It was a quiet spring evening and Phill Ridley (Deputy Ringing Master at St Mary’s Battersea) and Ben Meyer (Ringing Master at St Martin’s in the Fields) were talking over how each of their towers were doing and what the latest developments were. During this conversation Ben asked Phill “Would the ringers at Battersea be interested in joining us on our Monday evening practice in August?” Phill tried to act nonchalant at such a request to make sure Ben’s ego didn’t get out of control and said he would enquire back at Battersea.
To say the Battersea ringers were enthusiastic is something of an understatement – Maria even travelled back from Devon early so she could make it! So a list of people interested was drawn up and sent on to St Martin’s and the various stages of organisation began.
St Martin’s in the Fields has 12 bells, the heaviest of which weighs just short of 1.5 tonnes. This means that they are a step up from ringing on the much lighter 8 bells at Battersea as there are more ropes to ring around as well as heavier bells to pull. You could compare it to moving from your piano at home to a 4 manual organ in a cathedral! This combined with the very public location of performing over Trafalgar Square in Central London meant the pressure was on for the Battersea Ringers to perform well.
At 6:30pm the Battersea ringers (along with Sunny our Parish Administrator who came to make sure we behaved ourselves) gathered at the base of the tower with the St Martin’s ringers ready to be taken up to the ringing chamber. A mixture of nerves and excitement was felt as we climbed the c. 50 steps.
Ben ran the ringing in an excellent manner and everyone had plenty of goes considering the number of people up the tower. The methods rung ranged from rounds and call changes for those having their first go ringing on 12 bells up to Bristol Max, a highly complicated method of which a significant number of the band were from St Mary’s Battersea!
After 90 minutes of ringing we finally lowered the bells, thanked the St Martin’s ringers for hosting us and posed for a group photo at the bottom of the tower before heading to the pub. In the pub we managed to take over the upper room, and plenty of well earnt pints were drunk as the two bands introduced themselves and old friends caught up on recent news.
If you fancy taking up ringing we regularly go on trips around the country as well as ringing at St Mary’s Battersea on a Monday night and Sunday morning. It is a fantastic hobby testing both mental and fitness capacity. We now have state of the art teaching facilities so there has never been a better time to learn. We can offer free tuition – all you have to do is contact us to arrange an introductory lesson.
Deputy Ringing Master, St Mary’s Battersea