Hanslope Bell Restoration Project

Hanslope bells were taken down from the tower by White’s with the help of the bell ringers and local people in September 2019, and they were put into the church so that the people were able to in come and see them.    We held a very successful “Goodbye to the Bells” evening which was extremely well supported and amazingly raised several thousand pounds.  

The bells were then collected by White’s and taken to their premises in Appleton to begin work on them, and with a planned return date to Hanslope of December 2019 / January 2020.    However, when they took the headstocks off they discovered that the 7th and tenor bells had too many holes in the crown so they needed to be sent away for welding and then re-drilled.   There was also a delay due to a backlog of work at the company where they were casting the frame.  

By this time it was March 2020 and, as we all know, the start of coronavirus which impacted further on the work at White’s. 

The bells were eventually returned to Hanslope in August 2002 and once again were put on display in the church for villagers and others to visit, but under very controlled conditions and wearing masks due to the imposed restrictions of the virus.   We had envisaged another big money making event to welcome the bells back to the church and hopefully raise a few more thousand pounds.  

In the event, we had a very low key Service of Dedication of the Bells on Sunday 16 August, with a socially distanced congregation.  Again, it was nothing like we had imagined.  

The following week White’s returned to put the bells back up into the tower with the assistance of several branch members (to whom we were very grateful) and villagers.  Over the next few weeks White’s completed the installation, it was not easy for them with all the Covid restrictions, especially as it was not possible for them to ring all eight bells together.  

The bells were finally inspected and signed off by Alan Marchbank at the beginning of October, well over a year from when we had stopped ringing.   Following this we received the grants from the ODG Bell Fund and the North Bucks Branch, for which we thank you and are extremely grateful. 

We have still not been able to ring the bells.  We had been scheduled to ring some of the bells for the first time on Remembrance Sunday, but the second lockdown scuppered that.   So as things stand, we’ve had no ringing at Hanslope for fifteen months.  The villagers keep asking “When are we going to hear the bells again?” but only Boris knows the answer to that!

As a result of the extra work required on the bells and an increase in the cost of the building work, we still have an amount of £12,500 outstanding to be found and no prospect in the near future of being able to hold any money raising events.  

White’s also mentioned that we might need some sound proofing between the floors, but until we are able to ring and try out the bells we won’t know for certain if this will be required.  

Finally I must say that the installation and the bells look magnificent – all the beautiful new wood fittings and the blue metalwork.   It’s just so frustrating that we cannot ring them.  Some of our ringers haven’t even seen them yet,  due to restriction on access allowed into the church.   

Report on Hanslope Bell Restoration Project, as given by Sheila Blenkhorn to the North Bucks Branch Half Yearly Business Meeting on Sat 5 December 2020 (held via Zoom)

ODG Young Ringers Lockdown Award

Hello Everyone,

I hope this message finds you well.

Given where we are with the Covid-19 pandemic and our ability to be active in our hobby, we (The Learning & Development Workgroup aka The Education sub-Committee) thought it would be a great idea to understand how the Guild’s younger membership were doing. To that end we are with immediate effect, launching the ‘ODG Young Ringers Lockdown Award’ which we sincerely hope will be a one off.

Obviously the ringing opportunities for all but a very few are very limited at the moment so we are looking for entries for anything at all related to ringing from the sensible (learned to ring handbells) to the completely ‘whacky’ (built their own mini ring out of matchsticks). Here are a few examples:

1.       Ringing crosswords
2.       Rope splicing (or using bell ropes to make something)
3.       Handbell ringing
4.       Use of Ringing Room, Abel, Handbell Stadium or other ringing platforms. What did you learn?
5.       Arts & Crafts (have you painted your local church, made a model bell, made a tapestry or cross stitch picture which is ringing related? – Anything goes)
6.       Composition (Methods, Touches, Peal etc)
7.       Anything else no matter how abstract, the more imaginative the better.

