News - 2024

January As is the custom, the first Saturday in January is the day of the Tower Winter Outing which this time took in a church at Puttenham (just off the Hog’s Back) and three churches in Guildford. The church of St John the Baptist at Puttenham has its origins back in the 12th century, but as is usual in old churches, there are elements from most centuries! The tower has, unusually, two clock faces, on the adjacent west and north tower walls and the belfry contains six bells, the tenor weighing 7 ½ cwt. The second tower of the day was St Nicolas, just across the River Wey from the High Street in Guildford. This is the third church to be built on this riverside site and was consecrated in 1876. The square tower contains ten bells, the tenor weighing 21½ cwt, considerably heavier than our tenor bell at St Michaels. A couple of claims in history – P. G. Wodehouse was baptised here, and the Dean of St Nicolas wrote ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and ‘O Happy Band of Pilgrims’. The third tower of the day was St Mary, which was actually next door to the Star Inn, the church of St Mary is the oldest church in Guildford and dates from the times of the Saxons. There are six bells here, the tenor being 16 cwt, a bit heavier than our tenor, but this was in a six-bell tower with the complication of being rung anti-clockwise, which we are not used to! Getting to the ringing chamber was interesting, the usual spiral steps led up to a small triangular entrance into the roof space above the nave, which you then need to cross to get to the actual ringing chamber. The church is undergoing yet another restoration, this time of the roof timbers, mainly in the tower. Large steel beams have been fitted across the tower to take the weight of the bells. The last tower, Holy Trinity, was a just short walk up the High Street from St Mary’s church. Holy Trinity Church sits at the top of the High Street. There was a medieval church on this site, but it fell down in 1740 and the present Holy Trinity Church replaced it, being built in 1750. There are eight bells, the tenor weighing 23 ½ cwt. Of interest in the ringing chamber was a large stone tablet commemorating a peal rung on 29th May 1769, taking 3 hours and 25 minutes. On Saturday, 20th January a quarter peal of Janet Surprise Major was rung at All Saints Church, Crondall by a band including St Michael’s ringers, to celebrate the 75th birthday of one of the ringers. January also saw the Guild Annual District Meeting, which this year was held at St James’ Church, Bramley. St Mary’s Church, Eversley, was the venue for a quarter peal of Double Oxford Bob Minor by a mostly St Michael’s band to congratulate Tansley Jordan and Amanda Bourne on their Civil Partnership. As usual, on the last Friday of January, four St Michael’s Ringers with one each from Silchester and Wolverton, attempted and achieved a quarter peal of Reverse Canterbury Pleasure Place Doubles. This was a notable achievement as it was a first in the method conducting by Claire and a first in the method for all but the tenor ringer. The following Sunday afternoon tower members were busy ringing quarter peals in the late afternoon. One St Michael’s ringer was at All Saints, where they rang a quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles and five tower members plus one from Sherfield rang a quarter peal of Grandsire Doubles. February Ringers from St Michael’s continue to support Sherfield, Wolverton and Upton Grey churches, both for Sunday ringing and for practices too. We held Tuesday afternoon Silent Practices [it would seem that these are becoming more popular, we sometimes have up to ten ringers], a Surprise Silent Practice and we supported our own congregation with the serving of coffee after the Sunday service too. We tried for a Stedman Triples quarter peal In February, but it unfortunately fell apart not too far from the end. ☹ This month we held our Annual General Meeting with our rector, John Hudson, in the chair. It was a good opportunity for the rector to update us on the changes that are happening with the church and the proposed building updates happening later in the 2024. Basically, the church will be closed to all just after Easter until Christmas for the internal works to be carried out. Will this affect ringing? Thankfully no, because the tower entrance is separate from the church entrance. We will ring on Sundays and Wednesdays as usual, plus any additional times, eg, visits from other bell ringers. However, since there may be different services to ring for, the times of Sunday morning ringing may change. Saturday 17th saw the February W&P Basingstoke District Practice being held in the afternoon at St Michael’s Church with some thirty ringers present. The ringing chamber was rather overcrowded!