Bell-ringing at St Mary of Charity
There is a fine set of eight bells in the tower at the west end of the church, which are rung every week at 10 am for Sunday morning worship and on most Wednesday evenings when we have our weekly practice session from 7.30 to 9.00 pm. You will sometimes also hear the bells being rung for weddings, generally on Saturday afternoons during the summer and occasionally at other times, such as when visiting ringers tour the area, or for a funeral if bells are requested.
As some of the bells date from 1748, before the present tower was constructed; bell-ringing has obviously been going on in Faversham for well over 200 years. There are two peal boards on the walls inside the ringing chamber (the upstairs room from where the bells are rung) which date from very early in the 19th century and are quite unusual, as boards commemorating occasions when a peal has been rung more commonly date from the end of the 19th century. A peal consists of over 5,000 different patterns of six or eight bells being rung in sequence and takes about three hours to perform. These days, a peal is generally only rung at SMC once every few years (with due notice being given to the neighbours!) although quarter peals may be run more frequently.
Bell-ringing involving each of the bells being rung in nearly a full circle is something which is almost unique to England and which appears to have developed throughout the country in the century or so following the Church Reformation in the 16th century. Although the activity is of course still centred closely around parish churches and religious worship, there is no requirement for those who participate in ringing the bells to be churchgoers themselves; all that is required is for those who take part to be willing to show a degree of commitment to regular participation, preferably twice a week throughout most of the year - at least for those who live in the town or close by.
Our bell ringers are of all ages, from 12 to over 80, and we would very much welcome a few more new recruits to “learn the ropes”. All you need is to be reasonably fit and active and to be happy mixing with others and we will be happy to start teaching you. We like to think of ourselves as being a particularly friendly and approachable group and we welcome visitors to the tower on any Wednesday evening or Sunday morning, whether you are simply curious to see what goes on or feel like having a go yourself. There is no payment involved, although once you become proficient you will be expected to pay a small annual subscription to the Kent County Association of Change Ringers and may also have the opportunity to earn small sums of money from ringing at weddings.
'Vintage' ringers photographed in the ringing chamber
The bells' spring clean undertaken annually by some of the ringing team.
For all further enquiries, please telephone the tower captain, Simon Wolfe, on 01795 228414 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.