Welcome to the bell-ringers page
Tower Captain: Angie Ayling
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The Tower is affiliated to the Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell-Ringers
We meet in Minchinhampton church tower every Friday evening at 7.30 for practice, which finishes at 9.00
We ring for the 10.00 Sunday Eucharist (starting at 9.15) and for weddings and funerals as required.
There is a branch 8-bell practice at Horsley every 4th Wednesday in the month except in October and December and when it falls in Holy Week. There is also a monthly 6-bell practice, which is a 'movable feast' - see below.
New members - whether experienced or not - are always welcome - but please contact Angie Ayling
I have been asked to explain about peals and quarter peals, so I hope that the following will help non-ringers understand a little better what goes on when we are ringing the church bells.
We have 6 bells and, at a most basic level, they are rung in ‘rounds’, that is 1-2-3-4-5-6 repeatedly. The ringing of the bells should be evenly spaced so that you can hear each bell clearly. Moving on from this, once a ringer can control the speed of his/her bell, ‘call changes’ can be rung; for this, the ‘conductor’ will call pairs of bells to change places so, for example, the order changes to 1-3-2-4-5-6 and then perhaps, a few rounds later, to 1-3-4-2-5-6. This has endless permutations and breaks up the monotony of just ringing ‘rounds’ all the time. For ‘call changes’, only the conductor really needs to think about what is going to happen next and the other ringers just do as they are told.
The bell ringers enjoyed an annual outing in early May, visiting 5 towers, one pub and one tea room. Thirteen of us - 9 Minch ringers, 2 ringing guests and 2 partners - started at Churchdown, where St Bartholomew church is situated on the top of Chosen Hill with a commanding view. After ringing the 6 bells for 3/4 of an hour, we progressed to the six at Holy Trinity, Badgeworth followed by Upton St Leonards; there we had the challenge of 8 bells, something most of us are not used to.
We ate a fine lunch at Birdlip and then travelled to St Michael's Brimpsfield where the ringing is carried out right in the middle of the church, in quite a confined space! Our final tower was St James the Great, Cranham from which we repaired to a tea room in Painswick. We managed to ring quite a variety of things, ranging from rounds and call changes to Bob Minor, St Simon's and touches of Grandsire. We all benefited from the experience of ringing on unfamiliar bells and are grateful to Paul and Richard for arranging the outing.
Ringing in the tower continues to thrive with numbers of ringers increasing and the standard of ringing improving. In 2016, the bells were rung for every Sunday morning service; practices were held on 50 Fridays – the only omissions being Good Friday and the evening of the Stuart Singers’ concert – with attendance being over 70% on Sundays and over 60% on Fridays. There were 19 other ringing occasions (learner training sessions, weddings, outings, ¼ peals and a funeral).
We rang for the Colesbourne Snowdrop Festival in February (in pouring rain and decidedly chilly surroundings); four of us attended the March training day as tutees with Tony helping teach on one of the courses. In April we enjoyed an outing to 6 towers in east Glos., and then in June we took part in the branch striking competition and succeeded in coming 3rd out of 9 teams, ringing Call Changes with a completely local band. We held our Friday practice on July 15th at Arlingham, having a tasty meal at the Red Lion afterwards and we hosted the branch quarterly meeting in September; the tea was particularly well received and over 20 ringers were ringing in tower afterwards.
There have been 8 weddings and 1 funeral (a quarter peal, half-muffled) to ring for. Six of us have engaged in ringing a variety of quarter peals including, Naoko ringing her first quarter inside and, on November 20th, we rang a quarter of Bob Doubles with Mick ringing for the first time inside and Sally ringing in her first quarter (on the tenor); this was the first doubles method quarter peal rung by a ‘home’ band in many years and certainly this century. It is hoped to continue to ring regular quarter peals for choral evensong on the 3rd Sunday of each month. The quarter peals are all recorded online, on Bell Board. Through ringing regularly at other towers, a few of us have managed to ring some Minor and Surprise methods which we currently do not have the capacity to ring in our own tower; Tony has gone beyond this, ringing regularly on 8+ bells (a total of 44 quarter peals!)
We have had four visiting bands over the course of the year - in April, May (a ¼ peal), July and October - as well as several individual visitors from all over the country at practices. The annual inspection by Taylors took place at the end of November.
We are very pleased to have welcomed a number of new learners – Richard in February, Huw, Charlie and George in October, who are making good progress with their bell handling, and Yvonne who started, had to stop for a while, and is now continuing again. Deborah Curram started but has found that, with her new role as Curate, she does not have time to commit to learning.
Tony has led the ringing magnificently over the year, leading to great improvements in the standard of ringing (and to the tower being nominated as the branch Tower of the Year for the second year running) while Paul has kept the bells ringing safely in his role as Steeple Keeper; he has replaced a couple of stays as well as made adjustments to the camera set-up (for weddings) and adjusted ropes as necessary. The new motorcycle tyre muffles made by Paul for the treble, no 2, no 3 and no 4 bells have been a great help in the teaching of learners.
