Donhead St Mary Bell Ringers - October 2015 Report

Recent special ringing: on 9 August, we rang a quarter-peal before Evensong to welcome The Rev'd Richard Warhurst to his first service at St Mary’s. On 9 September, we rang two special performances. You probably won’t have noticed, because it was during our usual Wednesday evening practice. First, we rang 66 called changes, called “Devon 60 on 3rds”, as a birthday compliment to Roy Jeans. One of the ringers was his son Chris, who learnt with us when he was 11. Chris then had to go, but Roy took his place, when we rang 120 called changes, known as “Plain Changes”, in honour of Her Majesty becoming Britain’s longest reigning monarch. The first piece took 15 minutes, while the second lasted half an hour, and included all the possible combinations for 5 bells, with the tenor donging last each time.

In August, we had our annual outing to ring at other local towers. Imber village was open to the public that day, so we booked a visit to ring their bells just after lunchtime. Unlike St Mary’s, the ringers stand on the ground floor at the back of the church, in full view of everyone. A lot of photos were taken of us, and we could explain to people what ringing was about. The bells are very light (their heaviest is 2 cwt, compared to our lightest of 4 cwt!) but were easy to ring; sometimes light bells can be more difficult to control. The original 5 bells were used to augment Edington Priory Church to a ring of 10 in the 1950s. The present 6 bells were installed in August 2010. We also rang at Shrewton, where we had to share the space with a lawn mower, strimmer and other garden equipment! One of the ringers has to stand on the step up to the church. Later we enjoyed the beautiful heavy 6 at Heytesbury, where you enter the ringing chamber via the roof – which can unnerve the more nervous! Wylye was our last; another 6 rung from the ground floor. Here a wooden bench took up much space, but, to allow one of the ringers to reach his rope, a semi-circle had been cut from its seat, like a large bite out of a sandwich! We ended with an excellent meal at the Horseshoe Inn at Ebbesbourne Wake.

Christopher Sykes