Change Ringing and Peals

Change Ringing is the traditional English art of ringing a set of tower bells changing the order in which the bells are rung.  As bells are hung on wheels – to which ropes are attached – it is possible to pause or speed up the ringing of the bells to change the order. 

A Peal is the name given to a specific type of ‘performance’ of change ringing which meets certain exacting conditions for duration, complexity and quality. The definition of a peal has changed considerably over the years.  Currently, for a performance to be recognised as a peal by the Central Council of Church Bellringers it must consist of at least 5040 numerical sequences, or ‘changes’ (this number was derived from the maximum permutation possible on seven bells) and meet other specific criteria. 

Peals are only considered ‘successful’ if they are rung without an error – if a band makes a mistake, they can choose either to restart from the beginning, or count the peal as ‘lost’.  So if you consider a peal as the equivalent of a Marathon, it would mean that if you tripped, or paused, or ran a few steps in the wrong direction, you’d have to return to the start line!  This is why ringers refer to a peal ‘attempt’ until they’ve successfully managed it.

Peals take about 3 hours to ring, and this takes considerable mental stamina, focus and concentration. A lot of bands choose to ring quarter peals, which take around 45 minutes and have less exacting rules.  They still engender a great sense of achievement. 





Peals and quarter peals all over the world have been documented for centuries, nowadays on an international database called Bellboard, and are also published in the weekly bellringing publication The Ringing World.

These peals and quarter peals are performances, where bands can show their skills and teamwork. They are often rung for special occasions – national, local or personal celebrations or memorials – some of which can be historic, or just quirky.

  Record of Peals at St Marys Hampstead Norreys


                       28 May 1910 

1                     J Pummell 

2                     N Welch 

3                     C Hunt 

4                     C Parfitt (c) 

5                     G Smith 

6                     W Bartholomew


                        9 June 1923 

1                     W Parfitt 

2                     A Gregory 

3                     E Pontin 

4                     W J Tigwell 

5                     A Hall 

6                     C Parfitt (c) 


                       22 May 1937

1                     Edward W Richardson 

2                     Henry Lawrenson 

3                     Charles J Gardiner 

4                     Reginald W Rex 

5                     W Bertram Kynaston (c) 

6                     Geoffrey E Fowler 


                       13 July 1957 

1                     S Frank Tuffley 

2                     Ralph Bird 

3                     Brian Bladon 

4                     Geoffrey K Dodd 

5                     Reginald F Crook 

6                     A Patrick Cannon (c) 


                         23 November 1961

1                     Reginald F Crook 

2                     Reginald W Rex 

3                     Pater Wilkinson 

4                     Ronald F Diserens 

5                     Frank W Lewis 

6                     Geoffrey K Dodd (c)


                        25 September 1962 

1                     Philip Murduck 

2                     S Frank Tuffley 

3                     Geoffrey D Weston 

4                     Reginal F Crook 

5                     Geoffrey K Dodd (c) 

6                     Eddie Cox 


                         10 July 1975

1                     Richard T Coxhead 

2                     Henry J Lawrenson 

3                     W Nigel Herriott 

4                     John A Dodd 

5                     Geoffrey K Dodd (c) 

6                     Robert J Crocker 


                     1 April 1976 

5040 All Fools Delight Minor     

1                     Barry M Wheeler 

2                     David M Goss 

3                     Anthony G Pullen 

4                     Henry Lawrenson 

5                     Robert J Crocker 

6                     Geoffrey K Dodd (c) 


                        25 May 1977 

5040 Doubles in 28 methods 

1                     David M Goss 

2                     William Butler (c) 

3                     Henry Lawrenson 

4                     Andrew J Mead 

5                     Robert J Crocker 

6                     Unknown
Most methods 4, most Doubles methods 5



                      12 April 1980 

1                     Helen Piper 

2                     Henry Lawrenson 

3                     Roy T Harris 

4                     Bernard F L Groves 

5                     Geoffrey K Dodd (c) 

6                     Frank W Rivett

25th peal 1. In memoriam Gilbert Townsend (50 years a ringer at Chieveley who died the previous week)

                        9 December 1987

1                     Desmond L Jones 

2                     Allan G Keen 

3                     Helen J Piper 

4                     Marc Hart 

5                     Geoffrey K Dodd (c) 

6                     Colin M Turner 

                        30 July 1989 

5040 Spliced Surprise Minor 12 methods 

1                     Colin M Turner 

2                     Helen J Piper 

3                     Kevin J Lovell 

4                     Terry J C Streeter 

5                     Peter G C Ellis 

6                     Donald B Carter 

                         12 June 1997 

5040 Surprise Minor 12 methods 

1                     Brian Bladon 

2                     Nicola J Crichton 

3                     Colin M Turner 

4                     Helen J Piper 

5                     Geoffrey K Dodd (c) 

6                     Richard J Thumwood

Source: Ringing World 

Record of Quarter Peals at St Marys Hampstead Norreys

                        25 February 2009 

1259 Grandsire Doubles 

1                     John Collins 

2                     Diana M Bridle 

3                     William Butler (c) 

4                     Peter Bridle 

5                     John J Durham 

6                     Roy Pratley 

Rung for Newbury Branch Quarter Peal Week 

                        12 August 2009 

1260 St Clements College Bob Minor 

1                     Ben Waller 

2                     Joanna Waller 

3                     Joanna A Pocock 

4                     Carol Waller 

5                     Paul Myers 

6                     Ken Waller (c) 

                          15 February 2014 

1260 Doubles, 11 methods / v. Grandsire, Southrepps, Wychbold, Salwarpe, Cliffords Pleasure,
Reverse Canterbury, Kennington,
April Day, Windrush, Dedworth, Plain Bob 

1                     Michael Hurst 

2                     Mark Robins 

3                     Jonathan Waller 

4                     Joanna A Waller 

5                     Ben Waller (c) 

6                     Colin J Butler

Ben’s 10 – 5/10. Rung as part of Newbury Branch Quarter Peal Week


                       24 February 2015 

1260 call changes 

1                     Tessa Allum 

2                     Michael Spencer 

3                     Stephen Ebner 

4                     Bruce Lousley 

5                     Marcus Allum (c) 

6                     Stephen Vale 

1st quarter 3,4,6. Rung for Newbury Branch Quarter Peal Week 

Source: Ringing World