2008 Harvington Tour

Saturday 31st May was the date we first tried for our annual outing but that did not work out and eventually we had to delay until Saturday 5th July. Availability of both ringers and the towers makes scheduling trickier that one might hope for. We decided on a reasonably local tour again and settled on the following towers which are located in Warwickshire.

The weather is overcast as we gather at the Village Hall, but at least the earlier downpour is over. The forecast is for a dull day with occasional rain showers, so a typical English Summer day. It is a good thing that bell ringing is an indoor pastime. There should be twelve of us in total on the outing after we have picked up Beryl along the way to our first tower, we set off at shortly after 9:00.

Driving Directions


photo of St Mary Magdalene's Church, Tanworth-in-Arden
St Mary Magdalene

10:00 - 10:45 St Mary Magdalene

While geographically Tanworth-in-Arden is in Warwickshire, the parish church of St Mary Magdalene is affiliated to St Martin's Guild of Bell Ringers and the Diocese of Birmingham. It is a straightforward journey and we arrive in plenty of time. The Church is in the middle of the village on the East side of the village green. We have no problem parking out cars on the road near the Church.

St Mary Magdalene is a large Church for a village with an extensive churchyard. There was a new (2008 carved in the gate) wooden kissing gate leading into the Churchyard. While the Church is not particularly distinctive from the outside the inside is interesting and it has nicely blended a contemporary entrance with the rest of the 14th Century Church. There is a lot of stained glass in this large Church and the organ pipes are in two parts on either side of the main aisle.

photo of Kissing Gate at St Peter Church, Tanworth-in-Arden
Kissing Gate

The ringing room is reached by climbing a spiral staircase whose entrance is from within the tower. The ringing room was quite spacious with wood panelled walls and narrow rectangular windows on three walls. The bells were very nice to ring and I have to say that I think we rang them better than we normally manage to ring 8 bells. Things were going along nicely until the person, who was ringing bell #3, had a problem. It did not take long to determine that the stay on #3 had been broken! This was, to say the least, extremely embarrassing. We were not the only visitors expected that day, the Southern Branch of the local St Martin's Guild was due there that evening. Of course, we apologised, offered to pay for it to be replaced, . . .

The lady who was our host was most courteous and did her best to assure us that these things happen and that they would look after getting the stay replaced. She was also our host for our next tower, Ullenhall, and gave us a little information, as well as the tower key.

The Church has a toilet, not particularly important as it was our first port of call but an important fact when scheduling a tour!


photo of St Mary the Virgin Church, Ullenhall
St Mary the Virgin

11:00 - 10:45 St Mary the Virgin

The Church is situated at the Western edge of Ullenhall on Church Hill and parking opposite the Church was an easy option. It is in a very nice setting with large Redwoods in the grounds. Just looking at the Church it is clear that this is a relatively modern Church, which turns out to be the case. It was built in late Victorian times to replace the "Old Chapel" but on a different site which also goes some way to explaining why there are no headstones in the churchyard. The bell tower is on the South side of the Church and access to the narrow stairway up to the ringing room was from the outside of the tower.

We were well aware that this is an unusual tower, while it has 8 Bells the tenor only weighs 3-0-25 and to finish off its untypical characteristics they are arranged anticlockwise. I rang bell #6 as we rang the bells up, what should be a simple task turned out to be pretty shambolic as we struggled with the very light bells. I rang for a short while but even rounds proved difficult.

The experience was an interesting one but not one that I have any desire to repeat.

Wootton Wawen

photo of St Mary Magdalene's Church, Wootton Wawen
St Peter

12:00 - 13:00 St Peter

The Saxon Sanctuary

St Peter's Church, Wootton Wawen, is the oldest Church in Warwickshire dating back to the first decades of the eighth century and is also known as The Saxon Sanctuary. It is easy to find on the North side of the A3400 and has a small car park. Access to the ringing room is from the outside of the tower on the North side of the Church. A short flight of rather worn wooden steps [photo] leads into a spacious, white painted, ringing room with 2 small windows. This is our first tower of the day with 6 bells, the tenor weighing 10-2-6 in F. I rang up bell #3 and during our visit I rang on most of the other bells and all went very nicely. We took the opportunity to ring a plain course of Plain Bob Doubles in addition to Rounds and Call Changes.

