In amongst the many activities happening throughout the Worthys (a small series of villages north and easy walking distance from Winchester) for the week long Worthys Festival, were small pockets of bellringing.
St. Mary’s, King’s Worthy, 5 bells, full-circle, had an hour or so of open tower as did St. Swithun’s, Headbourne Worthy, with it’s historic three bells, millenially restored and swing chimed to reduce tower stress, bringing in visitors near and far.
St. Swithun’s has a band of around 6, with irregular practices, but always enough, at least 3, every Sunday, to call to worship, be it for Morning Prayer or Eucharist. The ring may be simple but it is and has always been consistent. Up the wooden stairs to the gallery at the west end of the nave and turning right into and over the white-grey diagonal oak beams into the ringing chamber, a sense of calm could be felt, boxed in within the internal bracings of the wooden structure. Three short Sallies, set at chest height, greeted us, along with Jill Prince and Colin Child, regular ringers and custodians. Beaming through the beams they welcomed all visitors. Some were touring the villages on bike, some were travelling the area via King Alfred’s vintage buses, some accidentally happening upon the tower whilst waiting for the duck race to begin in the pretty chalk stream which runs through the churchyard.
Here’s a clip of the chiming in action, all novices on the ropes, but it gives you an idea!