York Minster Society of Change Ringers

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**Bell ringers update**

bell frameDear all visitors,

you have probably arrived here having read the news.

If not, please see the York Press website or other media regarding the axing of the York Minster bellringers October 2016.

As far as we know, the ban is a blanket one, therefore, to anyone hoping for bells for your wedding or other events such as ordinations, marathons, Tour de Yorkshire or similar, our apologies. Those booked in as visiting bands, or for peal attempts, please keep in touch- we will let you know any updates. Obviously, anyone who was thinking of joining us as a visitor for practise or service ringing, do understand you will be welcome back another time.

There is a petition to request ringing at key services over the coming months, namely Remembrance Sunday, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve, and there is an option to sign and/or share if you so wish.


The Minster authorities are doing a very thorough job of cleansing their website of all references to the bells.  Articles referencing recent ringing have been removed; ringers have been removed from the volunteers section; the books and CDs appear to have been pulled from the online shop. The Minster Twitter feed apologises for ‘essential maintenance’ a couple of days ago. However, the book, “The Bells and Bellringers of York Minster” is available to purchase still through us, details under the “publications” tab.

Lastly, a copy below of the open letter to the Dean of York Minster, from our esteemed Ringing Master (“head bell ringer”) of 10 years

“Dear Vivienne,

There is information, issued by the Minster, being quoted in the media which is simply wrong. In particular I read that I “was not accountable to the Chapter – a situation the body wishes to change by creating a new Head of the Bell Tower role”. As you know, I was appointed to the position of Ringing Master by Chapter in 2006 and have remained fully accountable to them ever since, always implementing Chapter’s policies as requested and being willing to work co-operatively with Chapter to resolve any issues as they have arisen. That is at it should be and as it was until Tuesday evening.

The Minster bellringers are a happy, united, vibrant, skilled, and dedicated team which has grown and evolved over the past forty years to become the envy of many Cathedrals and parish churches across the country. It includes ringers aged from 11 years to 70 plus. It matters not a jot whether it is me or someone else who leads the band into the next decade but to see this wonderful team discarded by Chapter on Tuesday evening with no warning and in such a brutal fashion was heartbreaking beyond measure. The letters of termination handed out to members were headed “York Minster invites everyone to discover God’s love”. Such doublespeak would hardly be out of place in George Orwell’s most famous work.

You have also referred in the media to the review of the operation of the bell tower which raised health and safety concerns. That review was commissioned by Chapter, undertaken and completed without the knowledge of the bellringers and with no opportunity for them to provide input. Nor have the results ever been shared with us. I’m afraid that this is typical of the secrecy with which the Minster operates under the current leadership team under your direction.

When you arrived as Dean in 2012 the ringers invited you on several occasions to visit the bell-tower and meet the team. You declined all of those invitations and have never to my knowledge ascended the tower. As significant grievances between the ringers and Chapter have arisen over the past 18 months I have made numerous offers to meet with you and to work together to resolve them. You have rejected every one of those offers.

Nevertheless, I make that offer again now: to meet with you and your team; to discuss honestly and openly all of the concerns which exist; and to find ways in which the current situation can be amicably resolved. With such an approach the Minster bells could, and should, be heard again very soon.

Yours sincerely

Peter Sanderson (Ringing Master, York Minster Society of Change Ringers) “