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Above the treble

This describes the bell's position - it means it is later in the row than the treble, for example a bell could be ringing in sixth's place when the treble was in third's place.


The Association of Ringing Teachers



Also sometimes known as a tail stroke, this is the stroke rung with the ringer's hands on the tail, rather than on the sally.

Backstroke lead

Leading (as the first blow in the change) with a backstroke.

Ball of the clapper

This is the large, usually round part of the clapper which strikes the bell as it's ringing.

Bearing plate

Swinging bells have two bearings, either side of the headstock - these are bolted onto the frame. The metal plates which are bolted to the frame are known as 'bearing plates'. These bear considerable load as the bell swings.


Bell chamber, usually at the top of the Church Tower, where the bells are housed.

Bell advisor (Diocesan)

An expert on bells, usually appointed by the Diocese to advise on bell related matters.  Sometimes abbreviated to DAB (Diocesan Bell Advisor).

Bell foundry

The engineering works where bells are cast. Often bell foundries will also be able to advise on / carry out bell maintenance work, augmentations, re-hangs and repairs. Many foundries also supply ropes, stays and other sundries.

Bell frame

The frame from which swinging bells are hung. These can be made of wood (usually in older installations), or commonly steel / iron.  The bells swing within the frame.

Bell pit

This is the space in the bell pit in which a bell hangs (and swings).

Bell restoration fund

A fund set up by a tower or local ringing society to fund projects which restore, maintain or install bells.

Bell wheel

The wheel which is attached to the headstock of any bell which is hung for full circle change ringing. Usually made of wood (historically elm), with spokes.

Below the treble

This describes a bell's position, meaning earlier in the row than the treble. So, if the treble was in 4ths place, the bell in 2nd place would be described as being 'below the treble'.

Blue line

A diagram used by method ringers to show the path of one bell progressing through the method (or principle). When printed on paper, it is usually marked in blue. The path of the treble bell (if not ringing as part of the method or principle) is usually marked in red.


A bob causes three bells to rotate in the coursing order and is generally the most common type of call.


Found on many bell wheels, these are wooden half circles either side of the garter hole, to reduce continual bending back and forward of the rope in one small area as the bell wheel turns.  There is usually a gentle groove carved into each bobbin for the rope to lay in.


Ceiling boss, seen from the floor above

Another term for ceiling bosses

Boxes round the treble

Places made in both positions either side of the treble. This is seen in methods such as Double Oxford minor.


Cambridge backwork

The extended piece of work at the back of Cambridge (in the last two places of the change)

Cambridge frontwork

The work done 'on the front' in Cambridge, rung by the bells in first and second positions.

Cambridge major

A commonly rung surprise major method (8 bells).

Cambridge places

Work which is three dodges with intervening pairs of places separating them, all in the same pair of positions.

Cambridge surprise maximus

Cambridge Surprise Maximus is a right place surprise method, rung on 12 bells (maximus).

Cambridge surprise minor

A commonly rung surprise minor method

Cambridge surprise royal

Cambridge is a right place surprise method, 'royal' means it is being rung on 10 bells.


Canons are loops which are cast into the crown of older bells, usually fixed to the headstock by metal straps.

Ceiling boss

A smooth metal or wooden circle fitted which the ropes pass through, either in the floor / ceilings of the tower or through rope guides

Ceiling boss, seen from the floor above

Circle of work

This is a way of writing out a method in a circle. There is no beginning or end, but each working bell starts at a different part of the cycle.


A metal rod with a ball on the end which strikes the inside of the mouth of a bell. The clapper is hung from a pivot below the crown of the bell. The clapper swings back and forward as the bell rotates.

Clapper of a Church Bell

Clock hammer

The hammer of a Church clock, usually striking a bell in the tower. On a swinging bell (for full circle change ringing), the hammer is usually pulled off and held out of the way of the bell during ringing.

