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The ringers’ outing in July was to Oxfordshire. After ringing on the heavyish eight at Blewberry, we went to Wallingford, where we had time for refreshments served in the back of what is now a very airy church, before ringing on the ten upstairs. After a leisurely lunch at the White Hart in Dorchester, we crossed the Thames to ring on the light ground-floor eight at Warborough.
The next village was Drayton St Leonard, where the six bells proved to be quite a challenge, despite their lightness. The tower is made of timber, and in dry weather the joints loosen as the timber shrinks. Such wobbly towers move when the bells are swung, which causes a lot of creaking and groaning from the woodwork, and makes the bells behave unpredictably. One minute your bell may swing higher than you expected, and the next it may drop like a stone. All towers move a bit, but this was extreme – so extreme that you could see the tower moving if you looked up at it from the churchyard.
Our final ringing was at Dorchester Abbey, whose bells are about the same weight as ours, and whose Tenor was cast by the Wokingham foundry around 1600. We had allowed time to enjoy tea and home made cakes in the Abbey Museum tea shop before ringing for evensong, which was sung by All Saints choir. Several of us stayed for the service, and helped to swell the congregation.
The day finished with a barbecue at Jane & Nigel Mellor’s, by which time the temperature was far more comfortable than it had been all day.
John Harrison (July 2010)
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