The weather was not so kind to us this year when the Blackmoor ringers and friends got together for our outing in the Sussex area, and a few of us got more than a little damp. Reminder to self – Take a coat next year!
We started at St. Margaret’s in Warnham with a lovely ring of 10 in an all wooden tower that creaked and groaned, but didn’t sway nearly as much as we expected it to. Jess was unsure to begin with whether she’d be able to get herself and the bump up the narrow spiral stairs, but I’m glad to say she did.
Then it was onto St. Nicholas in Itchingfield which only has 5 bells, but has equally narrow spiral stairs. It really makes you wonder about the apparent lack of thought that went in to the construction of some churches and bells towers. It’s almost as though they didn’t want anyone to actually get in to ring the bells. Especially when, having got to the top, you then have to duck under a pair of cross beams that your average 8 year old would probably hit their head on. Pity the poor steeple keeper who has to fish a set of steps out from behind the stairs and thread them through the gap, before squeezing himself through a very small trap door in the ceiling. There was a sixth ‘bell’ in the tower, a flat wooden demonstration model fixed to the wall, that wasn’t in the least annoying when Andy tried to ring it alongside the real ones.
Next was St. Peter’s in Slinfold, an absolutely fabulous ring of 6 where the local ringers obviously like to start their learners very young. There was a baby gate leaning against the back wall, which could be fitted across the front of one of the deep recessed window ledges, so that small children could be safely ensconced behind it to make an early start on soaking up the very strange language that all ringers need to learn. Jess thought this was a great idea and has asked if one could be supplied in Alton, for after the baby is born. I’m glad to say that Carol, one of our more reluctant ringers of unknown bells, decided that these looked safe enough to have a go on, and more than once at that.
After a very acceptable pub lunch at the 6 Bells in Billingshurst we then walked across the road to St. Mary’s, where they have 8 bells and proper stairs! They also have a ringer who apparently dreams up new methods in his sleep and then comes to practice and teaches them to all the others. Their practice board is full of method names like ‘Iago the Parrot Place Doubles’ , ‘Coco the Cat Differentials’ and ‘Chips in the Pub’. We have asked for copies of the lines so that we can have a go ourselves. There was another of the flat wooden demonstration bells here, but it was up on a windowsill. Hurray.
Following this we had to wake the brain cells up again because Holy Trinity in Rudgwick is a backwards ring of 8, set on what looks like a purpose built mezanine, overlooking the body of the church. And, joy of joys, wide carpeted stairs! It took a little bit of getting used to ringing back to front, but I think we did pretty well.
Our outing finished at St. Nicholas in Alfold, a very nice ground floor ring of 6 where the bells are set above the font. Fortunately the ropes hang far enough away that there was no risk of grazed knuckles.
All in all it was a marvellous day that we were very happy to have shared with some of our friends from other towers. And a couple of other friends who just came along for the ride.
Thank you to everyone who came.