Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Recent Mid-Week Monthly Tours

The April Outing, organised by Pat Halls, took us into the Derbyshire Dales. The first tower was St Werburgh, Spondon, with its 6 bells, 8cwt. The 3rd bell is dated about 1550 and is by Thomas Newcombe. The next tower was St Wilfrid of York, West Hallam, with its Taylor 8 (9cwt). The back 6 were cast in 1922. The local ringers of the time were clearly impressed by the new bells such that they had two trebles added in 1928. Lunch was taken there at The Punch Bowl. The first tower in the afternoon was St Peter, Belper, with its fine 14cwt Taylor 8 of 1925. The last tower to end a good day was St Alkmund, Duffield, with its excellent Taylor 10, 17cwt, cast in 1933. This was a lovely day out in the Dales with some wonderful bells.

The May Outing took us into Oxfordshire and was organised by Jenny Ball. Our first tower was St Mary the Virgin, North Aston (6, 6cwt), These were a ring of 3 until 1979, at which time they were rehung and augmented with three Taylor trebles. Our second tower was St James the Apostle, Somerton (8, 12cwt). These were augmented to 8 in 1994 with two Whitechapel trebles. The 7th and tenor here are very early Henry Bagley I bells, having been cast in 1635. He also cast the 4th (1646) and the 5th (1670). We took lunch at The Bell, Lower Heyford, where afterwards we sampled the bells of St Mary's Church. These are a light (7cwt) 6. Our final tower, ending a splendid day, was the 8 at SS Peter & Paul, Steeple Aston. (The tenor here was replaced in March by a new one, as the old one was considered too light and dull-sounding. The new bell is a 'Jubilee' bell and has the Royal Arms cast onto it. The weight of the old tenor was 2cwt lighter than the new one, which, at 12-2-16, might be considered at the lighter end of the weight range for its note of F. However, the new bell fits the weight distribution of the other bells perfectly and the tone is reported to be 'Oh! so nice!' There is a report of the new bell in the Ringing World of April 27th. Congratulations to Guild member Graham Clifton and his wife Dorothy in organising the old bell's replacement. Ed)

The June outing took us onto the Bucks/Beds border and was organised by Colin Lord. Our first tower was St Mary, Whaddon, with its 15cwt Gillett & Johnston 6 cast in 1927. Our next tower was St Michael & AA, Stewkley, to ring on its 8, 10cwt. The 5th is a bell cast in 1595 by Laurence Wright. Lunch was taken at the Grove Lock Inn, Grove, which is a comparatively recent establishment, being converted from the lock-keeper's cottage. After lunch we visited St Barnabas' Church, Linslade, and this beautiful old church is really worth a visit. The 8 bells (10cwt) were soon sounding well. We ended a good day's ringing on the 15cwt 6 at All Saints Church, Soulbury. The ring contains five very interesting old bells: two by the Wokingham Foundry dated about 1450, one by Bartholomew Atton dated 1592, one by Henry Knight II dated 1661 and one (undated) by Chandler.

The counties bordering our own certainly have beauty. Many of our Tour ringers come from these areas.

Frank Spiers