image of Wellington Cathedral, Wellington

Wellington Ringing Festival 20-23 October 2023

ringers, Wellington Cathedral

From six bells to twelve bells and everything in between, the 18th Wellington Bellringing Festival at the Cathedral of St Paul catered for all abilities. The Festival doubled as a Twin Island Cluster meeting. We had ringers from Auckland, Hamilton, and Oamaru (South Island), in addition to our Wellington ringers and also a ringer from the USA who visited us via Australia. We had 17 ringers in total which meant everyone was able to have a good go at things and there was not a lot of sitting around.

With our ring of twelve tower bells and mini-ring of eight bells we could move between the two types of bells as appropriate for the ringers concerned. There was a wide range of abilities among the ringers, from those learning plain hunt to those ringing surprise major as well as some ten-bell methods. Some ringers had never rung on ten or twelve bells before, so some learning for them and a chance to get used to the feel of the ten and twelve bell rhythms. Apart from Sunday, when the bells were rung open, the large bells were rung using a simulator in deference to our neighbours.

Five quarter peals were added to the mix, all on the mini-ring. Namely, Wells Surprise Minor, Allendale Surprise Minor, Kent Treble Bob Minor, Yorkshire Surprise Major, and Allendale Surprise Minor (again).

modified handbells

For handbell fans, there was the opportunity to try out a set of tuned toy handbells which Gerald McIlhone had modified to suit handbell ringing. Modifications included leather handles and adjusted clappers with removeable muffles. For details see here. The handbells are easy to ring and produce a very pleasing soft sound. Importantly, a set of eight cost less than one ‘standard’ handbell. Next year consideration will be given to adding a two-day handbell workshop to Twin Island Cluster meetings.

Ruth Lightbourne

Handbell Peal

Peal Band at lunch

The Peal Band celebrating

One day (during lockdown!) Dylan Thomas had a message from Ruth Lightbourne suggesting that we could try a handbell peal, as none of us had ever rung one. The catalyst for the idea was from Gerald McIlhone showing Ruth his peal book from his youth, when he called lots of peals of Bob Minor, because at the time "he didn’t know any better!"

So the first Sunday after restrictions dropped, the band assembled. It was also to be Plain Bob Minor, as we hadn’t rung anything for ages and we knew we would stay right. That attempt was lost EXACTLY halfway which was a pain!

However, we gathered a week later in the cathedral ringing chamber, and after 1h 55 mins solid, near flawless ringing, we scored. Everyone was bubbly for the rest of the day! Lunch was duly enjoyed at the nearby Bordeaux Bakery, where we all succeeded in eating too much. We are going to go for another peal in the near future

Dylan Thomas and Ruth Lightbourne
September 2021

Wellington Ringing Festival 2020

The Wellington Ringing Festival was a smaller affair this year because of COVID-19. We had visitors from Hamilton and Auckland and it doubled as a North Island Cluster meeting.

The learners had plenty of opportunity to practice and progress. More advanced ringers rang handbells, including quarters. Some use of the mini ring was made, but mostly tower bells using simulated sound were rung. As well as touches and plain courses of 'standard' surprise methods, quarters of Cornwall S Major and Kenninghall S Major were rung to enable those on The Ringing World's 2020 Yellow Pathway to progress.

Here's a photo of a band that rang a quarter peal of Norfolk Surprise Minor on the John David Mini Ring.

Norfolk Surprise Minor band

Ruth Lightbourne, Christopher Jarman, Janet Grocott, Derek Williams, Mary Sluter, Frank Sluter

We would like to thank ANZAB for providing a training grant for this event.

Derek Williams

Young Wellington Ringer Wins ART Award

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas from Pukerua Bay, New Zealand, has won the 2020 Learning the Ropes Achievement Award from the Association of Ringing Teachers, announced at an awards ceremony in Derbyshire, UK on Saturday 14th March.

Dylan started ringing at Wellington Cathedral in January 2019. He began the Level One Association of Ringing Teachers course in February and completed the course in June.

The judges particularly noted Dylan's high number of quarter peals in a short time, and the dedication he showed by travelling from Pukerua Bay to Wellington City for his ringing.

Congratulations to Dylan, and thanks to Gerald McIlhone and Philippa Bowron who helped make this happen.

Phillipa Bowron and Derek Williams, 15 March 2020

Wellington Ringing Festival 2019

From the 25th to the 28th of October (Labour weekend), we had the privilege of hosting guests from across New Zealand and around the globe for the 15th annual Wellington ringing festival. Between the Cathedral bells, the John David Mini Ring and two sets of handbells we managed to pack in three and a bit days of solid ringing that catered for all interests and levels of proficiency.

Ringing at the 2019 Wellington Ringing Festival

As well as from all the corners of New Zealand, we welcomed guests from Australia, USA and the UK.

Ringing included everything from rounds and call changes for the beginners to Grandsire cinques, with many methods in between. We rang eight quarter peals over the weekend – one on the tower bells, three on the John David Mini Ring and four on handbells.

