xRetired content‎ > ‎Past Events‎ > ‎

2012 - Olympics

Many towers throughout the Surrey Association rang the bells to celebrate the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. Ringing took place during the torch relay, the day of the Opening Ceremony as well as during the Games. Here is a summary of who rung what and when.

Our neighbouring Guildford Guild has written a similar summary of their towers. Click here to view their webpage.
Torch Relay

The Olympic torch arrived in England on the 19th May and travelled through the British Isles, reaching the Olympic Stadium on the 27th July for the grand Opening Ceremony. 8,000 torch bearers carried the Olympic flame through more than 1,000 cities, towns and villages, and it passed through the area of the Surrey Association between the 20th and 26th July. The following churches rang to hearald its arrival.

20th July




Bletchingley: A quarter peal of Grandsire Caters was successfully rung the evening before the torch arrived and a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples was successfully rung on the 20th for the thousands who had gathered to see the torch and for the festivities held in the village. Tower Captain Ed Muller also gave an interview on BBC Surrey Counties Radio in the morning describing why the church bells would be part of the historic event.

Godstone: Open ringing greeted the crowds as they gathered to see the torch's procession through the vilage. The ringing was also reported byBBC Surrey News Online.

Nutfield: A quarter peal of Norwich & Cambridge Surprise Minor was successfuly rung as the torch whizzed through Nutfield village.

Reigate: David Gilmore wrote that all 10 bells at St Mary rang as the torch passed by for the cheering crowds outside.

23rd July



Beddington: Jean Kimber confirmed that all 10 bells rang out as the torch passed the church, courtesy of some Caterham ringers! Beddington Park was very busy with gazebos, picnics, ice cream vans etc and there was a great atmosphere.

Torch bearers were also greeted to the sound of bell ringing in Carshalton, Benhilton and Colliers Wood.

Stoke D'Abernon: rang a quarter peal of Grandsire Double to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic Games to London.

24th July

Kingston-upon-Thames: successfully completed a quarter peal of Grandsire Cinques during the torch relay.

Richmond: open ringing took place during the torch relay.

26 July

Open ringing took place at Clapham Common and later at Camberwell to welcom the crowds who had come to see the torch as it passed by.

Southwark St Geotrge the Martyr: rang a quarter peal of Cambridge Surprise Minor as the torch was carried passed the church.
The Olympic Games

Church bell ringing was encouraged across the country to mark the opening of the Games on the 27th July. Many towers in Surrey heeded the call to ring at 08:12 for "All the Bells". These included:



Ashtead, Barnes, Battersea, Benhilton, Bletchingley (which included ringing the Richard Wallis Trophy in the High Street), Capel, Caterham ringers of St John and St Mary, Cheam, Clapham Common, Dorking, East Molesey, Epsom (with help from the public to chime the bells), Epsom Common, Esher (who turned the ringing into a sponsered event and raised £500 as parishoners aged 5 to 65 chimed the bells), Epsom (with help from the public to chime the bells), Godstone, Leatherhead, Limpsfield, Lingfield, Merstham, Newdigate (who also rang 480 Grandsire Doubles plus rounds and call changes in the evening at 20:12hrs for 20 minutes and 12 seconds), Ockley, Outwood, Oxted, Redhill (Jane Holland chimed rounds, queens, tittums, kings and the theme from Chariots of Fire on the Ellacombe), Reigate, Richmond, Southwark St George the Martyr (see Ringing World article, Issues No. 5285 10th August), Walton-on-Thames.

As the torch continued its last leg of the journey via boat on the Thames, Barnes completed a quarter peal of Lincolnshire Surprise Major on the 27th July.

At the start of the Opening Ceremony a giant bell was chimed by Bradley Wiggins (2012 winner of the Tour France). The bell, cast by Whitechapel Bell Foundry, measures two metres tall by three metres wide and weighs an impressive 27 tonnes. It is inscribed with a line from a speech by Caliban in Shakespeare's The Tempest, "Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises". It is thought to be the largest harmonically tuned bell in Europe.

On the first full day of the Games, the ringers of the Southwark Cathedral Society rang a peal simultaneously with peals at St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey as part of the Trinity of Reflection. The Southwark ringers completed their peal of Yorkshire Surprise Maximus in 3 hours 51minutes.

Guildford Guild and Surrey Association towers on the route of the mens and womens cycle race also rang out on the 28th and 29th July. These towers included Esher, Kingston, Leatherhead, Putney and Walton-on-Thames. Margaret Bales writes that the clapper sheared off the tenor on the 28th with a loud thud just as the cyclists were about to appear. After a quick dash upstairs it was brought down to the ringing chamber just in time to catch hold and ring the nine as the cyclists came round the corner. Fortunately ringing proceeded as normal for the ladies cycle race the following day.

To celebrate Team GB's medal winning successes, Newdigate rang a peal of Surprise Minor (4 methods: 720 London, 1440 ea. Beverley, Cambridge and Surfleet) on the 4th August, and the Southwark Cathedral ringers rang a quarter peal of Stedman Caters for a special Olympic service held on the 5th August.



On the last day of the Games, a band of resident Surrey members rang a date touch of 2012 Stedman Caters at St Margaret's, Westminster during the mens marathon. The touch was conducted by Michael Uphill.

Quarter peals were rung to mark the closing of the Games and Team GB's achievements at Barnes (1320 Spliced Doubles, 14 methods) and Kingston (1320 Plain Bob Maximus).


Ringing during The Paralympic Games

The 2012 Paralympic Games took place from the 29th August to 9th September 2012.

Four flames in one - four separate flames were lit on the 22nd August by scouts and mountaineers on the highest peaks of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each flame was carried to the nation's capital city and then onto to Stoke Mandeville, the home of the Paralympics, where they were combined into one flame on the 28th August. During a 24 hour procession, the flame was carried to the Olympic Park for the start of the Paralympic Games.

A number of Surrey towers rang on the day of the Opening Ceremony. These included Ashtead, St Martin's Epsom, Epsom Common and Ewell. At Merstham call changes were rung at precisely 20:12. The band included all their young ringers, Jay (aged 11), James (10) and Charlotte (aged 13), and David Ede who, despite having learning difficulties, was able to ring on his own for the full 20 minutes. The ringers of Stoke D'Abernon rang a quarter peal of Grandsire Doubles on the 27th August in celebration of the Paralympic Games.

Michael Moreton, tower captain at South Croydon and ringer at St Paul's, took part in a peal of Stedman Cinques at St Paul's Cathedral which was rung during the Paralympic Marathons.
Five Rings Triples

A special method celebrating the 2012 London Olympic Games has been composed b the musician Howard Skempton, working with the Central Council. The name associates the sets of five blows made by the Treble with the Olympic Rings and consists of a 3 course touch (396 changes).

The offical first performance of 'Five Rings Triples' took place at Kingston upon Thames at Midnight, New Year 2012.

The blue line of Five Rings Triples, and the adaptation for Doubles, can be found on the Central Council website.