St Mary's currently has a loyal band of ten regular bell ringers, who are all members of the Suffolk Guild of Ringers.
St Mary's Woodbridge houses one of the heaviest and musical rings of eight bells in Suffolk. The largest bell in the tower weighs one and a quarter tonnes, and the total weight of all the eight bells is nearly 5 tonnes.
The bells were cast in1799 by Thomas Osborn of Downham in Norfolk, so are now over 200 years old. When the bells were rung "full circle", to use the term that describes to English style of ringing, the tower swayed significantly making the bells quite a challenge to ring.
In an attempt to reduce the movement of the tower when the bells were being rung, in 1933 - 34 the bells were rehung in a steel frame some 14ft lower in the tower by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon, but even so one can still feel some movement of the tower when the bells are being rung. Because no further major work has been done on the bells since the 1930s, we have contracted a well known firm of bellfounders and bellhangers, namely John Taylor and Co. of Loughborough, to carry out a programme of maintenance work on the bells. This we hope will take place in the autumn of 2019.
As well as ringing the bells for Sunday worship and for the major Christian festivals, we also ring for occasions such as weddings and days of local and national celebration. Although our prime purpose is to ring the bells to draw attention to the presence of St Mary's Church in Woodbridge, we, the ringers, also enjoy a number of social activities. These have included a summer barbecue, joining our ringing friends at other churches on their practice nights, and an annual "Spring Ring" when we spend a day visiting a few nearby churches to experience ringing on a variety of different rings of bells.
We are always willing to welcome new members to our band. If you can't already handle a bell, then tuition will be given. No musical ability is required, just a reasonable sense of rhythm. It is also a lot cheaper than going to a gym! In fact it is free! There are some 40,000 ringers in the British Isles, so why not become one of them. Then wherever you are in the country, if you hear bells ringing, be it in a small country church or in one of our cathedrals (probably with the exception of St Paul's and Westminster Abbey) you almost certainly be made very welcome and asked to join in.
Meetings: At St Mary's Church, Sundays 9.30am to 10.00am, Tuesdays 7.30pm to 9.00pm.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel 01394 388820