The handbell team based at St Mary’s Church, Lawford was formed in February 2001 using 14 bells loaned for 12 months through the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain (HRGB) William Hartley Memorial Fund.  Later in that year the family of the late Jean Richardson made a donation which enabled a 1½ diatonic octave (twelve bells) of bells to be purchased.  Since then, largely through other gifts and memorial bequests, notes have been added and extended to the original set, bringing the total to a chromatic 2 octaves (25 bells).  To expand the range of music the ringers can perform, 3 octaves of privately owned Belleplates are also available for use by the team.

Team Members
Team numbers vary from just three or four up to 12 or so, with junior members starting from about 8 years old; there is no upper age limit for adults!  Although many of our team members are also choristers at St. Mary’s Church, anyone is welcome to join the team, regardless of where they work, which school or church they attend, or even if they do not regularly attend any place of worship.  The team is registered with the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain – the only national handbell organisation in the UK – whose aim is “to advance, provide and encourage for the public benefit the art of handbell tune ringing in all its forms” and all team members are encouraged to become HRGB members.

Rehearsals take place in the church extension on Monday evenings and are a social occasion – usually involving refreshments – as well as being musical rehearsals.  In addition, we provide regular opportunities for team members to check their progress in either of the two teaching schemes, both run by the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain.  It is through these teaching schemes that team members have learnt different styles of ringing, from holding two to six bells in hand, to “off-table” and “solo” ringing.  Team members also have the opportunity to join with other handbell ringers across East Anglia to experience ringing more challenging music in a large team under the direction of a conductor.


The Crescendo Scheme
The Crescendo scheme is aimed at junior members and contains details of 70 different skills associated with handbell ringing, ranging from practical ringing skills and musical knowledge to choosing new music for the team and attending various handbell events.  Certificates and badges can be gained after 10, 20, 40 and 60 skills have been performed.

The Arpeggio Scheme
The Arpeggio scheme is intended for adult ringers and is aimed at broadening their knowledge of handbell ringing in six topic areas, for which certificates and badges can be gained at three levels:

  • Practical ringing skills
  • The handbell as a musical instrument
  • Teamwork
  • Presentation and performance
  • Music
  • Handbell history

For historical reasons, handbell music is available in a umber of different notations.  In the past we have used the “numerical” notation, but now generally use standard staff notation which we colour-code to make it easier to read.  We also use a ‘Ring and Sing’ notation, which contains just words and is ideal for audience participation.  A range of music suitable for many occasions can be performed; our current repertoire includes church music, folk tunes, melodies from musicals, classical music from the baroque, classical and romantic eras, ragtime and music hall, nursery rhymes, Christmas and wedding music plus the odd sea shanty and popular children’s tune.

Performances to date have included:
Concerts, either as a solo performance or as one of a variety of acts
Church services, including weddings and funerals
Trefoil Guild, Women’s Institute (and similar) AGM’s and meetings
Christmas parties and street events
Parish lunch/supper events
Festivals (flowers, scarecrows, Christmas trees and angels to name but a few)
Shows, fairs and a classic car rally

The team also regularly attends the rallies and workshops organised by the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain and have hosted a number of events here in Lawford.

For further information, bookings or membership please contact:

Pauline Franks

Telephone:    01206 391764

E-mail:        pfranks@royalhospitalschool.org