We arrange at least one outing every year to vist a few towers within about an hour’s drive. We decided on an early adventure this year, with an option for a second one later, and on this occasion we travelled to north west Essex. Tricia volunteered to organise the day and she and I and Sheila G met one day to study the map and plan a route. We decided on two towers before lunch and one in the afternoon.
The first port of call was Steeple Bumpstead, a 14 1/ 2 cwt six. Julia learned to ring here for the millennium when a band was trained up for the occasion. Sadly, there is no regular ringing there anymore and the ringing room could do with some TLC. The bells are quite nice and a good weight for a six.
From here we went on the Radwinter, a 12cwt eight. More signs of life here with a white board with plenty of blue lines. The ropes of Nos 2 and 3 go through shutes in the clock box but those who rang them managed perfectly. We rang a course of Cambridge S Minor on the back six, probably our best piece of ringing during the day.
Lunch was taken at the Coach and Horses PH at Newport. We enjoyed a relaxing time here and appreciated the good food. There were six handbell ringers in the group and during this break we rang Plain Bob Minor and Single Oxford Bob Minor.
The last tower was Newport, a ten minute walk from the pub. This church has a tall tower faced with stone and flint but its interior is brick. It was restored in 1858. The bells, also a 14 1/2 cwt six are a little awkward in a unique and interesting way. They are quite deep set and have long unguided ropes making good bell control essential. Some of our ringers rang only once but we did manage a course of Plain Bob Doubles as our last touch. There is no regular ringing here, possibly only one or two visiting bands a year. The ringing room is dusty and small pieces of detritus fall from the walls/ceiling when the bells are rung!
Although we didn’t ring on any bells that “we would like to take home” we had a very enjoyable day. It was interesting to briefly look around the churches and of course it is always fascinating to discover things in the towers and ring the bells, even if some are a little challenging.
Our grateful thanks to Tricia for organising the whole day and to the local people who met us and allowed us to ring their bells.
L-R: Steeple Bumpstead, Ringing at Steeple Bumpstead, The church interior from the rfinging room.
L-R: Radwinter, Descending the tower, the south porch.
L-R: Handbells at the pub, Newport church, door to the roof at the top of the spiral staircase at Newport.
Team Photo at Newport