Coronavirus ~ March 2020

Bell ringing is suspended until further notice.

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Bell ringing practice takes place on Thursday evenings between 7:30pm and 9:00pm

Spring 2020 update ~ the bells rang out for David's 90th

The bells were ringing at St. James the Great church on Saturday, 7th March to proclaim the 90th birthday of prominent former bell ringer, David Smith (left)
He and his family members were in attendance at the church.

David was Tower Captain at St. James's for some ten years and remains the Tower Correspondent, liaising with visiting ringers.

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The celebratory ‘Quarter Peal’ (QP) on all eight bells was rung to a ‘method’ (a pattern of ringing) called, appropriately for David’s 90th birthday, ‘Grandsire Doubles’. There were, also appropriately, 1,300 and 90 changes. Changes are where the bells change position in relation to each other and all 1,390 were completed in exactly 51 minutes of continuous ringing.

David rang his first bell in 1953 and was the momentum behind the formation of two bands of ringers at St. James’s.

South Leigh ringers Heather Horner and Evadne Vallance said, “Thank you, David, for many years’ dedication to bell ringing. And thank you, too, to ringers from other local towers for their support on this special occasion”. It was Heather’s first QP on eight bells, and would have been Evadne’s though, in the event, she had to drop out at short notice. Thank you, to the Vicar and Church Wardens for their kind permission.
Clockwise from front right: Heather Horner, Sue Rhodes, Alison Merryweather-Clarke (Conductor), Julie Minch, Neil R. Ephgrave, Michael Probert, Andrew Goldthorpe and Nigel Eagle.

New Heads at the Tower Church bells have probably been ringing in South Leigh for over six hundred years, and big changes recently will ensure that they are not going to stop any time soon! Bell ringing was suspended in early March, sadly, due to the need for social distancing.

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Peal board

Above: In the Ringing Chamber of St. Mary the Virgin, Witney, a peal board records David’s involvement in bellringing for nigh on 70 years.

South Leigh resident, Heather Horner, left, ringing the No. 2 bell, was elected Tower Captain at the Tower AGM on 22nd January and succeeds Alison Merryweather-Clarke, who held the position for over four years after the retirement of our celebrated nonagenarian, David Smith. Thank you to both Alison and David for your dedication and service. Alison has been teaching a new band of South Leigh ringers, and will continue to offer tuition to local learners.

Martin Spurrier, March 2020

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Ringing the changes

The role of Tower Captain is quite a job! It involves the overall responsibility to the Church Warden, Vicar and the Diocese for the bell ringing on Sundays and on other special and State occasions.

Heather is responsible for the recruitment of bell ringers, and for accessing training for them and for the Steeple Keepers. She also liaises with the Guild of Church Bell Ringers to ensure that the Health & Safety issues in the tower are adhered to. Mostly, though, she is responsible for ensuring that the bells ring for us all to enjoy.

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Bell mechanism

Chaps in the Belfry
Accompanying the bats, meanwhile, Ian Thompson (rear) with Michael Collett (front) has handed over to Martin Spurrier (right) and Michael as Joint Steeple Keepers. Thank you, Ian, for five years of keeping our bells oiled and ringing. Steeple Keepers are responsible for the maintenance and good order of the bells and their ancillary equipment, the turret clock and the Ringing Chamber. The clock, built circa 1750, was last restored by the people of South Leigh for the Millennium but had become unreliable and so is currently being surveyed. We hope that we can have it back in action soon after some professional TLC.

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In the last few weeks, much work has been done in the Tower. We have adjusted the ‘Ringing Circle’ and have moved some of the rope guides in order to make ringing better for the bell ringers and to reduce the wear on the bell ropes. And soon, a new Maintenance Plan and Work Schedule will include sprucing up the Ringing Chamber at the West end of the nave, at ground level.

Left: Looking down from the Clock Chamber to the Ringing Chamber. The ropes are gathered in the centre in a rope warmer. This protects them from the damp and keeps them dry and supple.

More on bells: Our current eight bells (top, right) were installed in 1907 and our ‘Sanctus Bell’ was cast in 1399! Bells are cast in bronze and our largest is over 10 cwt. That’s about half the weight of a small car. The sound of bells is glorious and evocative, but ringing and maintaining them needs knowledge and training. In due course, we hope to talk about the ancient skill of bell ringing and its history.

Find out more about bell ringing, contact Heather Horner:   hahwindrush@aol.com    01993 357389

Martin Spurrier, March 2020

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Winter 2019 update

We have tried to maintain Sunday Service ringing each week and have had help particularly from Andy Goldthorpe, Tower captain at St. Mary's, Witney. At the moment, we ring on the front 6 (lighter) bells. Practice Night is usually Thursday, but in November, we have started, on alternate weeks, joint Practices with South Leigh and Witney. This is to achieve a stronger band each time rather than spreading our resources more thinly.

Following Ian Thompson's move away, we are looking for a new Steeple Keeper. The duties include regular (but not too frequent) maintenance of the bells, bell frame and ropes, and access is via a spiral staircase in the tower. Training can be offered through the Oxford Diocesan Guild which runs training courses with the aim of providing towers and ringers with self-help information.

We are always looking to recruit new ringers for the tower. If you are interested in joining us and being trained, please contact us.