The Rules

1.       Entrants must be 18 or under at any time during 2021.
2.       Young Ringers can nominate themselves, or they can be nominated by an adult.
3.       Submission forms for the award are attached to this message and will be resent at intervals between now and the closing date.
4.       Multiple entries from each young ringer are permitted (the more the better)
5.       All entries to be received by 31st August 2021 (there will be an awards ceremony virtual or face to face by the end of September)
6.       There are no more rules 


Electronic submissions are preferred to youngaward@odg.org.uk<mailto:youngaward@odg.org.uk>. Please attach photographs of any physical artefacts and any other file attachments which support the submission. If a different method of submission is required, please contact youngaward@odg.org.uk<mailto:youngaward@odg.org.uk> and someone will get back to you..

Best wishes

Jo Druce
Colin Newman

Branch Towers Ringing Status as at 16th August 2020

Towers that are ringing on Sunday:

Great Linford5-6 Bells
Downs Barn5-6 Bells
Emberton3 Bells
Lillingstone Lovell5 Bells
Old Bradwell3 Bells
Newport Pagnell4 Bells
Bletchley (from 13th Sept)3 Bells

Towers chiming one bell on Sunday:

Woughton on the Green
Great Brickhill

Towers that are not ringing until further notice:

Maids Moreton
Stoney Stratford
Hanslope (Re-hang in progress)
Fenny Stratford
Old Wolverton

Compiled by Graham Bartholomew, Assistant Ringing Master North Bucks.

Covid 19 Virus : All branch ringing activity cancelled until further notice

 All North Bucks Branch ringing activities including Branch Practices and Midweek Group meetings are cancelled with immediate effect until further notice.

The Central Council of Church Bellringers formal notice is given below:

New updates on the Coronavirus have been issued by the UK government today (Monday 16th March), which include avoiding any “non-essential” travel and contact with others and avoiding pubs, clubs theatres and social gatherings.  If you haven’t already decided to cancel ringing activities, it seems that now is the time to do so.

We must all ensure that we are following the most up to date advice from the Chief Medical Officer (or overseas equivalent) with regard to the Covid 19 outbreak.  Of course the Central Council is not in a position to provide professional advice, however there are some simple guidelines to consider to ensure that we adopt sensible precautions and support each other through a period of rapid change and uncertainty.   The advice is changing almost daily and the latest messages concern potential restriction of movement of people over the age of 70 in the coming weeks, if not sooner.

The demographics of the ringing community has a large proportion who fit in to the over 70 year old and/or medically vulnerable category, and ringers can be quite stubborn when it comes to continuing ringing, insisting that we “keep calm and carry on”.  However, under the current circumstances, we have a duty to be responsible for ourselves and towards others we ring with.  If you fit into a category that has been advised to socially distance yourself, please heed that advice.  If not for you, then to help prevent putting other people at risk.

Having said that, socially distancing yourself can create a sense of isolation, and we must ensure that we maintain contact with our ringing friends, and offer any help and support where we can.  Please check in with those who are advised to stay home, phone them for a chat to ask how they are, drop them a quick text, Whatsapp or social media message to let them know they haven’t been forgotten.

If you find yourself self-isolating, consider how you might get your ringing fix if not on the end of a rope.  There are many apps for phones and computers that you can utilise to learn methods, practise listening skills and so on. There’s a multitude of YouTube videos on various aspects of ringing, ringing up and down, rope splicing and many other tower tasks that need doing.  Get out some good old paper and pencil to write out methods, learn the place notation, write out touches etc  – that’ll keep you busy for hours!  Keep in touch with friends on the various bellringing social media communities, maybe even start one of your own.  Get that tower website up to date.  Get around to writing up last year’s tower AGM minutes.  Plan what you are going to do once the restrictions have been lifted, maybe organise a reunion.

Keep up to date with the latest advice from the government, ensure that you support each other, keep calm and keep safe.

