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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- A touch in which all the possible changes
are rung exactly once each.
- Cornish term for sally; also for handstroke. ``Up next fallets!'' =
- 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
- 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
- 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
``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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.