Going like the clappers

bellringersChurch bell ringing is alive and well and living in the Wychwoods. There are now 9 ringers registered at St Mary’s tower; three started training at Shipton in the autumn of 2014 and are now regular ringers on Sundays and at our Wednesday evening practices. This pealing of bells is often referred to as ‘the voice of the church’. Two new recruits have recently started training, one adult and one teenage lad, who is learning as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Bell ringing is an activity suitable for all from the age of twelve upwards. It is an activity in which, when you have mastered control of the bell, you never stop learning. One ringer who is a frequent visitor to our Wednesday practices, and who has been ringing for 70 years, is still learning new methods (sequences of ringing bells). Bell ringers come from all walks of life; school children to airline pilots, brewery workers to doctors and dentists. It is an activity of mental as well as physical exercise, and can be indulged in towers throughout the UK and overseas where visitors are nearly always welcome. A ring of church bells is said to be the largest musical instrument in the world.

To enable the art of church bell ringing to continue to flourish at St Mary’s for centuries to come, the bells need to be refurbished and re-hung with new fittings, as most of the bells last had major work done on them in 1893! There are now plans afoot to ensure that the bells can live on. An appeal has been launched to give each bell a completely new set of ringing fittings including headstocks, hardwood wheels, bent ash stays and sliders, and bell ropes. Retuning will also be carried out. Details of all the work proposals are contained within the appeal leaflet produced by the church and available from Tower Captain, Mike Brooks; you can contact him on 01993 830014 or by email at mikeandjoy0@talk21.com. The leaflet also encourages you to contribute towards the estimated cost of £70,000.

With your help, Shipton’s bells will continue to be the much-loved music that resounds around the Wychwoods.

Mike Brooks

June – July 2017