Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Recent Mid-Week Monthly Tours

THE JANUARY TOUR (the 291st)

The January outing was blessed with much better weather than one might expect in that month. It was dry for the main part and there was no frost or snow, but there was plenty of evidence of the rain which had already fallen — parts of the area resembled a water park. This did not deter the twenty or so ringers who arrived to enjoy the day's outing which Chris Seers had arranged for them.

The first tower was Tredington, a ground floor ring of 6. The ringing here was dedicated to the memory of Geoff Potter, Chris Seers' uncle, who had died recently. Geoff had been born in the village where he grew up before emigrating to Australia. May he rest in peace. At Tredington various methods were successfully rung, including Plain Bob, London, Cambridge, Grandsire and Durham. The next tower was Tewkesbury — a real treat - lovely bells and a comfortable ringing chamber — pity about all those stairs to get there! Here Ruth Border, who was on holiday in the area, put on a guest appearance and enhanced the ringing by her expertise on 12. We made the most of the opportunity to ring on 12 bells, ringing rounds and call changes, plain hunt on 11 and 12 and Grandsire Cinques.

When we had all worked up an appetite for lunch we set off for the Railway Inn at Ripple, hoping that Wellington boots would not be necessary! The pub produced excellent food served by friendly and cheerful staff. The first tower after lunch was Ripple, another ring of 6. Here probably the best ringing of the day took place when a sparkling course of Bourne was rung. Other touches included London, Cambridge and Stedman. The last visit was to Ashchurch, the only 8 of the day. Grandsire, Plain Bob Major, Oxford Bob Triples and Eight Spliced Surprise Major were among the methods rung here. John Nicholls expressed thanks to Chris for arranging such an enjoyable day, with an excellent pub and four rings of good bells. Chris thanked Isobel Murphy for her part behind the scenes in arranging the monthly outings.

Pat Halls

THE FEBRUARY TOUR (the 292nd)

On a lovely, sunny morning about 25 ringers walked through the churchyard, full of snowdrops and crocuses, of St Giles in Sheldon to ring the 8 bells to methods ranging from Rounds and Call Changes, for young Imogen on half term holiday, through Grandsire, Stedman,  Cambridge,  Bristol  and  finally  Yorkshire.  There  were originally 4 bells at Sheldon, the oldest dating from 1350, the tenor was then sold to make 6 and finally in 2009 they were augmented to 8, the tenor weighing just over 8cwt and the bells coming from various foundries. On to St. Peter's in Bickenhill, an 8½cwt 6, where we rang Stedman and Grandsire Doubles, Bob Minor, Cambridge and London Surprise.

Lunch was at 'The Boat' in Catherine-de-Barnes and on our way to Hampton-in-Arden it was no surprise when it started to rain!! Officially this winter has been the wettest on record. St. Mary's in Hampton-in-Arden, with yet another churchyard full of beautiful snowdrops, has 8 bells, the tenor weighing just over 12cwt, which originally came from a Church in Miles Platting, Manchester.  Here we rang Grandsire, Stedman and Oxford Bob Triples, Yorkshire Surprise and 8-spliced. On to our last tower of the day, St. Swithin's in Barston, where more spring flowers adorned the churchyard. Ringing up caused a problem when the tenor refused to be rung up! Many ringers rushed upstairs to investigate and to find that the gale force winds we have experienced over the past few weeks had blown the louvres in against the tenor bell. Help, as you would expect from a group of experienced ringers, was at hand and the louvres and frame were pushed back into place, though, unfortunately, some masonry fell from the tower into the churchyard in the process. After our only bit of drama of the day the 6 bells, just over 5cwt, were successfully rung up and Imogen had another ring of Rounds and Call Changes before Stedman Doubles, Bob Minor, Norwich and Beverley Surprise were rung by the rest of the group.

We had a lovely day out, I think most people grabbed at least one new tower and many thanks must go to Geoff and Margaret Pratt for organising the tour. 

Jenny Ball

THE MARCH TOUR (the 293rd)

The monthly tour on this occasion took place south of Warwick and was well attended by around 30 ringers. There was an added attraction for this tour as the tower after lunch at Horley had only just been opened for ringing after completion of works to commission a very pleasant ring of six. In addition we were able to visit the Harry Windsor Ringing Centre at Kineton.

The first tower was St Lawrence at Lighthorne. These bells benefitted from two extra trebles in 2006 and are now a light and manageable six. Plenty of method ringing was attempted with most efforts successful. After following the raise immediately with Bob Minor we went on to ring London, Norwich, Stedman and Little and Bob Minor. The party then moved to Kineton, which is an extremely active ringing centre in the Coventry Association. Those with sharp eyes would have seen this very church and one of its well known ringers appear briefly on Songs of Praise a few weeks ago when the programme covered churches and a sporting theme. But enough of this, what about the ringing? The (almost) highlight of the ringing day was the 8-spliced that unfortunately faltered at about six and a half! Those of us lesser mortals were unable to diagnose the problem but the day is not about dissection of problems and we were able to perform splendidly in delivering Grandsire, Stedman and Little Bob Major.

Lunch was some way off at Fenny Compton (The Wharf), which can be recommended for its food and service. Horley bells are a ground floor ring placed centrally in the Church and will no doubt be keenly sought out by those ringers who specialise in collecting towers. We were all delighted to see Jill Roberts who had been invited to attend the day. She is a well-known ringer based in the locality, who has recently been seriously ill and has not rung for a little while. She overcame all and successfully completed ringing on the new bells which was a marvellous achievement considering what she has been through. We realised this was a new installation when some of the front ropes were a little stiff. No doubt they will settle down in time and we completed London, Stedman and Grandsire amongst others. After our session at Horley, Ian Thompson gave a vote of thanks to Robin Green for arranging the day and securing such a new ring. He also congratulated Isobel on her birthday and recently completed History MA. Our last tower of the day was Mollington where we ended an enjoyable day with more Stedman and some Primrose.

Keith Murphy