Handling a Bell

Posts will appear below when added. New posts come regularly so look out for them. The Q&A is the first post posted in every section.

Post Number 1 - September 2019

Questions & Answers

This is our first post on this section about handling a bell. Today we will focus on some of the questions we asked when we started our ringing careers.

Remember if you have any questions that may not have been answered we will add them to this post once we have received the E-Mail.


Q: What are the dangers of not letting go when instructed to?

A: There are many! The main reason is the bell needs to be taken back under control by an experienced ringer to avoid injury. You may have also broken the stay which means you will go sailing up into the belfry with the bells!


Q: Why is it called the sally?

A: Well nobody actually knows! We will leave this one to your imagination.


Q: I seem to be struggling with the hand transfer. Do you have any tips?

A: Practise with a tail end that is from an old bell rope. Get your teacher to worry about the backstoke and you can just catch the sally with the old tail end.

Q: A learner started at the same time as me, why do them seem to be progressing a lot faster?

A: There are many reasons why others progress quicker than others. Some people are lucky and it comes to them naturally and others need more guidance. We generally find the best age to learn is when you are a teenager but we have new ringers of every age coming all the time to have a look!

Q: I have a bad habit, how do I get out of it?

A: First of all you are most definitely not alone! Lots of ringers have some very bad habits, even the most experienced. The best way of getting out of bad habits is concentrating on doing it correctly. I used to have a very bad habit of walking forwards a few steps while I was ringing without noticing and to overcome this I concentrated on it most while I was in rounds and didn't have to think about ringing changes. Remember the key to getting out of bad habits is patience, it won't happen if you only try to rectify it once!


Please send us more questions, we would love to answer them!



Ringing a Bell - 

There are two strokes, two parts to ringing a bell. The backstroke (using the tail) and the
handstroke (using the Sally). It is most likely that you will or are learning the backstroke first
and then the hand but it is not impossible to learn it the other way around. Assuming that you
are starting with the backstroke, there are some very important rules which you may or may
not know of, the first and most basic is to pull straight down and flick your hands down to
point at the floor almost as if you were holding a golf club. To practice this skill at your tower,
untie a rope of a bell that is down so as you don't accidentally pull it off, make a triangle shape
with your hands around the rope and move your hands up and down the rope without touching it.

This is a perfect way to practice pulling straight down. Also don't push/flick the rope out in front of you as it will be almost impossible to control the bell. Imagine a glass wall in front if you pull your hands straight down and in front of the glass wall, don't put your hands or the rope through the glass wall otherwise it will break.
Once your instructor/tower captain feels that you are component with the backstroke (that is if you are starting with the backstroke) you will move on to the handstroke, where the Sally is primarily used. Again like the backstroke you must pull all the way down but this time let go of the Sally or you will encounter serious problems. Once you have pulled straight down and let go of the Sally then it will rise and come back down in front of you, when it bobs once, catch it a little lower, only half and inch or so below where you started with it in the first place. Then repeat what you have just done.
After mastering each stroke. It is time to put them together, in words it is simple, in theory also
but is a little more difficult in practice but isn't actually that hard. Hold the end of the rope in
between your thumb and index finger and run it down you palm (depending on the length of the rope) your tower captain can help with this. Then reach up and pull the Sally off, when you let go keep hold of the tail end with your left hand (or right) and with your right (or left) put it down to meet the left in the same way as you would do for ringing the backstroke on its own. Then ring the backstroke, the catch the Sally as you did before and repeat this. It may sound confusing but you will quickly get the hang of it and it will be easier in the tower as your tower captain/teacher can use a practical example.

Hopefully this article has not been too confusing but if you can find any way for us to improve it please get in touch and w will be happy to rectify.


The Backstroke in more detail -

I thought it important to talk about the backstroke in more detail as it is normally the very first thing you learn. This article is a repeat of the last article but we have a look at the backstroke in much more detail so apologies if you see anything that is exactly the same as in the previous article!

Site last edited: 28/02/2021


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