One of our ringers, Heather Horner, rang in a Quarter Peal at St. Giles, Bletchingdon on 15th September, to celebrate Battle of Britain Day. Evadne Vallance rang in a Quarter Peal at Freeland on 29th November as part of an all-ladies band celebrating the centenary of Nancy Astor becoming the first woman MP to take her seat as a British MP, on 1st December, 1919. Details of a recent Quarter Peal in which two of our ringers took part is reproduced below:

Oxford Diocesan Guild
South Leigh, Oxfordshire
St. James the Great
Thursday, 14 November 2019 in 42m (10-1-26 in G)

1260 Grandsire Doubles

1 Heather Horner (South Leigh)
2 Christopher A. Moxon (South Leigh)
3 Alison T. Merryweather-Clarke (North Leigh)
4 Michael Probert (Freeland)
5 Andrew Goldthorpe (Witney)
6 Robert W. Walton (North Leigh)
Conducted by Alison T. Merryweather-Clarke

Rung on the back 6 in celebration of the new ministry of the Reverend David Spence as Associate Priest for the Benefice of St. Mary's, Cogges and St. James the Great South Leigh, concurrently with his induction service at Cogges.

Our Bell Ringers' contact is
Evadne Vallance.

Christopher A. Moxon
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The new band emerges triumphant into the sunshine.
Left to right: Heather, Evadne, Anne, Chris, Richard

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Ringers and support team after the half-muffled ring on Armistice memorial day.

Become a Bell Ringer - join a tradition dating back 400 years

What's Bell Ringing all about?
Bell ringing is a team activity that stimulates the brain and helps to keep it fit... it also makes a glorious sound! Many consider ringing to be their contribution to church life, others do it for the pure pleasure it brings. Ringers come from all walks of life and range in age usually from ten to those in their eighties.

Why learn to ring?
A global group of friends
Lifelong learning experience
Maintain a traditional skill
A service to the church and community
Team activity
A great mental workout
Opportunity to visit amazing places

Come and see
Listen for the bells at a church near you, or
visit this website to find a tower in your area, then go along to see what bell ringing is all about.

Change Ringing
The origins of change ringing lie in the sixteenth century when church bells began to be hung with a full wheel. This gave ringers control of their bell, which allowed sets of bells (rings) to be rung in a continuously changing pattern.

Music is created by moving bells up and down the ringing order to a defined sequence of changes known as a method. Learning a few simple methods allows ringers to join in with other bands in towers around the world.

Could I become a ringer?
Ringing is a well within the capabilities of most people. The initial teaching takes several weeks, after which a learner can begin to ring with the rest of the band. Most ringers practice once or twice a week and ring before or after church on Sunday.

How to find out more...
For ringing at St. James the Great, South Leigh, practice night is on Thursday evenings from 7.30pm to 9.00pm and ringing for the Sunday Service 9.00am to 9.30am.

For more details, please contact:-
Acting Tower Captain: Alison Merriweather-Clarke
Local ringer; Evadne Vallance - evadnevallance@hotmail.co.uk
Local ringer: Heather Horner - 01993 357389

or...

Visit a tower near you when you hear the church bells. Look for posters in church porches listing ringing activities

and...
Visit:
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Visit:
The Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers
Visit:
The Witney & Woodstock branch of Bell Ringers
What's Bell Ringing all about?
Bell ringing is a team activity that stimulates the brain and helps to keep it fit... it also makes a glorious sound! Many consider ringing to be their contribution to church life, others do it for the pure pleasure it brings. Ringers come from all walks of life and range in age usually from ten to those in their eighties.

Why learn to ring?
A global group of friends
Lifelong learning experience
Maintain a traditional skill
A service to the church and community
Team activity
A great mental workout
Opportunity to visit amazing places

Come and see
Listen for the bells at a church near you, or visit this website to find a tower in your area, then go along to see what bell ringing is all about.

Change Ringing
The origins of change ringing lie in the sixteenth century when church bells began to be hung with a full wheel. This gave ringers control of their bell, which allowed sets of bells (rings) to be rung in a continuously changing pattern.

Music is created by moving bells up and down the ringing order to a defined sequence of changes known as a method. Learning a few simple methods allows ringers to join in with other bands in towers around the world.

Could I become a ringer?
Ringing is a well within the capabilities of most people. The initial teaching takes several weeks, after which a learner can begin to ring with the rest of the band. Most ringers practice once or twice a week and ring before or after church on Sunday.

How to find out more...
For ringing at St. James the Great, South Leigh, practice night is on Thursday evenings from 7.30pm to 9.00pm and ringing for the Sunday Service 9.00am to 9.30am.

For more details, please contact:-
Acting Tower Captain: Alison Merriweather-Clarke
Local ringer; Evadne Vallance - evadnevallance@hotmail.co.uk
Local ringer: Heather Horner - 01993 357389

or...

Visit a tower near you when you hear the church bells. Look for posters in church porches listing ringing activities

and...
Visit: The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Visit: The Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers
Visit: The Witney & Woodstock branch of Bell Ringers
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Photos © Keith Chandler

South Leigh Bells

We ring the bells on Sunday
And call all folk to pray.
A few will heed the message,
But more will stay away.

God’s bells give Him much pleasure,
And we enjoy them too.
So when we sound our message
What does that mean to you?

"The bells they sound so lovely,
We hear them all quite near.
They’re part of our tradition
And maybe more, that’s clear"

The bells can speak of Jesus
And what he came to do.
There’s blessing there for all of us
And for our children too!

So when you hear our ringing
Just offer up this prayer:-
"Lord Jesus, please bless me and mine
And keep us in Your care"
 
David Smith