The United Benefice of
St Mary's, Henlow, and St Andrew's, Langford

Bell Ringing at St Mary's

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An Active Band

We have an active band of bell ringers at St Mary's led by our Tower Captain, Carol Donnelly, which rings the bells in the traditional change ringing style. We ring before the Sunday morning service from 10.30am to 11am and on special occasions we may ring a Quarter Peal. The bells are also rung on New Year's Eve and for major state occasions. The tower has achieved success over many years in striking competitions organised by the Bedfordshire Association of Church Bell Ringers. Visitors are always most welcome to join in our ringing and we look forward to meeting you.

Bell Ringing Practice

We meet for bell ringing practice on Tuesday evenings from 8pm to 9pm and new ringers are always welcome, experienced or otherwise: we're keen to teach new ringers of any age, so please do come along and join us!

Bell Ringing Records

We have a database of all Peals, Quarters and 720s rung on the bells since the early 1930s:

Some records may also be found on the Ringing World BellBoard.


The first mention of bells in the tower was in 1615 when one was said to have been cracked. The bells were cast in 1628, 1638 and 1650. In 1750 the 7th (old 4th) was recast as it was cracked. The Tenor was recast in 1877 after having been smashed and the four other bells were re-hung at the same time.

In 1931 a treble, cast by Mears and Stainbank of Whitechapel, was added to make a ring of six. Following the augmentation a change ringing band was formed and the first full peals on the bells were rung. In 1979 two new treble bells, cast by Taylor's of Loughborough, were added and sound control introduced.

The back six bells are housed in a wooden frame and the Treble and Second on steel beams above.

The table below shows how the ring of bells has developed over the years (the weight of the older bells is approximate).

Bell Date Weight Diameter Note Inscription
Treble 1979 4-2-11 26" F Given in memory of Lewis H. Bywaters Tower Captain 1931 - 1977. A. W. Newall, Vicar
Second 1979 5-0-18 28" E Given in memory of John Church for many years ringer at this church. P.R. Jewell, Tower Captain.
Third 1931 5-0-16 30" D A.M.D.G. George William Sanctuary, Schoolmaster 37 years Churchwarden. 21 years of Henlow. Died Dec. 19 1930 Youth, Manhood, Old Age Past, Come to thy Lord at last.
Fourth 1650 6-2-00 31" C Miles + Graye + made + me + 1650
Fifth 1628 7-0-00 34.5" B flat + God Save our King 1628
Sixth 1638 8-0-00 35" A Miles + Graie + Fecit + 1638
Seventh 1750 10-0-00 38" G + Thomas Trustram Churchwarden + cum Voco Venite + J. Eayre: St. Neots + 1750
Tenor 1877 14-2-00 42" F Re-Cast by J. Warner and Sons London. W. Holesgrove Vicar. (The old Tenor was inscribed Miles Graie Fecit 1638)


Each year we have a ringing holiday weekend. Details of events from 2006 - 2009 are as follows, most recent first:

Bellringers Outing 2009
2009: Our outing this year took us to the Lake District. On Saturday we rang at Ambleside, Hawkshead, Crosthwaite and Kendal. On Sunday we rang at Carlisle Cathedral and then moved on to Thursby, Wigton and Penrith. On Monday we visited Greystoke and Keswick.
Bellringers Outing 2008
2008: This year we visited Warwickshire. On Saturday we rang at Brailes, Shipston on Stour, Wellesbourne, Leek Wootton, Stoke (Coventry) and Coventry Cathedral. Sunday was spent at Warwick, Leamington Spa and Kenilworth. On Monday we visited St Andrew, Rugby where we rang both set of bells.
Bellringers Outing 2007
2007: Our outing this year was to Northumbria. We rang at Newcastle Cathedral, Newcastle St. Matthew and St John, Morpeth Curfew Tower, Berwick Town Hall, Bamburgh, North Shields and some smaller villages. We also took time to visit Holy Island.
Bellringers Outing 2006
2006: This year's outing took us to Wiltshire. We rang at Bath Abbey, Devizes, Trowbridge, Bradford on Avon and some surrounding villages.

2007 Bedfordshire Association of Church Bellringers Striking Competition

Our team of ringers came second in the county striking competition held in September 2007. The event took place on the light ring of bells at St Mary, Kensworth:

St Mary's Ringers at the 2007 Bedfordshire Association of Church Bellringers Striking Competition
L to R: Anthony Smith, James Burgess, Philip Rogers, Philip Jewell, Charlotte Smith, Carol Donnelly

Some Definitions

  • Method: A predetermined sequence of changes
  • Plain Course: The basic length of a method
  • Touch: An extended piece of ringing of a method
  • 720: A touch of 720 changes. More usually on five or six bells, 720 being the number of different changes (permutations) on six bells or 6 repeats of each change on five bells
  • Quarter Peal: A touch of 1250 or a few more changes (see peal below)
  • Peal: A touch of at least 5000 changes. When ringing Triples (7 bells changing) or Minor (6 bells changing) the minimum is 5040 which is the extent on 7 bells or each change on six bells repeated seven times.

— Definitions provided by Anthony Smith

St Mary's, Henlow, and St Andrew's, Langford :: Diocese of St Albans :: Church of England

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