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Change Ringing on Handbells

Glossary of Terms

Still puzzled?

A more comprehensive glossary may be found on: John Harrison's website


See "Methods "


See "Handstroke and Backstroke "

Backward Hunting

In Backward Hunting a bell leading for a Whole Pull (two blows) makes the first blow at Backstroke and the second at Handstroke.


B&D and BnD(sic) is shorthand for Beverley and District Ringing Society.

Blue Line

Early collections of methods, published in Yorkshire by William Snowden, had the treble picked out with a red line, and the tenor with a blue line.

The use of a (blue) line diagram is one aid to remembering and hence ringing a method.


"Bob" (1).
Generic noun for describing change ringing methods where the treble is a fixed bell, and the other bells follow different paths to make the changes.

"Bob" (2).
As in "Bob Minor" is bellringers shorthand for Plain Bob Minor.

"Bob" (3).
A type of call used in order to lengthen the number of changes rung before returning to rounds. c.f. "Single".


A call is a temporary change in the structure of the method.

For seconds place methods such as Plain Bob etc., on this website:
"Bob" changes the place notation at the lead end from 12 into 14
"Single" changes place notation at the lead end from 12 into 1234

For sixths place methods (such as Kent Treble Bob) on this site:
"Bob" changes place notation at the lead end from 16 into 14
"Single" changes place notation at the lead end from 14 into 1456

For more information on bobs and singles, please see: Ringing Touches of Plain Bob Minor.


Change ringing on nine bells, see also Stage Names.

Central Council

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers is the elected governing body for all change ringing.


Change ringing on eleven bells, see also Stage Names.

Combination Rollup

See Rollup

Come round

When a touch returns to rounds it is said to "come round".


The conductor is the person that makes the calls in a touch.

The essential responsibilities of the conductor are (in priority order):
a) To ring his or her own bells correctly
b) To make the calls correctly
c) To check the accuracy of the ringing
d) To assist other ringers to recover from mistakes.

A fuller definition of the responsibilities of a conductor are published on the Change Ringing wiki.


In the simple structures of Plain Hunting and Plain Bob, certain pairs of bells have a fixed relationship within the changes which keeps those bells close together. The best example is 5-6 in the plain course of Plain Bob Minor. For 4 of the 5 leads, 5 and 6 never ring more than 1 blow apart. Only in the middle lead of the plain course are they split apart into the 2-3 hunting pattern. In that lead, when the bells are three apart, the central bell each time is the treble.

On higher numbers, the relationships last longer and hence is even more useful to the ringer. E.g., the coursing pair, 7-8 to Plain Bob Major has 6 leads at 1-apart, and one lead at 3-apart.

Coursing Order

The coursing order which stems from the simplicity of the structure of Plain Hunting, is visible in Plain Bob Minor in several ways. To see this we need to recognise that the position of treble varies from lead to lead, but the other bells remain constant to each other:

In the plain course of Plain Bob Minor, the bells lead in the order
2, 4, 6, 5, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 6, 5, 1, 5, 3, 2, 4, 6, 1, 6, 5, 3, 2, 4, 1, 4, 6, 5, 3, 2, 1.
Taking out the treble, leaves:
2, 4, 6, 5, 3, 2, 4, 6, 5, 3, 2, 4, 6, 5, 3, 2, 4, 6, 5, 3, 2
Which can be further simplified to
2, 4, 6, 5, 3.
A brief look at the numbers for Bob Minor will reveal the same pattern for bells lying behind.

The treble passes bells in the first lead of Bob Minor viz: 2, 4, 6, 5, 3, 2, 4, 6, 5, 3

This cyclic pattern is known as the coursing order, and the specific sequence above is the coursing order for the plain course.

The nature of coursing is a significant help to ringers especially in the simpler methods, and the actual coursing order will normally be checked by the conductor as ringing progresses.


A covering bell stays in place behind the other bells that are ringing changes. e.g. In Stedman Doubles on 6, bells 1 through 5 ring the method whilst 6 rings continuously in 6th place.


CRU is an acronym for Combination Rollup.


