The guidance given here is intended to be no more than a summary. Those seeking more detailed information on the procedures should refer to Tower Changes, a Towers & Belfries Committee booklet published by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (see Publications Committee below).
Ownership and care of the bells, bellframe and fittings
At all times it should be borne in mind that the tower and its bell installation are owned by and under the care of the principal officers of the Parochial Church Council. The bells do not, in any sense whatever, belong to the ringers. Ringers are therefore advised not to approach contractors for inspections, reports or quotations, even though they may have good intentions in wishing to do so.
The Council for the Care of Churches: Code of Practice 1993
The principal officers of the PCC need to be aware of the requirements set out in the Council for the Care of Churches Code of Practice 1993: The Conservation and Repair of Bells and Bellframes: re-printed in 2002. This Code supersedes the Code of Practice 1981 and was prepared by the CCC’s Bells Committee, the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, English Heritage, and the bellfounders and bellhangers of the trade. It carries the endorsement of each and all of these bodies. It is recommended that the PCC Secretary shall obtain copies of the Code of Practice, one for each of the principal officers of the PCC and one for the PCC’s church architect, obtainable from the Secretary to the Council for the Care of Churches, Floor 5, Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3NZ.
Legal requirements: the Faculty Jurisdiction
The PCC must formally, and in advance, seek a faculty for any repair, alteration or addition (including disposals or other transactions) to a Church of England church, its contents, and the churchyards and land belonging to it. The procedures of other Anglican Churches are similar to those of the Church of England.
The PCC, having obtained advice from the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches, must seek a faculty granted by the Diocesan Chancellor, who is the judge of the Consistory Court. The tower envelope with its contents is part of the church and is, of course, subject in full to the faculty jurisdiction regulations. The Diocesan Chancellor defines certain minor matters as not needing formal authorisation. The “de minimis list” of these minor matters varies slightly from one diocese to another. A copy of the de minimis list is obtainable by the PCC from the Diocesan Registrar.
If the Council for the Care of Churches has listed the church, the PCC must provide not only a Statement of Significance of the church but also a Statement of Need for the proposed changes.
Parochial Church Council: Stage One Consultation with the DAC
The PCC, when it is proposing to carry works on its bell installation (other than de minimis works), needs to recognise the advantage it will gain by beginning informal Stage One Consultation with the DAC as early as possible, usually by the PCC Secretary writing a letter to the DAC Secretary. In so doing the PCC will gain access to the specialist advice which the DAC is able to call upon. Early contact with the DAC will pave the way for a smooth passage through the procedures which will, if successful, lead to the issue by the Diocesan Chancellor of the faculty required to authorise the works.
When the PCC begins the Stage One Consultation, the DAC will request the DAC Bells Consultant to make a site visit and meet a principal officer of the PCC, to inspect the bell installation, and to write a report addressed to the DAC Chairman. The DAC will consider the report in its next full session, and will decide whether or not to recommend the Diocesan Chancellor to grant a faculty for the proposed works if and when a faculty petition is submitted by the PCC in due course. The DAC will notify the PCC of the decision, and will send a copy of the report to the PCC.
The PCC is responsible for consulting English Heritage from the outset, firstly if an English Heritage grant has previously been made, but secondly under certain other conditions, for example when the proposed works would materially affect the structure of the church.
The membership of the Diocesan Advisory Committee may include DAC members who are on the staff of English Heritage. After fulfilling the responsibility for initial PCC consultation with English Heritage, it is probably best for the PCC to leave the discussion of subsequent points raised by English Heritage DAC members to be dealt with by the DAC. To do otherwise could introduce a significant risk of procedural circularity.
Guidelines for the ringing master
The ringing master, when advocating works on the bells, will need to contact the PCC Secretary to have the topic put on the agenda as an item of business for discussion by the PCC at its next meeting. The PCC, if it wishes to proceed further, should immediately begin informal Stage One Consultation with the DAC (see above). If the outcome of the Stage One Consultation is a positive one, the PCC Secretary should propose at the next PCC meeting that one of its members, preferably an officer of the PCC, shall be nominated as Bells Project Coordinator.
The responsibility for raising funds required for the works is that of the PCC. However in some cases the PCC will ask for assistance from the ringing master when investigating a range of appropriate sources of funding, and for support when submitting applications for grants (see Bell Restoration Committee below).
The Ringing Master should establish a good working relationship with the Bells Project Coordinator. The Ringing Master and the Bells Project Coordinator should each have a personal copy of the Council for the Care of Churches Code of Practice 1993: The Conservation and Repair of Bells and Bellframes: re-printed in 2002. See above.
DAC Bells Consultant
During Stage One Consultation between the PCC and the Diocesan Advisory Committee, the DAC Chairman seeks the specialist advice of the DAC Bells Consultant. That advice is given in a written report. In some dioceses the terms of formal appointment of the DAC Bells Consultant preclude the appointee from having any involvement with contractors, with grant-making bodies, and with sign-offs for the release of grants. The PCC and its Bells Project Coordinator normally have access, through the DAC Secretary, to supporting advice from the DAC Bells Consultant before and during the course of the bells project.
Ringing Association Bells Adviser
The responsibility of the territorial Ringing Association Bells Adviser is to the Ringing Association and its Bell Fund. The Ringing Association Bells Adviser performs an initial site visit and inspection in relation to works for which a PCC is seeking a grant from the Association Bell Fund, advises the PCC before and during a bells project when such advice is requested by the PCC to the Association’s officers, and performs a final inspection to certify satisfactory completion of the works and release a grant to the PCC from the territorial Ringing Association’s Bell Fund. If the PCC intends to seek a grant from the territorial Ringing Association for bells work then a principal PCC officer should at an early stage contact the territorial Ringing Association General Secretary.
Towers and Belfries Committee Member
Technical advice on towers and bell installations is available to a PCC from the Towers and Belfries Committee of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (see below). A principal officer of a PCC requiring specialised technical advice should write to the Chairman of the Towers and Belfries Committee who will provide an information card describing the advisory service, will seek the PCC’s acceptance of the standard conditions under which such advice is offered, and will arrange for a member to make a site visit, to carry out an inspection, and to produce a written report addressed to that principal officer of the PCC.
Bells advisers of these three types may be required by their terms of appointment to be wholly impartial with regard to the PCC’s selection of a contractor. However, if requested to do so by the PCC’s principal officers, they will provide factual-only comments on the competitive tenders submitted to the PCC by potential contractors during a level-playing-field tendering process.
SOURCES OF ADVICE
The Bell Founders and Bell Hangers
Firms of professional bell founders and bell hangers advertise in The Ringing World, the weekly newspaper of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, office address given below, and also in the Annual Reports published by the territorial Ringing Associations.
The Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches
The Secretary of the Diocesan Advisory Committee can be contacted at the local Diocesan Office.
The Local Territorial Ringing Association
The General Secretary of the local territorial Ringing Association of Church Bell Ringers can be contacted through the Diocesan Secretary at the local Diocesan Office. The Bells Adviser to the local territorial Ringing Association can be contacted through the Ringing Association’s General Secretary.
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
The Bell Restoration Funds Committee
The Committee for Redundant Bells
The Public Relations Advisory Group
The Publications Committee
The Towers and Belfries Committee
The addresses of the Chairmen of the above committees of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers can be obtained by contacting:
The Ringing World Limited
35A High Street
Hampshire SP10 1LJ
tel: 01264 366620 fax: 01264 360594
Advice from English Heritage
English Heritage may be contacted direct for advice on tower and bell-related subjects by email to by email.