Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Tower of the Quarter — St Peter's, Hinton-on-the-Green, Worcs.

(Photo: Chris Povey)

Last time we had a tower from Gloucestershire. This time we're in Worcestershire - but only just, as the Glos/Worcs boundary is very close. In fact, prior to the County Boundary changes in the early 1930's, Hinton-on-the-Green was in Glos. The River Isbourne (supposedly the only river in the British Isles to run due north for its entire length) cuts through the middle of the village in a small but sharp valley, to form essentially two halves, which are known locally as the east village and the west village. St Peter's is on the east side.

The Church has roots from Norman times, as witnessed by the South and the (now blocked) North doorways. The Victorians did their bit. The present Chancel was added it 1895, to replace one that had disappeared centuries earlier. A window in the chancel arch sufficed during the interim. There are no aisles, merely a nave, chancel, tower and east porch. The tower is late C15th. Internally there is the vestry at ground level, a gallery ringing chamber with a view into the nave and beyond, the clock room, the belfry and then the roof.

There are 8 bells, tenor of 10-1-8 in G. Bell historians will know the back 5 here are a complete ring by the Evesham bellfounder William Clarke, who cast them in 1705. They are Clarke's first complete ring, he having cast single bells previously. Michael Bushell's name did not appear until 1706, when Badsey's back 6 were cast and his name was cast on one of those bells. He may have assisted with the Hinton bells, as the workload in casting a ring would have been considerable. The tenor of this ring has a chronogram in the inscription (as does the tenor at Badsey). The letters in the inscription equating to Roman numerals (M, V, I, C, D, L, X) add up to the date of casting.

Clarke's bells hung in Hinton's tower undisturbed until 1931, when the ring was augmented to 8 by the addition of 3 trebles and the ringing chamber moved upstairs. The village contained some proficient ringers and more bells were needed to extend their abilities. The augmentation was undertaken by John Taylor & Co. The eight bells served the team well, as in a short time they were ringing Surprise Major, DNCBM and Stedman Triples very competently. Many peals were rung by this band. Two significant ones were the first peal of Hinton Surprise Major (1933) and a silent and non-conducted peal of Stedman Triples (1953).

The band was well-blessed with very able ringers, particularly Joe Johnson and his sister Amy, who married Jack Thomas, a retired bellhanger who worked for Mears & Stanbank, plus the Newman family and the Hemming family from nearby Evesham. Hinton ringers became somewhat famous in national ringing circles for their abilities. However, the band started to fall apart in the 1970s because they didn't teach any youngsters. FSG member Viv Barnes is one of the last two of this illustrious band. A band from the village has recently been taught by Nick Frost, the new Ringing Master, and it is now progressing well. The Guild's meeting here is on Saturday, 26th Oct. Come and sample the bells then.