"In praise of a tree"
As you will see, this article appeared in a previous Newsletter — the October 2001 issue to be precise (just a mere 50 issues ago!). I was looking back through some past issues and it caught my eye. It caught my eye back in 2001, because it is a very clever and well-crafted poem about that most important tree for steeplekeepers - the ash. Yes, wheels, (old) headstocks and bellframes are made from oak, elm and in some cases iroko, but those items don't get the punishment that stays get (and what dreadful, awful punishment stay bumpers mete out. Perhaps they wouldn't if they had to make the replacement stay….).
Yes, I know my name is mentioned in the poem; and yes I know my tower is mentioned in it, too; and yes I could be accused of being a little bit biased. But I'm not; and I make no apologies. The poem sums up everything about ash and stays in superb verse — and a message about not bumping stays!
I've made many stays over the years (including the famous/infamous Hastings type), so I've handled lots of ash. It's a lovely wood; clean and straight-grained, and a delight to work with. As you will see, I have a power plane. This makes everything so much easier. If you use a hand plane to make stays, take my advice: get a power plane. You won't regret it!
'Remigius' was Philip Hunt, who rang at the Bell Tower for a few years. Philip was originally (I believe) from Welford-on-Avon, but left there, joined the navy and did other things in other places until he returned to the area to live in Blockley. A few years ago he and his wife, Pat, left Blockley to live nearer their sons near Guildford.
Just a little interpretation of some words in the poem: 'Aisam' (or more correctly 'Asum'), is the local name for Evesham; 'BT' is of course the Bell Tower; and Abigail rose above us after a stay failed. CMP