The Kent County Association of Change Ringers was formed in 1880. Today the KCACR has some 1,400+ ringing members and is one of the largest territorial ringing Associations in the country. Its aims are: the establishment, maintenance and encouragement of service ringing at churches in its area; the recognition of ringers as church workers; the proper care and use of bells and belfries; and the cultivation of the art of change ringing. The KCACR is one of some 70+ ringing associations affiliated to the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.
As in 1880 our primary objective is to ensure that Sunday service ringing is maintained in churches in Kent, and to this end we concentrate our energies on the recruitment and training of new ringers, the encouragement of ringing as a duty and as a hobby, and the repair and maintenance of church bells.
- a valuable service to the Church, producing a sound much enjoyed by many and spreading awareness of Christianity
- a wonderful hobby providing physical and mental activity and with specialist fascinations for mathematicians, historians and engineers
Ringers are of all ages from 9 to 90 or more and come from all walks of life. Everyone generally belongs to a band, that is the group of ringers associated with a particular church. As well as Sunday service ringing each band has a practice night for an hour or two on a regular weekday evening. Practice nights are friendly occasions and visiting ringers are always welcome.
The KCACR also holds ringing meetings, usually on Saturdays. In most areas, too, there are non-ringing/social events such as trivia nights, barbecues and so on, usually arranged to help raise money for bell restoration projects in Kent. Ringers also have opportunities for residential courses, ringing outings, ringing holidays and special occasion ringing.
Learning to ring
Experienced ringers train new recruits entirely free. All that is required in return is commitment to regular attendance at the band’s weekly practice night and, when proficient enough, at Sunday service ringing. There are two facets to learning to ring. The first is learning to handle a bell competently and safely. This may take from a week or so up to maybe six months depending on your aptitude and time spent on the end of a bell rope. The second facet consists of learning to ring with others. This will probably take a few more months of concentrated effort to get started, but you can continue to learn for the rest of your life. Imagine learning to play the violin. It would take a while to play scales, and then you might join the local orchestra and learn to play with them. Some violinists may end up playing with the London Symphony Orchestra, while others will be quite happy with the local town orchestra. Ringing is very much like this: it all depends on the amount of time and effort you can give it. One thing is for sure: your efforts will be appreciated.
Your first steps in learning to ring will probably be at your local church but, on a wider scale, the KCACR has great experience in training ringers, both individually and as whole bands. This training covers all aspects of ringing from learning to handle a bell to basic maintenance and running a band of ringers. Quite a number of people involved in training in Kent also have experience of teaching ringing on a national scale, so you may be sure that tuition in Kent is second to none!
To find out more about learning to ring either get in touch with Rupert Cheeseman (KCACR Training Officer), or go along to your local church and make enquiries there (often you will find details of ringing on a notice in the porch).