Handbell Festival in Alton

On Saturday 1 October the glorious sound of massed handbells will ring out from Alton Village Hall to celebrate AHR Silver Jubilee year.

Alton Handbell Ringers are hosting the Regional Rally of West Midlands Handbell Ringers of Great Britain and welcoming 70 musicians from all over the West Midlands who will gather for a whole day of making music.

Fortified by plentiful food and drinks, individual teams of handbell ringers will play tunes of their choice and all the teams will join together for some marvellous massed ringing. 



The bells rang out with joy on Tuesday 19th April 2016 at the beautiful village church of All Saints in Denstone, Staffordshire.

The occasion for this celebration was to give thanks for the life of Sir Arthur Percival Heywood who died on this day 100 years ago.

Sir Arthur was an engineer, well known with railway enthusiasts for developing his 15inch gauge railway.  He also had a keen interest in Church Bells and founded the Central Council of Church Bellringers.

Sir Arthur's father, Sir Thomas Percival Heywood, built the church, which was designed by George Edmund Street, an eminent Victorian architect, in 1862, and today’s service was attended by Sir Peter and Lady Heywood together with other members of the family.  Railway enthusiasts and bell ringers also attended to pay tribute to Sir Arthur and to give thanks for his life.

After the church service a short commemoration was held around the graveside, after which a short demonstration of rounds and call changes on 8 bells was performed by the Alton Handbell Ringers.  The afternoon concluded with a peal of three Minimus methods rung on the church bells on behalf of The Central Council of Church Bellringers.

Text by Sue Robins 19.04.16

Photo by Alan Bettany 19.04.16

Celebrating AHR Silver Jubilee

This is a significant year for Alton Handbell Ringers as it is our Silver Jubilee. In January 2016 we discussed how we could celebrate the occasion on a “Team Day Out.” How about ringing the bells somewhere unusual, i.e at the top of Blackpool Tower, in a balloon, on an open top bus, on a boat?!!!! Perhaps not! 

More sensible suggestions were to perform at the local arts festival but it was too late to organise that this year. So it was proposed that we would offer to organise the Heart of England Spring Concert during Cheadle Arts Festival Week in March 2017. So watch this space!!!

However, we are hosting the 2016 Handbell Ringers of Great Britain (HRGB)* West Midlands Region Annual Rally on 1st October at Alton Village Hall.  Doors open from 10am at Alton Village Hall and the Rally will run from 11am until 4pm.

*HRGB was founded in 1967. The West Midlands Region has a total of 28 active handbell teams with total membership of 234 ringers, 173 adult members and 50 from youth teams. The region stretches from Wales in the west to ourselves in the east and includes Birmingham. More details can be found on 

Regional Rallies are always such good fun, starting off with “How do we fit every team into the hall?", and are a great opportunity to meet other ringers “ringing from the same hymn sheet” to coin a phrase! Well, not quite, as some teams ring from numbers, (horizontal or vertical) whilst others ring from real music where your own notes are there somewhere!! 

They will include teams of 3 ringers ringing 4 bells in each hand, to teams of up to 12 ringers ringing 3 octaves of bells. 

This is a great opportunity to show off what your team can do and on, the other side of the tables, to discover new music, witness different ringing styles and techniques and see how teams work together. 

The programme for the day usually involves the individual teams ringing 2 or 3 pieces (in approximately 10 minute slots) of their own choice.  At least 2 “mass ringing pieces” will be sent out to teams before the event to practise on home ground. After lunch, provided by AHR, it’ll be time for all the teams to practise together at the same time (great fun) ready to “perform” at the end of the afternoon.

Now, as it’s our anniversary, what piece could we do that’s appropriate for this mass ring? Perhaps the Anniversary Waltz? Congratulations?


Sarah Williams 17.04.16


Bells to celebrate the life and work of Sir Arthur Heywood on the anniversary of his death on 19 April 1916.

Born in Denstone, Staffordshire, in 1849, and known for his pioneering work as a narrow gauge railway engineer, Sir Arthur was also a keen bell ringer and, in 1891, founded the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. 

At 11 a.m. on Tuesday 19 April this year, local bell ringers will join railway enthusiasts to mark the centenary of his death at a memorial service in All Saints Church, Denstone.

The Alton Handbell Ringers will ring rounds and call changes at his graveside, which will be followed by a peal of three Minimus methods rung on the church bells on behalf of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.

Sue Fraser

West Midlands HRGB Rally 5 March 2016

A group of six of us represented the Alton Handbell Ringers at the West
Midlands Region of the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain AGM and rally on
5th March in Norton, Worcestershire.

We had a very enjoyable day, meeting handbell ringers from all over the region and listening to a wide range of very beautiful handbell ringing, from a 3 octave team of eight to a team of two people ringing 4 or 5 bells in hand.

We ourselves rang "In an English Country Garden", "Pomp and Circumstance" and "Rule Britannia". We then all joined in ringing and singing "All Glory Laud and Honour" as a massed ringing piece.

We were able to invite everyone to our Regional Rally on Saturday 1st October in Alton to help celebrate our 25th anniversary.

Wendy 7.03.16