Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Firstly, an apology for the slightly later arrival of the Newsletter this time; it is entirely down to me having insufficient time to finalise it before the normal printing date after returning from a holiday at the end of June.

Again, lots of things have happened in the past three months: the Diamond Jubilee, FSG BBQ, John Nicholls' Big Birthday, Rob Harvey's bigger birthday — and even the Central Council meeting. El Pres's 80th almost coincided with the Guild's 102nd anniversary of its very first meeting at Blockley, so John had a good turn-out of members around him: see report.

The Jubilee: did your tower ring for this on Sunday 3rd June? I"ve only heard of a few towers that rang. There must have been more! Please let me know and I will list them next time.

Ah! now, the Guild BBQ: what a delightful event — made even better by the weather being on its very best behaviour. As Hannibal Smith from 'the A-Team" used to say: "I love it when a plan comes together!" And the BBQ certainly did. See report.

The Olympic torch came through Evesham on July 1st, and being good ringers, the bells were rung for the occasion. Not sure whether the ringing did much for the torch or the crowd, but at least it happened, all as requested by the powers that be. This was the second time in less than a month that the bells were rung for a national event — as requested — and it caused me to reflect on what we, i.e. ringers, contribute to such events. The public generally expects church bells to ring, because it's happened like that for centuries. But my ringers didn't see the river pageant on the telly at the time it occurred, because we were up the tower giving the required background music. Likewise all the ringers in those churches down the Thames didn't see it either. It was the same with the Olympic torch: didn't see anything of that. Do we get praise for giving all this traditional background music? Not that I'm aware. Perhaps it's all taken for granted: somebody just pushes a big switch and it all starts happening. No human input involved! It saddens me that a long English (yes, I use that term correctly) tradition is so badly known about and understood in England. Ask most English people what they know about English bell ringing and most haven't a clue. Cricket, yes, but equally-old and equally widely-practised English bell ringing, no. I see people walking through the churchyard in Evesham when the bells are being rung, and many look up for some time at the windows through which the ringers are outlined. I suspect the watchers are fascinated to find that real people are up there pulling ropes. I wonder how many people learnt anything about English bell ringing from the bells being rung on the leading barge in the pageant. The BBC could have made some mileage out of that, particularly as many ringers in the nearby churches were doing the same; and especially as the College Youths (established in 1637 and therefore older than most organisations involved in the pageant, i.e. truly Ancient) were doing their bit at our premier Cathedral, St Paul's. Why didn't they? Probably because the BBC hasn't a clue about ringing either! OK, rant over!

The return/rediscovery/whatever of the first Minute Book of the restarted Guild was a source of much joy and relief (see Committee Meeting). It would have been highly embarrassing to have the Old Minute Book back and then find (as initially feared) that the "recent old" Minute Book had disappeared. The returned book shows there is good reason to believe the actual re-founding of the Guild is 30th March 1973 and not as popularly thought for some time now, 1st January 1974. This would be in line with how the founding date of the "old" Guild has been assessed. If this is indeed so, then the 40th anniversary of the re-founding is less than 9 months away. Should this be celebrated? And if so, how?

I'm glad to see my assessment of donations to towers at which the Guild rings on Saturday nights is agreeable to all. The lack of letters about this subject, from members and tower captains alike, is clear proof.

Lastly, come to the AGM and see the beautiful and charming Chastleton House.

Chris Povey, (Caretaker) Editor

(The views expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily the views of the Four Shires Guild or its Committee. The Guild endorses no products or manufacturers advertised within the Newsletter — but would not allow such advertisements where the goods or services are knowingly questionable.)