We have managed to maintain a good presence at all practices despite holidays and are trying to ring for more Sunday Services. It has been relatively quiet otherwise but the group is looking forward to Kat and Darren's wedding in September for which a number of celebratory quarter peals are planned. As always we would be delighted to welcome new recruits.
This month we are recovering from the celebrations for the Golden Jubilee. The Arley and Whitacre ringers have done lots of ringing at both towers and further afield. The weekend started off with a celebration of a completely different nature. The ringers rang for the Christening service of Libby Tilbrook, grandaughter of Terry and Elizabeth Waters and afterwards rang a very well struck quarter peal of 1260 plain Bob Minor which was appreciated by all who heard it.
The actual Jubilee was celebrated at Arley on the Monday with a quarter peal of Stedman Doubles. This is quite a complicated five bell method and was a first for a number of the band. Then on the Tuesday morning the band attempted successfully to get the quarter peal of Cambridge Minor which the Sunday service band lost last month. This time we made not mistake and the quarter was rung in 43 minutes.
A number of people have commented to me that the ringing they hear sounds really good except for the very last piece of ringing heard before we finish. Our pub listener who awaits in "The Gate" also complains about the last bit of ringing. This is called ringing the bells "down" and allows us to safely leave the bells so that they cannot be easily swung or cause a major accident. It is also one of the most difficult parts of the exercise to get right along with "raising the bells" at the start of the practice or service ring. The group are progressing with the raising and lowering and whilst not perfect yet it is a lot better that it was, when we first started raising and lowering in peal a couple of years ago. Prior to this the bells were often raised on their own singularly or in pairs.
The reason for this raising and lowering is because in England, church bells are rung in complete 360 degree revolutions. One forward revolution and then one in reverse. This developed in the 12th century onwards. Change ringing as we know it today developed in the 17th century with people like Mr Fabian Stedman writing down methods and naming them for the first time. Hence the quarter peal of Stedman Doubles mentioned at Arley above. There are about 5500 ringing peals in England and less than 500 in the rest of the world namely in the former colonies. For instance there are only 17 towers in Scotland whereas locally Arley, Astley, Ansley, Kingsbury, Coleshill, Shustoke and Whitacre all have ringing peals. Even Lea Marston has three bells.
When down the bells have their mouth facing downwards and can only be swung slightly. When they are up for services the bells swing a full circle from the mouth up position. If a non ringer were to pull a bell off in this state they would not be able to control it and could injure themselves hence the need to ring them down. In Cornwall where they do less change ringing they ring up and down immaculately and very regularly and sometimes between each ring!
As always we would love to welcome new recruits
The lighter evenings make a rapid impact on our practice evenings at this time of year as it becomes obvious that we shall soon leave the church in daylight. This also allows Darren, a non ringing partner of Kat to sit outside the pub for longer and judge our bell striking efforts with an interested ear. We are really trying to concentrate on our striking at present trying to avoid ringing two bells together during a method (called clipping another bell) and working at keeping the pace of the ringing even. We need to work especially at the leading (first bell to ring) which needs to be very consistent in order to not upset the pace.
Highlight of the month has to be a local band quarter peal of 1440 Kent surprise minor for Sunday service. This quarter took 47 minutes and was a first for all the band bar one and was remarkably accurate and well struck, especially as one ringer has only learnt the bobs the week before. The bobs allow the conductor to mix the bells up further within the method to get a longer ring without repeating the same music.
The ringers are trying to ring more often for Sunday service which is not that easy when we rely on so many Arley ringers. The week after the Kent quarter we attempted to ring a quarter peal of Cambridge minor which is the next scale of difficulty from Kent. We successfully rang over half this quarter but sadly failed after a mix up in the bells order caused the method to complete and come back to rounds early.
Ringers nationwide are looking forward to the Jubilee celebrations which will be marked by many churches throughout the country. Our practice will continue to develop our skills at Kent and Oxford not forgetting the general doubles methods in our repertoire. We will always welcome new recruits so why not come and enjoy the summer evenings learning something new.
For various reasons it was a quiet month except for the special ringing to celebrate the life of the Queen Mother. A deeply muffled quarter peal of 1260 changes of Grandsire doubles was quickly arranged in the day of her death and the few who could hear it heard some ringing rarely heard. Deeply muffled is similar to half muffled ringing done for Remembrance Sunday or ringing out the old year at New Year, but with both strokes of every bell muffled with leather straps except for the tenor. From a distance one can only hear the tenor slowly tolling but closer in, the rest of the bells will stately fill the gaps between the open tolling.
Other than this quarter peal we have been busy getting our new ringing chamber habitable again Boxes that allow us to compensate for short ropes and short people have had a lick of paint and our notice board has gone up. We still have to sort out coathooks and get our quarter peal boards and methods boards back up on the wall.
