by David W Struckett, Northern Branch Training Officer

Before commencement of a raise ringers take up the spare rope (tail end) in one or two coils in such a way as to allow a smooth release of rope as the bell is raised - this is required because the ability to adjust small changes in length of rope as the raise progresses is important in order to maintain a good rhythm.

The Start

There are two common ways of commencing a raise in peal:

A: the popular "progressive start" - commences with the treble, then on the next swing the 2nd joins in, then the 3rd, etc., until after N pulls on the sally (N being the number of bells), they are all swing chiming in rounds.

B: all the bells are pulled in rounds three times, but gently and without checking or sounding, and on the next pull they are both checked and pulled so that they all speak for the first time in rounds. This is more difficult with larger than average bells.

The Raise

Once the bells are all chiming it will be seen that the treble will be swinging higher than the tenor, to stay in rounds - due to their different weight and swing - and the other bells proportionately in between. It also takes more effort to raise a larger bell, this too being progressive between treble and tenor. The treble ringer should therefore observe the tenor (by listening AND looking) as a guide to the rate at which to raise.

The opening swing chiming produces a single stroke on each bell, but as the bells swing higher they will begin to speak twice, i.e. on the return as well as the pulled swing, commencing with the treble. This must be allowed for by the treble ringer, as the second 'row' fits in between the end of one complete row and the beginning of the next. The pace of ringing must be relatively "fast" i.e. a small gap between each bell, in order that the rounds do not overlap.

When the two strokes are complete, the ringing should be about twice as fast as ordinary rounds, and the front bells at least will be approximately half way up. Some effort is required to raise each bell at the required pace to maintain even rounds, as the actual pace is changing all the time - any errors get quickly magnified and are very noticeable outside the tower as the bells are producing maximum volume once about half way up. During this period each ringer will start to ring the handstrokes, beginning with only one hand as the sally starts to bounce, to ringing two stokes fully when all coils are gone. This also commences with the treble.


Once the bells are ringing fast rounds it is fairly straightforward to simply slow to normal ringing pace as full circle ringing is approached. The treble ringer is of course in control of this all the way, as the interval left from the tenor will be a guide for the others. This does of course depend on relative skill being shown on both the treble and tenor!

As normal speed ringing is approached, open handstroke ringing will require the treble to control the handstroke pause now, as precision leading is sometimes difficult on the way up (depending on the weight of the bells and rope length however, this may be discernible during the raise because of the weight of the rope).

As the treble ringer has been in charge up to now, the order "stand" is often given from this bell, when that ringer is satisfied that normal ringing has been achieved - particularly by the tenor. However, as the tenor is the last to reach full circle swinging, it could be more logical for the ringer of the tenor to call "stand", and this is sometimes done, especially if no time is to be wasted. When call changes or change ringing methods are to be practised without stopping after the raise, the conductor will now take over control, after checking that the tenor ringer is happy with the pace and the treble ringer is leading satisfactorily, etc.

It must be emphasised that for a successful raise, the treble ringer must be able to gauge the interval between tenor and treble, and be aware of the pace of the other bells, throughout the entire raise. As this is the procedure in ringing which requires the maximum energy input by all the ringers taking part, it's success is entirely dependent on it proceeding at the pace which is possible by the ringers of the heaviest bells. One should bear in mind that usually extra checking is required to start, to ensure correct clappering, and that there should be a smooth transition from one stage to the next with no noticeable change of direction experienced by any ringer.

Associated styles

A "round start" or commencing as at (b) above, is often associated with "West Country" style of ringing, together with call changes "calling up", and a sudden stop at the end of a fall (see notes "Lowering in Peal - DWS"). The "progressive start" or each bell joining in successive pulls is the more widely practised system elsewhere in England. The rest of the raise is no different wherever you go - after all, the mechanical requirements are the same!

Don"t forget that the commencement of a raise is the first sound issuing from the tower at that session of ringing, and therefore the most noticeable to anyone in earshot. If fewer than the number of bells in the tower are to be raised in peal, they should be chosen as a musical set - e.g. 1,2,3 OR 4,5.6 for six bells (NOT e.g.2,3,4), or perhaps in "thirds" - ring 1,3,5 up, and then later 2,4,6. (or v.v.). On eight bells ring 2,3,5,7 as a "four" (this is in a minor key) and later ring 1,4,6,8 (appropriately, in the major key). (Because 2,4,6,8 sounds awful due to 2-8 being a discord). It's best not to ring the treble and 2 of an eight up together because as a semitone this too is a discord - often done though because you have just rung up the back six! An alternative is to raise front four and back four, separately.

Whatever set of bells you ring up in peal though, the treble ringer is in charge, and requires the greatest skill. A good raise sets the scene for subsequent ringing, and is therefore important as an "opening piece" of any practice, service ringing or peal.

Document last modified 17-APR-2014