Bell Ringing at The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Handsworth, Sheffield
Welcome the Handsworth bell ringers’ page.
We ring the bells for Sunday morning service, and other services and occasions. Our practice is Wednesday evenings. We also ring for weddings by arrangement. Visitors are always welcome. To hear our bells click on this link.
Who Rings the Bells at St. Mary’s?
At St. Mary’s ringers consist of people who have learnt at Handsworth or have learnt elsewhere and have moved into the area. We often have visiting ringers who have come from other towers.
We are all members of the Sheffield Branch of the Yorkshire Association of change ringers. We have frequent social meetings where we visit other towers both in and out of the Yorkshire region. Family and friends sometimes join us for these outings, to look round the churches we visit or simply to enjoy the countryside.
Some ringers start to learn at 12 years old but others when they have retired. It’s not a competition – ringing is a team activity; the most essential skill is probably a sense of rhythm. Many consider ringing to be their contribution to Church life, others do it for the pleasure it brings. Ringers come from all walks of life and range in age from ten to those in their eighties.
There are over five thousand Church towers to ring at in the UK. This makes bell ringing even more interesting as all towers and bells are different. All towers welcome visitors to ring with them.
Want to learn to ring?
Join us at St. Mary’s Wednesday’s 7:30 – 9pm.
Entry is gained via a door at the base of the tower and up a wooden stair case.
History of St Mary’s Bells
According to the inventory of 1552 at the Public Record Office, there have been bells at Handsworth since 1428. The first and third of the old three were recast in 1828 by T. Mears and these were melted down and used to cast the present ring of eight bells. The second was cast in 1590, which still hangs in the tower today and is called the“Shrewsbury” bell. It bears the inscription:
Jhesus Be Our Spede
G.S. 1590 H.O.
the initials depicting George, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, and Henry Oldfield of Nottingham.
Although the bells were hung to ring full circle, for many years prior to 1920 they were chimed by hammers operated from a drum-like contraption turned by a handle. Today the “Shrewsbury” bell is still rung, by releasing a hammer to strike the bell for service.
Soon after the end of the Great War, discussions started in the village as to the form a memorial to the Fallen should take. A ring of eight bells and clock was chosen. The installation of the new ring of eight bells was carried out by John Taylor and Co, and was one of the very first rings to be hung on ball bearings.
Four of the bells are inscribed and show the organisations which worked very hard to collect the money to pay for them.
Treble: The Children’s Tribute.
Handsworth Girls’ Club. Grateful Remembrance.
The Mothers’ Union. Thy will be done.
Tenor: This peal of eight bells was placed in this tower in memory of those men of Handsworth who fell in the Great War 1914-1918.
The bells and clock were dedicated on Saturday 18th December 1920 by Dr. Leonard Hedley Burrows, the first Lord Bishop of Sheffield. The opening touch was rung by a band of ex-Service men. The same band rang the first peal on the bells on Saturday April 9th 1921.
Handsworth, with its light and easy-going bells, has always been considered a “ladies” tower and has always had lady ringers. The first notable peal was in fact the first peal of Major ever rung by ladies on Saturday January 7th 1928.