Group name - Hull Handbell Change Ringers

Method Ringing


Getting Started







Tool kit


  Method Ringing - Dimensions

The dimensions of handbell ringing.

"In general, I just want to be able to ring courses and touches on handbells that most of the other handbell ringers can ring, but it would be good to know which methods to learn thoroughly. At the same time it would be good to be aware of tools and techniques that I am currently not using."

We have identified four general areas that have aspects for the aspiring ringer and opportunity for learning and development:

Whilst bellringing is quintessentially a "team sport", the speed at which a handbell ringer acquires useful skill varies according to how much time is devoted to private learning, and practice, in between the meetings with other ringers. Those that engage with the current technologies of desktop computing and the internet achieve performance level in their chosen methods much faster than those that do not.

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A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells
Method Ringing

A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells
Hull Project

A set of 12 handbells

Execution skills

Ringing skills

Handbell change ringing is all about hitting the right place amongst all of the other bells with the right bell at exactly the right time. Not easy

So we start with the simplest pattern (Plain Hunting), and teach a simple memory technique (distance from lead, distance apart), and we put a learner in with a steady band and help them until they are confident.

Then we add some more complexity and teach a first method (Plain Bob).
Then we teach calls and expand the coverage of the method until the learner can ring all of the pairs.
Then we ring quarters and peals until a ringer can ring Plain Bob in their sleep; 1,000 courses is not too many.

Plain Bob is the foundation stone for everything else, time spent on Plain Bob is never wasted..

Then we add more structure, teach rules, enable people to follow the work of other bells, particularly treble, encourage the use of double place bells, visual memory techniques, hand rails, and coursing order.

Method Complexity

Method Complexity

Complib lists seven different categorisations for any one method but most ringers (including handbell ringers) only concern themselves with whether a method is a principle (where all of the bells follow the same path) or whether the method has a hunt bell. Our bedrock method, Plain Bob, has one hunt bell, the treble.

The most common development path for handbell ringers, with regard to method complexity on six bells, is:
Plain Bob
Related simple plain methods such as Little Bob, Double Bob, St Clement's
Easy Treble Bob methods, Kent, Oxford, Sandal.
Simple Surprise, Cambridge, Norwich, other right place surprise
Harder Surprise, York, Durham, London, Wells, Carlisle.

A similar progression will be found on 8 bells:
Plain Bob
Little Bob, St Clement's,
Kent & Oxford Treble Bob. Cambridge and Yorkshire Surprise
London, Bristol, Glasgow and Belfast.


Method Stages

"Stage" refers simply to the number of bells being rung.

The stages have been given the following names:

  • 3: Singles
  • 4: Minimus
  • 5: Doubles
  • 6: Minor
  • 7: Triples
  • 8: Major
  • 9: Caters
  • 10: Royal
  • 11: Cinques
  • 12: Maximus

Most handbell ringing is performed on even numbers of working bells (Minimus, Minor, Major, Royal, Maximus). When an odd number of working bells is chosen, the last bell in the change row will be a cover bell.

Increasing the number of bells being rung changes the dynamic nature of the ringing; the bells are closer together and finding your place can be hard, unless more advanced techniques are brough to bear.

The band

Ability of band members

The people you ring with add a layer of interest to handbell ringing.
The execution skills for handbell ringing are so challenging that there is a temptation for specialisms to grow up, 1-2 are a special pair as many ringers rely on the treble being rung correctly; 7-8 to Plain Bob Major is a lot less challenging than 1-2, but the 7-8 ringer has a major influence on speed anf rhythm.

Blending the abilities and desires of a handbell band into a successful team endeavour is a unique art form.