Clock room

Also known as the intermediate floor or middle floor, this is usually a room which contains the mechanisms for the tower clock. Bell ringers often use this area to store paraphernalia such as spare stays, spare ropes, flags etc. Bell ropes will usually run through ceiling bosses on the floor and ceiling of the clock room and this can be a point for extra wear on ropes if there is anything rough or sharp on the holes.

Clove hitch

A clove hitch is a temporary knot, made of two successive half hitches around an object. It is occasionally referred to as a double hitch.


The ringer who conducts - she or he takes responsibility for a piece of ringing, including any necessary calls. They may also check and correct any trips or mistakes in the ringing if required.


A row of changes with pairs of bells crossed over.

Not to be confused with a similar term - Crossed which is when two bells become accidentally swapped over during a method, causing each to do the other's work, so the touch will not come back into rounds where it would be expected to.

Crown knot

The critical first step to forming a back splice



The pattern of work where a bell takes one step forward, then one back (changing places on only one stroke).


see Dodge

Double dodging

Two dodges rung consecutively

Double Norwich Court Bob Major

This is a plain method, rung on 8 bells


This describes a method rung on 5 bells.

Down knot

A knot (usually a bowline) which does not untie if pulled. This is to stop the tail end falling on the floor when the bell is not in use. Indicates to the ringer that the bell is most likely 'down', but it is always adviseable to check before ringing in case the previous ringer has mistakenly used this knot instead of an 'up knot'

Dyneema rope

A modern type of rope. Dyneema has a strong polyethylene core surrounded by polyester. It is low stretch (like Pre Stretched Polyester) and very durable. It is a little more expensive than hemp or pre stretched polyester but is rapidly gaining popularity in many towers.


Even bell methods

A method rung on 4,6,8,10 or 12 bells (an even number of bells!)


The maximum number of unique changes in a method.



A conical tool, traditionally made of wood. Used in rope work to lever open spaces between strands of rope, when inserting strands in the splice, or to undo knots or tucks. 

Wooden Fid


So called because the method diagram for this work resembles a fish tail. Two points are preceded and followed by hunting in opposite directions.

Flax rope

Flax is widely used as a fibre for Church bell ropes. Quality can vary due to the growing conditions and harvest of the flax used. Like hemp ropes, flax can absorb moisture and stiffen in damp conditions. Ropes can also change length depending on the weather.

Four blows behind


(or Bell frame) The framework in which bells are hung. Old style frames were usually made of wood, but more modern installations are usually metal.

Fraying or Frayed

To unravel or become worn

Fully muffled

Fully muffled bells have a half muffled fitted to each side of the clapper


Garter hole

Hole in the bell wheel, hrough which the rope passes and is attached to the spokes of the bell wheel

Garter Hole


A commonly rung twin hunt method, rung on an odd number of bells.

Grandsire triples

A very commonly rung twin hunt method, rung on 7 bells, usually with a cover bell (tenor)


Diagram showing a method using a line for every bell (not numbers). It is a way of visualising the structure of the method and understanding how the different pieces of work fit together. Often only one lead is shown.


A gudgeon is a metal shaft attached to the ends of the headstock,  forming an axle on which the bell swings.


Half hitch

A knot which is used to tie a loop of rope around and object, then back to itself.

Half lead

The change which is half way between the lead head and the lead end, usually when the treble is lying at the back.

Hand stroke lead

Leading (as the first blow in the change) with a handstroke.


This is the stroke where the ringers hands are on the sally.


The large piece of metal or timber on top of a bell, to which the bell, its gudgeons, wheel and stay are attached.

Heat gun

A heat gun (sometimes known as a hot air gun) is a versatile tool which looks a bit like a hairdryer but is far, far hotter. They are sometimes used to strip paint, melt varnish or plastic, or in arts and crafts projects. They can be used to melt and shrink heat shrink sleeving

Heat shrink sleeve

High temperature plastic sleeves used for protecting areas of rope, such as splices in the top end. These protect the rope as it goes through ceiling bosses and rope guides and prevent it from catching or being damaged.

