Hear the Sound of Bow Bells

The sound of Bow Bells can be heard every 15 minutes as the clock strikes the quarters of the hour. A toll is heard before daily services and the Angelus is rung morning and evening, as is a seasonal hymn. All this chiming is done automatically.

Change ringing (where each of the 12 bells swings through 360 degrees and is rung by an individual person) happens on feast days and other special occasions such as City events or weddings. At other times, many bands of experienced ringers from around the country come to practise on this large and famous ring of bells.

 

A sound control system keeps the volume of practice peals to a very low level, while peals for special occasions ring out across the Square Mile and far beyond.

The schedule below is regularly updated. For further information please contact the Steeple Keeper, Simon Meyer.

* denotes ‘open’ ringing

Ringing for LIVE in the Churchyard

Steeple Keeper Simon Meyer describes what was rung:

Monday 25 June 17.30 – 18.30

We rang a quarter peal, starting at 17.30, which lasted about an hour. We need to prepare the bells (ring them up  – you can liken this to an orchestra warming up) before we start, and ring them down at then end.

On this occasion we rang a method called Bristol Surprise Royal.  ‘Bristol’ describes the particular sequence of changes we will ring (changes being the different orders in which the bells ring).  ‘Surprise’ is a broad category of methods – think of it like Toccata or Rondo. ‘Royal’ means we will be ringing 10 bells.  Although we have 12 at St Mary-le-Bow, ringing the heaviest 10 provides a stately and grand sound which can be contrasted with the performance listed below for Thursday.

Ringing a quarter peal means we will ring at least 1,250 different changes – all from memory! Bristol is a very musical method within the realms of bell music. We generally consider that runs up and down the scale are a nice feature and you will hear lots of this spread throughout the performance, often with either the big or little bells working together.

Thursday 28 June 18.30 – 19.30

We rang a quarter peal, starting at 18.30, which lasted about an hour. We need to prepare the bells (ring them up  – you can liken this to an orchestra warming up) before we start, and ring them down at then end.

On this occasion we rang a method called Stedman Cinques.  ‘Stedman’ describes the particular sequence of changes we will ring (changes being the different orders in which the bells ring) and is a method that has been rung for hundreds of years.  ‘Cinques’ means that 11 bells will be involved in the changes and the 12th will always strike last, setting a steady rhythm.  If you heard the ringing on Monday you might notice that this ringing seems more rapid which is because the bells swing at the same pace but we will have 2 more bells to fit into the same time period, hence the spacing is closer.

Ringing a quarter peal means we will ring at least 1,250 different changes – all from memory!

The music in Stedman tends to be grouped together, so you get what will sound like fairly random changes then, every 4 or 5 minutes, some particularly musical rows. The music was of two types, each for roughly half the time:

  • Titums:  where the big bells ring down the scale but with little bells in between.  In the run up to this you actually hear the inverse – the big bells ringing up the scale with little bells in between.  The big bells then group at the back and rotate before the real titums music begins.
  • Handstroke rollups:  where the big bells ring down the scale without any bells in between.

 

Watch LIVE ringing here

You can watch a recording here of the most recent bell ringing to be streamed from the tower through the Twitter feed on this page.

To be alerted to future LIVE streams, and to keep in touch with what’s happening at St Mary-le-Bow, follow us on Twitter here.

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Ringing Schedule 2018

August

12th 14.30 – 15.30
Practice: Ancient Society of College Youths

14th 18.30 – 20.00
Practice: Ancient Society of College Youths

September

11th 18.30 – 20.00
Practice: Ancient Society of College Youths

12th 18.30 – 20.30
Practice: Southwark Cathedral guild

16th 16.00 – 17.00
Quarter Peal: the Costermongers’ Harvest Festival*

17th 19.00 – 20.00
Practice: Guildford Cathedral guild

25th 18.30 – 20.00
Practice: Ancient Society of College Youths

October

13th 11.00 – 14.00
Peal attempt: Ancient Society of College Youths

16th 18.30 – 20.00
Practice: Ancient Society of College Youths

29th 18.30 – 20.00
Practice: St Martin-in-the-Fields

30th 18.30 – 20.00
Practice: Ancient Society of College Youths

November

1st 17.20 – 18.05
Ringing: the feast of All Saints*

2nd 12.20 – 13.05
Ringing (half muffled): the Commemoration of All Souls*

10th 11.00 – 13.00
Ringing: the Middlesex Association, for the Lord Mayor’s Show*

