The Stroud Branch of ringers held an outing on Sept 28th and two of us from Minchinhampton joined in. We visited 4 towers in Monmouthshire— St Nicholas, Trellech; St Thomas à Becket at Shirenewton; St Mary Virgin Caldicot and, lastly, St Mary, Chepstow. At the second tower, the heaviest of the 6 bells was only the weight of our lightest, so that made the bells more challenging to ring. Access to the towers varied as ever—with the route up to the ringing chamber in Trellech, via steep, uneven stone steps and wooden ladders, being particularly interesting!
You may have noticed that, of late, we have occasionally only been ringing 5 bells —or sometimes have not rung at all on a Friday or Sunday. This has been due to a lack of ringers, so we need more recruits! If you would like to come and see what we get up to, please come along on a Friday 7.30pm-9pm and say hello, have a look, perhaps have a go and consider learning to ring yourself.
Welcome to the bell-ringers page
Tower Captain: Angie Ayling
Please CLICK HERE for Contact details
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
We had hoped to have taken part in the Stroud Branch ‘Striking Competition’ which, this year, was held at Frampton on Severn. Unfortunately, after having fielded two teams last year, we were unable to gather even 6 ringers together for this event because of injury and other circumstances. Therefore, we had to borrow 3 ringers from other towers so as to even participate. This just shows how much we are in need of new or returning ringers to come and join us.
On Saturday April 6th a team from the church bellringers travelled to Hewelsfield, in the Forest of Dean, to take part in the Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan 6-Bell Striking Competition, competing for the ‘Croome Trophy’. (This came about because Minchinhampton ringers won the Stroud Branch striking competition last June.) Later the same morning, the 8-Bell ‘Penn Trophy’ Competition was held at St Briavels and Tony Natt was a member of the Stroud Branch team taking part.
The competition rules required each of the 10 teams (in 3 groups, over the course of 2½ hours) to ring a method with a total of 120 changes; this takes about 4 minutes. Judges sit nearby (outside) and assess every single blow of every bell, marking as a fault any that are not struck at exactly the right time. The faults are then totalled and the team with the fewest is the winner.
We rang the method ‘Bob Doubles’ which is 40 changes long; when augmented with ‘bobs’ it is extended to 120 changes.
The bells took a bit of getting used to—particularly the treble (no. 1) - but each team had 7 minutes to practise, so as to familiarise themselves with the handling of the bells. We were the 4th team to compete, which meant standing outside in the cold for 45 minutes before it was our turn!
The team comprised: 1.Sally Haigh 2. Naoko Ponter 3. Angie Ayling 4. Paul Verney 5. Tony Natt (conductor) 6. Mick Wright
The results: we came 9th, which was perhaps a bit disappointing. However, we were competing against some of the best ringing bands in the county, so we felt we had done ourselves justice. The Stroud Branch team came 8th out of 9 teams in the Penn Trophy.
On February 10th, 7 of our ringers plus 2 spouses went to Colesbourne to ring at the church there, which is in the grounds of Colesbourne Park. The estate is owned by a former Lord Lieutenant Sir Henry Elwes and each year he opens it up for people to visit the wonderful snowdrops and partake of delicious teas.
This was our 4th visit; bellringers—mostly from the Cheltenham area—are invited to ring for one Saturday or Sunday afternoon whilst the gardens are open. There are 5 bells on the ground floor, so visitors to the gardens can come into the church and watch the ringing in action. The bells are very light—the heaviest being the same weight as our lightest—so they take a bit of getting used to!
We are busy practising for our diocesan association striking competition in April. This is being held in the Forest of Dean—with care being taken by the organisers to hold the event at a tower that will not be familiar to any of the competing teams. Whilst for the branch striking competition (which we won) we were required to ring for about 5 minutes, this time the ringing will have to be twice as long—with every strike of each bell being judged by the assessors, so it is likely to be a nerve-wracking affair!
Angie Ayling, Tower Captain
Wanted - New/Returning Bellringers
We currently have 10 bell ringers who call you to worship each Sunday morning and practise on a Friday evening; we are now in a good position to take on some new ringers.
We can offer expert tuition—no experience or particular ability is required; just the fitness to be able to climb 44 stairs up to the ringing chamber (and be aged11+).
If you would like to find out more about what is involved, do come along when we are practising and have a look. We are a friendly bunch from all walks of life and with a variety of ringing experience—ranging from 2-50 years. The door at the bottom of the tower will be open and you can just come up.