Most ringing is performed using bells tuned to a scale where the tonal spacing is the same as the white notes on a piano being played in the key of C. C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C, the separation pattern being tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone.
See Wikipedia entry.


Delight is a type of method, a sub class of Treble Bob.


A dodge is a single step backwards in a hunting path.
On 6 bells, hunting up is the progression through the places 1-2-3-4-5-6.
A dodge in 3-4 up is then ringing in the places: 1-2-3-4-3-4-5-6.
A good graphical example of dodging is shown in the Central Council Education toolkit, click Download Plain Bob as .pdf

Double Dodge

A double dodge is the repeat of a dodge in a hunting path.
A double dodge 3-4 up is then ringing in places: 1-2-3-4-3-4-3-4-5-6.

Dodge Home

In Plain Bob Minor, using the tenor as an observation bell, dodging 5-6 down is known as "dodging home".

Dodge Wrong

In Plain Bob Minor, using the tenor as an observation bell, dodging 5-6 up is known as "dodging wrong".


Change ringing on five bells, see also Stage Names.

The Extent

The maximum number of unique sequences on any given number of bells is known as "The Extent". The figures up to 8 bells are:

  • 3 bells: 6 change rows
  • 4 bells: 24 change rows
  • 5 bells: 120 change rows
  • 6 bells: 720 change rows
  • 7 bells: 5,040 change rows
  • 8 bells: 40,320 change rows

NB. On 5 bells an extent is also referred to as a "120", and on 6 it is also referred to as a "720".


When a touch duplicates changes it is known as "false", as opposed to "true".


When the rhythm breaks down to the point that bells are clashing together, or out of order, it is termed a "fire-up".

Forward Hunting

In forward hunting a bell leading for a whole pull (two blows) makes the first blow at handstroke and the second at backstroke. See also Backward Hunting

Forward Minor

Forward Minor is a principle, Place Notation: 34-34.16.
Click Forward Minor Blue Line to see the blue line.


See Method Grid.

Half Lead

The pattern of the treble dominated methods is symmetrical about the point where the treble makes a place (other than at lead); in Plain Bob Minor or Double Bob Minor the place is 6ths place, in Little Bob Minor, it is 4ths place.

The point at which the treble makes this place is known as the "Half Lead".

Handstroke and Backstroke

Handbells are rung alternately upwards (a.k.a. handstroke) and downwards (a.k.a. backstroke).
These equate to the pull on the sally (handstroke) and tail end (backstroke) on towerbells.


When the tenor dodges back to its starting position (5-6 down in Plain Bob Minor), it is dodging "Home". (See also "Wrong).


The continuous progression of a bell, one place at a time, either
from lead to lie (places) 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6, a.k.a. "hunting up"
from lie to lead (places) 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1, a.k.a. hunting down.


An "inside" bell does the work of the method, as opposed to the treble which does not. On handbells, ringing 1-2 is a specialist calling, other pairs are known as "inside pairs".


"Kings" is the name for a special change row; on 6 bells: 531246.

Lead, or leading

Lead (1)(v)

The first bell to ring in a sequence is "leading".

Lead right

Two blows at lead made handstroke then backstroke is known as "leading right".

Lead wrong

Two blows at lead made backstroke then handstroke is known as "leading wrong".

Full Lead

Lead (2)(n) Full Lead

In a treble dominated method, like Plain Bob, one execution of the method pattern is known as a "lead", or as a "full lead". The first 12 changes of Plain Bob Minor is a "Full Lead"; see also Half Lead.

Lead end

In the treble dominated methods one excursion of the treble hunting up to the half lead and back down to lead is known as a Full Lead. The Central Council methods collections have the handstroke row of the treble's lead as the Lead End, and the backstroke as the Lead Head (being the first change row of the following Full Lead).

This is both logical and correct, but the term "Lead End" is also commonly used to indicate
a) the pair of rows when the treble leads and
b) the backstroke row where the dodges take place (if any), i.e. where the place bell(s) for the next Full Lead is/are defined.

See also Half Lead.

To lie behind, or lying

The last bell (e.g. 6th of 6) to ring in a row is "lying".


