths in Triples, and so on. I think the term is used only for a long lie, and not for internal places.
The slats, usually of stone or wood, filling the window of the bell chamber.
The same as Ring Down.


A method on eight bells.
Make Places
To ring a bell in the same position in the change twice in succession. For example, to ``make seconds'' is to ring in 2nd place twice.
A method on twelve bells.
An agreed (and usually named) sequence of changes; the nearest non-ringing musical term is probably a ``tune''. A method is described by the line of its plain course, and its bobs and singles.
A method on four bells.
A set of small bells (usually a bit larger than typical handbells) hung for full-circle ringing.
A method on six bells.
A relatively soft object, typically of rubber or leather, attached to the clapper of a bell to muffle it, that is, to make it quieter.
A bell is muffled by attaching a relatively soft object, the muffle, to the clapper, causing it to strike the bell more quietly than usual. See also half-muffled.



Observation Bell
The bell whose path is marked by the blue line in a diagram of a method.
A bell which sounds earlier in its movement at one stroke than the other is said to be odd-struck; such a bell may be described as ``late at hand'' or ``late at back'' (usually being mentioned as which stroke is late, I think; I don't think I've heard people say a bell is ``early at hand/back'').
Old Golden
Another name for Queens. (From Contact me)
Open Leads
When ringing with open leads, there is an extra gap, equivalent to the time between two adjacent bells sounding, between the end of a backstroke change and the start of the following handstroke change. See also closed leads.


A true touch of at least 5000 changes. This typically takes around three hours to ring.
Peal Board
A painted board recording the ringing of a peal, with details of the length, date, methods and ringers, and perhaps a dedication.
Place Bell
The piece of line for ringing one lead starting from the specified bell's starting point.
Place Notation
A way of describing methods by noting which bells make places at each change. All bells not listed in a change swap with the appropriate neighbouring bell. A change in which no bells make places is marked with an X or a dash. For example, Plain Hunt on five starts 5,1 as in the first change, the bell then in 5th place stays there, and in the next change, the bell at lead stays there.
See make places.
The conductor or ringing master is placing a band when they decide who will ring each bell for a touch, in contrast with letting people step forward choose the bells for themselves.
Plain Course
The sequence of changes produced by ringing a method without calling any bobs or singles.
Plain Hunt
Alternately running in and running out, that is, ringing from the front to the back then back again, such as 123456654321. For many methods, this is the red line taken by the treble.
Plain Method
A method in which the treble plain hunts.
Point Lead
Making a single blow at lead.
An obsolete type of Yorkshire rope which not only has the usual extra tail-end but also 3 small extra ball shaped tufts of wool spaced out along the rope between sally & tail-end. Thus giving purchase for the hands during raise/lower or when shortening the rope on a heavy bell when dodging. Our single survivor (at Bingley) may be the only one in existence. (From Contact me)
Like a Method, but with all bells ringing the same line and none hunting.
Pull off
To start ringing, from the bell in the standing position.


Quarter Peal
Like a peal, but a quarter of the length (i.e. at least 1250 changes).This typically takes around three quarters of an hour to ring.
An old spelling of Caters, sometimes seen on peal boards.
The change with all the odd bells sounding in order, then all the even bells, such as 135246. Also called Golden or Old Golden.
Quick Work


The same as Ring Up.
Red Line
The line taken by the treble. This is usually plain hunt or treble bob hunt, except in principles where it is the same as the blue line of the method.
Right Place Method
Ring Down
To take the bells from Up to Down, by ringing them through a decreasing angle of swing, taking in a coil of rope from time to time as the swing gets smaller.
Ring Up
To take the bells from Down to Up, by ringing them through an increasing angle of swing, starting with the rope coiled and letting out a coil of rope from time to time as the swing gets larger.
Ringing Room
The room in which the ringers ring (not the one where the bells ring -- that is the bell chamber). See also void.
The mysterious facility by which you can tell which bell to follow; I haven't found a convincingly complete explanation of this, but think that it is a probably a combination of several things. (I'll write more about this later!)
Ringing the bells in descending order of pitch, that is, from the treble to the tenor.
A method on ten bells.
Run In
Ring one place nearer the front of the change on each successive change, for example, places 4321. Plain hunt consists of alternately running in and running out.
Run Out
Ring one place nearer the back of the change on each successive change, for example, places 3456.Plain hunt consists of alternately running in and running out.


