The earliest known bells are at least 5000 years old, from China. Christian churches have had bells since the 5th century. In England, in the 1600s, bells began to be hung so they could swing through a full circle, controlled by ropes on wooden wheels. This enabled tunes or patterns to be rung by varying how high each bell swings.
The same technique is used today in bell ringing, and there are many patterns (methods) which are performed. Today there are over 6000 rings of bells in the UK, and another 150 across the world, rung by over 40,000 ringers.
Holy Cross Church in Pattishall, Northamptonshire, is a Grade II* listed building dating from the 11th century. Bells have been ringing out from the tower since the 17th century. The bells, originally dating from 1609, were recast by Gillett & Johnston in 1908. They are an excellent example of bells tuned to modern harmonic principles, which gives them their distinctive attractive tone.