Holmer & Friends Summer (Mystery) Outing to Forest of Dean  

                              More Photos                                        Saturday 3rd July 2010

On a glorious sunny morning everyone met at the Holmer Church Hall at 8.30am. Dave was to drive the minibus containing 17 of us and Mike took his car with 5 more.

At this point I should list everyone. Dave & Karen, Mike & Sally, John & Mavis, Pam, Paul, Keith & Wendy, Kevin & Ruth, Ken & Celia, Kevin & Karen, June, Alex, Chloe, Tom, Mary & Robert. Out of the group there were 3 youngsters, 14 adult ringers and 5 non-ringers.

We started off at about 8.50am heading for the first tower and very soon turned off the expected route and shortly stopped at St. Weonards Church. This was a surprise to most of us as we had thought the first tower was to be at Goodrich. But it seems that at very short notice (previous evening) they had cancelled and Dave had very little time to organise a replacement tower, hence St. Weonards.

The tower has six bells (tenor 10-0-04) and the ringing chamber is up a circular stone stairs with varying width steps. This opened onto quite a large space and it appears that previously the ropes emerged from drainpipes not far above your heads. Now they have a frame containing guides and the drainpipes have been cut off just below the ceiling. With varying success we rang Plain Bob Doubles, Grandsire, Steadman, Rounds and Call Changes to give all abilities a fair opportunity. The church has lots of interesting features such as the family pews and the coffin bier. In the churchyard were plenty of seats to use while enjoying the views and a very good village shop is nearby.

Then it was back to the bus/car and off down some very narrow roads to the next tower at English Bicknor, which put us back on to the original schedule. I seem to recall that at one point Tom said “We won’t get through there Dave” but we obviously did.

This church is dedicated to St. Mary and contains some carved stone figures dating from the 14th century. The ringing chamber is new and on the first floor and is accessed by a circular cast iron staircase. There were originally five bells and another was added when they were re-hung in 2007 making six (tenor 7-1-8). We rang St. Simons, Bob Doubles, Cambridge, Steadman, Grandsire, Bob Minor, Rounds and Call Changes again with varying success. In the kitchen area below the bell chamber Tom found a small bell to ring with a bicycle frame for the wheel.

Then off to The Red Hart Inn at Blaisdon for lunch and a drink (or two) for some may be it was the highlight of the day. I think that most people enjoyed their meals and afterwards Ken produced a miniature set of hand bells which gave some fun for some of the ringers.

Our third church was not far from the pub and is dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels at Blaisdon. This was a ground floor ringing chamber. Originally there were five bells which had been recast in 1912 and another treble added to make six (tenor 7-2-5). Here we rang Grandsire, Plain Hunt, Steadman, Plain Bob/Little Bob and Rounds and Call Changes. When we arrived the vicar was conducting a practice for a christening and there were plastic ducks in the font and the children were playing with them. The youngest had her feet dangling in the water in the font. Outside of the churchyard there were some horses in a field.

Then off to the final tower. This church was St. John the Baptist at Huntley.  Another ground floor ring of six bells (tenor 7-0-24). We arrived a little early and went to the adjacent garden centre for refreshments (at this time the sun was shining very strongly and most of us were wilting a little. In church we rang Bob Doubles, Cambridge, Grandsire, St. Simons, Plain Hunt, Mixed Doubles, Steadman, Rounds. Outside in the walled churchyard behind the church was a huge yew tree with a hollow trunk which you could stand inside.

Then back to the transport to return to Holmer at about 5.30pm. All together it was a very pleasant day enjoyed by all. Three cheers for Dave & Karen for organising the trip.

On a personal note I am surprised at the large size of all of the churches that we visited considering that they are all in little villages and that they were so well maintained.

Robert and Mary.

Key to picture.
In doorway; Kevin J, Kevin H, Ken, Mike, Robert, Keith, Paul.
Standing; Mary, Karen P, Ruth, Karen H, June, Sally, Celia, Wendy, Mavis, John
Sitting; Dave, Pam, Alex, Tom, Chloe.