If you wish to learn, you will receive 1-1 tuition to start with, so as to learn how to handle a bell, before moving on to ring with others. This process is likely to take a few weeks (or possibly months) depending on a range of factors. The expectation is then that you would regularly be available for practices and Sunday morning ringing—this is very much a team activity, so commitment is necessary.
To find out more, ring 884203 or come and find us on a practice night 7.30- 9pm
It has been a few months now since there was any news from the bell tower. We have, of course, continued to be busy practising on Fridays and ringing for the Sunday morning service; I hope that you have heard us!
We currently have 11 ringers though, unfortunately, work and other commitments mean that we are rarely all together at the same time. As we have 6 bells, we need at least 6 ringers in the tower to ring properly and, for the most part, we achieve that.
STROUD BRANCH ANNUAL BELL STRIKING COMPETITION SUCCESS!
On Saturday June 16th, the church bellringers took part in the branch striking competition which was held this year at Kemble, a 6-bell tower.
There were 9 teams in all and, as we had 9 ringers keen to take part, we entered 2 teams (so some of us rang twice). Each team performed a piece of ringing totalling 120 changes, which is just about 5 minutes of ringing. Outside, hidden from view, were two judges who assessed the striking/ringing of each team, recording errors when they occurred and the results were announced at the barbecue in Horsley afterwards.
We were most thrilled to find out that one of our teams was judged to have been the best and Minchinhampton tower was duly awarded the trophy (pictured right) and the honour of representing the Stroud Branch in the next level of competition (to be held next March).
Our ringers were: George Burfoot, Charlie Hodges, Richard Rider, Naoko Ponter, Angie Ayling, Jean Hand, Tony Natt, Mick Wright and Paul Verney.
On Saturday April 28th, the bellringers enjoyed an outing, arranged by Paul Verney, to 5 towers all situated not far away. In all we were a group of 17 over the course of the day, including 5 non-ringers, plus one dog. We were pleased to be joined by 2 ringers from Horsley and Woodchester whose presence enabled us to ring a variety of methods occasionally, as well as rounds and call-changes.
We began the day at 9am in Tetbury where there are 8 bells—this being a challenge as most of us are much more used to ringing on 6. There was quite a climb up to the bells—50 steps in all!
Next we drove to Long Newnton where we first had to clear the ground-floor ringing chamber of various items—2 huge mock-stone urns on pedestals, 2 tables, 2 brooms and sundry flower vases– before we could begin ringing! Here there were 6 bells and some of us were able to explore the church while others rang, then swapping over.
Our final tower before lunch was Charlton (pictured) where we found the bells more pleasing on the ear than Long Newnton.
We had a very enjoyable, leisurely lunch in ‘The Horse and Groom’ and then progressed to Malmesbury Abbey—the tower of St Paul’s— where again there were 8 bells. This tower stands separately from the abbey and has a very tricky staircase to the ringing chamber; also one can feel the tower swaying slightly as the bells are rung. Lastly we rang in Sherston (6 bells, easier staircase) before repairing to ‘The Angel’ in the village for tea and cakes.
2017 was another successful year in the ringing chamber (and in the Tower as a whole, as some preliminary steps have been taken to address the sound proofing). The standard of ringing continues to improve steadily- even though it can sometimes be two steps forward one step back- and for the second successive year we were nominated 'Tower of the Year'. During 2017 we practiced on a total of 43 Fridays. There was no practice on six occasions:- Good Friday, too few ringers, Stuart Singers Concert (x2), no electricity and on the 29th of December, however there had been an extra ringing on Christmas Day and there was to be ringing twice on December 31st. The average number of ringers at practices was 9.
There was ringing every Sunday morning except two and in addition there were eight quarter peel attempts of which seven were successful. We rang for the Snow Drop Festival at Colesbourne as we will this year and enjoyed an outing in May to the Tewksbury/Gloucester area. There were no weddings due to the Re-ordering which had been planned to start in April but in the event did not do so until August 2017.
In June we once again took part in the branch Striking Competition which was held in Upper Cam. Our team was Tony, Paul, Mick, Naoko, Richard and Angie and, rather to our dismay we came last! However we enjoyed the barbecue at Horsley afterwards. We can now aim to improve on this when we take part again this year!
We were very sad to learn of the death of David Pobjoy, who died in hospital on Friday 9th of March.
David was captain of the tower for many years. He was a prominent member of the Stroud branch of the Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers and he was proud to have rung all over the world as well as throughout the UK—keeping a careful record of the hundreds of towers at which he had rung.
During 2017 we practised on a total of 43 Fridays; There was ringing on every Sunday morning except 2 and, additionally, there were 8 quarter peal attempts of which 7 were successful.
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.