Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Despite the somewhat cloudy and showery weather on Saturday morning, July 5th, a goodly number of members met at Longcot, Oxon, which was the first tower for the Guild's Annual Ringing Tour. Richard Lewis-Skeath had waved his magic tower tour wand and had arranged eight towers for our delectation. All were in the Faringdon and Bampton area of Oxfordshire. Not a million miles to travel, but far enough away to feel it's a different land.

Longcot are a ground floor ring of 8 with a tenor of 8-1-8. They were rehung and augmented from 6 in 1998 by Hayward Mills Associates, presumably as part of the nationwide Ring in the Millennium project at that time. They were pleasant to ring. Richard L-S called the classic touch of Stedman Triples here that includes Queen's, Tittums and Whittington's and very happily it was completed without fault. Nice.

I was very much looking forward to ringing at the next tower, Faringdon, which houses a complete Taylor ring of 1926, tenor 17-1-7 in E. These had the potential to be the star turn of the day, but sadly the ringing conditions there were a bit disappointing due to the nature of the tower, which is central and short. This has the effect of causing the Ringing Room to be immediately under the bells. In addition there were two beams sticking up from the floor, one of which was where the 7th and tenor ringers stand. Lastly, there is a veritable spider's web of clock and carillon wires hanging from the fairly low ceiling. These wires get knocked frequently while ringing. (It is possible to avoid them by some very tidy bell handling – just - but this wasn't the norm.) There was one touch where the wires above the 6th bell weren't knocked, the striking was good and the beauty of these bells started to float down – oddly, another of Stedman Triples. Yes, they could be struck to give a Wow!, but they needed care.

Ringing at Shellingford L-R:
Ian Stonehouse, Christina Ireland, Roland Merrick, Rosemary Cole, Ted Copson, John Hearne, Sandra Parker.

The next tower was the nice little six, at Shellingford, where the rain came. But they are a ground floor ring, so everybody could happily shelter inside the church when it did. This ring were a four until 1998, when the aforesaid Ring in the Millennium project caused the augmentation, which in this case was undertaken by Nicholson Engineering. The tenor here is a handy 6-2-10 – sufficiently handy to allow most people to get them tapping away nicely.

Unfortunately I had to leave the Tour after Shellingford, as I had to attend a somewhat-significant family gathering back at The Ranch. Bit of a shame, as the afternoon towers looked good, but….. orders was orders!

Chris Povey

Peter Kenealy takes up the story for the afternoon:-

An enjoyable lunch was taken at the Horse and Jockey in Stanford-in-the-Vale, where we met two visitors from the U.S.A., Bruce and Eileen Butler from Philadelphia, and they joined us for ringing at the first three towers.

The first tower after lunch was at the church of St. Denys, Stanford-in-the-Vale, an 8cwt 8, where Grandsire Triples, Stedman Triples and Yorkshire S Major were rung.

We then moved on to Buckland, the Church of St. Mary, with a 17cwt ring of 8 bells. Here Bob Major, Stedman, and Cambridge were rung.

After that we rang at the Church of St. James, Aston, the only 6-bell tower of the afternoon, with a tenor of 12cwt, where the methods were Grandsire Doubles, Bob Minor and Stedman Doubles.

We then moved on to Bampton, also dedicated to St. Mary, with a 23cwt 8. At this tower Original, Grandsire Triples, and Stedman Triples were rung.

We finished off the afternoon at St. Stephen's, Clanfield, an 8-bell ring, with a tenor of 12cwt. Here most methods foundered due to the 6th bell's sally having the disconcerting habit of snagging on the rope guide, and jumping the wheel. This seemed to catch most people out. Apart from this it was a most successful day, thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Peter Kenealy

(Yet another big success to add to your long line of big successes in the FSG Ringing Tours line, Richard. I'm sure all who went echo my thanks to you for arranging this enjoyable one. Ed)