Bells- Arthur Richards Cup 2016

 

St Mary’s is fortunate to have a fine ring of six church bells, hung for full-circle change ringing in its Western tower. It is equally fortunate to have a loyal and dedicated band of bell-ringers who keep the bells ringing for Sunday Services by practicing their art each week.

There are around 5,000 churches in England with bells hung in this fashion (change ringing is a peculiarly English tradition – there are only a handful of such rings in other countries in the UK and beyond). About 200 of these rings are in the historic county of Kent, which are divided into six geographical Districts with around 30 towers in each. St Mary’s falls within the most North-Westerly of those six – the “Lewisham District”, which spans from Penge in the West to Ash-by-Wrotham in the East; from Woolwich in the North to Downe in the South.

Bells are the largest and loudest musical instruments in the world and bellringers, like all musicians, strive to achieve the best ringing that they can. To that end, the thirty-one District towers are invited each year to send a group of their ringers to take part in a competition, in which they must produce a single, judged piece of ringing lasting for only 120 changes, or about five minutes. The 2016 competition was hosted at St Mary Cray, in no small part to give other local ringers the opportunity to see the recent restoration of the tower.

Eight teams, each comprising six ringers, elected to enter the competition, and all duly arrived at St Mary’s after the Christmas Fayre on the afternoon of 19th November. Rev Jane welcomed all the ringers, and presided over a random draw to determine the order in which the bands would ring. St Mary’s band was drawn to ring 6th out of the 8 teams. The band produced a good piece of ringing with which they were all very pleased. St Mary’s hasn’t entered one of these competitions for many years, so our aim was just to ring as well as we could – and hopefully not come last!

All of the eight teams successfully completed their test piece, and the bands assembled in the church afterwards to hear the results. We were pleased to welcome Tom Lawrence of the St Paul’s Cathedral ringers in London to judge the competition, and in turn Tom thanked all the bands for producing a very high standard of ringing and making his afternoon enjoyable – even if he found it a little hard to separate some of the teams!

Competition ringing is judged by the awarding of “faults” – each row of six bells is supposed to be exactly even, with no gaps, hesitations or clashes between the bells. Given that Tom had to listen to (and score) 120 rows for each of the 8 teams, with each row only lasting around two seconds, the concentration and application required from the judge can be appreciated. Tom had spent the afternoon in the Vicar’s Vestry, and was not aware of the order in which the teams rang until after his results were announced. Tom chose to convert his “fault” scores in to percentages, and delivered his verdict as follows:

 

Place

Tower

Order Rang

Score %

1st

St Mary Cray

6th

64

2nd

Crayford

7th

62

3rd

Eltham

3rd

61

4th

Erith

8th

60

5th

Chelsfield

4th

58

6th

Sidcup

2nd

57

7th

Horton Kirby

5th

52

8th

Farnborough

1st

49

 

 

So not only had St Mary’s band achieved their aim of not coming last – they won, for the first time ever! The judge’s comments even included a description of one part of our ringing as “sparkling”, while the District Chairman, who was stewarding in the tower, said it was “like clockwork”. The Arthur Richards trophy was then presented by the District Ringing Master, Nick Wilkins, to Bethany and Tamsin, our youngest band members. The trophy will be engraved, and is ours to keep for the year – and we will ensure that it is on display at every possible opportunity!

The full St Mary’s band was:

Treble – Nigel Pointer (Conductor); 2nd Lynn Pointer; 3rd Bethany Pointer; 4th Tamsin Pointer; 5th Don Pointer; Tenor Peter Moyle.

Many congratulations to all the ringers – a fantastic achievement, and a great reward for all the time and effort that they have put in over many years. Thanks also to Fra for running the refreshments, to Rev Jane for her opening speech and her ongoing support, and most of all to St Mary’s community for providing the opportunity for us to ring these bells each week. For the next 12 months at least, you can claim to have the best band of bellringers in the local area! New recruits are always welcome…

Nigel 


Bells
Webpage icon St Mary's bells ring half muffled for London 4 June 2017
Webpage icon Bells