Heat Shrink Sleeving

Heat shrink sleeving (or tubing) is a type of extruded plastic tube that reduces in size when heated to a pre-determined shrink ratio to fit over a bell rope, usually used to protect a splice and stop it from getting frayed or damaged by its journey through ceiling bosses.


Hemp is the traditional material for bell ropes. It is an entirely natural fibre and very strong. It may be hard on the hands when it is brand new. Hemp is also likely to absorb moisture and can stiffen in damp conditions. The length of natural ropes such as hemp can be affected by changes in the weather so ropes can suddenly appear shorter or longer depending on the level of humidity.


Hempex is a synthetic hemp, sometimes known also as polyhemp. It is a three stranded, twisted rope, which retains the look and feel of natural hemp.

Hunt Bell

This simply means a bell which is hunting in the method, very often the treble. In twin hunt methods like Grandsire, the working bells also take turns to be the hunt bell.


Also known as plain hunting, this is when a bell changes place once every blow in the same direction for several places.


Insulating tape

Often constructed of vinyl plastic, this is tape which is stretchy and durable. Often used in rope splicing to keep the individual strands separate and easier to work with.

Insulating Tape


Jump the wheel

A rope 'jumping' or 'slipping' the wheel is when the rope comes out of the channel in the wheel during ringing. It can indicate a distorted wheel, a problem with a pulley, or a misaligned wheel. Ringing with very good handling and a taut rope can sometimes mitigate the problem if a particular bell is prone to its rope slipping the wheel, but it can indicate an issue that needs resolving in the belfry.


Kent frontwork

The 'frontwork' of Kent Treble bob, this is basically making places in 1st and second position over all the other working bells, started and finished by a single dodge with the treble.

Kent places

Two continguous places during hunting. In Kent minor, these places would be made in 3-4 position, (instead of a dodge).


A fastening or join


Lead end

The last row of a lead of a method (the first blow when the treble leads).


Striking one or more blows (usually two) in first place.

Long fifths

This describes a bell ringing for four blows in 5ths place. E.g in Plain Bob doubles, the fourth place bell hunts to the lead, then hunts to the back and rings four blows in 5ths place (known as long fifths, or four blows behind).


Sloped boards set in rows in the belfry windows to stop rain getting in, but to allow the sound of the ringing out. Usually made of wood.

Lying behind

Lying behind is when the bell rings for more than one consecutive blow in the last place in the change.



This describes a method rung on 8 bells.

Making seconds

This is when a bell makes two blows in seconds place.  A common example would be in plain bob doubles, a bell leads for two blows (hand and back), makes secones (hand and back in seconds place, over the treble), then leads again for two blows (hand and back).

Marlin spike

A tool used in rope work. Shaped in the form of a polished metal cone, and tapered to either a round or flattened point, it is used for opening up the stranes when splicing or untying knots.

Its function is similar to that of a fid


A method rung on 12 bells.


This is the name ringers give to a sequence of changes which are learned via a pattern or series of rules, rather than called changes where the ringers wait for a conductor to call them to change places one at a time.


The term used to describe a method rung on 6 bells.


A pad which is usually made of leather. This is fitted to a clapper to muffle the sound when it strikes the bell.


Natural Fibre ropes

Natural fibre bell ropes are usually made of either Hemp or Flax. They are hard wearing and durable, but have some disadvantages such as being affected by the weather conditions and humidity, they can also be a little bit stretchy. In towers with a long draught, many people prefer to splice on a man made rope above the sally to reduce stretchiness.


Open bells

Open bells is a term describing bells which are rung without muffles.  For example at a funeral, the deceased's family might request half muffled bells for a service, or they could instead ask that bells be rung 'open' in celebration of the life of the departed.


Pieces of Work

Describing what a bell does during a method - one small action as part of the whole method.

E.g in Plain Bob doubles the 'pieces of work' are making seconds, dodging three - four down, long fifths and dodging three - four up.

