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Ringing for the King and Me

With only a few weeks to go until the King’s coronation, volunteers are still being sought to “Ring for the King”. Here’s why I’m glad to be a bell ringer.

In our digital age, church bells may no longer serve as news media, alerting locals to births, marriages, deaths – I learned of the Queen’s death on my DAB radio as I typed at my PC – but they still have the power to unite the nation.

Last September, ringing to mark the death of the monarch and the proclamation of the new one was a moving act of community and patriotism. It will be an honour to ring for the coronation in May.

The reasons I took up bell ringing have nothing to do with royalty…

Before I was born, my great-grandfather was a highly accomplished ringer, and I’d always wanted to learn in his honour.

photo of my great grandfather
My great-grandfather, the bell ringer

In my teens, reading Dorothy L Sayers’ mystery novel The Nine Tailors, set around the bell tower of an East Anglian fenland village church, informed and intrigued me about the practice. A few years ago, when my parish church acquired a new ring of eight bells, I determined to try my hand at last.

photo of old paperback edition of The Nine Tailors
My treasured copy of Dorothy L Sayers’ The Nine Tailors, which I’ve read countless times since I bought this book in my teens

Like most newcomers, I assumed bell ringing to be a simple process. I thought pulling a rope to elicit the desired effect would be like using the chain to flush an overhead toilet cistern.

I know now it’s a far subtler art. Learning to control a bell takes many hours of training, before you even start trying to ring in complex patterns as part of a band. And yes, band is the right word, because church bells are musical instruments.

Debbie learning to ring bells on the dumb bell
Learning the basics of bell ringing on the dumb bell, under the guidance of St Mary’s Tower Master Colin Dixon

Perseverance pays off. Bell ringing is sociable and entertaining. It improves mental and physical agility, balance, muscle endurance and cardiovascular fitness. Whenever a fellow ringer arrives at a practice night complaining of backache, the rhythmic, gentle stretching involved in ringing a bell for an hour or so enables them at the end of the session to skip down the spiral stairs, pain-free. As a hobby, it costs nothing, and you don’t need special kit.

Why join a gym when you can be in a bell ringing band?

photo of the bells at the blessing service
The new ring of eight bells arrives at St Mary’s, Hawkesbury two years ago – now out of sight in the bell tower

But be warned: if you take up bell ringing to Ring for the King, you’ll likely find yourself hooked long after 6th May. Bell ringing is for life, not just for coronations, which is just as well, considering coronations don’t happen very often. We’re unlikely to have to wait another 70 years for the next one, but our Royal Family has form on longevity, which is good news all round. You should have plenty of time to perfect your bell ringing technique for the next one.

This post was originally written for the Tetbury Advertiser‘s April 2023 edition. 

official logo for Ring for the King campaignLIKE TO GIVE BELL RINGING A TRY?
Then come along to the next Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival event at St Mary’s Hawkesbury on Saturday 22nd April, where Tower Captain Colin Dixon will give a talk on the language of bells. The bells will be ringing to mark this special occasion, and the bell tower will be open for tours and taster sessions.Visit for more information, or book via Eventbrite here:

photo of St Mary the Virgin Hawkesbury
Sample bell ringing at the next HU Lit Fest event at St Mary’s Hawkesbury (Photo by Ian Macfadyen)



Debbie with a paperback copy of Little Shop of Murders in a red phone box community libraryI’m pleased to report a very successful launch of the new charity anthology, The Little Shop of Murders, for which I wrote a new, exclusive Sophie Sayers Cozy Mystery short story, set around a community library in a red telephone kiosk.

It has been riding high in the Amazon Kindle charts, the #1 Bestseller in various categories including Fiction Anthologies, which is great news for the three charities to whom all profits are going!

image of best seller flag for The Little Shop of Murders on Amazon The book is also available in a beautiful glossy paperback, which I’m seen clutching here in the phone box library in Horton, the next village to mine.

For more information about this lovely joint venture with 14 other mystery writers, plus details of the three children’s charities that it’s supporting, read my pre-launch post here:

advertising banner for The Little Shop of Murders


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

3 thoughts on “Ringing for the King and Me

  1. I too am looking forward to ringing for the King! However, I fear anyone volunteering to learn to ring now might not be sufficiently proficient to ring for the coronation – given that it can take a while to learn to handle a bell alone. But still worth coming forward – there’ll be plenty more occasions to ring for in the future!

    1. I agree, Sally – and let’s hope this Ring for the King campaign will raise the profile of bell ringing nationwide and with long lasting effect! Enjoy your ringing on Coronation Day!

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