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All Saints Handbell Group

 In late 1978, the ringers decided to ring carols on handbells around the parish. They taught themselves to ring simple carols, and went round the town ringing them in the classical way of carol singers – standing under a street lamp to see their music, while one of them knocked on doors to ask for donations. Their first outing was picturesque, with gently falling snow! They donated the money to charity.

 After a few years, a small group formed, mainly youngsters, to practice regularly and give performances at other times of year. The tune ringing group grew and developed under the leadership of Betty Tomlinson. At one time there were so many members that it split into two groups, one meeting on Tuesdays and one on Sundays. Most members are not now tower bell ringers (they don’t need to be) but they retain a link with the tower, and several of them are members of HRGB (Handbell Ringers of Great Britain).

 Each year the group is invited to perform for public and private events. They performed regularly in old people’s homes, and for other charitable organisations. Highlights include ringing for the Townswomen’s Guild Christmas service at St Martin in the Fields church in London, and ringing for Snowdrop Sunday at Swincombe, Oxfordshire. Over the years the group aged, and tune ringing group eventually would up in 2020.

Although the public is familiar with tune ringing on handbells, they are widely used for change ringing, the same 'methods' as rung in the tower but with the ringers having a bell in each hand (which adds to the mental complexity compared with tower bell ringing where each ringer normally rings one bell). Change ringing 'in hand' is less well known because it isn't often performed in public. There are occasional public performances, and ringers can sometimes be heard ringing in the open air for pleasure. That was particularly true during Covid restrictions on meeting indoors, when several All Saints ringers and others regularly rang quarter peals on one ringer's lawn (many of those recorded here) and Cambridge University ringers often rang in punts on the river Cam, shown here .

The bells used by the group date from 1873, when a set cast by Blews of Birmingham was presented to the newly formed Society of Honorary Change Ringers to help them practice change ringing. and the set was later augmented. See full information about the handbells.  See also: History of ringing at All Saints .


Click each to enlarge and move between pictures using the arrows.

In action1982
The 1982 group 
The modern group in action 
Photo call

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