Bellringers’ Report – July 2014

On Saturday 14th June Staplehurst bellringers entered a band in the Maidstone District ringing contest, held at the attractively situated church at Stansted nestling in the North Downs. Two weeks later on 28th June a number of our ringers attended a District Barbeque at Marden. Both events took place after the copy date for the July magazine, but we will have reports on both in the August issue.

After several years when Staplehurst was a popular venue for weddings, this year we have very few and none at all during July for which the couple have requested bells. Neither have we any visiting bands scheduled for July. However we will, of course, be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services during July.

Bellringers’ Report – June 2014

On Saturday 10th May twenty-three of our ringers and friends enjoyed their annual outing, during which they rang at six churches around the Braintree area of Essex and enjoyed the usual pub lunch.

On Saturday 24th May it was our turn to play host when we welcomed visiting ringers from around the world who were at Maidstone for the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers’ annual meeting.

This meeting takes place in a different county each year (and sometimes abroad), so it really was a once in a lifetime event for us here in Kent.

During May we also rang for the Ascension Day High Mass.

On Saturday 14th June we will be ringing for a 2.00pm wedding before hot footing it over to Stansted where we will be entering a band in the Maidstone District ringing contest. Staplehurst has won this trophy for the last two years so we will be aiming for a hat trick of wins this year. Two weeks later our ringers are again likely to be out in force at the District Barbeque at Marden. Let’s hope the weather has improved by then!

Perhaps surprisingly, we have no further weddings during June, nor do we have any visiting bands of ringers scheduled to ring our bells. Apart from the wedding mentioned above, we will therefore just be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services during June.

Bellringers’ Report – May 2014

Strangely, the period leading up to Easter is a rather quiet one for ringers, in every sense of the word. In common with most other churches we do not practice during Holy Week, we do not ring for any Services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday or Holy Saturday, nor do we allow visitors to ring our bells during that period. However, the bells rang out joyously as ever to celebrate Easter Day.

With Easter now behind us we look forward to an upturn in activities during May. Firstly on Saturday 10th May our ringers will be going on their annual outing. This year the venue is the area around Braintree in Essex where we will be ringing at six churches and enjoying a pub lunch. A report of the outing will appear in next month’s issue. Then on Monday 19th May we hope to be able to ring for a 12.30pm wedding; however at the time of writing we are experiencing difficulty in finding people who are available to ring in the middle of a working day, and we may have to bring in ringers from other towers to help. It should hopefully be easier to find ringers for the Ascension Day High Mass on Thursday evening, 29th May.

However the highlight of the month must be the visit of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers to ring our bells between 3.15 and 4.15pm on Saturday 24th May. The Central Council is the global governing body of bell-ringing and they will be visiting us during their Annual Meeting which this year is being held near Maidstone.

Other than the above, we will be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services during May.

Bellringers’ Report – April 2014

As you will know from recent Reports we have several promising young ringers amongst our band, so on the Monday morning of half term week we ran an additional practice especially for them. We also invited youngsters from neighbouring Marden, with adults from both towers providing support. Following two hours of practice the young people, along with the helpers, enjoyed a sumptuous lunch in the church, kindly provided by some of the adults. The event proved very worthwhile and we are now looking at holding similar events during future school holidays, perhaps extending invitations to young people at other towers in the Maidstone District.

Staplehurst is certainly a very popular place to ring at the moment. At our practice on 18th February we had a record 26 ringers, including 6 visitors, a number only normally achieved at some Cathedrals. Then on 9th March we were pleased to welcome some visitors from the Central European Association of ringers. They were visiting the UK to ring peals at Maidstone and Benenden and chose to join us for Sunday morning service ringing.

We have visitors coming to ring quarter-peals on our bells between 12noon and 1.00pm on Thursday 3rd April and between 11.00am and 12 noon on Monday 28th April. That aside, we will be ringing for our normal Tuesday practice evening and regular Sunday Services. However, as usual we will not be practicing during Holy Week.

Bellringers’ Report – March 2014

February was once again a fairly quiet month for our bellringers, so there is not much to report. However, on the morning of Saturday 8th February several of our ringers attended a District Practice at Benenden. There are 12 bells at Benenden, which presents a different sort of challenge to our ringers who are more used to ringing on Staplehurst’s ten bells; indeed for some of our younger ringers it was the first time they had ever rung on twelve, and they acquitted themselves quite well.

