Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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The Mickleton & Ilmington campanologists enjoyed a splendid mini-tour through beautiful countryside to visit three churches, each with a ring of 6 bells. The event was organised by Chris Righton, our stalwart member, on Saturday 24th May. Torrential rain did not dampen our enthusiasm, though our anticipated travel time to the first venue was extended due to much road water, spray, etc. What a welcome we had at St Mary's, Bibury. A wedding was to take place in the early afternoon and the floral displays were already being placed. The quantity and the smells were just unbelievable — the likes of which I have personally never experienced over 70 years.

St Mary's bells are a light six, tenor only 9cwt (Mickleton's tenor is 15½cwt). We quickly grasped the 'pulling weight' and rang a good selection: call changes, Plain Bob, Grandsire, April Day and St Simon's Doubles, and Plain Bob Minor. The bells were cast and hung by Abraham Rudhall II in 1723, and were rehung on ball bearings in a cast-iron bellframe in 1997.

A most enjoyable lunch followed at The Sherborne Arms, Aldsworth, which stands just off the Burford/Bibury road. The food from a wide menu was excellent and only two ventured into a sweet (one declared afterwards he wished he hadn't — not because of quality but of quantity!).

Our second tower was at Chedworth, the village of Roman Villa fame. The church itself stands in an isolated area on a hill. The approach was well maintained, whereas the rear had been left to nature. Surprisingly, this area did look good, with nature's wild plant flowers and bushes. Chris had organised the sequence of ringing at Bibury, whereas here Bill Sabin (Ilmington tower captain) ably carried out these duties. Again it was a light 6, the tenor just over 10cwt. The smallest bell had been cast, and presumably hung, by John Rudhall in 1831. The other five were by Abraham Rudhall I in 1717. Of particular interest here was displayed the following extract from the Domesday Book: There were 15 hides of wood and plain and meadow and 7 ploughs in the time of King Edward, and 16 villains and 3 borders with 6 ploughs and 3 mills of 14 shillings and 2 pence and a toll of salt which was brought to the hall. The headman added thereto 8 villains and 3 borders having 4 ploughs.

Our final destination was Lower Slaughter. The tenor here is a mere 6cwt! They are not the best sounding bells and our ringing didn't help a lot. Maybe it was due to tiredness. Yours truly officiated here and concluded the ringing with a word of thanks to Chris for such an enjoyable day.


We travelled in a five-car convoy. It was not without incident. On one occasion we ended up in a cul-de-sac; on another we could not gain entry to our objective due to locked gates; and finally we had a somewhat lengthy detour due to a road closure.

John Kinchin