Little is a class of method.


Change ringing on eight bells, see also Stage Names.

Make (a place)

The instruction "make 4ths" means ring two consecutive blows in 4ths place.
Right Places are made Handstroke then Backstroke
Wrong Places are made Backstroke then Handstroke


Change ringing on twelve bells, see also Stage Names.


"Method" is the generic name for the pattern used to produce changes. There are several categories of method:

  • Plain:
    The treble hunts without dodging.
  • Treble Bob:
    The treble hunts and dodges at each pair of places, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 etc.
    In pure treble bob such as Kent or Oxford, when the treble hunts all of the bells hunt.
  • Delight and Surprise:
    As per treble bob, but when the treble hunts, internal places are made.
  • Alliance:
    The treble has a path which may include plain hunting through dodging positions and normal dodges, together with other, non standard blue line artefacts.
  • Little:
    The treble hunts but does not reach the maximum hunting extent for the number of bells being rung.
  • Principle:
    All of the working bells, including the treble, do the same work.
    The classic example of a principle is Stedman.

These categories also apply to higher numbers of bells.

Distinctions amongst Treble Bob, Delight, and Surprise:
The method types are defined by the places made as the treble hunts between dodging positions.

Method Name
Oxford Treble Bob
Woodbine Delight
Morning Exercise Delight
Cambridge Surprise

Place Notation
-34-14-12-16-12-16/16 (4ths place Delight)
-34-16-12-36-14-56/16 (3rds place Delight)

2nds / 6ths

The place made when the treble is leading is a key feature of the method and a general distinction is drawn between methods as seconds place methods or sixth place methods. Also, methods may be referenced by their lead-end relationship with another method; e.g. Reverse Bob is Double Bob with a sixth place lead end.

Method Grid

If we write out ("prick" out) the changes for one lead of a method, and join together all the numbers 1, then 2, etc., the resulting picture is the method grid. Traditionally the treble is coloured in red, and the tenor in blue.

Double bob numbers and grid

The grid is a useful memory aid for methods beyond Plain Bob.


Change ringing on four bells, see also Stage Names.


Change ringing on six bells, see also Stage Names.

Named Changes

A small number of change rows have been given specific names, the most common being Rounds, Queens, Kings, Tittums, and Whittingtons. See Popular Changes.

Observation Bell

The observation bell is used by the conductor of a touch as a means of knowing where to make calls.

Open Handstroke Lead

In almost all change ringing, the rhythm is defined in blocks of two rows, a handstroke and a backstroke. These two rows are rung together without pause, and with an even spacing between each bell.
Between each block of two rows a small pause is inserted, this serves further to emphasise the rhythm of the ringing and is known as an open handstroke lead. The pause occurs after the last bell to ring at backstroke, and hence before the first bell to ring at handstroke.


Peal (1).
A generic name for a set of tower bells.

Peal (2).
A piece of ringing or touch containing a minimum of 5,000 changes, and rung with minimum or (on 7 bells or more) no repetition of sequences (or rows) of bells.

The lowest number of bells where a peal can be rung without any repetition is 7, the extent being 5,040 changes. On 6 bells, the extent is only 720 changes, and hence 7 extents need to be rung to achieve the minimum of 5,000 changes for a peal.

Place Bells

The position of a bell or the positions of a pair of bells defines their work for that lead, they are often referred to as, for example: 4ths and 5ths place bells. The actual numbers of the bells starting in those places will be any 2 of the set 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Place Notation

Place Notation: what is Place Notation, what use is Place Notation

Place Notation is simply a shorthand way of defining a ringing method by the places in which bells remain in the same place from row to row. It is used primarily as an economical way of specifying a method. See Double Bob for an example.

As ringers progress beyond Plain Bob into more complex methods Place Notation may also be used as a memory aid whilst ringing a method.

Because this site focuses mainly on right place minor methods the information below is given in that context for clarity, applying Place Notation to odd bell methods and higher numbers is not needed at this stage.

