Honour World War One’s Bell Ringers
1,400 bell ringers died during the First World War. You can honour their memory 100 years after the end of the war by becoming one of 1,400 new bell ringers and joining others across the nation in ringing on the centenary of the Armistice in November 2018.
By joining the project you will
– Be part of a unique nationwide project to honour the 1,400 bell ringers lost during the First World War
– Learn a new skill that is both a sport and an art, social, a mental exercise and good for focus and fitness
– Be part of a local community and connect with an ancient British tradition
– Have the opportunity to ring with others across the country on 11 November, marking the centenary of the Armistice.
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Bell ringers lost their lives
Many bell ringers joined the war effort, and many lost their lives. Just after the war, the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers wrote to all bell towers to compile the Roll of Honour. At the time a thousand men were reported as lost. During the First World War Centenary the CCCBR has been reviewing this list and has discovered a further 400 bell ringers who died in service. Two bell towers—Edington in Wiltshire and Bamburgh in Northumberland —lost 6 ringers each during the war. In total 1,400 bell ringers lost their lives. A loss to them and their families. A loss to communities.
Bells rang out for the Armistice
When the bells rang out on 11 November 1918 they announced the end of the most catastrophic war the world had yet seen. At that time, bells were at the heart of the community, marking events of great significance and as a means of communication long before modern technology connected us. At the end of the war, many people heard about the Armistice through bell ringing.
Bell ringing in Britain
Bell ringing is a British tradition, and the British Isles are home to a distinctive style of bell ringing called ‘change ringing’ which produces a peal of bells, part of our national ‘soundscape’. Most people don’t realise that outside the British Isles change ringing towers are few and far between. While the British Isles has some 5,500 change ringing towers, the rest of the world put together has less than 150.
Bell ringing is woven into the fabric of our society, marking rites of passage in our lives including christenings, weddings and funerals. It often marks and forms part of important local occasions and national celebrations – recently this has included the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the London Olympics and Paralympics and the Lumiere light festival in Durham. Bell ringers have regular competitions, and often come together to ring just for the joy of it.
Although bell towers are commonly in churches, you don’t have to go to church to be a bell ringer. Bell ringers are a friendly, inclusive community with people of all faiths and none. With 5,500 bell towers in Britain, there’s at least one near you!
Ringing Remembers is funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and is a partnership with the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.