The Church of England Parish of

Kirdford with

Plaistow & Ifold

St John the Baptist,


Holy Trinity,



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KIPHRA was formed in 1985 when a set of very old handbells was found in Kirdford Church tower and local villagers decided to make music with them. KIPHRA stands for Kirdford, Ifold and Plaistow Handbell Ringers Association, which is a bit of a mouthful, so we shortened it to KIPHRA.

The old and incomplete set of bells we started with dated from the 1800s and had seen better days as they had been used by tower bell ringers for practice in the pub when the weather was inclement. Thanks to several generous donations, we now have a 5-octave set of modern American bells, which are far more versatile and easy to play.

Musical handbells are an English creation, and handbells of various types have been used for hundreds of years as single bells, mainly as a means of communication (for example, by town criers).

There is now a worldwide fraternity of handbell ringers including teams in America, Japan, Canada, Korea, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Great Britain.

Almost any music can be arranged for handbells and nowadays an increasing amount of music is written specially for handbells.

As well as handbells we also play chimes and our set of chimes was recently donated to us most generously by a founder member who was also our former Musical Director in the early days of KIPHRA.

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KIPHRA handbell ringers


Kirdford, Ifold & Plaistow Handbell Ringers Association


Welcome to the KIPHRA home page.

KIPHRA are a team of handbell ringers in West Sussex who play when and where we're asked, usually within a 30 mile radius of our three villages of Kirdfrord, Ifold and Plaistow.

We have performed on TV and radio, in Guildford Cathedral and, in 2013, at an International Festival of Modern Composers in Hastings (see picture below). Our present Musical Director even played handbells in the film 'The Madness of King George'.

We practise every Thursday at Kelsey Hall,Paistow, 8-10pm under the expert guidance of our Musical Director Tim Willetts.

If you've never listened to Handbells before, come along to one of our concerts - we are sure you'll find it very entertaining!


Our email address is:


Our local handbell ringing group KIPHRA has had a really busy summer so far, including two concerts on the same day.  On June 12th, the day of the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations, they performed in both Kirdford and in Plaistow, much to the delight and appreciation of the villagers.

Playing in the open air has its challenges as Bob Warne, a retired member of the group, explained.  “The sound of the bells is often carried away on the wind, not only making it difficult for the ringers to hear the notes being played but also lessening the enjoyment for the audience”, Bob told me.  Luckily this was not the case on Thursday evening, July 7th, at KIPHRA's summer concert at Foxbridge Golf Club where the audience were treated to first-class display of handbell ringing by one of the best groups in the south of England.

The conductor, Tim Willetts, welcomed everyone to the concert and in his usual style entertained us between each piece with anecdotes and explanations of each arrangement.  He even managed (in salute to the venue) to throw in a few golfing references, the first of which accompanied the opening piece “Chariots of Fire”.  The audience were asked what linked the piece to the location we were in, the answer being that the scene in the film of the athletes running along the beach was filmed at St. Andrew's in Scotland, the home of golf!

The first half of the programme consisted of six pieces of music, all in different styles.  “Change Ring Prelude” sounded more like large church bells being rung than delicate hand bells, and “Takeda Rhapsody” reproduced the sound of tinkling Japanese music.  The audience's appreciation of the Japanese style prompted Tim to comment that it might be nice to do a whole concert of Japanese handbell music, but would Tim be prepared to wear a kimono?  Maybe not!!

A glorious medley from “Les Miserables”, an arrangement that was both haunting and uplifting, brought the first half of the concert to an end.

During the interval there was time to replenish glasses, chat to friends and neighbours and to buy raffle tickets.  The raffle was well supported as the prizes were varied and inviting.

The second half of the concert contained five beautifully arranged pieces and, once again,  Tim explained  a  little  about  each  piece  before  it was played.  “Sarabande” had to be played “nostalgically”, which sounded a strange description, but the inclusion of hand chimes in the piece really did suggest nostalgia to the audience.  “Greensleeves” was cool and soothing and the arrangement of “What a Wonderful World” was a delight.

The handbell ringers had captivated the audience from the very first note they played, so it was no wonder that at the end of the concert the audience were vociferous in their demand for an encore!

Tim and the team readily agreed, with the last part of the “Les Miserables” medley ensuring that we all hummed or softly sang along as the bells played.

We are so lucky to have this wonderful team of handbell ringers in our midst, to be able to support their concerts and to have the opportunity of listening to their captivating music.

They practice every Thursday evening from 8pm to 10pm at Kelsey Hall in Ifold and they are always delighted to have new members.  Being able to read music would be a help, but it is not essential, so why not give it a go?  KIPHRA are waiting to welcome you!   BMcN