Steve Vickars and his team have been hard at work continuing to renovate much of the ring at St Mary’s, Kirtlington.
After last year’s replacement of pulleys and ceiling bosses, they finally completed cleaning and re-painting the bell frame, which had previously been painted some 50 years ago and definitely needed doing. They noticed that there had been some corrosion on one part of a supporting girder, but the expert opinion was that the frame overall is still sound.
Steve helped Isaac and Aaron (socially distanced, naturally) to remove wheels and clappers, prepare the frame for painting, then apply Red Oxide primer and top coats to the frame, headstocks, clappers and supporting girders. This took two long weekends between end February and early March 2021, with some additional work in the intervening week.
The result is quite striking! Below are some before and after photos. Seve hopes that the frame should not require re-painting for another 40 years or so. This will be aided by the installation of a weather-proof membrane in front of the louvres, to keep moisture and dust out of the bell chamber.
Steve said, “While we intend to chime and toll for a few occasions over the next two months, we hope to return to socially-distanced ringing from May, all being well.”
Returning to Ringing – Advice and Guidance from the Guild Secretary
The current round of Harvest Festivals has triggered the resumption of services at more churches and we have heard of more towers that have rung again. This will remind people that the church is there and remind them that the silence was only temporary! Some have rung handbells where the tower bells cannot be used.
The year is moving on, and the Ringing World shop at has seasonal items in stock https://www.ringingworld.co.uk/purchase/shop/calendar.html, hopefully including diaries by the time you read this. The Central Council guidance is updated every Friday at https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/. The key metrics haven’t changed this week, but the Central Council has recently got extra skilled resource looking at the detail of the ringing environment in the hope of identifying and justifying further relaxations that the CofE will accept. We must be grateful for CCCBR’s efforts on our behalf. You can play your part in this effort by keeping in touch with your local clergy and spreading the word about the benefits of ringing and the importance of restoring ringing to both ringers and the church as a whole.
Some are uncertain as to what can be rung that is safe, musical and hopefully enjoyable. This depends on the individual tower as well as the ringers. For instance 2, 4, 6 of a six sounds nice and bright whereas 1, 3, 5 of a six is mournful and may be suitable if you have an All Souls Service around 1st or 2nd November. If you are lucky to have a family group of three, you could try 1, 3, 4, 5 of an eight (think of Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto) or 2, 4, 5, 6 of a six. The mournful equivalent for an All Souls or Remembrance service is 1, 3, 4, 5 of a six. Any towers looking for advice on safe chiming, musical combinations or refresher sessions for safe ringing may contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The three overriding requirements remain, namely:
The local church wardens and clergy must have agreed
The improvement works at Weston on the Green are nearly complete; the new ropes are in and the new carpet is down.
In Stratton Audley they are hoping to ring three bells at each of two weddings coming up in September.
Several groups of local ringers have been making good use of the online platform for virtual change ringing called Ringing Room, which is the ‘go-to’ application used by a huge number of ringing teams in the UK and across the world. It’s very enjoyable, is free to use and can be accessed at https://ringingroom.com/
Jon Mills of the Oxford Guild has written an interesting account of his journey to find and use Ringing Room – click here to read it.
Kirtlington, Bletchingdon and Weston-on-the-Green Ringing Room practices
after lockdown began, the ringers from Kirtlington, Bletchingdon and
Weston towers transferred their practices to the Ringing Room website,
creating a shared virtual tower for weekly practices and for virtual
quarter peal attempts.
virtual practices are been well attended and we have seen great
progress in the learning of methods by all regular attendees, many of
whom have only started ringing in the past 2 – 3 years, with all having
rung inside to plain courses of Grandsire and Plain Bob Doubles, and a
number ringing observation to touches of Bob Doubles. The team has also
been able to practice variations on Plain Hunt including Treble Bob
the temporary removal of the challenge of handling together with
learning the methods, our ringers have achieved a number of successful
virtual quarter peals including first on covering tenor and first on
treble. More virtual QPAs are planned.
The first group handling session of the year was held on 4th January at St Helen’s Abingdon, attended by five learners from Weston, Wendlebury and Kirtlington plus Andrew gaining experience in teaching handling. Susan Read and her Abingdon team have most kindly offered to host training sessions at St Helens every Saturday morning until end March, so that we can offer training to a large number of recent recruits from Kirtlington, Weston and nearby. This was a really good session, with one or more teachers per student and five learning at the same time. I think the future of teaching handling looks quite like this.