Place bell, lead end or coursing order – what is the difference and how do they help?

Image by Hatice EROL from Pixabay

A topic of conversation at this morning’s virtual #bellringing session attempted to explain the difference between place bell order and coursing order. The explanation may have been perfectly fine, but for at least two of us, our failure to comprehend, left us dazed and more confused.

Place bells could have two meanings (why would we want to make it easy):

  1. is a way to understand at what point in the change a bell strikes.  Typically, starting with rounds: 1,2,3,4,5,6 bell number 3 is in 3rds place.  Now if we were to mix the order of the bells up a bit by ringing a method, the order the bells strike might be 1,3,5,2,4,6 so now bell number 3 has moved and bell number 5 is now in 3rds place, i.e. it’s the bell that strikes 3rd in the change.
  2. Is to describe the piece of work a particular bell in that place starts with and what it might be doing next. E.g. 3rds place bell in Plain Bob Minor goes out to the back, plain hunts down to the front and makes 2nds next time.  Understanding that comes with a whole bunch of learning the different parts of work in the method. So if the ringing was getting a bit scrappy and someone told at you that you are 3rds place bell, it should help you get back on track by knowing what the work that 3rds place bell does.

Lead end order is the order of the place bells in a plain course of any given method.  So, using Plain Bob Minor again, the order the bells do the work can be described as 2,4,6,5,3 (we ignore the treble for these purposes as it plain hunts without doing the method work).  We could therefore say that 2nds place bell becomes 4ths place, which becomes 6ths place, then 5ths place and 3rds place. It defines the order of work to be rung.

Not to be confused with coursing order.  This is where the bells follow each other around.  Your course bell is the bell that follows you down to the lead. The bell that takes you off the lead is known as your after bell. In the above example if you were ringing the 5th, your course bell would be the 6th and your after bell would be the 3rd.  Coursing order is cyclical, so the bells will always cycle round the method in that way until a call is made.

Coursing order becomes particularly important when you start to ring touches of methods, a way of shortening or extending the piece of ringing by adding things called “bobs” or “singles” (there are other calls as well, but we’ll not worry about those here).  This is called Transposition.  Its’ what clever conductors use to know what order the bells should be in when a call is made.  Every time a call is made, it changes the order of the bells. Transposition helps you work out what the new coursing order is.

I’m not going to try and explain that here because much cleverer people that I have explained it elsewhere but if you’re really intrigued here’s a couple to start with:


One thought on “Place bell, lead end or coursing order – what is the difference and how do they help?

  1. Ha, this was a topic of conversation on our walk last night. Of course he knew the difference but I felt a bit of a dim wit 😆 But now I know the difference. Not sure it will make much difference to my ringing ability but hey ho 🤣🤣

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s