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On 13th August, we rang a quarter peal. We often mark special occasions that way, but this was special. For Catey Smith it was her first quarter, a significant landmark for any ringer, and particularly well struck in her case. It was also part of the Diocesan Guild of Bellringers’ celebrations for the 450th anniversary of the Diocese.
Every year we hold a festival in July. It is centred round a communion service, with lots of ringing at different towers before and afterwards and various forms of social gathering. Originally in Oxford, it has ‘been on tour’ in recent years, as Newbury, High Wycombe and others have invited us to join in 900th anniversary celebrations. (When our 800th came up, I enquired about it coming here, but someone else got in first). This year we were back in the Cathedral in Oxford, with the Bishop of Buckingham officiating.
The festival marked the start of a period of special ringing up until the date of the first bishop’s enthronement on 14th August. In this time, the Guild was trying to arrange some form of celebratory ringing in every church with ringable bells. Of course that is a much harder task in some of the more remote rural areas of the Diocese than it is here in the populous southern tip.
But ringing, however beautiful, is heard and then passes. The Guild has set another more tangible goal this year, to provide a significant financial and practical contribution to the installation of a new ring of bells at the Cross and Stable church in Downs Barn, Milton Keynes.
The church, dedicated in 1987, has space for bells, unusual these days. The project will cost £30,000 to recast six redundant bells already acquired, and provide fittings, frame and structural work. Other donors will provide two trebles to make a ring of eight.
Those of us with bells, owe an enormous debt to the past. It is fitting that we should mark the 450th anniversary by investing for future generations in an expanding corner of the Diocese.
John Harrison (Sep 1993)
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