Pivot bell

The place bell that makes the place at the half lead. It has smmetrical work and spans a point of symmetry in the blue line.


The position of a bell in a row.

Place bells

A way of describing a certain block of work in a method. It means the first work that bell does during a lead of the plain course.  E.g if you are 'fourth place bell' you are about to do the work which the 4th does at the beginning of the method.  In the example of plain bob doubles, the fourth place bell would hunt into the lead, hunt to the back and do four blows behind.

Place notation

A type of shorthand to describe a method structure. No bell moves more than one place in the change, but each change is represented by listing the places made. Some bells stay still, whilst the remaining bells swap in pairs.

Plain Bob Doubles

One of the simplest methods, often rung by ringers who are progressing from plain hunt. All the working bells plain hunt all the time, except when the treble is leading. Rung on 5 bells, plain bob doubles has four pieces of work: making seconds, dodging 3-4 down, long fifths and dodging 3-4 up.

Plain Bob Major

The 8 bell (major) version of Plain Bob, a basic method where everyone plain hunts unless the treble is leading.

Plain Bob Minor

This is the 6 bell method of plain bob. All working bells plain hunt, except at the lead end when seconds place is made and the bells above this dodge.

Plain Course

A touch with no calls, starting and finishing in rounes.

Plain Hunt

A bell moving continuously from front to back, back to front...... without any additional pieces of work such as dodging or places. In plain methods, the treble rings this pattern, simply plain hunting whilst the other bells do the 'work' by ringing the method.


See snap

Pre-stretched polyester

Sometimes known as Terylene rope, this is widely used for the top end of a rope and can be spliced on. It is less stretchy than natural rope and is very hard wearing. As it is not a natural fibre, it doesn't absorb moisture so is therefore not affected by weather conditions. It is particularly adviseable for longer draught rings of bells where stretchy natural ropes can be trickier to ring.

Pull off cord

This is another term for the clock hammer cord (or wire). Usually found in the ringing room, it's used to secure and disable the clock hammer from striking on the bell during ringing. During a belfry maintenance check, clock hammers and their mechanisms are usually checked to make sure they are in good order and not likely to fail.


Pulley (sometimes known as a ground pulley) is found in the bell pit, where the rope turns to pass under the wheel at handstroke.


Remembrance Sunday

An occasion held in the United Kingdom as a day to commemorate the contribution of military and civilian servicemen and women who have served in the world wars or subsequent conflicts. It is marked on the nearest Sunday to 11th November, sometimes called Armistice Day. Church bells are usually rung half muffled for services on this day.


The rim of a wheel, also known as the shroud - the sides or edges either side of the sole.

Ringing Chamber

The area of a tower where the ringers stand to ring - this might be a balcony ring, on the ground floor, or an enclosed room higher in the tower. It is separate from the belfry or bell chamber.

Rope Chute

A vertical tube to guide the rope past obstacles between the bell and the ringer. Or a sloping tube to guide the rope at an angle, similar to a running board

Rope Guide

A circular ring, mounted above the sally in the ringing room, but below the ceiling to steady the lateral movement of the rope. Usually installed in towers with a long draught.


This describes a method rung on 10 bells.

Running board

Board, usually sloping, underneath a bell rope to guide it between the belfry and the ringing chamber. Sometimes called a slap board.



Thick, woollen part of a bell rope which the ringer grips when ringing the handstroke. These are often brightly coloured and striped. The soft wool prevents ringers from holding coarser rope which could chafe their hands.


Seconds (making seconds)

A common piece of work in many methods. The bell in question leads for two blows, then rings two blows in seconds place, then leads again for two blows.


The rims either side of the sole on a bell wheel.

Slap board

Slap board is another term for a running board, a sloping piece of wood used to guide the rope between the belfry and the ringing chamber.


Sometimes known as a point, this is a single blow after which the direction of hunting reverses.


The flat part (base) of the channel around the bell wheel, in between the rims, where the rope lies.


