2006 Tour

Saturday April 1st - for a variety of reasons we didn't manage a tour in 2005 so I was really looking forward to this one. My first such tour had been interesting but now that I'd been ringing for just about two years I felt that I would get more out of experience. As usual we met up at Village Hall with the intention of setting off at 9:00am and, as usual, we had a few wrinkles before we even left. We had been expecting 15 to set off but in end there were only 12 of us. Chris and Christine couldn't make it at all and Chris had a bit of a family emergency but planned to join us around lunch time. (Luckily no one else was named Chris!). We set of in a shiny new Mercedes minibus which would seat about 18 people, so there was some room to spread out.

Our chosen area for this year was just over the border in South Shropshire. The weather forecast was not very encouraging. I haven't been able to find any comprehensive information on the local bell ringing but the Hereford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (I have no idea why Shrophshire falls in the Diocese of Hereford) does provide some information and all the churches we visited are listed in the Bridgnorth district. I've also noted what details I could of the various bells that we rang.

Cleobury Mortimer

Cleobury Mortimer was to be our first stop and we got there pretty close to our scheduled time of 10:30am. The village was much bigger than I remembered and we were very lucky to park close to the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin. The Church is a reddish stone with a crooked spire, the sun was shining and we were off to a good start.

steel staircase

Access to the ringing room was via a steel staircase, and this steep staircase (ladder?) proved too much of an obstacle for some of our team. There were 6 bells with the tenor weighing in at "12-0-0" [1344lb or 611kg]. The pull is quite a bit longer than ours but the ropes themselves are like ours and on the day the ropes were a little stiff. I started by ringing up #4 and the sound of the bells was nice and mellow. I later rang some call changes on #5 and finally ended with some more call changes on #2. Ringing on #2 was a little awkward since it was right up against the access to the steel ladder.

I popped in to a bakery, conveniently situated near the church, and treated myself to a custard slice to eat on our way to the next tower.


Our next stop was at St. Mary's Church in Highley built sometime around 1100 and the tower we'd be using being replaced sometime in the 15th century. The guy who opened up for us told us that they do not have their own ringers and that for weddings a team of ringers from Chelmarsh do the honours. He warned us that it was a bit of a workout ringing these bells. The stone spiral staircase was very narrow and the headroom challenging for some of us but the ringing room was a nice spacious area with the sun shining through a high window. This was the heaviest set of bells we would ring today, the tenor weighing in at "15-0-0" [1680lb or 764kg]. He was right! I rang up #5 and it was hard work, we continued with some call changes and we all found it hard to keep the bells up. The ropes were new and tiny fragments could be seen in the air as the sunbeam streamed through the window. I then had a go on #3 with some call changes and plain hunt, this seemed a little easier but it was probably because it was a lighter bell and I was getting used to it. We were all having similar experiences, even Judith on the treble found that she had to constantly work to keep the bell up. Being somewhat a glutton for punishment I finished off on #6 with some call changes and then ringing down.

Someone suggested that this old set of bells had plain bearings which would explain why they were such hard work. For all the hard work, it was a nice tower and an interesting experience. I don't know what they sounded like from outside but from inside the tower they didn't sound that wonderful. When we got outside there had been a brief rain shower.


Lunch time! We decided to eat lunch at our next tower, so we arrived a little before our scheduled time. It was rather blustery in the churchyard but a pleasant spot nonetheless. St. Peter's Church at Chelmarsh was rebuilt in 1345 on the site of an earlier Norman Church. We'd all brought our own packed lunch but Beryl had made a couple of cakes to share. Lemon drizzle cakes with a chocolate icing, very enjoyable!

Access to the ropes involved another spiral staircase which led to a room with glass all around! Like all the other towers today there were 6 bells. I started by ringing up #5. It was a medium length pull and nice, flexible, well worn in ropes. We were warned that #3 was a little difficult so Anthony rang up #3. Next I rang a number of changes and plain hunt on #4, this bell offered somewhat of a challenge when needing to slow up as moving towards the back. I ended on #6 (the tenor) with some call changes and ringing down which we managed to end in Queens.


Our next stop was St. Giles Church at Chetton which is thought to have links with Lady Godiva though what the connection is since she lived about 200 years before the Church was built I do not know.

No climbing this time, ringing takes place from the ground floor and, somewhat surprising, the length of the ring was quite short. When we first tried to figure out which of the 6 bells was which it proved surprisingly difficult! I started by ringing up #4 which was very smooth pull and easy to stand. I found the sound to be quiet from where we rang so went outside to listen and was pleased to hear a rich, loud, set of bells.

I then rang on #2 as Dave led us down very gradually taking a long time. Even though these bells were new to us and we rang down more slowly than we are accustomed to, it went very well. A nice set of bells and a memorable loo!


We then had a little longer journey, crossing the River Severn, to get to our next venue, St. Andrews Church at Quatt. There was originally an Anglo-Saxon Church here but it has been rebuilt over the centuries with the tower being rebuilt in the 18th Century to accommodate a new peal of 6 bells. Access to the ropes was up a short set of steps. There are no regular ringers here and the room was a little scruffy but had excellent "external awareness" through a large window.

The bells are similar in weight and length of pull to our own bells and after ringing up #5 found them to be similar in feel. I rang some rounds and call changes on #4 followed by call changes and ringing down on #3. Overall quite a nice set of bells.


Our final stop was at St. Mary the Virgin at Alveley, a Church with quite a mixture of architectural features which was started in 1140 built in sandstone and tufa with later Norman, Gothic and Tudor additions! The ringing room, with 6 bells, was at the top of yet another spiral staircase, this time a wrought iron one, a very nice red carpeted room. I started by ringing up #5, a medium length pull and very nice to work. I then had a go on #2 for some call changes and plain hunt and felt a bit of a wally because I messed up plain hunt! I figured I should redeem myself and rang down #3, another long, slow descent which went quite nicely again. Someone then remembered that we had been asked to leave them up so took #3 up again!

This was a really nice place to ring.

After the ringing

We ended up the evening going for a meal at a pub/restaurant near Kidderminster. We'd booked a table in advance and a had a pleasant meal accompanied by drinks and conversation in a room just for us.

This was only my second such outing and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. While I have now been ringing for almost exactly two years I found the various towers to be good experience. I look forward to doing it again.

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