Bath Abbey to take part in 200th anniversary of the Ellacombe Chimes

Bath Abbey will be taking part in a worldwide celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of a unique bell-ringing invention, the Ellacombe Chimes, on Saturday 26 June.

The Abbey bells will be chiming at 12midday this Saturday to mark the occasion.

Bells will also ring throughout four continents, played at noon local time in each location, to celebrate the bicentenary of the Ellacombe Chimes, which were invented at St Mary’s Church in Bitton, South Gloucestershire, in 1821.

The ‘Chime around the World’ celebration, which crosses 11 time zones, will start in New Zealand and finish in Vancouver in Canada 17 hours later. At least 100 churches and towers will be participating.

The chiming system was designed 200 years ago by the Rev Henry Thomas Ellacombe, from St Mary’s Church at Bitton, near Bristol. The apparatus, now used in bell towers across the world, enables one trusted person to ring the bells instead of six to twelve bell ringers. Ellacombe originally made the invention to dispense with ‘wayward’ bell ringers.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the invention has enabled bells to continue to be sounded. At the Abbey, the Ellacombe chime was frequently used when group bellringing was not possible due to Covid-19 restrictions. Most notably, the bells were chimed to Easter hymns by two of our bellringers on Easter Sunday 2020, at the height of the first lockdown.