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Q&A for Non-Ringers who are Interested in Change Ringing at Trinity Wall Street

Can I visit the tower?

Yes!  It is difficult to convey in writing what change ringing is, and why change ringers enjoy it so much. The Trinity Ringers are always pleased to demonstrate our art to visitors. So please do visit our tower at Trinity Wall Street.

How do I let you know I'd like to come and visit?

Click here to reach a web form that will enable you to send a message to the Trinity Ringers. Note that if you have already been in contact with us via other means, there is no need to fill out this form.

Where is Trinity Wall Street, and how do I get there?

Follow this link for directions, including where to park your car, and how to get to Trinity Wall Street via public transport.

When does ringing take place at Trinity Wall Street?

Follow this link for our regular ringing times.

Once I arrive at Trinity Wall Street, how do I meet you and get up into the tower?

Follow this link for instructions.

If I visit, will I be able to ring (if I would like to)?

On your first visit, we will normally be able to give you a chance to ring a bell by pulling a few backstrokes under the supervision of an instructor. This step, the first in becoming a change ringer, will give you an idea of the feel of a bell.

If I want to learn change ringing, what are the next steps?

During your first visit, we can make arrangements for you to come back regularly if you'd like to learn change ringing. We hold a practice night every Wednesday from 6:30 - 9:00pm, and we hold teaching sessions for new ringers every other Monday, from 7 - 9pm.

How long does it take to learn to ring?

As a New York Times reporter found out when he visited us to learn about change ringing, “Simple rope pulling it ain’t. Change ringing is a surprisingly difficult and subtle art that involves a series of coordinated hand movements and a sensitive touch.” It usually takes several weeks to learn to handle and control a bell, several months to learn to ring basic methods as part of a band of ringers, and perhaps a few years to master a variety of methods and become an experienced ringer.

This means that change ringing is a series of challenges. First you need to learn to control a bell. Then you learn to ring in a group with other ringers. Then you learn some basic patterns ("methods") that you ring in a band, say on 6 bells (meaning you and 5 other ringers). Then you learn and ring some more complex methods, and move up to ringing on 8, 10 and finally 12 bells. Then you might learn how to conduct the band, or even how to devise methods and compositions. In sum, change ringing is a chance for lifelong learning.

The good news is that ringing is fun even when you're just learning!

A word about safety

Ringing involves controlling hundreds or thousands of pounds of metal by means of a rope that's about 30 feet in length. This is not as easy as it looks. So when you visit us, please do not take hold of a rope unless you are told to do so. And if you arrive in the ringing room while ringing is taking place, please take the nearest seat, remain quiet, and keep both feet on the floor. Ringing injuries are very rare, and we want to keep it that way.

When I visit, what should I wear?

Dress down. There are two reasons for this. First, to reach the ringing room, you will need to climb nearly 100 steps. The first part of the climb is a spiral staircase. Then there are two stairwells, with a total of about 30 steps, that are nearly vertical. So wear sensible shoes.

Second, ringing is a mildly physical activity, particularly when you're learning to control a bell. You may work up a slight sweat. Your arms will be reaching above your head repeatedly. So we suggest wearing clothing that is comfortable, but not too loose — you don’t want anything to get caught in the rope. Do not wear a scarf or a tie.

If I'd like to listen to the bells ringing from the streets around Trinity Wall Street, when is the best time for that?

We are very conscious of being good neighbors to the surrounding community. Our bell installation includes "sound control", which enables us to close up the louvers in the tower that otherwise let the sound out. When the louvers are closed, the bells are all but inaudible outside.

The louvers are closed for our Monday and Wednesday night practices, so you won't be able to hear the bells from outside then. On Sundays, we normally ring with the louvers open from 10:45 - 11:15am, and again from 12:30 - 1:00pm.

We also ring with the louvers open for special occasions, including weddings, funerals, solemn anniversaries such as September 11, major feasts of the church, and civic celebrations. We have had the great pleasure of ringing for two ticker-tape parades up Broadway — for the New York Giants in 2008, and for the New York Yankees in 2009.

Is change ringing just for church-goers?

No. The change ringing community is made up of both church-goers and non-church-goers, and we peacefully co-exist respecting each other's beliefs and non-beliefs. Some of the Trinity Ringers are members of the Trinity Church congregation, but many are not.

Where can I learn more about change ringing?

Please click here to learn more about the Trinity Ringers, and about change ringing in general.