Results for Guild Six Bell Competition at Chalfont St Peter – October 5th 2019

Below are the results and a photo of the team.

Many congratulations to our treble ringer, Jen,  who stood in at the last moment due to Hannah Cromblehome not being well that morning.

1       Abingdon                                        38
2       High Wycombe                           40
3       Drayton St Leonard                 44
4       Thatcham                                      48
5       Wokingham                                 50
6       Woughton on the Green      78
7       Aylesbury                                     98
8       Oxford                                         135

Special mention to excellent treble ringing – Woughton on the Green

Report on September Branch Outing

The North Bucks branch outing culminated in a late-afternoon drive almost to the front door of the Marquis of Northampton at Castle Ashby, but had begun some seven hours earlier at Bromham, near Bedford, where the church of St Owen stands a distance from the present village, in the middle of a park created by the Dyve family in the seventeenth century and containing the earthworks of the deserted earlier village.

Bromham bells are a Taylor eight of 21cwt, augmented from a Taylor six in 1934 and therefore Simpson-tuned, very dignified and perhaps the most musical of the bells encountered during the outing.   As you might expect, we rang Grandsire, Plain Bob and Stedman – though there is a St Ouen Doubles, there isn’t an extension to triples, so we weren’t able to honour the unusual dedication with our choice of methods.

Our next tower, Stevington, a leisurely 10 minute drive away, could not have been more of a contrast.  An eighteenth century five, the historic sound reminded us of what change-ringing must have sounded like in its earliest days.  The bells are hung in an Anglo-Saxon tower (much like Lavendon), and rung from a ground floor ringing chamber entered through a side opening, as the entry from the nave has been blocked by the re-erected Jacobean chancel screen.  The church had many other historic features, not least two ruined aisles each side of the chancel, and those not engaged in rehearsing their repertoire of doubles methods found much to keep them intrigued.

On to Carlton, a  pleasant 9cwt six, though by this time we had started losing ringers to events back in MK, and then to lunch at the Fox in the village.  The relaxed timetable gave us plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely meal in good company and sample the beer on offer – some of us were bold enough to try the Norwegian Blue, which was definitely not an ex-beer.

Harrold, just across the Ouse, are another six, a little heavier at 13 cwt, and given a sonorous tone by the reverberations in the spire.  Equally of note was the huge gap between 1 and 2, left to give room for the augmentation to eight that hasn’t happened yet, and that 4,5 and 6 came down vey close to the edge of the balcony.  At a personal level I was glad to see my godfather’s name appearing as a churchwarden on a peal board from nearly fifty years ago.

Bozeat, our first of two Northants towers, was nearly a lock-out – the tower captain had chosen to go to Yorkshire instead of meeting us – but keys were rustled up in time for a quick grab.  The belfry had a very old-fashioned feel, full of black varnished peal boards from a previous century of five bell peals at the tower, often in methods not now much rung, achieved before its augmentation to a 16 cwt six.

And so to Castle Ashby, our final tower.  The church is situated between the big house’s terrace garden and the orangery – as Pevsner says, rarely is a church made so much part of the private garden furnishings of a mansion, and so to get there we had to pass by the front door of the Marquis of Northampton (though the church access is no longer through his garden, as it once was).  The presence of the marquis and his ancestors is just as prominent once you get inside the church, not least through a twice or three times life size carving in gleaming white marble of an angel about to play the last trump, placed at the west end of the nave in memory of a nineteenth century marquis.  It’s only a shame that the family didn’t spend more on the bells and less on monuments.  A 19cwt five would be challenging under any circumstances, but a long draft and poor hanging doubled the difficulty.  Methods without dodges (Reverse Canterbury, All Saints) came to the fore, as we rang on what was the oldest bell of the day – the fourth was cast in the first year of Henry VIII’s reign.

Many thanks to Doug Hird for organising a successful  and well thought out tour around towers in the district’s near north – the result of meticulous preparation and careful reconnaissance.

Martin Petchey