Donhead St Mary Bell-Ringers - August 2018 Report

After the Royal Wedding, we now have four local weddings to ring for, which will be very enjoyable. We usually only have 1 or 2 a year, but this year we are also welcoming weddings from Donhead St Andrew while that church is closed. They are really joyous occasions and of course we have a prime view from the back of the church. So I expect you will have heard us ring on the Saturdays of 14 and 21 July. Our other weddings are scheduled for 15 September and 6 October.

Wedding ringing differs from normal service ringing, in that we ring for about half an hour before and about 15 minutes afterwards. For a Sunday service, we ring till 5 minutes before the service starts. However, for a wedding, we ring until the bride arrives, unless she is late. It is difficult to time, as we cannot see out of our small window in the tower. I try to have the bells ringing as she comes up the path, and stop as she reaches the door. If the bride is late, we ring for a few minutes after the due time, and then stop and wait. Once we know that she is walking up the path, we try to give a few rings to welcome her. After the service, we ring for a quarter of an hour. Coming down from the tower, we never know whether we shall find a church deserted already, or everyone milling round taking photographs. The other big difference is that wedding ringing is recorded for posterity on sundry videos!

The Ladies Guild held their AGM at Charlton in June, and some of them enjoyed our bells during that weekend. They were very impressed by the tone and tuning, as well as the ‘good go’ of our bells (which means how easy they are to handle).

Some extra ringing over the next couple of months is in the calendar. On 30 August 1968 Jack Sansom taught me to ring, and I hope to celebrate that half-century with a quarter peal at St Mary’s, probably in the evening of Thursday 30 August 2018.

We are also hosting 2 practices for the Mere branch of the Salisbury Guild of Ringers: on Friday 10 August and on Tuesday 21 August, both in the evening. I’m afraid they all fall rather close together, but after that we are back to normal for September.


Christopher Sykes