Ringing in Chester
Visitors to Chester will find a welcome at any of the towers where ringing takes place.
We are always pleased to heve experienced ringers making use of the ready-made network of friends that is one of the strengths of bell ringing.
Novices can be accommodated and those who have never seen bells being rung like this can come and watch.
And remember - bell-ringing is not dependent on good weather
The city of Chester has four 'ringable' towers. Within the city walls there is the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Mary on-the-hill, and within walking distance from the city centre are Hoole, All Saints and Handbridge, St Mary Without-the-Walls.
Prior to the 1970's, the Cathedral's large central tower housed a 29cwt ring of 10 bells. It is now just an eerily empty tower. The access was interesting to say the least; 3 separate spiral staircases, passage ways and balconies. The ringing room was directly below the bells, similar to Hereford Cathedral, meaning they would have been very loud for the ringers. The huge louvres on all four sides of the central tower, at the same level as the bells would have made the tonne-and-a-half 10 very loud around the city. Many ringers would have dearly loved to have experienced ringing on the 'old' ring. They would certainly have been a very interesting challenge.
The first recorded peal in the City of Chester was rung in 1873. It is
commemorated on a peal board inside the new Addleshaw Tower as follows;
Chester Cathedral's modern detached tower contains a 1970's Taylors ring of 12, with the tenor weighing 24-3-0.
Chester Cathedral practice on Monday nights and visitors are always most welcome.
St Mary on the hill is a council owned building now, and therefore, ringing is limited to special services. However, visiting bands are welcome, please contact the secretary for more information. The access to the ringing room is interesting in that you have to climb vertical ladders:- something the faint hearted should definitely avoid.
Across the River Dee is the Handbridge area of Chester which contains Chester's other ring of eight bells a one ton Mears and Stainbank ring dating back to the end of the nineteenth century.
Visitors are welcome to the Wednesday night practice.
Last but not Least is Hoole, a 7cwt ring of six bells on the outskirts of Chester. Practice night is Thursday and visitors are always welcome.
Chester Cathedral; 12 bells, 24-3-0
St Mary on-the-hill; 8 bells, 13-3-8
Hoole, All Saints; 6 bells, 7-2-0
Handbridge; 8 bells,19-3-12
Chester is also famous for the rings of bells it has lost, but
information about exactly what happened and when is sketchy at best. The
Medieval St John's church was Chester's Cathedral from 1075 to 1102, located
just outside the city walls, has a chime of 8 bells, but at some point in
history, it had a 'ring' of bells. Its tall tower that once
dominated the Chester skyline collapsed in 1881. St Peter's
Church, located on the crossing, at the very epicentre of Chester, has a
ring of 6 bells, but they are in such a state of disrepair, they are
considered unringable. St Peter's have not been rung full circle since
before the second world war at least. All 6 bells are still in the tower,
and all swing freely. Some clappers are missing, and the wheels that remain
are rotting away. 200 yards down Watergate St from St Peters is Holy Trinity
church. This tower at one point did contain a ring of bells, which may have
been stolen, perhaps during
the second world war, when many church bells were removed from towers for
safety reasons. Finally, St Michael's Church, now a heritage centre, also
contained a ring of bells. At one point, probably between 1850 and 1881, there would have been
4 rings of bells that are either not there or not ringable today.