Change ringing is a style of church bell ringing started in England around the end of the sixteenth century. Because of constraints imposed by the physics of swinging bells, tunes are not played. Instead, the bells are rung in ever changing patterns to a steady rhythm.
Change ringing, while an obscure art, remains as widely practiced today as at any time in the past, and continues to evolve. The largest concentration of interest remains in England, which is home to over 95% of the world's bells hung for change ringing, with many of the remainder in other parts of the UK. However, there are small pockets in other parts of the world, mostly, though not exclusively, former British colonies, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the United States, and Zimbabwe. The past few decades have seen an increase in interest outside the UK, with the number of towers outside it roughly doubling since about 1960.
Some places to learn more include
- Change Ringing? What's That? on the North American Guild of Change Ringers web site, and
- The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers web site.
There is also an extensive collection of links to change ringing related material on the web originally created by Roger Bailey, and now maintained by Peter Blight, at Change Ringing Resources.
Many local Ringing Societies and Associations also maintain web sites. Contacting one near you is the best way to learn more about ringing than is possible by just reading, to arrange to hear ringing first hand, or to learn to ring.