Library and Archives

The St Martin’s Guild library is one of the largest and impressive of its kind. As a collection of ringing-related materials, it is intended to be a resource for practical ringers and for those with historical interests to pursue. The collection comprises printed books and pamphlets, electronic material, and archival items.

Background to the library

The library originated with a relatively small number of books and papers acquired or preserved by John Hopkins (1800-1862), Henry Johnson (1809-1890) and their circle. The complete set of ‘Bell News’ (1881-1915)was given by John Carter and ‘The Ringing World’ volumes up to 1945 came from James George.

In 1982 the bequest of Wilfred Box added more than 30 important books of bell archaeology; and then, in 1986, the Guild inherited some 70 books and pamphlets from the late Edgar Shepherd. This created what one might call the necessary critical mass. Guild members and others with Birmingham ringing connections have become generously supportive of further development through bequests and donations of items.

An annual grant from Guild funds allows for purchases and other expenditure to maintain this substantial asset.


Purpose-made bookcases were installed in St Martin’s ringing chamber in 1988 and there is an additional storage chest in the clock chamber there. All the library contents are accessible by arrangement with the Guild Archivist, and most items may be borrowed as required.

An additional, overflow bookcase has been installed in the teaching room at St Paul’s. This bookcase houses training material which may be of particular interested to those students learning at the Birmingham School of Ringing.

Catalogues and finding aids

The Guild Archivist is responsible for the curation of the library, and maintains detailed finding aids which can be shared with members. A significant number of catalogues are available on the website. These catalogues primarily detail our printed book holdings. There is a great deal of other archival material not listed here relating mainly, but not exclusively, to Birmingham. These archive materials include historic handbills, papers, letters, personal and ringing society peal-books, minute-books, and photographs.

The following catalogues were last updated 4 January 2022.

Catalogue 1 – General Histories of Ringing (PDF – 72KB)
Catalogue 2 – Histories of Ringing Societies, Biographies, and Recorded Performances (PDF – 59KB)
Catalogue 3 – Annual Reports, Rules, and Directories (PDF – 54KB)
Catalogue 4 – Technical Aspects of Change Ringing: Early Texts (PDF – 55KB)
Catalogue 5 – Technical Aspects of Change Ringing: Instructional Materials (PDF – 64KB)
Catalogue 6 – Technical Aspects of Change Ringing: Monographs, Treatises and Collections (PDF – 77KB)
Catalogue 7 – Technical Aspects of Change Ringing: Tower Management and Teaching Issues (PDF – 66KB)
Catalogue 8 – Technical Aspects of Change Ringing: Handbell Ringing (PDF – 63KB)
Catalogue 9 – Bells, Bell Founders, and Bell Archaeology: General (PDF – 74KB)
Catalogue 10 – Inventories and Bell Archaeology: England (PDF – 86KB)
Catalogue 11 – Inventories and Bell Archaeology: Ireland, Scotland, and Wales (PDF – 66KB)
Catalogue 12 – Inventories and Bell Archaeology: Overseas (PDF – 67KB)
Catalogue 13 – Towers and Belfries: Maintenance and Restoration (PDF – 68KB)
Catalogue 14 – Ringing Machines, Clocks, and Carillons (PDF – 65KB)
Catalogue 15 – National Journals (PDF – 74KB)
Catalogue 16 – Oral History Recordings (PDF – 63KB)