Over the past few weeks we have been thrilled to have a number of new ringers turn up to learn - including some teenage boys who have made rapid progress. While they are learning, much of their ringing will be on a 'tied' bell, that is, the clapper is tied so that it does not strike; this makes it more pleasant for anyone outside the church who may be within earshot! Once the learners can handle a bell competently, they will join in ringing with others, so at that point one can expect the ringing to be a little less polished for a while. Bear with us as it will soon improve!
Towards the end of October, there was a national 'Quarter Peal ' week during which a few of us rang with others from a variety of towers to notch up some quarter peals; this entails ringing a total of 1260 changes and it takes about 45 minutes during which no mistakes are permitted. Once achieved, the quarter peal is submitted to a national directory and recorded for posterity.
We are aiming to start ringing quarter peals at the tower with more regularity as our more experienced ringers gain in competence and confidence. We are hoping to ring regularly for choral evensong (on the 1st or 3rd Sunday of the month), commencing ringing at about 4.30pm. This will improve our method ringing as well as remind parishioners that a service is about to begin.
It’s that time of year again – when we all begin to dream up a new ringing tour for our band – so -
On Saturday 23rd April – St George’s Day, a team of 10 ringers from Minchinhampton, Holy Trinity, plus 5 guests from Painswick and Cirencester – plus partners (and a dog)- undertook a day’s outing centred around the Cirencester Branch area.
The bellringers enjoyed a visit to Colesbourne Park on Feb 6th and rang the bells in the church while visitors struggled round the vast grounds, in the driving rain, looking at the snowdrops. The owner of the park - Sir Henry Elwes - invites ringers from local towers to come, by arrangement, and ring on the 5 Saturdays and Sundays each year when the park is open for people to see the spectacular snowdrops.
We were 8 ringers in all with 4 spouses; as the church has only 5 bells, we also had the opportunity to brave the elements and walk in the woodlands and park, looking at the snowdrops, when we were not ringing. We had quite an audience at times as visitors of all ages came in to look at the church and watch us ring. It was fortunate that the bells are rung on the ground floor at the back of the church so people can easily watch. We finished off the afternoon with a welcome mug of tea and large slab of cake in the tea room.
The photo shows Paul, Naoko, Tony (hidden), William and Sally ringing.
Angie, Tower Captain
Naoko, Ringer of the Year
and Tony, now Assistant Ringing Master of the Stroud Branch
At the AGM of the Stroud District branch of Church Bellringers, Naoko Ponter was presented with the prestigious 'Ringer of the Year' award in recognition of the great progress she has made this year - the range of methods she has learnt to ring and her first quarter peal on Sept 27th. Furthermore, Tony Natt has been made Assistant Ringing Master in the district.
Lastly, the Minchinhampton Tower was declared to be the 'Tower of the Year' and will represent the district in the Glos & Bristol Diocesan Assoc. of Church Bellringers competition. We are very pleased to have 2 new learners in the tower now but we are still looking for more!
We do hope that you appreciate the improved standard of ringing sounding from the tower over the past months. This is due in no small part to the arrival a year ago of Tony Natt, who has been able to share with us his vast experience and expertise. Several of us have attended Branch ringing sessions, regular practices in other towers as well as our own and the Glos. Association autumn training day and, in September, Naoko rang her first quarter peal (44 mins of ringing a specific method) when the bells were rung after the service for the rededication of the Sanctus bell. This was a great achievement!
We are still, as ever, keen to welcome new or returning ringers to the tower. Just turn up on a Friday evening (7.30pm-9pm) or phone me on 884203.
Angie Ayling, Tower Captain
On June 20th the Stroud Branch of the Gloucester and Bristol Association of Church Bellringers held a striking competition at Haresfield Church. The competition is designed to test the accuracy of ringing the bells which in turn helps the ringers to produce a much more joyful sound when ringing at Sunday Service or practice night.
Once again, 2014 was a good year in the Tower. Unfortunately we lost the expertise of Andrew Fleming before Easter but gained enormously from the arrival of Tony Natt who is a great asset to the tower.
On Sat 8th Nov, at the Church Bell Ringers Stroud Branch AGM held at Horsley, our Tower Captain, Angie Ayling, was awarded "Ringer of the Year" prize for the best individual progress in method ringing, including ringing at other towers. Ringing different methods is a major challenge and achievement, and we all hope this will be reflected in our ringing here in Minchinhampton.
We also have received a special thank you from Helen as well as members of the congregation for the special half muffled ringing we arranged for Remembrance Sunday.
William Page, Tower Secretary
We have been very pleased to welcome visiting ringers to the tower recently as well as benefit from a new (returning) ringer - Tony - who has moved into the town. Three of us attended separate training sessions at the district autumn training day, learning Steadman Doubles, Grandsire Triples and Cambridge Surprise Minor. Now we need the opportunity to practise our newly acquired skills!
We are, as ever, always on the look-out for new ringers so, if you would like to find out what we do up in the tower on a Friday evening (7.30 p.m- 9 p.m) or Sunday morning, do get in touch - 01453 833192 - or just come up the stairs when we are ringing.
Angie Ayling (Tower Captain)