We started by ringing the 12 bells which belong to St Peter's church in Alton and then in 1991 acquired our own set of 2½ octaves of bells (32 bells). We have since added to the set and now have 4 octaves (49 bells). They are a mixed set of English handbells, most of which were cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry and have been tuned together to the standard pitch for modern handbells. Our smallest is about 5 cm in diameter, while our largest is 17½ cm diameter and weighs 1.5 kg. Handbells have a stiff clapper which on larger bells is covered with felt to soften the sound and, on the small bells, with harder material to help them sound out. Our bells have leather handles, or straps, which we have recently replaced to make the bells easier to ring. The bells are very old so we do try to look after them; we only polish them when necessary as over long periods of time this will affect the tuning.
We are also very grateful for being able to use some of the bass bells from the Woodroyd set owned by HRGB occasionally enables us to extends our range to 4½ octaves. We have also been using the Haythorne bells which we have on loan from HRGB, which allows us to double up on some of the parts.
We also have a set of 5 octaves of Malmark handchimes. These are tubular instruments with a slot in one end and an external clapper which produces a very clear sound. They can be played as an alternative or alongside the handbells to give a different melody line or harmony.