Bell Sunday is typically kept on a Sunday close to St Dunstan’s feast day (19 May). St Dunstan is known as the patron saint of bell ringers due to his experimentation in the early forging of bells in the 900s and his encouragement of the use of bells in parish churches.

An initiative of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers – the representative body for all who ring bells in the English tradition – Bell Sunday is also supported by the Clerical Guild of Ringers, a group of ringing clergy who help to foster good relations between bell ringers and the Church.

In the Diocese of Southwark, several churches – part of The Surrey Association of Church Bell Ringers – joined in to raise awareness and highlight the importance of the sound of bells in our communities. For some it was an opportunity to include music and readings relevant to bell ringing in the service, and for others it was a chance to hear the bells chime and see the tower live in action.

St Mary, Barnes
At St Mary Barnes, the morning began with a livestream of the view from the belfry, as the bells rang and the congregation arrived. The service included two ‘bell’ hymns, a ringer reading the lesson, the Rector cleverly weaved bells and ringers into his sermon. The congregation also enjoyed bell-shaped biscuits with coffee after the service.

St Mary, Clapham
St Mary’s is still a chiming-only tower and Messrs, and the c1905 vintage chiming pulleys were recently replaced by Nicholson – a specialist bell hanging company. After many months of silence, the sound of the bells rang for the first time. Despite some glitches in the tower, a peal of Rounds-Queens-Rounds rang out to mark the day.

St Mary Magdelene, Richmond
During the service, Revd Canon Wilma Roest, Vicar at St Mary Magdalene spoke about the important role performed by bell ringers in calling people to worship and reminding residents that the church is here in her welcome and sermon. A ringer read the lesson, and another led the intercessions.

The prayer read:

Inspiring God, today is Bell Sunday.
That wonderful poet George Herbert described the enigma of prayer in many elusive images, including ‘
Church-bells beyond the stars heard’.
We are blessed that we have a team of ringers
who faithfully take us beyond the stars on Sunday morning.
Bells are the voice of the church, heard throughout Richmond,
inviting all to share with us the blessings of our faith.
We thank you, Lord, for the dedication of our ringers
and all who ring bells in our land.
Sustain them in their endeavours
and give them joy in the music of the bells.

Lord in your mercy.

Hear our prayer.

The congregation sang ‘Let bells peal forth the universal fame’ from the New English Hymnal.

St Mary’s Church, Bletchingley
On Bell Sunday, the church celebrated with a quarter peal by a team of six for 41m (7–1–13 in B) and 1260 Doubles (2m) with Alan Cooke, Ed Muller, Oliver Thompson, Alison McCormick, Noel Gibbin (C) and Trevor Dawson on the Grandsire and Plain Bob Doubles.

Visit the Bell Sunday website for more information.
To find out more information about The Surrey Association of Church Bell Ringers here.