'The Ringing World', the ringers' newspaper, will be 100 years old on 24th March 2011. 'The Comic', as it is affectionately known, has battled through thick and thin, including two World Wars, at least one printers' strike, the 1947 and 1963 winters, an extreme shortage of newsprint paper requiring fortnightly publication and now the advance of internet communication, to continue giving us – well, some of us – our weekly 'fix'. To mark the occasion, there will be some impressive celebrations in London on Saturday March 26th 2011.
The celebrations cover the full day. Some of the events require tickets, which can be obtained from the RW office or from its web-site www.ringingworld.co.uk/centenary. Some towers will be open for ringing, some mini rings will be available, there is to be a carillon recital (on a real carillon) on the Bond Street instrument, plus various other activities. However, the highlight will be a Celebratory Evensong in Westminster Abbey in the late afternoon and a Grand Ringers Gathering in Central Hall, Westminster, afterwards. The full programme and details can be found on RW's web-site.
In addition to the day itself will be an exhibition of ringing, entitled 'Inspired by Bells'. This exhibition will run from Monday March 21st to Saturday March 26th, and has been 'specially curated for the Ringing World's Centenary. (It) will show bellringing from a contemporary artist's perspective and artworks include drawing, painting, cartoons, sculpture and film.' The exhibition is being held in the Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, Pall Mall. I am able to tell you a little bit of Evesham is to grace this exhibition, as the organisers have requested the 'Evesham painting' for inclusion.
The 'Evesham painting' (as it has come to be called) was painted by Philip Shepherd RWS in about 2001. Many of you will have seen it at the FSG practices held at the Tower. We normally keep it covered up, because, being a watercolour, the colours can fade in sunlight.
When Philip presented it to the Tower, I wrote an article for the Ringing World, and a photograph of it appeared on the front page. Its image was used soon after to produce some high-quality wooden jig-saw puzzles to raise money for the CCCBR bell restoration fund.
In case you're wondering what 'RWS' (after Philip's name) denotes, it means Member of the Royal Watercolour Society. The patron of the Society is HM The Queen and I understand full membership is limited to 80. Each member is given a large and impressive membership certificate (I have seen Philip's), which contains the Queen's signature. There is reason to believe these certificates are signed personally, ie not just a stamp.
As you may imagine, the Bell Tower band feel very fortunate to be the guardians of such an impressive painting by such an impressive artist. We are rather proud that it will form part of RW's celebrations. If you're going to the celebrations, pop into the ROA Gallery to take a look.