- specifying a method on 6 bells

Place Notation - the symbols

  • " - " : all pairs of bells change over ("-" may also be written "x")
  • "12" : the bells in lead and seconds stay in lead and seconds, all other pairs change over
  • "14" : the bell at lead leads for a second blow, and the bell in 4ths rings another blow in 4ths; pairs of bells in 2-3 and 5-6 swap over
  • "16" : the bell at lead leads for a second blow, and the bell in 6ths rings another blow in 6ths; pairs of bells in 2-3 and 4-5 swap over
  • "34" : the bells in 3rds and 4ths remain in place, the pairs in 1-2 and 5-6 cross over
  • "36" : the bells in 3rds and 6ths remain in place, the pairs in 1-2 and 4-5 cross over
  • "56" : the bells in 5ths and 6ths remain in place, the pairs in 1-2 and 3-4 cross over
  • "1234" : only the bells in 5ths and 6ths places cross over
  • "1456" : only the bells in 2nds and 3rds places cross over

Treble dominated methods are symmetrical about the Half Lead. The place notation for the second half of the lead is a mirror image of the first half, and this is usually represented by a slash mark.
The Place Notation then for Plain Bob Minor is, Plain Course: -16-16-16/12, Bob: 14, Single: 1234.

Contiguous places

In methods where places are made between two rows and again between the immediately following two rows, the places are written down and separated by a "period" or "full stop. Eg:
Kent Treble Bob: 34-34.16-12-16-12/16, Bob 14
London Surprise: 36-36.14-12-36.14-14.36/12, Bob 14

NB. Mathematically the "1" of 12, 14 and 16, and the "6" of 16, 36 and 56 etc is redundant as being the place made by default. This is correct, but not easy to read.

- ringing a method on 6 bells

Using Place Notation - right place methods

When the external places, 1 and 6 are made from row to row, the bells between them cross over, and the alternation of this with no places being made from row to row produces plain hunting. The introduction of places other than 1 and 6 causes disruption to the hunting pattern and the classic example is Plain Bob where the introduction of 2nds place against the treble making 1sts causes the dodging in 3-4 and 5-6.

Going from this specific case to the general impact of internal places:
even numbered places (12, 14) cause dodging above the place,
odd numbered places (36, 56) cause dodging below,
34 causes dodging above and below.

Examples of Place Notation and the related method structure may be found on the pages on Double Bob, Treble Bob and Cambridge Surprise.

Contiguous places

In Kent Treble Bob: 34-34.16-12-16-12/16, the 34-34 has the same impact as -34- in Oxford T.B., i.e. the bells in 1-2 and 5-6 dodge. Because the places are adjacent, Kent T.B. is effectively a right place method.

In Cambridge Surprise: -36-14-12-36-14-56/12, 14 and 36 each create a 4 bell cage in which the bells hunt, and when the cages are adjacent as in the first half lead a bell hunts through each, starting in 6ths and travelling through to lead without dodging (6ths place bell, then 5ths place bell), in the second hald lead the reverse is true, see 2nds place bell and 4ths place bell.

Using Place Notation - wrong place methods

In treble dominated methods, the path of the treble is a right place path. When we come to methods like London Surprise, the working structure is mainly wrong place. The enjoyment of ringing London then is the constant transition between wrong place hunting work, then moving back to right place hunting to work with the treble, and then back into wrong place hunting.

This constant switching between right and wrong creates the blue line artefacts that make the method so interesting and so different from the pure right place methods.


In a plain method, the treble hunts without dodging.

Plain Course

Ringing a method, starting and returning to rounds without any bobs or singles is known as ringing a plain course. See also, Touch

Point lead

When a bell hunts down, makes one blow at lead, and then hunts up, this is known as a point lead.


“Principle” is a class of method.

Quarter peal

A quarter peal is a piece of ringing or touch, minimum length 1,250 changes. On 6 bells it should include at least one extent, or a 1440 in compliance with Central Council regulations for peals.


Queens is one of the standard, named changes, viz:
On 6: 1 3 5 2 4 6

Rollup, and Combination Rollup

A pleasing sequence of bells within the changes and usually with the larger bells in their home position, e.g. 12435678.
A Combination Roll Up (a.k.a. CRU) is where two of the three bells 4, 5, and 6 ring in 5th and 6th places, with 7 and 8 in 7ths and 8ths.