Congratulations are also due to Stafford Biddulph, who has returned to ringing after a lengthy break and rang his first quarter-peal for more than a decade for the Sunday evening service on 2nd February. The quarter-peal was also Richard Barclay’s 100th on Staplehurst bells.

In addition to our normal Tuesday practice evening and regular Sunday Services, we will also be ringing for the Ash Wednesday service on 5th March.

Bellringers’ Report – February 2014

All in all January was a rather quiet month for the Staplehurst ringers, following the busy lead up to Christmas, although we did ring for the Epiphany High Mass on 6th January. Then on Saturday 11th January three of our younger ringers attended a District ringing meeting at Boxley at which one of them, Ruby Bayley, was elected to membership of the Kent County Association of Change Ringers.

There is no additional ringing planned for February, so we will just be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services.

Bellringers’ Report – January 2014

The Staplehurst Bellringers hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas and wish you all the best for the New Year.

The Christmas period is always a busy time for our ringers, and this year it started even earlier for us. On Tuesday 26th November, instead of our usual practice, 26 ringers, partners and friends enjoyed a Christmas meal together at the King’s Head. The food and service were excellent and we are very grateful to manager Mick and his staff who went that extra mile to make sure we had an evening to remember.

On Friday 13th December we managed (just) to get enough people to ring for a wedding – always difficult during a working day and even more so just before Christmas. Then on Saturday 14th some of our ringers joined those from other churches in the area for a special Bellringers’ Carol Service at East Farleigh, followed by mince pies and mulled wine. In addition to the normal Sunday Services we also rang for the Christingle Service on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Morning. By the time you read this, we will also have enjoyed our traditional New Year’s Party and will have “rung in” 2014.

Last year was a very successful one for our ringers and we aim to build on that success in 2014. To help keep that momentum going we always need to recruit more ringers. As you will see above there is a good social side to bell-ringing. We nearly always adjourn to The King’s Head for liquid refreshment after practice, and once a year we have a day’s outing ringing at churches in other parts of the country. Why not make it one of your New Year resolutions to come and visit us at our Tuesday practice and see what it’s all about. For more information contact our Tower Captain Sue Bassett on 01580 891917. In case anyone is wondering, I must stress that there is absolutely no requirement for ringers to attend the church services that they ring for (although if they wished to, they would be most welcome).

During January we will be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening, for the regular Sunday Services and hopefully for the Epiphany High Mass on Monday 6th January. At present we have no visiting bands coming to ring on our bells in the early part of 2014, but that may well change as we move towards Spring.

2013 Reports

Bellringers’ Report – December 2013

The Staplehurst Bellringers held their AGM on 5th November with Silke, our Rector, in the Chair. Sue Bassett was re-elected Tower Captain with Ann Fulcher as Assistant Tower Captain and Daniel Brady as Ringing Master. Chris Bassett was re-elected as Steeple keeper, Roy Barclay as Secretary and Sallyann Barclay as Treasurer. We were pleased that Silke was able to join us for refreshments in the King’s Head afterwards.

On Saturday 9th November we entered two bands in the Maidstone District Call Change Striking Contest at Mereworth. We have won this competition twice in the last three years and we are pleased to say that this year not only did one of our bands win, but also our other band were runners up! This is a particularly satisfying result as each band included one of our younger ringers, Roddy Lucas, was in the winning band in this, his first ringing competition, whilst Sebastian Cahill was in the runners-up band. Well done to both of them.

Looking to the future, our ringers will be enjoying their Christmas meal on one of the Tuesday evenings in December but at the time of writing the date had not been fixed. If you don’t hear the bells ringing one Tuesday, then you will know where we are! As well as the regular Sunday Services we will be ringing for some of the extra services over Christmas and, of course, our normal Tuesday practices (although we will definitely not be practising on Christmas Eve!) We will, as usual, be ringing in the New Year.

Finally the Staplehurst Bellringers would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

 

Bellringers’ Report – November 2013

As I mentioned in last month’s issue Staplehurst ringers represented the Maidstone District in the County ringing contest at Lamberhurst on 28th September, where we competed against bands representing the other five Districts in Kent. We came a creditable third place in a very close competition and in fact only just failed to make the runners-up spot. The judges commented that all bands rang very well, making it hard at times to find fault with the ringing. All in all a very encouraging result for us.

