We have an Autumn ringing tour, agreed with the towers which are close to Rutland in Thrapston and Kettering Branches. The programme is provided here. Some 8 bell towers as well as 6 bell towers, all very welcome for all or part of the tour. There will be a small “cap” so we can leave a contribution to the towers’ ropes, so please bring some change for that.
Lunch will be at the Snooty Fox Lowick. The menus can be found at https://thesnootyfox.co.uk. We have been advised to book ahead and so if you can book a table and book your meals (lunch stop is between 1230 and 2pm) that will be excellent.
Please contact Alan Wordie (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Tracey Lawson (email@example.com) when you book, so we have an idea how many will be at lunch. This will enable us to liaise with The Snooty Fox which does get busy on Saturdays, so please book or at least arrive early to avoid disappointment.
On the bellringing side all are welcome and we are inviting Kettering and Thrapston to join us if they wish. Alan Wordie
The last few weeks have seen frenzied activity at St Mary’s Ashwell, preparing and removing the peal of bells for their refurbishment and rehang.
Initially a long Sunday afternoon was spent removing the facade of the tower, to allow for better access.
Unfortunately, there was no ‘ikea’ manual to determine how the facade was put together as the fixings were well hidden behind lots of panelling, but we managed to remove just enough to do the job.
Three days were spent in the company of churchwarden, Brian Farr, two local helps from the village and the bellhanger, Paul Mason, to commence the removal.
I had previously spent a day in the belfry with Simon Adams from Taylors to remove the bell wheels, clappers, ironmongery, pulley boxes and sliders. What should have taken two days took one as we both know our way around a frame or 2!
So, the main work began. The tower masonry was cut to home 4 steel ‘shoes’, to place the 6 lifting timbers above the frame and lock them into position.
They say bellringing can be hard on the arms …. you have no idea! In using lifting equipment for every tool, beam and part, in and out of the tower I discovered new arm muscles to add to my ringing ones!
So myself and Paul set about a day installing the beams and a day lifting the bells out – 5, 6, 4, 1, 2 and 3 in order. With some gentle encouragement the bells came out freely and were placed at the bottom of the tower.
Next was the problematical frame for the Treble, which we discovered was never pegged properly into the lower frame by Whitechapel in 1850, due to poor access in the corners. Iron support straps were installed instead to ‘push’ the frame into the tower corner, but this was always going to have some movement. Apart from one bolt to be cut, all the wooden pegs, tenons and smithied bolts came out freely, which was an interesting sight anyway.
The final morning was spent moving the bells out into the churchyard and lifting through the lychgate onto the flatbed lorry, fortunately this bit of the operation went really smoothly. All that remained to do was the tidying up of our mess and cutting some temporary beams for the hatch. The floor shows signs of woodworm and at one stage my foot went through it!
It was an emotional end to see the bells travel away from the church back to the foundry, but can’t wait for their return!
Thankyou to John Tomalin and the Black Bull for our Branch Dinner on Friday! Thanks also to Nigel for his reflections on being in the thick of the Falklands conflict; sobering stuff. An excellent evening all round.
We borrowed the ‘Wombell’ from the Guild for Uppingham Feast Day – see picture – and attracted quite a few people to try their hand at ringing! The Wombell is a Saxilby Ringing Simulator mounted on a frame, and is especially useful for younger people to try the feel of a real bell, but safely. It has a laptop attached to produce the sound, and can be used to ring any method supported by the software.
We would like to say thankyou to Uppingham Church for permission to erect it inside the Church, to the Peterborough Guild for lending it to us – and to all the volounteers who helped assemble, teach and dismantle the thing.
Well done Sue Webster for taking the initiative to try it out and manage all the ins and outs of transport and logistics!