The standard starting sequence in all change ringing, begins with the highest pitched bell (a.k.a. the treble) and proceeding in turn to the lowest pitched bell (a.k.a. the tenor), and normally using a diatonic scale.

Rounds on six bells is normally represented as the sequence: 123456


In a "row" each bell of the set being rung is rung once only, either at handstroke or at backstroke. Rows are normally represented by the numbers given to the individual bells.
In the following diagram (for the first lead of Double Bob Minor) the columns show:
H/B - Handstroke or Backstroke, the place notation, the change rows, the method grid.

Double bob numbers and grid

The mathematical objective in change ringing is to avoid (7 bells and above) or minimise (6 bells and below) the repetition of rows once the ringing of a method has started. However, repetition of the special row, rounds, before the method ringing starts, and in order to settle into a good rhythm is normal.


Change ringing on ten bells, see also Stage Names.

Run in, run out

A bob called when a bell is about to dodge 3-4 down causes it to "run in".
A bob called when a bell is about to make 2nds place over the treble causes it to "run out".

For the context of "run in" and "run out", see Plain Bob - touches.


"Single" is a type of call.


Change ringing on three bells, see also Stage Names.

Slow Work

"Slow" is a name given to a specific piece of work within a course of a method, and usually including extensive work at lead and near to lead.

In the simplest Treble Bob methods, 2nds place bell is a slow bell, and spends the whole lead in 1sts and 2nds places until it runs out to thirds.

The classical example of slow work occurs in Stedman where the slow bell spends 30 consecutive changes below 4ths place.

In the slow

When a bell is ringing the slow work it is decribed as "in the slow".

Stage Names

Stage Names.

Table of Stage Names


The command: "Stand" means stop ringing after the next backstroke; the usage is from towerbells where it is customary to stand the bells, mouth upwards, at handstroke after a piece of ringing.


Stedman (1):
Fabian Stedman was a 17th Century bellringer who published the first book on the art of change ringing, and gave his name to "Stedman" - the method.

Stedman (2):
A bellring method (class: principle) for odd numbers of bells, comprising alternate blocks of 6 change rows of forward and backward plain hunting on the front three bells, and double dodging in the alternate higher places 4-5, 6-7, etc.

Stedman (3) Half turn:
During the 30 changes of the slow work in Stedman, the slow bell has two single blows at lead. These are known as half turns, or alternatively "point lead".

Stedman (4) Whole turn:
During the 30 changes of the slow work in Stedman, the first and last lead comprise: two blows lead, one blow in seconds place, two more blows at lead. This is known as Stedman Whole Turn.


Striking is the word used by bellringers when referring to the:

  • Quality of the ringing
    A "well struck" touch will have the bells evenly spaced with the rhythm defined by the open handstroke leads
  • Quality of the bells
    The mechanics of a specific bell can sometimes require the ringer to take special measures to ensure good striking; such a bell is said to be "odd struck". This is not normally relevant to handbells.


Surprise is a sub-class of Treble Bob methods.

The Tenor

The Tenor is the lowest pitched bell (usually heaviest) that is being rung.


Tittums is one of the standard, named changes, viz:
On 6: 1 4 2 5 3 6


A piece of ringing in which bobs and or singles are called is known as a "touch".

The Treble

The Treble is the highest pitched bell (usually lightest) that is being rung.

Treble Bob

"Treble Bob" is a class of method where the treble dodges consistently in the even pairs of places.


Change ringing on seven bells, see also Stage Names.


When a touch avoids unnecessary duplication of change rows it is known as "true", as opposed to "false".


Whittingtons is one of the standard, named changes, viz:
On 6: 1 2 5 3 4 6

Whole Pull

A whole pull is two consecutive blows at lead.

Whole Turn

The phrase "Whole Turn" is ambiguous, it could mean either a "Whole Pull" (see preceding entry) or it could mean a Stedman Whole Turn. In practice, if you are not ringing Stedman then "whole turn" means the same as "whole pull".