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Bellringing News at St Nicholas, Chislehurst

In celebration of the King’s Coronation on 6 May 2023, the St Nicholas bellringers joined in the ‘Ring for the King’ on the main bells as well as joining an international simultaneous ringing of the Ellacombe  Chimes.


On 20th June 2021 during COVID lockdown, SNC bell tower was part of the worldwide celebration marking the 200th anniversary of the invention of the Ellacombe Chimes, the unique bell-ringing apparatus. We are very privileged to have one of these historic items (which chimes the main bells rather than fully ringing them) in our clock tower.


The international event was a huge success and great fun. Bells rang out throughout four continents, played at noon local time in each location, to celebrate the bicentenary of the Ellacombe Chimes, which were invented at St Mary’s Church, Bitton, in 1821.


The ‘Chime around the World’ celebration, crossed 12 time zones, and 10 countries, starting in New Zealand and finishing in Vancouver in Canada. At least 160 churches and towers participated. After New Zealand the chime moved on to Australia and then to India; next stop was South Africa and Gibraltar followed by Guernsey and Jersey. Then it moved to many churches in the UK, including their birthplace at Bitton. The event continued next to Newfoundland, spreading across Canada and the USA, arriving finally at Vancouver, 17 hours after starting out.


A listing is shown here of the partipants worldwide:


The event was covered by press and media attention worldwide. The i-newspaper had a large spread, it was featured on BBC Southwest, ITV News, many local radio stations as well as a host of local papers across the world, putting Bitton well and truly on the map.


The chiming system was designed 202 years ago by the Rev Henry Thomas Ellacombe, while curate at St Mary’s Church, Bitton. The apparatus, now used in bell towers across the world, enables one trusted person to ring the bells instead of six or eight bell ringers. Ellacombe originally made the invention to dispense with ‘wayward’ bell ringers. For further information on the chimes visit:


Or the Ellacombe Chimes Support Group:


A 167-page paperback book, called Ellacombe Chimes: Two Hundred Years (ISBN 9781257830886) marks the bicentenary. It features the participating churches/towers, as well as the history of the chimes and its inventor. The book is available from the publisher, Lulu, priced at £16.96, plus delivery. Any profits from the sale go to St Mary’s Church.


We can be proud of a remarkable invention and that a joint team effort between the Bitton Parish History Group, St Mary’s Church Bitton, and the Ellacombe Chimes Support Group, with so many people making a contribution, enable us to continue to celebrate the invention worldwide.

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