The Abbey Bell - 4th May 2021

The ringing of St. Mary's Abbey bell is a prominent feature of the soundscape of West Malling and people often ask what the ringing means. We ring the bell 5 minutes before our services, to call the nuns together to celebrate the Eucharist (once per day, usually 7.25 am) and to pray (5 times per day from 8.45 am to 7.30 pm). We also pray at 4.30 am and 6.50 am but out of consideration for our neighbours we do not ring the bell at these times. The bell is rung 9 times (more or less - depending on the skill of the bell ringer!) and as far as we can remember there was no significance in this number. It just seemed a suitable length for all to hear it without being too long so as to be troublesome. On the other hand it is the number of strokes rung at the end of ‘The Angelus’, a tradition that had been followed in this community in the past, which would make 9 feel familiar and appropriate. You can read more about the changes in bell ringing at the Abbey over the years in this brief history.

From 4th May 2021 the bell will be silent through the middle of the day whilst we have electrical works carried out in the Abbey Church. Bell ringing will be back to normal by late summer.