December

5th 18:30 – 20:00
Practice: Ancient Society of College Youths

11th 18.30 – 20.00
Practice: Ancient Society of College Youths

18th 12.20 – 13.05
Ringing: the Parish Christmas Carol Service*

Ringing Schedule 2019

January

19th 14.00 – 17.00
Peal attempt: St Paul’s Cathedral guild

Specifications

Weights, Inscriptions and Pitches

Bell 1: weight 285kgs: note G
DECLARE HIS GLORY AMONG THE HEATHEN, HIS WONDERS AMONG ALL PEOPLE.
ALBERT ARTHUR HUGHES OF THE WHITECHAPEL FOUNDRY BIRTHPLACE OF BOW BELLS SINCE 1738 NAMED ME KATHERINE
MEARS & STAINBANK 1956

Bell 2: 303kgs: note F
WHO SO OFFERETH PRAISE GLORIFIETH ME.
JOHN STANLEY MASON MASTER OF THE ANCIENT SOCIETY OF COLLEGE YOUTHS NAMED ME FABIAN
MEARS & STAINBANK 1956

Bell 3: 322kgs: note E
HIS NAME ALONE IS EXCELLENT, HIS GLORY IS ABOVE THE EARTH AND HEAVEN.
LAURENCE KING F.R.I.B.A. ARCHITECT NAMED ME CHRISTOPHER
MEARS & STAINBANK 1956

Bell 4: 339kgs: note D
IN HIS TEMPLE DOTH EVERYONE SPEAK OF HIS GLORY.
THE BELL OF THE PARISH OF ST. MARGARET MOYSES STEPHEN BERNARD GOSLING, WILLIAM JOYN AYLING NAMED ME MARGARET
MEARS & STAINBANK 1956

Bell 5: 407kgs: note C
THE GLORY OF THE LORD SHALL ENDURE FOR EVER.
THE BELL OF THE PARISH OF ST. MILDRED BREAD STREET
STANLEY ARTHUR PHILLIPS CHURCHWARDEN NAMED ME MILDRED
MEARS & STAINBANK 1956

Bell 6: 519kgs: note B
THEY SHALL SING IN THE WAYS OF THE LORD FOR GREAT IS THE GLORY OF THE LORD.
THE BELL OF THE PARISH OF ST. FAITH UNDER ST. PAULS
SIDNEY ERNEST SANDLE M.C., C.C. NAMED ME FAITH
MEARS & STAINBANK 1956

Bell 7: 549kgs: note A
I WILL SPEAK OF THE GLORIOUS HONOUR OF THY MAJESTY AND OF THY WONDROUS WORKS.
THE BELL OF THE PARISH OF ST. AUGUSTINE WATLING STREET
CHRISTOPHER FRANCIS WILSON CHURCHWARDEN NAMED ME AUGUSTINE
MEARS & STAINBANK 1956

Bell 8: 629kgs: note G
NOT UNTO US, O LORD, NOT UNTO US, BUT UNTO THY NAME GIVE GLORY
THE BELL OF THE PARISH OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST
ERNEST ALFRED BEARD CHURCHWARDEN NAMED ME JOHN
MEARS & STAINBANK 1956

Bell 9: 912kgs: note F
GIVE UNTO THE LORD THE GLORY DUE UNTO HIS NAME:
WORSHIP THE LORD IN THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS
THE BELL OF THE PARISH OF ALL HALLOWS BREAD STREET
STUART MAXWELL ROBERTS O.B.E., T.D., C.C. CHURCHWARDEN NAMED ME TIMOTHY
MEARS & STAINBANK 1956

Bell 10: 1,105kgs: note E
THY SAINTS SHALL BLESS THEE. THEY SHALL SPEAK OF THE GLORY OF THY KINGDOM
AND TALK OF THY POWER
THE BELL OF THE PARISH OF ST. PANCRAS SOPER LANE
STANLEY JAMESON TILL M.C. CHURCHWARDEN NAMED ME PANCRAS
MEARS & STAINBANK 1956

Bell 11: 1,492kgs: note D
O LORD MY GOD, I WILL GLORIFY THY NAME FOR EVERMORE
THE BELL OF THE PARISH OF ALL HALLOWS HONEY LANE
SIR CUTHBERT ACKROYD BART. LORD MAYOR CHURCHWARDEN NAMED ME CUTHBERT
MEARS & STAINBANK 1956

Bell 12: 2,135kgs: note C
NOW LETTEST THOU THY SERVANT DEPART IN PEACE, FOR MINE EYES HAVE SEEN THY SALVATION
THE BELL OF THE PARISH OF ST. MARY LE BOW
HUNG FOR CURFEW 1334
DESTROYED BY FIRE 1666
RECAST 1669 RECAST 1738
DESTROYED BY ENEMY ACTION 1941
RECAST 1956
HUGH EVAN HOPKINS O.B.E., M.A. RECTOR
HOWARD GEORGE HICKLENTON
JULIEN FREDERICK CHARLES BENNETT D.L.
CHURCHWARDENS
JOHN H.L. TRUSTRAM M.B.E., M.A., VESTRY CLERK
NAMED ME BOW