After our ringing we stayed on a while to each our lunch. It is bright and sunny but with a strong wind, unusual for our summers but there has been a lot of strong wind in recent weeks. Beryl had been up early and baked us one of her lemon drizzle cakes with chocolate icing, very nice it was too! As the weather was so pleasant, I decided to take a stroll over to the village shop and treat myself to an ice cream. You certainly cannot rely on the weather.

A very nice tower that I would be happy to visit again as it is not too far from home. Also, important to those arranging tours, it has toilets.

For those with an interest in St Peter's Church take a look at British History Online.

Henley in Arden

photo of St John the Baptist Church, Henley in Arden
St John the Baptist

14:15 - 15:00 St John the Baptist

The Church is on the East side of the High Street (A3400) that runs North-South through the town of Henley in Arden. Even on a Saturday afternoon parking proved not to be a problem although it is restricted to 2 hours when parking on the street. This is a sizable Church with a large tower. There are several nice stained glass windows but the one that caught my attention was "The Millennium Window", a contemporary design on the South side of the nave that catches the best of the sunlight. The ringing room is reached by climbing a spiral staircase that starts within the tower. As might be expected with such a large tower the ringing room is provides plenty of room to ring the 6 bells with seating for several non-ringers. That said there is a lot of space taken up by the clock mechanism and a wooden frame around the pendulum that swings in the middle of the room. Three small windows provide light on a summers day.

photo of The Millennium Window
Millennium Window

I rang bells #4, #5 and the tenor and I found that they all rang well enough though others felt that you had to work quite hard on bell #5. The tenor had black insulation tape around the top of the sally which was a bit awkward for those, like me, that are tall enough that they catch the sally high up. Some of my colleagues were not so happy with the treble. After our lunch break we were all keen to ring and even though a couple of us had some reservations about the bells we had a good time there.


photo of St Michael and All Angels Church, Claverdon
St Michael and All Angels

15:30 - 16:15 St Michael and All Angels

The Church is on the North side of Church Road in the South-east area of Claverdon. I managed to park on Church Road close to the Church. From the outside it is quite nice looking church in good repair and stands in a large well maintained churchyard. Inside it is very nice. The walls are all painted white with sandstone details on the arches and widows left unpainted. Once again there was a contemporary stained glass window set in the South wall that really caught the sunlight when we arrived, unfortunately we had our first rain shower while there. There is a short spiral staircase which you enter from inside the tower that leads up to the ringing room. There is a large arched window, with a window seat, facing West and another large arched window overlooking the nave which makes the ringing room really bright and cheerful.

photo of St Michael and All Angels Church, Claverdon
Stained glass window

This tower has 6 bells and is similar in weight to the previous tower at Henley in Arden with the tenor weighing 11-1-23 in F. I started by ringing up bell #2 which turned out to be a little awkward because when people are sitting in the window seat it is difficult to stand in a position that not only allows you to ring the properly as well as seeing the other ringers. After this initial experience we made sure that those sitting in the window seat did not get in the ringers way. All the bells that I rang went very nicely and everything about the place was very pleasant.


photo of St James the Great Church, Snitterfield
St James the Great

16:45 - 17:30 St James the Great

I do not know when village streets were named but there was a distinct lack of imagination when it came to naming those to which the local Church is adjacent. You will not be surprised to learn that in Snitterfield the Church is on the South side of Church Road. I managed to park on Church Road close to the Church. The weather had come full circle, the sun had disappeared and it was now overcast.

The tower is a big, solid structure. After climbing a short staircase you arrive in a large, spacious ringing room with plenty of room for people who are not ringing to find a seat. There is a large arched window in the West and opposite a large arch open on to the nave that is not glassed in. While the tower only has 6 bells they are the heaviest set that we have encountered all day having a tenor that weighs 16-1-13 in F. The room is spacious in volume as well as area which means a long pull. I rang up the tenor which presented no problems. It was rather unfortunate that this was our last tower of the day as some of our party were rather tired and not very keen to ring a heavy set of bells. To "lighten the load" I settled for ringing either the Tenor of bell #5. I think that these are a nice set of bells that ring easily and sound quite pleasing.

Good news for those arranging a tour, there are toilets.

That was it for me. Three of us had evening commitments and made our way home after ringing at St James the Great Church, Snitterfield. The rest had arranged a table for dinner at The Snitterfield Arms. When I talked to some of them the following day they said that they had had an enjoyable evening eating and relaxing.

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