The Barfield Handbell Ringers are one of the biggest handbell orchestras in the south-east of England. Our 16 members play 5½ octaves of bells, 3 octaves of handchimes and other instruments like Belleplates. We were founded in 1965 – you can see more of our history on a separate page.

Would you like to book Barfield for an event? Contact details are on the booking page.

Barfield Handbell Ringers

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Posted by on 19 Sep, 2015 in Uncategorized


March 28th Concert CANCELLED

I am sorry to report that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the Barfield Handbell Ringers have taken the difficult decision to cancel their concert on 28th March 2020.

It was a choice we did not want to make but, particularly with the latest announcement from the Government, we felt it was the only option open to us.

As the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak is still not fully understood, no plans can yet be made as to when the concert will be rescheduled.

Further more, all handbell practices have now been suspended (Main team, beginners and improvers, and small ensemble). These will resume when the COVID-19 situation allows.

Many thanks for your understanding at this difficult time.

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Posted by on 17 Mar, 2020 in Uncategorized


January 2020 update

The hectic December period is over, the turkey and mice pies long digested and forgotten and the Barfield Handbell Ringers are back in full practice mode.

After our AGM this evening, the hard work starts on the music for our concert in St Mary’s Church, Thatcham on 28th March.

Watch this space for further news and updates.

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Posted by on 27 Jan, 2020 in Uncategorized


Bells, Camera, Action!

“We’re doing a lot of film music at the moment,” said someone who shall remain nameless, “let’s get some more and do a film concert.” So we did, and now we’re singing film themes, trying to work out how much we should swing, and wondering who’s going to be the chorus line. We do have a soloist assisting us with one piece (singing and ringing with the same brain is difficult!).

Bells, Camera, Action! Saturday 18th May, 7.30pm, St. Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

Tickets £6 (£5 concessions) from Picture It, High Street, Thatcham, or email .

(Poster to come, when the publicity department has prepared it!)

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Posted by on 4 Apr, 2019 in Engagements


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It’s beginning to look a lot like…

… we must have a concert coming soon. Bow ties and flowers are being dusted off, programmes are being printed and we’re whistling tunes we haven’t played for years then stopping ourselves because they aren’t in the concert. (That last one might just be me.)

As has become traditional we have a part-Christmas concert. It covers all the bases, since if you enjoy Christmas you’ll like the second half and if you’re yearning for a heatwave there’s plenty of non-Christmas in the first half. There are pieces old and new, simple and complex, easy and difficult. So to be eased gently into the festive season, or to provide an excuse for putting off the shopping for another week, come and hear us at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham on the 1st of December, 3.00pm!

Tickets £6 / £5 concessions from Picture It, High Street, Thatcham, or email

Download the poster

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Posted by on 26 Nov, 2018 in Uncategorized


Wedding Belles – or “oh no, nobody has anything better to do on the 19th of May, do they?”

Preparations are well under way for our next concert, which is on the 19th of May at 7.30pm. Now you may think this date sounds familiar… and it is, for it happens to be the day of the Royal Wedding! So we are all doing our best not to make puns on “ring”, and hoping some people will not be too exhausted by the celebrations to come and hear some bells.

Of course the wedding had to be mentioned in the title: Wedding Belles. Graham has picked out some pieces suitable to weddings, and some poems to reflect the day. (It’s worth coming along just to see how we got Eleanor Rigby and Leroy Anderson In Concert to fit the wedding theme!)

Thanks to the people at Where Can We Go for including the concert on their website.

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Posted by on 29 Apr, 2018 in Uncategorized


This season we are mostly excited about…

  1. The way our junior team performed at the Showcase. They did themselves proud, and we had some good reviews. One person said the juniors sounded better than the senior team… (Incidentally, if you live near Thatcham and you’d like to try an unusual instrument in an environment that’s as different from school as we can possibly manage, send us some details!)
  2. New Christmas music. We’ve got three new pieces to practise, and two of them are both playable and pleasant. As to the other….perhaps “trepidatious” would be more the word than “excited”.
  3. And of course, our concerts. (Thanks for writing the text, Dianne!)
  • Saturday 2 December, 3pm at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.  “Yuletide Bonanza” – a concert with a varied programme of music, including some Christmas pieces, to mark the start of the festive season.  Tickets (£6, £5 concessions, accompanied children free) include light refreshments in the interval and are available at Picture It, 17 High Street, Thatcham or by e-mail request to

    Download the poster
  • Saturday 9 December – Christmas Market at Milestones Museum, Basingstoke.  Our small ensemble of 6 ringers will play festive music at intervals during the afternoon as part of the programme of entertainment.
  • Sunday 10 December – Civic Carol Service, 4pm at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.  Everyone welcome.  We will play during the service and also for 20 minutes or so beforehand as people arrive.
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Posted by on 19 Nov, 2017 in Uncategorized


Mid-May Music and Mischief (!)

