Many of us might listen to the bells ringing out their welcome on a Sunday, but you may not know much about them.
There have been bells at Wargrave since at least the seventeenth century and probably even before that. The six seventeenth century bells were destroyed in the fire of 1914 and their fire-distorted clappers can be seen hanging in the back of the church. Amazingly, considering that World War I was raging at the time, a splendid new ring of eight bells was installed in the tower in 1915.
The St Mary's bell ringing group has been increasing in numbers in the last year with the three or four ringers, but due to variations in availability week to there to be between 3 and 7 bells ringing on Sunday morning.
The team also ring for weddings during the year and gratefully rely on the Sonning ringing team to make up the numbers where needed.
This year has seen a new carpet in the ringing room and it has been admired by all. We have also purchased a set of new bell ropes. These ropes are over 50 feet in length and are replacing the last set of ropes fitted around 10 years ago.
Other maintenance problems this year have included broken ‘stays’ that need specially prepared woodwork that Chissock Woodcraft carried out for us. The ‘stay’ is, as its name suggests, used to stop the bell from going over its balance point.
Our Ringing Master, Vinni Sullivan, has set up training sessions for newcomers and been very successful with her providing as many as 4 sessions a week. These are tied-bell practices where the bell is physically prevented from sounding (to avoid upsetting our neighbours) but the pulling of the bells is as normal. Vinni is our ringing expert and keeps us all under control.
Our practice nights are Wednesday from 7.30pm until 9.00pm and these are with normal ringing. Anybody is welcome to visit these sessions although it is worth checking with or Vinni in case of cancellation due to lack of numbers.
If you would like to visit the bell tower, call or Email me and I will be happy to show you around, even give you a quick ring of a bell. We are always looking for new ringers.
We need your help. We need new recruits, of both sexes, with a minimum age of eleven. We ring for forty minutes on Sunday mornings (9.50-10.30), with an hour and a half practice on Wednesday evenings at 7.30. We also ring for weddings, for which we get paid. Unlike your friendly local golf club, ringing is completely free and all the tuition is given free of charge. We have a strong child protection policy and all instructors are CRB checked. Please do consider coming to join us. Ringing is a fascinating hobby and you will have friends all over the country and also in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. Ringers frequently visit other churches while on holiday or on business in other parts of the country and there's always a warm welcome and perhaps a sociable glass in the pub after the practice. You don't need to be a churchgoer or indeed to have any religious affiliation at all.
For further information download a leaflet and then please contact John Coombes 0118 940 2937