Report April 2016

Report on monthly talk on Friday 15th April 2016
Within the sound of St Peter’s bells in Kineton, the local history group enjoyed a talk by the Captain of the ringers, Graham Nabb. And we did hear some bells, as Graham’s excellent presentation included videos of several peals of bells being rung, as well as a model showing how bells are hung, and an actual bell wheel.
First we learned about making bells. In England this specialist process is now only undertaken by two foundries, one in Whitechapel the other in Loughborough. The Whitechapel foundry dates back to 1570, when Shakespeare was only 6 years old, and is the oldest manufacturing firm in Britain. The historic process still involves horse hair and cow dung in mould making. We had naming of parts, many referring to the human body – crown, head, shoulder, waist, lip and mouth – as we discovered how bells are made, hung and rung.
Graham explained the complex business of bell tuning, and played a recording of how horrible it sounds if they are not well tuned (sorry Crowle, they sounded awful), and what a well-tuned peal sounds like from Worcester Cathedral. Even the cloth-eared among us could tell the difference. The inscriptions cast onto bells in the foundry range from the terse to the comic, with several examples of donors getting their contributions permanently recorded, like one at Bath Abbey: “All you of Bathe who hear me sound Thank Lady Hopton’s hundred pound”.
We saw some examples of enormous bells. The Olympic Bell, weighing almost 23 tonnes with a half tonne clapper, is the largest tuned bell in the world, although it has only rung a few times. It is due to be re-hung in the Olympic Park but it may never ring again because of fears that it is too loud. Paul McCartney blames it for distracting him prior to his 2012 performance of Hey Jude.
English change ringing began in the 17th century as a competitive sport among aristocratic teams, with names such as the Ramblers, Scholars, or Youths, meeting at Inns, and with no connection with the Church and its ceremonies. Changes were rung on anniversaries of national events, or celebrations. The Victorians brought bell ringing into the orbit of the church, and since then commemorative boards in bell towers record the names of the Vicar and Churchwardens as well as of the ringers and the peal commemorated.
Following a short question and answer session Rachel Mander gave the vote of thanks for an informative, entertaining and well illustrated talk, then members and visitors adjourned for teas, coffees and biscuits. On Friday 20th May at 7.30 at Kineton Village Hall Sarah Richardson will tell us about “Warwickshire women and the fight for the vote”. Members and visitors are most welcome.
DF 20.04.2016