St Alkmund's Church bells were in full swing on Saturday morning but they weren't calling the Whitchurch faithful to worship a day early or announcing a happy betrothal.

The church was holding taster sessions to encourage interested visitors to learn about the history of the bells and the skills required to ring them – without being hurled into the roof.

The eight bells are about 300 years and range in size and weight, up to 1,900 hundredweight, which is nearly a ton.

And it's quite a hike before the ringing even starts – there are 57 steps up a stone spiral staircase to the ringing chamber and another 50 up past the clock room to the belfry itself, which houses the bells.

Tower captain Malcolm Monie said: "The furry bit the bell-ringers hold onto is called the sally. It can take months to learn how to pull and release the ropes at the right time.

"Then you have to learn the sequence, which we call 'methods', which varies what you might call the tunes."

And in full swing St Alkmund's expert bell-ringers went... like the clappers, of course!