Dove’s Guide for Church Bell Ringers

Most ringers, especially those who venture out to ring at towers other than their own, will be familiar with Dove’s Guide for Church Bell Ringers. It’s the definitive source of information about rings of bells not only in Britain (which is where it started) but also around the World. Now in its ninth printed edition, it was first published in 1950.

But ringers may be less familiar with the Internet version which can be found on the Central Council web site at The site provides full-featured searching, links to mapping facilities to show the exact location of towers, satellite navigation data and details of changes to entries as they occur. Its scope has recently been extended by the addition of data for individual bells as a step towards a prototype National Bell Register (the ‘proto-NBR’).

At present, Dove lists 7,087 towers and the proto-NBR has details on 34,047 bells in 5,167 towers. The site relies on contributors to provide the information which the site contains and you can log on to it and upload your tower details if they aren’t already there – but beware, there are strict rules on the derivation and authenticity of data supplied to maintain a high level of accuracy.

Until very recently, the Oxford Diocesan Guild had not been playing its full part in providing the NBR with data and in November 2006 only about 20% of towers had bell data beyond the basic tenor weight which appeared in Dove. That situation has now changed dramatically and over the Christmas period the percentage was raised to 100%. The ODG can now hold its head up high as one of the major contributors to the NBR – and so it should as the largest Association in the exercise!

However, the task is far from complete and although the 100% has been achieved it only means that 100% of the towers have had some additional details uploaded; there are still lots of gaps. The NBR records weight, diameter, note, casting date, founder and status of canons – six parameters – for each bell.

To learn more about this, why not visit the On-line Dove site and see for yourself what data are on it for your tower and, more importantly, see whether you can fill in any of the gaps. The URL of the site is given above, or you can just Google for Doves Guide. The home page has a search window into which you can enter your tower name. When the tower name appears (beware there may be more than one with the name you enter, e.g. Abingdon will have two entries, click on the number in the column underneath the # sign and the details of the bells in the selected tower will appear.

If you are bold enough to provide details on line you can click on “Edit Details” and the editing page will appear. However, before you do this make sure you read the explanatory text which will guide you through the process and which will warn you of the pitfalls of providing insufficiently verified data. If you don’t want to risk the wrath of the Dovemaster for messing up the editing, feel free to send your gap-filling data or errors to the Newsletter editor and he will do it for you.