The bells used to be rung from the floor of the church, but around 1900 a floor was put in the tower as the groundfloor space was required for the baptistry. The Baptismal font has since been moved again to the front of the church, but the mezzanine floor still remains for the bellringers.

Bell ringing was traditionally undertaken by the male parishioners. Apparently, the first time a lady ringer went in St Giles tower, some of the older members walked out - they didn’t think it was a suitable place for ladies to be. It became a more acceptable pastime for women after the second world war when churches needed to recruit new ringers.

The earliest known photograph of St Giles bell ringers - 1886
Bellringers - 1947
The bells were silenced when war broke out because, at the time, they were the only means of warning people of an invasion. Following a 'victory' at the Battle of Cambrai in 1917, the bells rang out in the UK for the first time in three years, in order to lift everyone's spirits.

Malcolm Hooton is currently the senior bell ringer at St Mary & St Giles and has been since 1964.
Edwin Yates, who appears in the sepia photo above, was ringing for about 60 years. After Edwin Yates Mr Edwards became the senior bellringer, followed by Malcolm, who has trained many of the current bellringers. These days, bell ringing at St Mary & St Giles is a real family affair, with many young children learning the art, along with their parents.

Bellringers of St Mary & St Giles.
January 2001

(Click on picture to hear the bells)

Malcolm Hooton - senior bellringer at St Mary & St Giles.