Rutland Branch Tour 30 September 2023

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 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 ( or Tracey Lawson ( 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

Ashwell Bells – the renovations 2023

The removal

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!

Louis Totaro


Ashwell Renovations 2023
Ashwell Bells before …

Branch Dinner

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.

Rounds and Calls practices for new Ringers

Come and join us on Saturday 4th February at Edith Weston – 13:30, to increase confidence in ringing in a band, with experienced ringers around you.

There is another session on Saturday 25th February at North Luffenham, again at 13:30. Come along and have some fun!

Summer Ringing Tour Cancelled

Unfortunately, we had to cancel the Summer Ringing Tour on 25th June, but the next planned event will be the 5-Bell get-together and Picnic, set for 16th July at Hambleton!

Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee

It is now just over a month to go before the Jubilee bank holiday weekend. Every Tower that can ring probably will! Plenty of time left to practice, but it will come around sooner than you think …