St Laurence Bells
|St Laurence church is very fortunate to have a fine peal of 8 bells. The oldest bell, The Sanctus, was originally cast in Buckingham in 1611 and the final pair of bells was added as recently as 1955.|
|As well as chiming the hours and quarter-hours, a mechanical carillon plays the hymn tune St David after the chimes every third hour.|
Change ringing by a team of experienced ringers shows the full potential of the bells but as with many church towers across the land there have been times when our bells have been silent. This was the case at St Laurence towards the end of the last millennium due to a shortage of ringers but there was a drive to have all the towers with bells in England ringing for the year 2000. St Laurence redoubled its efforts to recruit ringers and prospective recruits were directed to Great Horwood for training, there being no tower captain at St Laurence at the time. Other local churches in Stewkley, Whitchurch and Little Horwood also assisted with the training of the present band.
The current tower captain is Brian Newman and each Sunday a number of bells at St Laurence are raised and rung full circle, summoning our parishioners to the service. This is known as “Service Ringing”, it is what the bells are for. Some times we have very experienced ringers visiting the tower, and those with sharp ears may discern some nice tunes. This is known as “The Exercise”. A peal ring was conducted in November 2006 to commemorate 50 years from the installation of the 2 treble bells in 1956 and also to mark the retirement of the vicar, Tony Whalley. Details and pictures here.
Regular ringing practice is needed in order to achieve a standard in keeping with the fine ring of bells at the church. Practices are held on Monday evenings from 7.30 to 9.00. Sunday service ringing is normally 8.50 to 9.25am. We would welcome more bellringers on a regular or occasional basis. If you are interested and are experienced, even if lapsed, then please contact Tower Secretary Jan Lewis. The Winslow church is approached from the N.W. corner of the Market Square, or from Church Walk, off the High Street.
This month we have been working hard on our “ringing up”. This is how we prepare the bells to be rung and if done incorrectly can sound quite messy. To “ring up”, the bell ringer must keep on swinging the bell until eventually it is totally upside down. The wooden bar, sticking out from the top of the headstock is called a stay. It acts as a support, allowing the bell to rest in the upside down position ready to be rung. Once a bell has been 'rung up' it’s mouth is facing upwards.
The next time the rope is pulled, the bell will fall and swing through a full 360 degrees and then swing back to balance on the stay. As the bell rises, the clapper hits the bell edge and thus a single note rings out.
At the end of the ringing session we must then “ring down” which is the opposite procedure and leaves the bell hanging with the mouth downwards. The bells are then safe to be used by the clock’s chiming mechanism.
Our youngest team member Oliver has reminded us all of why bell ringing is such a versatile hobby: when visiting New York on a family holiday he arranged to ring at Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan. They have 12 bells there, only installed in 2006 by Taylors of Loughborough, the heaviest weighs 27cwt (our heaviest is 19cwt). They were very friendly and happy for him to join their practice session (lasting 2 and a half hours!)
So this is a hobby that you can take with you anywhere in the world! We always have room for new learners, just give our captain, Becky Pryse a call on 01296 712582.
Tower Captain’s Report to the Annual Church Meeting
The Ringers - 13 members of the Oxford Diocesan Guild and 2 learners as at March 2014.
Bellringing – We continue to ring for Sunday services, weddings, funerals and special occasions.
Visitors – there are occasional visiting ringers at a maximum of 1 per month and subject to the Rector’s discretion. There were no peals in 2013
ODG Gold Award – awarded to the tower again thanks to Paul Bagni, Steeple Keeper, taking excellent care of the Bells. The bells have also had a routine service by bellhangers Whites.
Thanks are particularly due to Deputy Tower Captains Becky Price, Jo Anderson and Paul Bagni for taking over during my 3 month enforced break from ringing. All 4 of us have recently been DBS registered.
Tower Captain 2013/4