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Ring Those Bells

30 Holmfirth WI members are ringing in the changes with a taster campanology session at Christ Church New Mill

30 (3x groups of 10) of Holmfirth WI’s 80 members had a taster bell ringing session at Christ Church New Mill. The sessions were organised by member Deborah Ely after she recently started bell ringing and thought other members might enjoy it.

Not only did the women get to try ringing the bells themselves and discover just how difficult it is, they also learnt a lot about how campanology works and the history of bell ringing from Wynford Carter, the New Mill Tower Captain. One of the many interesting points Winford highlighted was that if this had been in the earlier part of the 20th Century it wouldn’t have been possible, as women have only been allowed to bell ring since the late 1900s, the activity was deemed unsuitable for them! Once again another activity which was dominated by men but thankfully now women can participate in.

Winford said, “We were very happy to see so many ladies showing an interest in the bell ringing. We are always looking for new members of the band and giving the ladies a taster session means we may get those new members. Anyone is welcome to turn up for a taster session on a Friday evening by coming along to the church.”

The ladies also got to see how it should be done when the band, made up of three men (including Wynford) and three women gave us a demonstration of what the bells can do. Having tried themselves the ladies knew just how much practice it must take to make the bells sound so melodic, a ‘ringing’ endorsement of all their hard work. Surprisingly once you start pulling the rope it requires a lot less effort than you would expect, the hardest part is the timing.

Deborah was very surprised by the number of people who wanted to take part as originally a slot for 10 people was booked but that had to be extended to three sessions as numbers were oversubscribed. It’s proven to be one of the most popular events for Holmfirth WI with some members being so enthusiastic that they are planning to join the band.

Margriet Mulder, president, Holmfirth WI said “We are very grateful to the New Mill Band and especially Wynford for a very enjoyable evening and the band will no doubt be seeing some of our ladies on a more regular basis.”

There are over 60 churches in West Yorkshire each having between 1 – 12 bells (including York Minster) but not all churches have bell ringers. There is a shortage of people to ring them so WI members get involved it’s a bit of exercise and very sociable!! Other WIs could organise a similar event and who knows how many members will start a career in campanology.

For further information about the bell ringing visit


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