The previous weekend one of our young ringers, Jack Velvick, conducted his first quarter-peal. This basically means giving instructions to the ringers and making sure that they don’t go wrong during the 45 minutes of continuous ringing. This a big responsibility for an adult, let alone a fourteen year old, and our congratulations go to him. The quarter-peal was dedicated to Sonja Drew who was licensed as a Lay Reader in Canterbury Cathedral that afternoon. Coincidentally all the ringers taking part in the quarter-peal were either present or past members of the choir, of which Sonja herself was also a part.

As to the future, on Tuesday 5th November we will be holding our Tower AGM at which we will be electing officers for the coming year, so ringing will be somewhat curtailed that evening.

On the morning of Saturday 16th November some of our ringers, together with a little help from our regular visitors, will be attempting to ring a peal which will take about three hours to complete. If we are successful it will be the 100th peal on the bells since the first one was rung 126 years ago.

This apart, we will be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday services during November, and for the High Mass to celebrate our Patronal Festival on Friday 1st November.

Bellringers’ Report – October 2013

As autumn approaches things are getting back into full swing in the tower with our ringers now back from their holidays. We have also welcomed three young people who are learning to ring and all are progressing well. As a number of our ringers are approaching (or indeed have already reached) senior citizen status it is important that we encourage the younger generation to take up the art in order that our bells are rung for many years to come.

At the other end of the age spectrum, on Tuesday 10th September we were pleased to welcome the COOTS to ring on our bells. No, not the feathered variety but a group of mainly retired people who meet to ring together once a month at different churches throughout Kent. This was the first time in quite a few years that the COOTS – their name is an acronym for Come Out On TuesdayS – have visited Staplehurst and they had an enjoyable time.

As I mentioned in last month’s issue Staplehurst ringers represented the Maidstone District in the County ringing contest at Lamberhurst on 28th September, where we competed against bands representing the other five districts in Kent. Copy deadlines mean that a report on how we fared will have to wait for the next issue.

We currently have no additional ringing planned for October so we will just be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services.

Bellringers’ Report – September 2013

In last month’s issue I mentioned that we would be entering a band in the Maidstone District ringing contest at Wrotham on Saturday 13th July. I am pleased to be able to report that we brought home the winners’ shield for the second successive year and we now go forward to the County ringing contest at Lamberhurst on 28th September, where we will compete against the winning bands from the other five districts in Kent. The contest was followed by a barbeque at the home of one of the Wrotham ringers on one of the warmest evenings of the year.

On 3rd August many of our ringers joined others from the Maidstone District on a ringing outing to London. We rang at five City churches, including St James Garlickhythe which now houses the ring of eight bells which headed the Queen’s Jubilee procession last year aboard a barge. On the same day we were, belatedly, asked to ring for a wedding. Fortunately we were able to meet this request, thanks to ringers from elsewhere coming to help us out.

The wedding season is now over so there are no more to ring for this year. However we do have a visiting band coming to ring our bells on Tuesday 10th September between 11.45am and 12.45pm. That apart, we will be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services during September.

Bellringers’ Report – August 2013

It is with deep regret that we begin this report with the sad news that Peter Mortley, for many years a dedicated member of our band, passed away on Friday 5th July. He was also a former Churchwarden and Reader Emeritus. Although Peter’s health had prevented him from ringing in recent years he remained a great friend and supporter of the ringers and our sympathy is with his wife Pam and the family. A quarter peal was rung to Peter’s memory the following Sunday.

On Saturday 13th July we entered a band in the Maidstone District ringing contest at Wrotham, which was followed by a barbeque at the home of one of the Wrotham ringers. Copy deadlines mean that we are unable to report on these events in this issue, but let’s hope that we have some good news to tell in the September magazine!

We are now in the height of the holiday season and on Saturday 3rd August most of our ringers who are not away will be joining others from the Maidstone District for an outing to London. On the same day we have belatedly been asked to ring for a wedding and we are currently looking at importing ringers from elsewhere to cover this. There are also weddings scheduled for 17th and 24th August although at the time of going to press it had not been confirmed whether or not bells had been requested.

Otherwise, we will be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services during August.

 

Bellringers’ Report – July 2013

Unfortunately the Maidstone District ringing contest, scheduled to take place at Ulcombe on Saturday 8th June, had to be postponed. It will now take place at Wrotham on Saturday 13th July and will be followed by a barbeque at the home of one of the Wrotham ringers. Let us hope that the weather is a bit warmer by then!

After several years when we have rung for weddings almost every Saturday throughout the summer, this year we have comparatively few and, surprisingly, none at all during July. We will, however, be ringing for the Confirmation Service on Tuesday 16th July. Otherwise, we will be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services during July.

