Aylesford Tower Outing

Posted by on Monday, November 4, 2013 Under: Music

Aylesford Tower Outing

Aylesford Tower Outing

Once more the ranks of Aylesford ringers sallied forth on their annual outing on 28th September, this time crossing the water to South Essex. Our ranks were somewhat depleted for a variety of reasons so we were glad to have Barry Evans and (for the afternoon) Alan Phipps with us. It was good, too, to have the company of non ringers Diane Evans and Julie Hambelton. 

Thanks to the customary (but never to be taken for granted) hospitality of other ringers we were able to ring at six towers in all, each unique, and together representing such a wide variety of churches and bells.

Ingrave was our first. This unusual church was brick built in 1734 to replace two others; the tower was unkindly compared (by a local) to a water tower.  The six bells sounded loud inside (but pleasant outside) and the very noticeable movement of the tower whilst they were being rung made some of us queasy. “This tower rocks!” was the comment left in the visitors’ book.

We had been warned to allow plenty of time for parking at our next church, St Clements Leigh-on-Sea. Alas, our organiser had failed to give this adequate weight; cars were parked anywhere that could be found, often at considerable distance from the church. Barry had to admit defeat and go on to our next tower, but those of us who made it were pleased to ring a sweet sounding eight.

On to Prittlewell, now a suburb of Southend. Once the boot was on the other foot; Southend was the “south end” of Prittlewell. St Mary’s church is large and impressive and has a wonderful ring of ten new bells installed in 2010. They sounded magnificent.

Lunch was much in mind now, so a short drive took us the The Bell, a Toby Carvery that served our needs very well.

Our next church at Eastwood is a gem, a Domesday Book petite church perched incongruously next to the main runway of Southend Airport. It was bizarre to look out through the mediaeval porch and see an Easy Jet aircraft thunder by. The six bells are housed in a tiny tower so ringing there is a very cosy affair. Also cosy is the ancient wooden one up one down B&B accommodation inside the church for visiting mediaeval clergy to stay in.

We had been asked to ensure only experienced ringers rang the front three light bells at St Michael’s in the unusually named village of Fobbing. We observed due caution and found all eight bells a pleasure to ring. No stays were broken!

The grand finale of our tour was at St Martin’s Basildon with its Millennium project detached glass tower situated in the shopping precinct. To ring there, with members of the public passing by and able to see the ringers and the eight bells in action was an unforgettable experience. And if St Nicholas Ingrave rocked then St Martin’s Basildon rolled, giving those seated during ringing quite a lively ride.

Thanks are due to Darren Elphick who advised me on the choice of towers, all the tower correspondents who helped put the tour together and the ringers who made the day a real pleasure.

Gordon Hunt

In : Music