Diocese of Portsmouth

    Young people ring for the King

    Children and Young People
    28 April 2023

    THEY are thought to be the youngest people ever to ring the bells at Droxford - and they'll be doing it for the King!

    Pollyanna Selwood, aged 14, and her brother Maxim, 10, started learning last year to ring the church bells at St Mary and All Saints Church. And they'll be ringing to mark the historic occasion of the Coronation of HM the King.

    They are part of a newly-recruited team of 17 bell ringers, who signed up as part of a national initiative called 'Ring for the King'. The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers wanted to recruit 8,000 new bell ringers across the country to ensure as many church bells as possible were rung on Coronation weekend.

    Pollyanna was asked by her friend Annabel from the next village to start to learn, and she thought it would be a good skill for her Duke of Edinburgh bronze award. They were taught by local ringing experts Anne and Jeremy Pratt, and the two girls passed their level 1 after a week's crash course.

    Soon after that, Queen Elizabeth II died and Jeremy - who is head ringer for Westminster Abbey - was called to ring the abbey's bells for the State Funeral.

    It was later in the autumn that the new band of Droxford Bellringers was formed at St Mary and All Saints Church, as part of the national initiative.

    The newly-established team of bellringers, including Pollyanna and Max, will be ringing the bells at 3pm on the day of the Coronation. At 5pm on Sunday 7 May,  a team of experienced local ringers will start ringing a peal, which will take approximately two hours and 40 minutes. There will also be a quarter-peal rung on May 8, which the tower captain will take part in.

    Pollyanna said: "There isn't an minimum or maximum age to learn but you do need to be strong enough to pull on the ropes. I think young people find it easier to learn because they have good core strength and a better memory!

    "It's all about mastering the technique which isn't easy. It isn't as simple as just pulling on a rope, which is what we all thought when we started learning. You can do that, but that is just called chiming. As soon as the first bell rings, everyone else follows on one after another and this is called 'ringing in rounds'. 

    "More complex is 'call changes' - this is when the lead ringer calls out for certain bells to swap, and so making a melodious tune or peal. This can get very very complicated and you need good concentration! It is hard on the arms too - ringing is a free gym workout - but it is worth it when you do it right!"

    Maxim and Pollyanna Selwood in Droxford Church
    Pollyanna Selwood ringing in Droxford church (photo: Simon John)

    Droxford's oldest bell dates from 1606 in the reign of King James - the year after the Gunpowder Plot. The next two oldest bells of 1679 saw the previous King Charles, the Merry Monarch, on the throne. Our country had just experienced the plague pandemic and the Great Fire of London.

    The fourth oldest bell is Victorian and dates from 1899 - the year the Boer War began - and it will have been tolled mournfully when Queen Victoria died in 1901. The newest bell was cast and rung in 1969, the year of the first moon landing.

    The bells were rung right up to 1999 and then stayed silent on Sundays as Droxford didn't have its own band of ringers - a band had to be brought in from surrounding villages to ring for special occasions. All this has now changed and the bells have regained their voices.

    The new band are now looking forward to ringing for services, weddings and special occasions. As well as ringing during Coronation weekend, the bells will open the annual Droxford Country Fair on June 3.

    To keep their bells ringing, the band of Droxford Bellringers need to buy new ropes. One recently broke when Max was ringing and it nearly landed on his head! Find out more via droxfordbellringers@gmail.com

    St Mary & All Saints

    The Square, Droxford, Droxford, SO32 3PA

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