Bellringers’ Report – June 2013

On Saturday 4th May twenty-one of our ringers and friends went on their annual outing, this year to the Surrey/Hampshire border where we rang at six churches and enjoyed a pub lunch at the delightfully named Hen & Chicken pub at Froyle. We experienced a variety of bells and different styles of churches, one of which, St Nicholas at Compton, featured a second altar on a gallery above the main altar. The day, which started with heavy showers, turned into a bright sunny afternoon and the day was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

On Saturday 18th May it was our turn to play host when we welcomed a visiting band of ringers from Edenbridge who were on their outing.

On Sunday 8th June we will be entering a band in the Maidstone District ringing contest at Ulcombe. Staplehurst won this trophy last year and we will need to be at our best if we are to retain it again this year.

June has always been a popular month for weddings and this year is no exception. We are ringing for two on Saturday 15th June, one at 12noon and the other at 2.00pm, and for another on Saturday 29th June at 2.00pm. That aside, we will be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services during June.

Bellringers’ Report – May 2013

After a rather busy time during March, April was rather more relaxed for our ringers. However things will be picking up a little during May.

On Saturday 4th May our ringers will be going on their annual outing. This year the venue is the Surrey/Hampshire border where we will be ringing at six churches and enjoying a pub lunch at the delightfully named Hen & Chicken pub at Froyle. A report of the outing will appear in next month’s issue.

Then on Saturday 18th May we will be welcoming a visiting band from Edenbridge who will be coming to ring our bells between 6.00pm and 6.45pm. That same afternoon two of our ringers will be going down to the Romney Marsh to judge the Ashford District’s ringing competition at Brookland.

There are currently no weddings booked for May so, other than the above, we will be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services during May.

Bellringers’ Report – April 2013

To most people the sound of church bells is synonymous with Sunday church services. However, they are also rung for a variety of other occasions – some happy and some not so happy. Here at Staplehurst during the last month or so we have rung for one wedding, a funeral, for services of thanksgiving for the lives of Brioni Armytage and Grace Harvey and for the Service of Remembrance for Sgt Fitzgerald. This busy period was followed by Holy Week when, as is customary, we did not ring at all.

There are no weddings or visiting bands of ringers scheduled for April, so the only ringing will be our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services.

Bellringers’ Report – March 2013

When the ringers’ regular watering hole, The Bell, closed suddenly last year several ringing-related items loaned by the ringers to decorate the pub were locked inside. However we are pleased to be able to report that two of our ringers have been able to gain access to the pub, courtesy of owners, Enterprise Inns, and we have now retrieved a clapper, two bell ropes and a picture of the ringers. It seemed strange, and a little sad, to re-visit our former haunt, which had a feel of the Mary Celeste about it.

As usual we will not be ringing during Holy Week, but on the previous Saturday, 23rd March, we will be ringing for the Service of Remembrance at the restored War Memorial in St George’s Chapel. That apart we will be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services.

Bellringers’ Report – February 2013

As usual January was a rather quiet month for the Staplehurst ringers following the busy lead up to Christmas, and this month’s report is therefore rather short. There has, however, been one major achievement amongst our ringers with young Jack Phur ringing his first peal. The peal, which comprised almost three hours’ of continuous ringing, took place at Hunton, where the bells are considerably more difficult to ring than ours. Jack rang very well and, at just 13 years of age, becomes one of the youngest Staplehurst ringers to successfully ring a peal.

We will hope to be ringing for the Ash Wednesday service on 13th February and we will also be ringing for a 1.00pm wedding on Saturday 16th February. That apart we will be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services.

Bellringers’ Report – January 2013

The Staplehurst Bellringers hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas and wish you all the best for the New Year.

As usual, the Christmas period was a busy time for our ringers. On Saturday 8th December some of us joined ringers from other churches in the area for a special Bellringers’ Carol Service at Nettlestead, followed by mince pies and mulled wine. Then on Tuesday 11th December, instead of our usual practice, most of our ringers together with partners and friends enjoyed a Christmas meal together at the Stilebridge Inn. In addition to the normal Sunday Services we also rang for the Christingle Service on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Morning. By the time you read this, we will also have enjoyed our traditional New Year’s Party and will have “rung in” 2013.

During January we will be ringing on our normal Tuesday practice evening and for the regular Sunday Services. At present we have no visiting bands coming to ring on our bells in the early part of 2013, but that may well change as we move towards spring.