The tufted handgrip on the rope, used to pull at handstroke. See also tail end.
Service Ringing
Ringing before a church service. Not to be regarded as a chance for extra practice!
To let the bell come to rest in an up position, with the stay resting against the slider.
A Yorkshire term meaning the same as Ring Down. Also used as the command to ring down, like Downwards! (From Contact me)
Similar to a bob, but more of the bells make places rather than changing in a different direction.
An almost-hypothetical name for ringing on three bells, which is very rarely done.
A moving wooden bar pivoted at one end to the frame with the other end sliding between two stops. It is pushed from one position to the other by the stay, allowing the bell to turn just over a full circle and be set at either handstroke or backstroke.
Slow Work
The thick part of the bell that is struck by the ball of the clapper.
Sound Control
A device, normally some kind of shuttering, to reduce the volume of the bells as heard from outside the tower. This may be adjustable, in which case it will usually be open for service ringing and closed for practices.
Space Notation
A humorous term for spotting gaps between the other bells, and ringing there. A pun on Place Notation.
A joint between pieces of rope made by passing the strands of one rope between the strands of the other (or vice versa).
A composition using more than one method (or principle) is said to be spliced.
Number of bells as a method is extended to more bells.
To set the bell (at handstroke) at the end of a touch.
A wooden bar attached to the headstock and pointing away from the bell. When the bell is set, the stay rests against the slider.
Accuracy of timing while ringing; hence admonitions such as ``improve your striking!'', and striking competitions.
One of the two parts of the cycle of movements a full-circle bell makes; the two strokes are handstroke and backstroke.
A treble bob method in which an internal place is made every time the treble is going from one dodge to another. Another kind of treble bob method are the Delight methods.


Tail End
The end of the rope, usually doubled back on itself (except for Yorkshire tail ends), used to pull at backstroke. See also sally.
The lowest-pitched bell in a tower; this is almost always the heaviest.
That's All!
Finish ringing the method, as it comes round to rounds. This is the complement of ``Go ...!''.
A bell with the clapper held in position (usually by a piece of wood) to stop it sounding. Beginners usually start with a tied bell while they get the basics of bell handling.
A piece of method ringing shorter than a quarter peal but usually longer than a plain course, brought about by the calling of bobs and singles.
The highest-pitched bell in a tower; this is usually, but not necessarily, the lightest.
Treble Bob
Hunting forward four and back two, such as 12123434565678788787656543432121. This is what the treble does (the red line) for many methods. Particular types of method in which the treble does treble bob are Surprise and Delight methods; methods other than these in which the treble does treble bob are called Treble Bob methods.
A method on seven bells, possibly with an eighth covering.
A touch which does not repeat any changes, if there are few enough bells to do so with that number of changes.
Except for a Yorkshire tail end, the tail end of a rope is tucked through itself several times to make a double section, to give the ringer more to grip at backstroke. Occasionally, tail ends come untucked while ringing, which usually stops the ringing.


Up (1)
Balanced ready for ringing; the bell is mouth up, with the stay resting against the slider. There are two up positions: ''up at hand'' (the normal position in which to set the bell) and ``up at back''. When a bell is up, if the rope is pulled it will make a complete stroke. See also down.
Up (2)
Toward the back of the change; that is, ``hunting up'' (also called ``running out'') is ringing later each time.
Up, Down and Off
Ringing handbells with one whole pull in rounds and then going straight into the chosen method without the conductor having to say ``go!''


The room above the ringing room and below the bell chamber, through which the ropes pass.


The change 14235 (sounds like the childrens' song ``Pop goes the weasel''!) -- sometimes used to catch the bells at the end of ringing down after a practice, but usually not for service ringing.
A bell hung for full-circle ringing is mounted on a Headstock which is turned by a wheel with a rope attached to it and running round the rim.
Whole Pull
A handstroke and the following backstroke.
This is pushing my knowledge somewhat, as I am only just starting to call touches... one bell is picked as the ``observation bell'', which means that calls (bobs and singles) are made when that bell reaches particular places at lead ends. ``Called home'' means a call when the observation bell reaches its own place, and ``called wrong'' is when the observation bell reaches the other one of the odd-even pair of places containing its home place. So, for example, if the 8th is the observation bell, a home call is when the the 8th comes back into 8ths place at a lead end, and a wrong call is when the 8th comes into 7ths place at a lead end.
Wrong Hunting
Hunting in which your leads (or the lowest places you come down to) are at back and hand, that is, backstroke followed by handstroke, rather than the other way round (which leads usually are).



Yorkshire Tail End
A tail end which, instead of being doubled back on itself, is tufted like a sally. See also Pom-pom.


John C. G. Sturdy
[John's home] Last modified: Sun Jun 10 22:12:57 GMT Daylight Time 2007