Our new ringing area is now complete and the bells are being rung again. They do not seem to ring differently despite the shorter ropes but it seems strange to see the church from high up.
Whilst the bells were not being rung the group had great fun going mainly to Kingsbury to practice ringing eight. We developed our skills of Kent and Plain Bob on eight and achieved quite presentable striking by the time the six at Whitacre became ringable again.
The group has also been out on another trip to the southern end of Warwickshire. We had nice weather most of the day but had hail, snow, rain and sunshine during our lunchtime meal in the pub. The bets ring of the day had to be at Brailes which was a heavy ring of six. They are the third heaviest in Britain, three times heavier than at Whitacre. The total weight revolving in the tower makes this tower really sway noticeably which makes the bells very difficult to ring but they sounded superb.
We will try to ring something special for Easter Sunday and as ever would love to welcome new recruits. Why not come and try the newest view of the church.
Ringing came to a very abrupt halt with the beginning of the church work at St. Giles, which will result in a ringing chamber of our own upstairs. Sadly the quarter peal organised at the last minute to be the final one downstairs never happened due to illness.
The group have been fortunate as they continue to practice night ringing at Kingsbury church which has eight bells. The group have been practising the same methods of Kent, Grandsire and Plain Bob but on eight, which requires a different speed and rhythm. The group has also rung on practice nights at Nuneaton.
We are looking forward to ringing out the bells at St Giles, hopefully before the end of March ready for Easter.
The group has been preparing for Christmas services and the New Year will now have passed. Although the bells were rung for the Christmas services at St Giles and St Johns sadly the bells did not ring out to welcome the New Year as usual due to the lack if enough local ringers. Usually the village would love to hear the old year being ring out half muffled like the remembrance bells. Then after midnight the bells are rung the welcome the New year.
The tower had its outing at the beginning of December along the A38 in Birmingham from Northfield to Perry Barr. A surprising number of local ringers had not travelled to these towers before. We had good weather and an excellent standard of ringing was achieved most of the day.
Why not make it a new year resolution to come and join out freindly group?
This months highlight must be the half muffled quarter peal, which the group rang for Remembrance Sunday. This was a very well struck quarter peal of Plain Bob minor and included a first for Kat Howes who had not rung inside before. This means she was doing the complicated part of the method.
Some of the Sunday congregation was good enough to comment favourably about the quarter peal. Readers may remember we last rang half muffled for the September 11th tragedy and some may recall the beautiful but unusual noise the bells make when half the notes are dulled in volume by leather straps.
A few Whitacre ringers went on the annual Arley tower outing which rang at six towers around Ashby-de-la-Zouch. All had an excellent day rounded off by a loud bonfire party in the evening.
Of course we are still desperately short of ringers and only rang for Remembrance Sunday because the Arley ringers helped out again. Anyone interested in starting this fascinating exercise is welcome to join us every Thursday evening from 8pm.
The group has continued its progress with Kent minor this month and have also to tackle the next surprise method called Cambridge. This is despite being dogged by a series of late holidays disrupting the flow even to the extent of cancelling one Thursday evening practice night.
This decision was taken to maintain the good striking that the group generally maintain rather than risk having a practice with very few present.
Sunday service ringing has had two enforced weeks rest due to the lack of services at St Giles but thanks to support from Shustoke and Arley ringers we did ring for the recent Harvest festival.
We continue to be short of ringers and need some new willing recruits. So if you fancy meeting a very friendly crowd of people then join our practice every Thurs from 8pm.
Ringing has progressed well this month with the practices well attended due to the continued support from our friends at Arley. We have tried to make the effort to ring for special services this month and managed a team to ring for both Sunday services during the flower festival.
After the inevitable lull of the holiday season the group has continued to progress in learning Kent minor, which is a reasonably difficult six bell method and have continued to ring competently some of the more basic methods such as Grandsire and Plain Bob.
On September 2nd we had the pleasure of ringing a quarter peal. This is a special piece of ringing which takes a continuous time of around forty minutes. We rang 1260 changes of Plain Bob to welcome Thomas Michael James, who was born on August 31st weighing 8ib 10oz, the first child of Andy and Amanda Robinson who are regular visitors from Arley.
On a more sombre note the practice night after the American terrorist tragedy the bells were rung half muffled in respect for the victims. This ringing is the same as happens on Remembrance Sunday and special ringing like this happened countrywide.
St. Giles team itself continues to be short of ringers and would love to welcome anyone (ten years or older) to join the group. Bellringing gives a lot of pleasure in meeting a broad spectrum of society, exercises the brain and can be very sociable. We practice every Thursday evening from 8pm. Contrary to popular belief it is not hard physical work.
St Giles Bellringers
The trials and tribulations of a small village bellringing band.