The Basics

There are different ways of making the calls, generally you can call up or you can call down.  At Rayleigh we tend to call up.  Quite simply, to swap two bells over, we call two bell numbers, instructing the first bell to “follow” the second bell.  The second bell then follows the bell the first bell was following.  Confused?  No need to be! It’s simpler than it sounds.

Suppose we want to change from Rounds to Queens:
12345678 Rounds
13572468 Queens

A bell can only move one place in the order, so a series of calls is needed, for example:

Bell OrderCallNew Order
123456782 to 313245678
132456784 to 513254678
132546786 to 713254768
132547684 to 713257468
132574682 to 513527468
135274682 to 713572468

In this example, the first call is ‘2 to 3’

This is an instruction for bell 2 to follow bell 3, which gives the change 13245678.

Notice that this call has affected three bells:

  • Bell 2 is now following bell 3 (as instructed)
  • Bell 3 was originally following Bell 2, but they have swapped placed, so is now following Bell 1 (who Bell 2 was originally following)
  • Bell 4 is in the same position (the fourth bell to strike) but cannot follow Bell 3 as Bell 2 has been instructed to do so. Bell 4 has no option but to follow Bell 2, the first bell mentioned in the change instruction.

To ring call changes accurately and without panic, you just need to watch the bell you are following and who they are following. So, from Rounds (12345678) if you are on Bell 5, you know you are following Bell 4, who in turn is following Bell 3.

The conductor always makes the call at handstroke, and the change is made at the next handstroke.

Rope Sight

The ability to see who is following whom is called Ropesight. It is the key to both successful method and call change ringing. You should try to master this whilst you are sitting out by watching, standing behind someone and practise identifying the order of the bells. When you can do this in call changes, you can try it with the tenor covering in doubles or triples.

You can ask to stand behind the tenor, if you don’t want to try to ring it! When covering, the tenor always rings last, providing a beat to which the other bells ring. The old books simply advise the ringer to watch all the other ropes move and to follow the last, but this is hard to see at first, especially if the other bells aren’t ringing accurately. However, if the rhythm is good, the tenor can ring at a steady speed and will automatically strike last. Even with quality ringing, the speed varies naturally, and the tenor must respond to this, so it is still essential to listen.