Yes, that’s what our next concert is called. If ‎you would like to hear a Bell Boogie, meet a magic dragon or see us attempt a bassline that is highly mischievous, then come along ‎to Ashford Hill this Saturday.
Mid-May Music and Mischief, St. Paul’s Church, Ashford Hill, RG19 8AZ. Saturday 20th May, 7.00. Tickets £7.50, children free. To reserve tickets phone 01635 299227.

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Posted by on 20 May, 2017 in Uncategorized


Who’s got a talented beginners’ team, then?

Well, we have! Our five recruits have come on wonderfully since they started in September. When they started we thought they’d just about manage to learn a couple of pieces by December. Then we thought it would be nice if they played a piece at the beginning of the Civic Service. As it turns out they played six carols and relegated the senior team to the middle of the service!

We’re really impressed with the way they’ve progressed. So to the one who insisted on playing Belleplates, the one who made more noise with a stool than with bells, the one who wanted the bells turned down, the one who’d never read music before, the one who couldn’t start until they did their homework, and the one who told the joke about the cats swimming the Channel, our heartiest congratulations… and see you in the New Year!

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Posted by on 11 Dec, 2016 in Beginners' team


Where to hear us soon

We’re not at Guildford this year (renovations and handbells don’t go together), but we do have some engagements closer to home.

  • Thatcham Festival workshop: full team. Just turn up, hear us practicing and try out the bells. Monday 17th October, 7.30pm, St. Mary’s Church meeting room.
  • Thatcham Festival Finale: our small ensemble will be playing in the final concert of the Festival along with other local musicians and poets. Saturday 22nd October, 7.30pm, St Mary’s Church. Tickets free from Picture It, High Street, Thatcham.
  • Ashford Hill: our small ensemble are taking part in a concert celebrating the life of Ron Goodwin, composer of 633 Squadron, and much other film music. Saturday 29th October, 7.00pm, St Paul’s Church, Ashford Hill, Hampshire RG19 8AZ.
  • The Nearly Christmas Concert: our way of pleasing everyone around Christmas time, Just enough Christmas music to put you in a festive mood – just enough non-Christmas music to be a welcome change if you’ve already had enough of festive songs on loop in the shops! Saturday 3rd December, 3.00 pm, St Mary’s Church. Email to reserve tickets.

So we’re still going to have a busy autumn! Hope to see you at some of our events.

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Posted by on 15 Oct, 2016 in Engagements


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2015, Barfield’s special year marking Bill Butler’s 50 years as Musical Director

by Ann Walter

Barfield_50th_Maria(30)_resizeBill conducting at the Golden Anniversary concert (photo: Thatcham Photographic Club)

PRO_ (11) 2015-09-26 14.55.52 Barfield badge 4 final
 The team at the Golden Anniversary concert
(photo: Thatcham Photographic Club)
Our birthday cake
(photo: Helen Secker)
The new 50th anniversary badge

2015 was a special year for Barfield Handbell Ringers as they celebrated the 50th birthday of the group. Bill Butler started the group based in Thatcham, built it up and has remained its Musical Director until he decided to retire at Christmas 2015.

The group organised and performed in various events in their 50th year.

June saw a full school hall in Newbury for an HRGB SouthEast Region rally attended by 18 teams. Tables and teams were decorated with gold and we had an enjoyable day’s ringing with, needless to day, a good supply of cakes.

In September we held our memorable Golden Anniversary Concert with music specially chosen by Bill. Some is part of the group’s history (Bill’s arrangement of Whistling Rufus and Sandra Winter’s specially written Call of the Bells). Other pieces are favourites; Blessed Assurance and God’s Train .The pieces chosen for the concert show the breadth of music which Bill conducts and performs.

Several handbell ringers in the audience said that it was good to hear some tunes they had not heard played recently. We were pleased to see so many relatives, friends and colleagues from both the handbell and tower ringing communities. Bill has taught many ringers of both types over the years and has helped teams to start up successfully.

At January 2016’s AGM the team presented Bill with a gift of an engraved glass, to say thank you for all his hard work and for the enjoyment he has given to many people by his musical activities Although Bill is no longer the team’s Musical Director he is still a valued member of the team.


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Posted by on 5 Jun, 2016 in Uncategorized