Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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We raise the bells for ringing…

HARRY WRIGHT. Now there's a name most older Mickletonians will remember. An extremely busy man, but he could always find time to be kind and helpful to others who wanted support. Harry and his family (wife Nancy and daughters Doreen and Beryl) lived at No 6 Granbrook Road.

As a young person I always marveled at the energy and enthusiasm he put into every task — easy or difficult! After a day's work on the land (he was employed by Joseph Webb Junior, market gardener), he would literally gulp down his tea and join a similar band of working men to nightly complete another couple of hours work — for pocket money! He kept a pig at the top of his garden, he was a bookie's runner, he played cricket for Mickleton (his bowling action in today's world would be questioned as 'throwing'). He bowled a constant length of medium pace and regularly featured among the wicket takers. He maintained a very tidy garden and was not averse to assisting others with their plots.

Harry was of course a bell ringer! He never claimed to be among the elite method ringers, but like his counterparts - Sam Loynes, Len Kinchin, Roger Kinchin, Francis Powell, Roger and Donald Niblett, Rodney Bowld, Graham Mills; the list goes on (yes, you actually queued to ring in those days) - he was a stickler for the correct striking of a bell. Just take a look in St Lawrence's ringing chamber at the tower awards in those days.

After Harry's death, Nancy passed on to me his accumulation of ringing manuals. “I don't suppose they will be of particular interest to you, so dispose of them as you wish”, she said.

I retained these manuals (now there's a surprise) and how interesting they are. I shall refer to one only at this present time. It's 'A Manual for Ringers — the Four Shires Guild of Bellringers'. Regrettably no publishing date is given, but I guess it was the late forties or early fifties. It was supplied by Beachus & Sons, printers, Shipston-on-Stour.

The manual cover price was 4d (2p). Despite a stipulation (front cover) that 'this book is the property of the above Guild and must be returned to the Secretary', Harry held on to his copy. Alongside the 4d price he had written 'WAS PAID' — so I suppose he felt justified in retaining it. Thank Goodness.

The booklet consists of 32 pages, listing prayers for various ringing occasions, a selection of Scripture passages, Psalms, hymns… In respect of the latter, I detail the first verse of Hymn number one:

'Unchanging God, who livest
Enthroned in realms on high,
To men the power thou givest,
Thy name to magnify.
We raise the bells for ringing
With ready mind and will,
And come before thee, bringing
Our hearts, our strength, or skill.'

John Kinchin.