Ringing at the 2019 Wellington Ringing Festival

Saturday night we enjoyed our annual Festival dinner at the Shepherds Arms in Thorndon.

Dinner at the 2019 Wellington Ringing Festival

We are looking forward to our next ringing festival, which will be October 23rd to 26th 2020.

Phillipa Bowron, 27 December 2019

Wellington Bellringing features on Radio NZ

Simon Morton’s weekly consumer/science/tech show, This Way Up on Radio NZ National, will this week feature a story about bellriinging including meeting Derek Williams and the ringers at the Wellington Combined Society of Bellringers on a practice night. Follow this link for more information and a link to the story.

17 December 2016

New Zealand Earthquake, 14 November 2014

An update from Derek Williams in Wellington.

We are all OK, though the quake was scary at the time.

As fate would have it, we left 6 bells up after a quarter peal attempt yesterday. I have been down to Cathedral to check the bells. Four of the bells rang themselves down. These were the four hung in a north-south direction, so the shaking was obviously very directional. The two trebles remained up. I have rung them down.

The Cathedral organ suffered significant damage.

Wellington 11th Ringing Festival

Wet and windy Wellington greeted ringers arriving at the Cathedral from the UK, Australia and all over New Zealand for the Ringing Festival on the Friday evening of Labour Weekend. Ringing on the tower bells with simulated sound and the John David Mini Ring lasted from 6.30 to 9pm.

Attendees at the 11th Wellington Ringing Festival

Festival attendees - in bright sunshine!

Saturday dawned bright and sunny and some made an early start at 8am by attempting quarter peals on each of the tower bells and the mini ring. General ringing started at 9am and throughout the day a wide variety of methods on 6, 8, 10 and 12 bells were rung. The mini ring proved very popular: one Australian ringer left for home saying "I want one of these". Gerald McIlhone ran handbell sessions throughout the day and four quarter peals were successful. In the evening a pleasant dinner was had at the Tinakori Bistro.

Quarter Peal band at the 11th Wellington Festival

One of the handbell quarter peal bands - David Pacey, John Cater and Gerald McIlhone

Sunday was another glorious day both in terms of the weather and with the sound of the twelve bells being rung open. We rang for the usual Anglican services and also for the Roman Catholic Mass. The mini ring attracted much attention from both the Anglican and Catholic worshippers, even though they did not see it being rung. Some ringers took the opportunity to ring at Old St Pau's. Five quarter peals were rung.

The John David Mini Ring in action

The John David Mini Ring in action

Monday was the last day of the Festival and more quarter peals were rung, together with general ringing. At 5pm the exhausted but happy ringers left for home.

Particular thanks should be given to Amanda Cunningham and Gerald McIlhone for the successful running of the Festival.

Derek Williams

Eighth Wellington Ringing Festival 2012

Over thirty ringers from England, Australia, and the North and South Islands of New Zealand gathered at Wellington Cathedral on Friday 19th October for the annual Ringing Festival.

Wellington 8th ringing weekend

An all-ladies band rings Plain Bob Royal

General ringing on Friday evening and Saturday saw us ring Plain Doubles, the full range of Grandsire up to Cinques, Stedman from triples to cinques and a variety of surprise major methods. An eight o’clock start on Saturday for a quarter peal of Yorkshire Royal was an innovation, as was a five o’clock start for a quarter of Stedman Triples on the same day. In the evening the Festival dinner was held at The Thistle, which proved an excellent venue. Alan Caldwell once again provided a quiz that stimulated much social interaction. Margaret Chapman, Mike Stone and Chris Jarman rang handbells:

Handbells at Wellington

Sunday service ringing was briefly interrupted when the clapper fell out of the tenor because the welded shaft broke. A quarter peal of Lincolnshire Major on tower bells and one of Plain Bob Minor on handbells were scored. More extensive ringing of handbells during the weekend was encouraged by Margaret Chapman. Monday saw more general ringing which kept going until rather later than in the past.

General opinion seems to be that this was one of the best festivals yet. The 25th to 28th October 2013 is already booked.

The Wellington Cathedral Society would like to thank ANZAB for its generous sponsorship of the weekend.

Derek Williams

Wellington - 7th Annual Ringing Weekend, October 2011

Wellington 7th Annual Ringing Weekend

The ringing room at St Paul's Cathedral, Wellington

The Wellington ringing weekend was a great success - many thanks to Derek Williams and all the locals who put so much effort into the event, and were so helpful and patient in guiding the many visitors through some very challenging ringing. The Australian contingent had a tricky decision to make when asked to join in the official celebratory ring for the New Zealand victory in the Rugby world cup, but happily special dispensation was granted by the Dean.

David Smith

This page supplements the ANZAB Tower Directory, and records further information about the tower, its bells and ringers.

Some of this has been provided by local ringers, but most is historical and has been gathered by the ANZAB Webmaster since 2002.

Tower officers are encouraged to submit material for inclusion on this page, or suggest changes to its content.

Contact the