Passionate Peter’s book on handbells

Hand-bell ringer Peter Fawcett with his book Hand-bell Ringing - The Living Tradition.
Hand-bell ringer Peter Fawcett with his book Hand-bell Ringing - The Living Tradition.

Passionate Peter Fawcett has written a book on the history of handbell ringing - which is attracting international attention.

The book, Ringing for Gold, has been 35 years in the planning since Mr Fawcett decided first decided to put pen to paper.

Now, he is receiving orders from Australia, USA and Japan.

He said: “I’ve got an order for 15 books for Japanese universities. They want it translating into Japanese. I’ve sent books to people all over the world.

“This is the first definitive book on handbell ringing. It had to be published.”

Mr Fawcett lives in Cleckheaton but was instrumental in re-starting the Clifton Handbell Ringers in 1976, One of the earliest Handbell Ringers were in Ripponden in the 1800s.

He said: “Handbell ringing was something that developed around here. It’s something to be proud of. It would be nice to have a few other groups. I’m hoping this book will inspire others.”

He said handbell ringing came into its own when organs were brought into churches - leading to the ousting of church bands: “It happened in a lot of churches - putting in an organ and getting rid of church aabnds. This brought in the rise of handbell ringing. Handbells were readily available.”

The book also charts the popularity of handbells at “Wakes” - festvials on the eve of the dedication of a church. Every rural parish had its own wake. He says in Elland, wakes were called the “Tide”.

“People would clear out their homes and put up new curtains for the coming feast, which is where some suggest we get the word ‘tidy’ from - ‘Getting ready for the tide’.”

Mr Fawcett, who describes himself as a promoter rather than a player, explains his love of handbells: “It’s the unique sound of it. It’s a pure sound.

“It’s so fascinating. Also there’s a visual element to handbell ringing. It fascinates audiences.”

To order the book visit