Brilliant to hear all 8 bells ringing half muffled in a mark of respect to those who gave their lives in conflicts past. The ringers were:
Duncan, Jeremy, Stephanie, Louise, Wendy, Graham and Sue with welcome help from Vinni and Dave from Wargrave.
Words of appreciation were received as we mingled in the bright November sunshine after the service.
This evening was fairly well attended as Keith and Stephanie were back from their holiday (albeit somewhat jetlagged having flown in from Kuala Lumpur the day before). Duncan, Jeremy, and Rachel were also present as were Graham and Vinni.
After ringing up (attempting to ring up in peal on the front 4, followed by the 5 and 6) we did some rounds and call changes to warm us up. We then moved to Mexican Wave and plain hunt practice on 4 and 5 for Duncan, Stephanie and Keith. This went quite well with 2 novice ringers hunting at the same time.
We did several goes through ringing Mexican Wave with very few problems before moving to “Dodgy Places Mexican Wave” which was challenging, but fairly successful.
After that we did some more Plain Hunt practice with Stephanie, Keith and Duncan practicing on different inside bells, and then did dodging practice with pairs of bells constantly dodging with each other (so, 1&2, 3&4, 5&6).
We then rang down in peal (or attempted to) and went to The Castle to discuss the practice.
This morning the band went on an outing to ring at a couple of the local towers. Graham, Sue, Keith, Stephanie, Wendy, and Jeremy attended.
The first tower we visited was St. Mary’s in Shinfield. St. Mary’s Church is an ancient church which has been a place of worship since 1069. The current bell tower was rebuilt in 1664, originally with 3 bells, but with an additional 3 bells added in 1722, 1730, and 1803. The tower building has visible cracks in it, and has been reinforced with iron bands and tie rods.
There are 6 bells at St. Mary’s, rung from the ground floor (Dove’s Guide). The bells were down when we arrived and were let in. We rang up and then performed rounds, call changes and some plain hunting.
Although the bells were not particularly heavy, we found them to be fairly hard work compared with most other towers we have rung at. It was suggested this might be due to the bells being mounted on smaller wheels than normal.
The second tower we visited was St. Bartholomew’s in Arborfield. St. Bartholomew’s Church is a relatively new building, having been constructed in 1862-1963. However, the bells are mostly considerably older than the church (the oldest being cast around 1399) as they were originally in the old church building which was in a nearby location, now part of Arborfield Park, and which was demolished in 1862.
St. Bartholomew’s also has a ring of 6 bells. These are rung from the first floor with an entrance to a spiral staircase at the front of the church (Dove’s guide).
The bells were down when we arrived, so we started by ringing them up, followed by more rounds and call changes, some Mexican wave, and some plain hunting practice for those who could.
The St. Bartholomew’s bells were mostly comfortable to ring, although the 5 bell seems to drop very easily if you don’t pull the back stroke quite hard, and the resonance of the 5 bell could be felt quite strongly on her rope even after she had been stood. The tenor is rung from what appears to be a slightly precarious position, right at the top of the spiral staircase which means, in practice, the ringer is best orientated towards the 7 bell rather than looking directly into the centre of the ring. For those sitting out, the tower noticeably moved when the bells were ringing. The bells also, famously in local circles, have an unusual sound and aren’t particularly in tune. Dove’s guide indicates that the 1 and 2 bells might not be well tuned, which probably explains how they sound.
Once we had finished, we headed to the Bull in Barkham for a well deserved drink and a meal, and to discuss the day. All in all everyone enjoyed visiting and ringing at the towers and it was deemed a success.
This morning’s service was a combined service with Twyford, so some of the Twyford ringers joined us for ringing.
To start with Graham, Sue, Keith, Jeremy and Simon were the only ringers, so we rang up bells 3-7 in peal, and Simon rang up the 8. We then rang call changes on the 3,4,6,7 and 8. These were chosen as they form a major pentatonic scale which sounds quite nice.
Shortly after we started ringing, Matthew and Freddy from Twyford joined us, and we rang call changes on 6, alternating with Plain hunting on 5 with Keith practicing on the Treble.
We then rang down all 6 bells in peal.
Jeremy’s son had joined us to watch. We made good use of the recently set-up belfry video camera to show him what was going on.
We were a little low on numbers this week as various people were away or committed to other things. Initially it looked like there would only be 4 of us: Graham, Keith, Duncan and Sue. But Stephanie turned up just as we were about to start ringing as her commitment at Cantley Park had been cancelled due to bad weather.
We attempted to ring plain hunt on 4 with a cover, which didn’t go too well but improved as we went along. We then switched to ringing call changes on the 3, 4, 6, 7 & 8 bells. This particular choice of bells was chosen as it makes up a major pentatonic scale which sounds good in pretty much any combination.
We then rang down the front 3 in peal (sort of), followed by some rounds on the back 5, and an attempt to ring them down in peal.
Today the tower was visited by some of the attendees of the Bradfield Ringing Course. None of the local band were in attendance except to open up the tower for them, and to lock up afterwards. The local village Horticultural show was in full swing down the hill at the village halls, and several people commented on how lovely the bells sounded.
Good turnout from the team this Sunday meant we were able to make very good use of a welcome visitor to ring all 8 bells for 11 o’clock service.
Jez joined us from Cambridgeshire, strengthening the band to enable us to give St Helens Doubles a spin, and to ring some respectable rounds and call-changes on the 8.
Duncan, Graham, Keith, Jeremy, Steph, Sue & Wendy.