The Whiting Society

by Stuart Bamforth

The Whiting Society ringing on the Yorkshire
tailends at Mytholmroyd, 2010.

The Whiting Society is a tightly knit group of like-minded ringers, who gather to enjoy their ringing, and to advance their capabilities in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. It all started in 1968 when, at the age of 16 and encouraged by the late Arthur Whiting, I organised the first outing into rural Cheshire for a mini-bus of ringers from the east side of Cheshire. The Society has an unusual constitution, in that the ordinary members have no voting rights, and so there are no tedious business meetings for them to endure. Management of the Society’s affairs is vested in a board of (usually) five Principals. There are no committees.

We have had a strong tradition of ringing rarely rung methods which have useful properties for splicing or developing an understanding of method structure. These are not always complex as the main aim is to wean our members off learning a handful of unconnected Surprise methods by blue line rather than method structure.

Michael Foulds' interest in ringing Treble Dodging Minor by groups, and my similar interest in Doubles methods and variations led to the production of our first publications during 2001. A decision was taken to produce these books “in house” so that there was no minimum print run, and that has enabled us to publish all sorts of interesting material that would otherwise have been uneconomic. Our website now contains the catalogue of a large range of books about bells and change ringing – some technical, some historical – for sale, as well as shorter articles and a wide range of training material, which can be downloaded and read for free.

We are also actively promoting the installation and use of simulators, because we recognise their importance for the future of ringing. This includes devising new types of exercises that exploit the technology.

The Whiting Society is completely independent. It is not affiliated to the Central Council of Church Bellringers, and is not connected with or affiliated to any other ringing association, society or guild. It owes no allegiance to any other organisation. We greatly value our independence, as it gives us the opportunity to think and do things rather differently. We seek to have good relationships with all members of the ringing community, and are happy to work with other groups where we have shared aims and values.

The Society's huge catalogue of books, can be seen on their website There are also fascinating historical articles, teaching suggestions, steeplekeeping hints and articles on learning both basic and more advanced skills.

A series of cards are on offer, which give instructions for exercises to help learners to understand "places". Here's one example. If you like it, have a look at the Society's website to see what else there is:


It is recommended that this exercise is carried out with the bells silenced to the public – it doesn’t sound particularly nice. Each “go” lasts only a few seconds, so a session of a minute or two can be quite valuable. The overriding objective is to get the student thinking in terms of “place”, rather than “bell number”, and ultimately to be able to see what place he is in from the fall of the ropes.

Select the six ringers to participate, and allocate each a bell, one to six. There’s no particular need to load the band with experience; it’s better to let more students participate. No one outside is going to hear. Each ringer draws a card, face down, from the pack of six lottery cards, and doesn’t let the other ringers see which one he has. The instructor privately views each student’s card, and makes a note of who has what. The students then take hold to ring, taking the ropes they were allocated by the instructor at the start. The numbers on the cards refer to the place each must ring in, not the bell number!

One student must have the “Lead” card. He can say, “Look to: going: gone”, as usual. However, it makes more of a challenge if the Instructor says " Look to etc. That way, although the lead card holder knows who has the lead card, no one else does, and the game is not given away to the holder of the "seconds place" card, who must observe which is the first bell to pull off. This is an important skill to develop, as it is a critical skill for plain hunting. The students with the remaining cards, “Thirds Place”, “Fourths Place”, “Fifths Place” and “Sixths Place” have no idea which rope to follow, and have to use ropesight to put their bells in the correct place. As soon as the bells are ringing in the correct order, the instructor can call “Stand”, and the process can be repeated.

With practice, the students will acquire the skill to pull off the bells in the correct order, and the exercise will prove valuable in weaning them off the obsession with following a “Bell Number” which is a consequence of calling call changes by bell number. Used in conjunction with other exercises, it helps them to develop ropesight.