Make a smooth join between two pieces of rope by opening the individual strands and tucking them between the strands of the other piece


A radial piece of wood in the middle of a bell wheel


Wooden bar attached to the headstock. Usually made of ash wood. By resting against the slider, it supports the weight of the bell just past the balance, so that the bell can be stood in the 'up' position


Named after Fabian Stedman (a late 17th century ringer), this is a popular principle rung on an odd number of bells.

Steeple Keeper

The person responsible for the maintenance and inspection of bells, fittings and ropes.


A single length of fibre, twisted around with others to form a rope.

Surprise major

Rung on 8 bells, this is a class of treble dodging methods in which an internal place is made at every cross section.


This is a normal type of method, the places are symmetrial from the beginning to the end of the lead or block, using palindromic symmetry. Some methods also have back to front symmetry, or rotational symmetry.


Tail end

The end of a bell rope (below the sally). A tail is normally doubled by tucking itself back for a few feet, so that the length is adjustable.


A synthetic polyester fibre, obtained from petroleum. Used as a 'top end' for ropes because it is durable and does not feel stretchy to the ringer.

Three - Four down dodge

A pattern of work where two adjacent bells (in 3rd and 4th positions) change place. A bell that is hunting downwards in the change doing a dodge in third and fourths place would be described as doing a 3-4 down dodge.

Three - Four Up Dodge

A p attern of work where two adjacent bells (in 3rd and 4th positions) change place. A bell that is hunting upwards in the change doing a dodge in third and fourths place would be described as doing a 3-4 up dodge.

Tie bolts

Long bolts used to stabilise and tie together wooden headstocks.

Top End

The part of a bell rope which is above the sally, going up and round the wheel


The bell with the highest note in a ring of bells (usually also the lightest bell).

Treble based rules

Also known as treble signposts, this is ringing a method by watching the position of the treble. As an example, when ringing plain bob doubles, a ringer might be prompted to make seconds whenever they hunt to the front of the change and the treble is leading. They might be reminded to do a 3-4 down dodge after passing the treble at the back.

Most methods have rules where the position of the treble offers clues of what to do next, and this avoids remembering a whole long blue line.

Treble bobbing

This is where the hunt bell rings a pattern of dodging in every even pair of positions.

On six bells, this would mean the hunt bell dodging in 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6 as it hunts up and down.

Triple Dodging

Three dodges rung consecutively


Passing the tail end through itself to adjust the length. The point where the rope passes through itself.

Twin Hunt

This describes a class of method where there are two hunt bells, usually the treble and one other. The second hunt bell will change once calls are introduced.


Up Knot

A knot which is used to stop the tail end falling on the floor when the bell is not in use. It will untie easily if pulled. It usually indicates that the bell has been left in the 'up' position. Ringers should always double check though by testing whether a bell is up or down, in case the previous ringer has left the wrong knot in error.



Bell wheel - attached to the headstock of any bell which has been hung for full circle ringing. Usually made of wood (traditionally Elm), wheels are assembled in two halves to facilitate getting them up into the belfry where they as assembled. The bell rope is attached to the middle spokes of the wheel.


A whipping knot, or whipping is binding twine around the end of a rope to prevent it from fraying. Whipping can be made nteat by tying it off or sewing the ends of the twine through the rope itself.



A wood eating larvae - of several species of beetles. Infestation with woodworm can affect wooden belfry fittings, weakening them and spreading if left untreated.

Working bell

A bell which rings the pattern of the method or principle, and is not in the same position at each lead head (in other words, it is not a hunt bell or a cover bell).

Wrong hunting

Wrong hunting is plain hunting, but on opposite strokes to normal, it is rung backstroke then handstroke

Wrong Place Method

A method in which places are made 'wrong', starting on backstroke followed by a handstroke.


Yorkshire Major

Also known as Yorkshire Surprise Major, this is a method rung on 8 bells.

Yorkshire places

Work consisting of two dodges, separated by an intervening pair of places in the same pair of positions.

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