The Bells

Did you know...

Wakefield was the first church in England to have 14 bells, when the last one was added in 1964. Since then other cathedrals have followed our example – including Canterbury Cathedral and York Minster.

A brief history of the cathedral bells

Wakefield Cathedral has fourteen bells with the heaviest of the bells – the tenor – weighing nearly 1800kg, cast by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough in 1947. It is tuned to C.

Normally a maximum of twelve bells are rung at one time – the extra bells are used for a lighter ring of 10 in F. 

The clock chimes, which you can hear across the city every fifteen minutes and on the hour, are unique to Wakefield Cathedral, and were composed by Sir Walter Alcock in 1947 (at the time Alcock was the Organist and Master of the Choristers at Salisbury Cathedral). 

Notable peals

There have been several notable peals at Wakefield,  most significant of which was the first ever peal of Surprise Royal – Cambridge – in 1822. ‘Royal’ is ringing on 10 bells. 

The first peal of Surprise Major (8 bells) had only been rung two years earlier in Huddersfield: by contrast the first peal of Surprise Maximus (12 bells) was not rung until 1908. 

The Wakefield band followed up their Cambridge success with a peal of Superlative Surprise Royal four years later, and no one else rang a peal of Surprise Royal for another 50 years!

What is a peal?

A peal is the name given to a specific type of performance of change ringing which meets certain exacting conditions for duration, complexity and quality.

On typical tower bells a peal takes around three hours to ring!

Wakefield Cathedral

There have been several notable peals at Wakefield, most significant of which was the first ever peal of Surprise Royal - Cambridge - in 1822. ‘Royal’ is ringing on 10 bells. 

Bell Ringing at Wakefield Cathedral

Our Bell Ringers meet on a Tuesday evening for practice, with normal ringing times on Sunday’s diarised throughout the year.

If you would be interested in finding out more about becoming a Bell Ringer, what the role involves and the commitments needed, please email or call 01924 373923.

Normal Sunday ringing times: 10:25 to 10:55*

Tuesday Practice: 19:30 to 21:00

*Times subject to change (for Sunday’s where there is a 10:00 service ringing commences from 09:15)

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Wakefield Cathedral

Cathedral Centre
8-10 Westmorland St
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01924 373923