Bell ringing at Buckland Church was suspended in March 2020 and, given the limited amount of space available in the bell ringing chamber, regular Friday evening practices have yet to restart.
Buckland’s ringers are a friendly group who continue to meet virtually (via Zoom) each week and use “Ringing Room” to ring virtual bells! If you think you might be interested in learning how to ring please contact David Sayce, our Tower Captain to find out more and to arrange a virtual introduction to the ancient english tradition of change ringing.
Buckland has 6 bells in a timber framed steeple, the largest of which, the tenor weighs 4 cwt.
Prior to the current suspension of ringing visiting ringers were always welcome to join us between 8pm and 9.30pm for our Friday evening practice and the local band looks forward to the day this can restart. The schedule of Sunday services has recently changed, with a 10am service alternating between Buckland and Betchworth. Ordinarily the band also rings, as and when requested, for other services including weddings and funerals, to commemorate special events and to herald the opening of community events. England is the home of “change ringing” which requires the bells to keep changing their position relative to each other to create different sound patterns. Many established sequences of changes are referred to as “methods” and are given distinguishing names.
We ring “quarter peals”, that consist of 1260 changes, and take around 45 minutes to complete. Quarter peals are traditionally rung to commemorate specific events; during 2019 we rang two quarter peals to celebrate the birth of grandchildren of tower members. On Buckland’s relatively light bells a quarter peal involves between 40 and 45 minutes continuous ringing. In December 2019, visiting ringers rang a peal of Surprise Minor in 2 hours and 33 minutes – the first peal rung at the tower since 2015.
Members of our tower band regularly visit other local towers and participate in Association events and training.
We hold an annual dinner in January and an annual summer outing, which we share with Betchworth ringers and a few of our regular visitors. In July 2019 we visited 5 towers in Sussex: Ardingly, Fairwarp, Withyham, Coleman’s Hatch and West Hoathly, and, in recent years, our trips have taken in towers in Kent, Sussex and Surrey.
A short history of the bells
The Buckland bells are mentioned in an inventory that was made in 1548, as “three bells in the steeple and a handbell to be kept until the Kinges majesties pleasure be further known”; the king at the time being Edward VI.
William Eldridge is recorded as having furnished the tower with bells that included a tenor of 31 and a half inches diameter in 1681. The church underwent an extensive refurbishment in 1860 after which the church had a ringing chamber of five bells in the steeple with fittings throughout of English oak. At this time J Warner & Sons are reported to have recast the treble and second bells. The same company subsequently installed a new treble in 1892 taking the number of bells to six. In 1900, J Warner & Sons recast the larger bells (the fourth, fifth and tenor bells), from a pattern inscribed “W Eldridge made mee – 1681”, and rehung all six bells in an iron frame.
All six bells were removed to be serviced, re-tuned and rehung by Whitechapel Foundry in August 2005. To view photographs taken in 2005 please click Gallery
In September 2016 we replaced the six bell ropes that had been in use since the 2005 rehanging of the bells.