Bellringing at St. John's Leytonstone

History of Ringing

The first object to fulfil the definition of a bell is thought to be probably a gourd or nutshell – some kind of hollowed wood struck with wood.


The definition of a bell, according to Collins Dictionary, the ‘official Scrabble dictionary’, is ‘any object that, when struck, produces a ringing tone’.  The word ‘bell’ itself derives from the Anglo-Saxon ‘bellan’ – a word that means ‘to bellow’, but unfortunately not found in the ‘official scrabble dictionary’.


It seems that the type of bells that we are interested in tonight, metal bells, date back to approximately 3000 BC.  As we are in a church I thought you might like to see a picture of a type of bell mentioned in the Bible.


Crotals are a type of orb-shaped bell, with a slot down the side and an iron ball within.  ‘Upon the hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet . . . and bells of gold between them round about.’ – Exodus 27.


A story told of Noah is another possible link between the bells and the Bible – it has been said that Noah invented bells, in order to summon and organise those working on the Ark.