Archived Feature ~ Lubenham's Millennium Bell

The final peal of 5040 changes, rung on five bells before the new sixth bell was installed, was undertaken on Saturday 1st December 2001. The ringing lasted for two hours, thirty-five minutes and was conducted by Ray Martin on the fifth bell. On the treble was Patrick Biggs, ringing in his first peal; second bell was John Hunt; third Kate Hand, also ringing her first peal; and fourth bell was Claire Johnson. We rang a combination of four methods - Plain Bob doubles, St Martins, St Simons and Grandsire - each method consisting of 1260 changes.

Ringing a peal is quite a challenge, and has not been undertaken on Lubenham bells by local ringers since August 1987! But once we had settled down to the ringing we enjoyed the challenge, suffering only minor blisters and aching arms. It is good team work and certainly good for stimulating the grey matter! Needless to say, after standing for that amount of time and concentrating to such an extent, we were happy to repair to the local hostelry and imbibe some liquid refreshment.

The new sixth bell arrived the following Thursday and was left on display in the church over the weekend. Various comments were made regarding its size: some thought it was small, others considered it to be large, but all agreed it looked very impressive and the golden colour of the metal was of particular interest. Before it was cast there had been a considerable amount of deliberation over the inscription; eventually it was decided that, since so many people had kindly contributed to the bell fund, the inscription should reflect this generosity. Therefore on one side of the bell are the simple words, "All Saints' Ringers and Friends".

The bell hangers stayed with us for around a week working on the installation, ably assisted by Frank Cook, Patrick Biggs and Don Johnson. By providing their labour these three saved us a total of 668.00 on the final cost, for which we give grateful thanks. Some of the time they were handling cold steel and heavy lifting gear, and it must have been a nightmare as it is very cold at the top of the tower. But stalwarts they were, and they never complained: they even said they enjoyed every minute, fmding the work and learning the mechanics to be very interesting! I admire their fortitude, as once or twice when I venture up the old, almost vertical, ladder I found the gale-force wind through the louvres cutting and certainly an inhospitable environment, from which I hastily retreated. They did all agree that the worst part was looking down through the trap doors as they hauled up the bell. That point was my cue to make the coffee!

On the following Friday a group of us rang a few methods to try the new bell. We were delighted with the sound: it really did round off the five bells. We are now looking forward to the dedication service and continuing to ring our bells on a regular basis. We have a lively group of all ages and at all stages and what is very encouraging is the way the 'young bell ringers' are progressing. Having said that, there is always a welcome for anyone who wants to learn and provide the continuity of ringing in the village.

Finally, let me apologise if, for a while, we clatter the bells more than usual! Counting up to six will take some getting used to and I shall have to use the fingers of both hands! Hopefully we shall soon have mastered the art of ringing six bells and the many more challenging methods to use.

Have you ever thought of coming to join the bellringers, instead of sitting at home and enjoying the sound? We always welcome new ringers, regardless of age and experience: at the moment, one of our number is just seven years old, and the age range goes right up to 84! We practise every other Wednesday evening; next time you hear the bells, let them draw you along to the church to find out more.

Claire Johnson
February 2002


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