I'm aware this is a very unusual front-page feature. Yes, ringing and having one or two down the pub afterwards is common, but this is a very uncommon event. I cannot argue this eclipses the great connection Hook Norton has with English Ale, but nonetheless feel it is worthy of bringing it to your attention: Bell Tower Ale. Not just any old Bell Tower, but EVESHAM Bell Tower Ale!! Now that could be difficult to beat - unless you know differently of course…
So how has this all come about?
OK, what's all this Bell Tower Ale about, then? It's not every day this sort of thing happens, so why? Some of you will know that Evesham Bell Tower requires its occasional renovation, to ensure the stonework around its parapets and in other places is firstly safe (bits of stone falling onto the heads of people walking through the archway below is not good) and secondly that the eroded stone features are restored to their previous glory. The tower is not in danger of collapsing, even with the bells ringing (and nothing is being done to the bells). It's the ‘sticky-out bits', the decorative features in most cases, that have suffered badly from erosion and frost damage during in particular the nasty winters of 2010 and 2012. The last renovation was undertaken in 1951, when the new 12 were installed. The present work will cost £0.5M. The Appeal has gone amazingly well, with 90% of that sum raised in just over a year. The last 10% is expected fairly soon. OK, where does Bell Tower Ale come in?
Nigel Smith, the landlord of The Fleece Inn at Bretforton (the National Trust pub), decided to help the Appeal by offering to have a new ale brewed and naming it Bell Tower Ale. He said he would give 50p to the Appeal for each pint sold. There had to be a big launch for such a venture and it was suggested that it should be in the Bell Tower. Wonderful idea! So such a thing was arranged.
Nigel brought a barrel up to the Ringing Room. To suit the occasion the Bell Tower ringers wore their "official" Evesham Bell Tower Guild of Ringers strip of sweatshirts and tee shirts. The dignitaries attending included the Vicar Andrew Spurr, the Town Mayor Charlie Homer, the Appeal Chairman Sue Ablett and the Appeal Treasurer Stan Brotherton. As might be expected, it was quite an occasion. One reads of the drunken goings-on in towers in the 18th and 19th centuries, and how the clergy of those times had difficulties in bringing these practices to a stop. Happily things did not get out of hand this time – although there was plenty of ale to do this! Indeed, Evesham's Vicar enjoyed his pint along with everybody else (he's a good 'un and you're not getting him!). I'm delighted and rather proud to say that he took the photo below: thank you Andrew.
So, I can only encourage all Guild members to get along to The Fleece for a few pints of this excellent stuff. You will enjoy it, Nigel will enjoy selling it to you and the Bell Tower Appeal will enjoy receiving 50p per pint. Got to be a good bargain!
Nigel is a ringer at Bretforton and he's also a Guild member, too, so another very happy outcome of this event is that Nigel rang along with us. He had never rung on 10 before, but he has now – and a good job he made of it. Bravo Nigel for the beer; and bravo Nigel for overcoming any worries in ringing on the bigger numbers. Bravo Nigel!