Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Welford ringers' outing

Thirteen ringers gathered at Powick, Worcestershire, on Saturday 18 October for the start of the 2014 Welford ringers outing, arranged by Freda Cleaver, Rosemary Cole and Ian Sturgess.

St Peter's, Powick, (6 bells 19-1-9cwt)stands on high ground above the valley of the River Teme. The majestic tower of Worcester Cathedral can be seen in the distance. During the Battle of Worcester, which took place in the valley near-by, the Royalists used the tower of the church as a lookout post. Whilst waiting for the bells to be raised and enjoying the late summer sunshine and autumn colours, a local ringer showed a group of us the pockmarks up the south side of the tower created by small bore cannon balls, fired by Parliamentarian gunners to deter the Scottish Royalist forces using the tower as an observation post. A chilling reminder of a bygone age!

The bells here are challenging due to their weight, but following initial difficulties in getting the tenor up right, a mixture of doubles methods were successfully completed.

St Mary's, Kempsey (8 bells 15-0-0)proved to be one of the early challenges of the day, because for several of those present, it was their first experience of ringing anti-clockwise. However, once any initial shock evaporated, ringers soon settled down to this new experience and Stedman, Grandsire and Plain Bob were all successfully scored.

Lunch followed at the Talbot Inn at Kempsey, only a few minutes drive from the church and a welcome opportunity to re-charge your battery in preparation for the afternoon activities.

The first tower after lunch was St Mary the Virgin, Madresfield (6 bells 13-3-0). The pleasing exterior of the church belies the glories that lie within. Once inside, the visitor is transferred into a place of wonder by the enchanting wall murals and striking stained glass. Well worth a visit!! The bells were refurbished and re hung in December 2005 following the recasting of 1 and 2 from the scrap metal of the old 4th and tenor and retuning the other bells. They are easy going and allowed ringers of all abilities to enjoy some really good ringing.

Following a scenic drive around the eastern side of Malvern, we passed the Three Counties Showground to get to our next tower, St James Church at Welland, (6 bells 10-2-22). The church was built in 1875 and in very recent years the interior has been stripped out to allow it to be more adaptable with regard to worship and use as a local concert venue. The bells seems to go heavier than their weight, and in the view of the writer, they are not terribly inspiring either to ring or to listen to outside.

L-R: Freda Cleaver, Ian Sturgess, Linda Gatehouse, Nick Allsopp, Jane Gilbert, Charles Wilson, Jennifer Winslow, Mick Mears, Rosemary Cole, Ted Copson, James Trewin, Michael Homans. (Michael Gray attended, too, but unfortunately missed this photocall.)

The final tower of the day was St Mary's Church, Hanley Castle, (6 bells 14-0-0), situated in a lovely village setting just a short distance from the main road, a mile north of Upton-on-Severn. The earliest surviving parts of the current church date back to the twelfth century, but the brick tower which is massive, was rebuilt in 1674, as a result of the fall of its predecessor during the Civil War.

The ring of six bells, all originally cast by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester in 1699, go extremely well and sound very pleasing within the tower. Hanley Castle proved to be most suitable tower to round off a pleasant days ringing in Worcestershire and our sincere thanks go to Freda, Rosemary and Ian for all their practical arrangements.

Charles Wilson.