UPDATED 24/02/21: In support of the Government's request for the public to stay at home, there will be no services in the Abbey; instead, we will be offering worship online and via social media, and regrettably there will be no bell ringing or practices until further notice.
Bells have been rung at the Abbey for hundreds of years, since before the 16th century, and we are proud to carry on this tradition today. We are very fond of our bells, of which there are ten in total, and these continue to be rung regularly for services, weddings, and other momentous occasions, often celebratory, as well as sometimes sad.
The Abbey bells are rung every Sunday morning before the 10.15am service.
Regrettably, practices are currently suspended due to the restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. In normal times we practise on Monday evenings between 7.30pm and 9.00pm.
How to Join Us
Sunday service ringing is currently by prior arrangement, but visiting ringers are most welcome to contact the Abbey's Tower Master, Matthew Butler (contact details below), to see if it is possible to accommodate them.
In normal times, we offer Tower Tours, which are a great way to go behind the scenes and see the ringing chamber and belfry.
The Abbey Ringers also have an active training program for people wishing to learn change ringing.
For more information about Bath Abbey Bellringers please email the Tower Master, Matthew Butler on [email protected]
The Bells of Bath Abbey
If an Abbey ringer from the 18th century entered the tower today, he would feel quite at home. Not much has changed: eight of our ten bells date from 1700, two smaller bells were added in 1774 to make the present ring of ten, and they still hang in the original timber frame.
Perhaps the most unusual feature is that our bells are hung in a descending scale, in an anti-clockwise direction; a curious phenomenon shared with just a handful of churches in the country. The smallest bell, known as the Treble, weighs just under 6 cwt (1/4 of a ton), while the largest, known as the Tenor, weighs over 33 cwt (1.5 tons), a mere lightweight when compared with the tenor of St Paul’s Cathedral at over 62 cwt (3 tons).
In 1869, the Tenor unexpectedly cracked during ringing practice one night, and had to be recast. The replacement was examined by the Abbey organist, and given the go-ahead. However, when it was hauled up and reinstalled, it proved to be out of tune, so it had to be recast a second time! The replacement bell survives to this day. It is inscribed: 'All you of Bathe that hear me sound Thank Lady Hopton's hundred pound' referring to the original Tenor bell cast in the 17th century and gifted by the Hopton family of Witham Friary.
A full restoration of the bells took place in 1957, thanks to the Friends of Bath Abbey, with contributions from other sources, as well as a second major refurbishment in 2004. Routine maintenance, as well as additional work including the repair of the Ellacombe chimes, again funded by Friends of Bath Abbey, continues to be carried out today. Fortunately all our bells are in full working order now and we have a fantastic team of bell ringers who create the most wonderful sounds each week.
For further details of the bells see Dove's Online Guide for Church Bellringers.