The bells of Westminster Abbey are among the most famous in the world, ringing out for state occasions broadcast on television and radio. They are one of the very few rings of bells to be rung by a paid team of ringers – the Westminster Abbey Company. Every New Year’s Day, the Abbey ringers invite a band from elsewhere in the UK to ring their bells, and it was the great privilege of the St Wilfrid’s ringers to be invited on 1st January 2015.
We took the opportunity to have a few days in the capital, including many unforgettable experiences ringing, socialising and toasting the New Year’s fireworks from a vantage point high in Parliament Square. Our first ringing was on the 30th December when we joined the London members of the Ancient Society of College Youths for their weekly practice which took place at St Sepulchre without Newgate, Holborn Viaduct.
On New Year’s Eve, we began the day ringing ten bells at St Dunstan’s in the West, Fleet Street. We were confident in our repertoire here because this is the same number of bells we ring at St Wilfrid’s. Following a tasty pub lunch, we visited St James, Garlickhythe and enjoyed ringing the eight Royal Jubilee Bells. It is extraordinary to remember that the same bells were rung from a boat during the Diamond Jubilee Thames river pageant in 2012.