Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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A turn-up for the books

A few months ago a fellow bell ringer from Ilmington passed to me some books that had been among a job-lot of books he had purchased at a sale at Stratford-on-Avon. These books, he said, were obviously the property originally of a very religious person with connections to St Lawrence Church, Mickleton. Would I like them? I should point out that my friend regularly attends sales searching for the bargains of a lifetime from which his fortune will be made. He's still searching. (Hmmm. I wonder who….. Ed)

The purchase was pure speculation on his part – 'Nobody else wanted them and my bid was successful….' He added, When I saw the Mickleton connection I immediately thought of you. I'm so pleased he did.

Each book and slip of paper is handwritten. There is one photo album less a few prints. Frankly, you would require a handwriting expert to study some of the extremely small print (and then decipher!). All has been painstakingly written. The content is mostly about religious outings.

One trip was made to the North East of England. There is a well-kept Durham Cathedral service sheet, Evensong July 1959. There is a well-preserved booklet on the Cathedral features, special dates and a full ground plan. The trip included a visit to Hexham Abbey (another descriptive booklet), details on a stay at Shepherd's Dene (Newcastle Diocese retreat house), a visit to Blanchland Abbey (Northumberland and another booklet) and Rievaulx Abbey (car park ticket 1/-). The trip concluded with a visit to Lincoln Cathedral. And finally tucked into the back cover of the booklet is a large newspaper cutting from The Daily Telegraph, Saturday 20th June 1959 that carried the headline: 'Northumberland is worth it, despite the weather'.

A smaller booklet with cover heading 'Holiday Diary' is difficult to untangle. This holiday commenced on the 12th June 1964 and the journey took a route via Wenlock Edge and, by-passing Shrewsbury, travelled through Welshpool and eventually reached Portmeiron. On the second day the following acquisitions were made: saucepan 17/6d, Nescafe, marmalade, Bandaid 2/-, hand cream 4/6d, Corknife, grapes 3/6d, umbrella, suspender belt 8/11d, 2 pens 9d each, Guide book 1/-, Book on Wales 8/11d, three thrillers 2/6d each, 2 ices 1/2d and an apron 8/6d.

The holiday concluded on 24th June with a note of all purchases made – most costed. During the trip places visited included Builth Wells, Portmadoc, Harlech and Capel Curig. One entry reads, 'Had breakfast in bed again.'

A small hardback book contains details of a Franciscan Pilgrimage in April 1953. On 7th April the diarist attended 7.00am Holy Communion at St Matthew's, Westminster. The party travelled to Victoria Station and were met by Mother Superior. They embarked at Newhaven and touched French soil at about 2.00pm. They left Paris at 7.50pm for Rome (Pat and Rosalind nearly left behind!).

On 8th April they awoke to a lovely daybreak. Thereafter our scribe describes in great detail all that they saw during their journey. They continued to Geneva and turned inland to Pisa (a glimpse of the famous tower). A coach journey took them to 'Pallego Salviat' (Palace of Salvation). By now it is claimed 'we are very travel worn'! From 9th April every day commenced with Holy Communion. On this day they first visited the little Church of St Cecilia, followed by a tour of the Basilicas of Rome (vivid descriptions).

Later they went to St Paul's – outside the walls, whilst five minutes prior to lunch they had a glimpse of St Peter's, the centre of Christendom. Immediately after the meal they visited the Mamertine Prison where 'traditionally Peter & Paul were imprisoned'.

And the journey continued….. BUT SO COULD MY NARRATIVE!! Anyone wishing to borrow these diaries is welcome to do so – just call me on 01386-438323

John Kinchin