A photograph of bell ringers.
Architecture Listed places Religious Architecture

The Art of Bell Ringing: The Bells of Brierley Hill

Bell ringing has returned to Brierley Hill in the West Midlands after locals purchased special equipment that allows them to practice in silence.

In Brierley Hill, in the West Midlands, resident Tim Sunter took up bellringing after seeing a tweet noting that the bells of St Michael’s church didn’t ring any more.

St Michael’s Church

The church of St Michael in Brierley Hill was built in 1765, with several alterations during the 1800s. In 1900, the bell tower was returned to its original 18th century style.

An aerial photograph of an 18th century church next to three high rise blocks of flats.
The Grade II listed St Michael’s church in Brierley HIll, West Midlands. © Historic England.

The church bells would have called local parishioners to service at the Anglican church.

Tim and his wife Jenny were handed the keys to St Michael’s Church tower so the bells, which collectively weigh the equivalent of three Mini cars, could once again ring out over the town.

A photograph of bell ringers.
Tim Sunter and local residents ringing the church bells. © Historic England.

Bringing the bells back

As part of our Brierley Hill High Street Heritage Action Zone, a £1,500 grant was awarded to the bell ringers to buy equipment to practice in silence and as individuals outside of group gatherings.

The band now has volunteer ringers of all ages, aged 9 to 75, who ring the bells at practice on Friday evenings and before church services on Sundays.

A photograph of bell ringers.
Brierley Hill residents ringing the church bells of St Michael’s. © Historic England.

People of Brierley Hill have responded warmly to the church bells and the ringers have been surprised by the lovely feedback they have had from the local community, especially when they returned from a hiatus due to Covid.

Tim Sunter

One of the challenges was how to get new ringers trained without disturbing the church’s neighbours.

‘During the restrictions, we could not practice or ring the bells as the tower is a closed environment’, Tim continues.

A photograph of a bell ringer.
Tim Sunter in the ringing room of St Michael’s church in Brierley Hill, West Midlands. © Historic England.

‘When we came back there were lots of positive comments on social media, and there was even a card left in the church that simply said, “lovely to hear you back” and signed by residents of a road adjacent road to the church.

‘It’s great that people are enthusiastic. I would encourage more people to get involved with bellringing. It’s a great team activity, provides gentle exercise, and is for any age or religious background. It’s a wonderful way to get involved in local community life and to make friends whilst supporting local heritage.’

Further Reading

1 comment on “The Art of Bell Ringing: The Bells of Brierley Hill

  1. The one thing that was missing from this interesting piece was Exactly from a technical point of view do the bell ringers practice silently in their own homes. I have visions of ropes hanging from light fittings!Could the exact nature of the equipment that is going to be used and how it works please be explained.Maybe even a link to the manufactures website!

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