Twice a week, the church bells in St Mary of Charity’s bell tower ring out across the town of Faversham and over the surrounding countryside, as they have for centuries. On Sunday morning they are rung to announce the church service; and on Wednesday, the bell ringers are practising.

Jim Attwood is the Ringing Master and has been ringing bells for 44 years. A bell ringing session usually begins with ringing ’rounds’ – ringing consecutively down the scale, one bell after another in order. Having warmed up with a few rounds, the more structured ringing patterns, called ‘methods’, are tackled. Instructions as to which method is to be rung, and when to change from one method to another, are called out by the conductor – usually Jim. Although there are books where the methods are written out, and some of the charts can be seen tacked to the wall in the bell tower, actual ringing is done entirely from memory. Jim announces which method will be rung, and calls out when the ringers need to change from one method to another. The result we hear is the glorious, full sound of ‘change ringing’ – ringing the bells in an orderly ever-changing pattern.

Text and photographs: Elizabeth Bergstone

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