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St Thomas' Stockton Heath & St Mary Magdalene

Bell Ringing

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Welcome to the Bell Ringing page

We are a fairly novice but very friendly band, who meet for practice on Thursday evenings between 7.30pm and 9.00pm each week.  We also ring for Sunday morning service 10.15am - 10.45am.  Visitors are very welcome to join us at these times.  If there is a large group of you, please let us know you are coming by ringing Sarah Downes (Tower Captain) on 07846 217495 or email sldownes@msn.com.  We are always looking for new ringers.  Bellringing is a great activity for anyone of any age. (The only stipulation being that you need to be about age 9 to start - at any rate big and strong enough to handle the bells!).  We have experienced ringers who are happy to teach newcomers or help 'lapsed' ringers to recover their rusty skills!  If you are interested, please get in touch, or just pop up the tower one Thursday evening to see what happens. The entrance to the tower is the small door in the tower itself, which is unlocked at about 7.25pm on Thursday evenings.  The ringing chamber is the first room you come to after 40 spiral stairs. Just come in and take a seat if we are ringing as you enter.

If you have a group who would like to visit and ring our bells for a longer time, we have put aside one Saturday afternoon each month for visiting bands to book. (This is usually the first Saturday, but please see the calendar page for details).  You can either use the contact form on our website, scrolling down to select 'Bell Ringing Enquiry' from the drop-down "Who do you want to contact?" field, or email Sarah Downes directly. 

First Quarter Peal

On the Sunday of the August Bank Holiday weekend, we achieved the first Quarter Peal on Bells at St Thomas' Church.  We rang a QP of Bob Doubles on the front 6 bells with a mixed band made up of three Stockton Heath Ringers and three of our trainers who make up our regular Sunday Service Band.  This was also to mark the departure of our youngest ringer, Gregory Ridley, as he departed to Bath to begin his university course.  Details were posted on the Billboard page of The Ringing World.

Festival of Ringing 

We are now approaching the first anniversary of the installation.  How time flies!  To celebrate, we are hosting the first ever South Warrington Festival of Bellringing over the weekend of 17-19th November 2017.  There will be three Quarter Peal attempts at Stockton Heath, starting with the first ever ten bell QP on Friday evening.  We have offered this honour to a band comprising those  ringers who have given so much of their time and advice to us over the past three years and we wish them every success in their attempt.  On the Saturday morning, there will be another Quarter Peal attempt by a Guild Master's Band, followed by a period of open ringing in the afternoon.  Three other local towers will host open ringing on the Saturday as follows:

11.00 - 12.00   Grappenhall, St Wilfrid                                  

11.30 - 12.30   Stretton, St Matthew

13.00 - 14.00   Daresbury, All Saints

13.30 - 15.00   Stockton Heath, St Thomas

There will be further open ringing at Stockton Heath on the Sunday afternoon between 1.30pm and 2.30pm, after which there will be another QP attempt, this time by a band of ringers from Prestbury/Bollington. ( Bollington is where our back 8 bells were originally installed.)  The festival will end with a short service in the church at 4.00pm. 

We hope that many of you will be able to join us for the festival and take the opportunity to ring at our neighbouring towers too.  We would particularly like to encourage your support for the Bell Project Peal Appeal at St Wilfrid's Church, Grappenhall.  Our closest ringers are continuing to give us enormous support, and we would like to help them to achieve their own ring of ten bells as soon as possible.  You can donate to their fund raising page at https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/grappenhalbellproject 

If you are coming to the Festival, you can park in the council car park (The Forge) adjacent to the church.  £1 will buy you up to 3 hours parking, although all parking is free after 3.00pm and all day on Sunday.  The entrance to the tower is outside the church, a small door to the left of the main porch.  Toilets are in the church, which will be open during the festival ringing.

The Installation

We would like to say a massive thank you to all the people and organisations who helped us to complete our tower works and obtain and install a ring of ten bells in our church tower:

The Heritage Lottery Fund whose generous grant made it all possible by a generous grant to facilitate the structural renovation of the tower making it sound for the installation of the bells.  They also funded provision of our new kitchen and toilet facilities with access for our disabled visitors

The National Churches Trust for support with additional structural works

The Chester Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers and it’s Mid Cheshire branch for their generous grants, advice, volunteer labour and tuition for our own bell ringers

The Historic Cheshire Churches Preservation Trust, the Sharpe Trust and Stockton Heath Parish Council for their grants

Everyone who has shown interest, supported, and donated to our project

The army of volunteers who helped install the bells

The PCC and congregations of St Thomas’ and St Mary Magdalene’s Churches for their courage, dedication and generosity

Lloyd and Smith of Oldham —the main contractor and stonemasons for their patience, co-operation, hard work and expertise

Duncan Sanderson our Architect of Lloyd Evans Pritchard, Manchester for his direction and skill

Taylors Bell Foundry of Loughborough with a special mention of Steve Westerman the bell hanger

Although St. Thomas' Church was built with a tower big enough to hold a ring of bells, we think the money ran out before they could be installed back in the nineteenth century.  We are very excited that, owing to the generosity of St. John's church in Bollington and the Chester Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers along with those mentioned above, we have now installed a ring of ten bells in our tower.  To watch a video of the two new bells being cast please click here.

When St. John's church closed several years ago their bells were removed and stored at Taylor's Bell Foundry in Loughborough, and now in 2016 they have finally been winched up the outside of our tower and been housed in a newly built bell frame. 

            Bells are very, very heavy!           

The steels are installed in the belfry.

 

A bell is winched high up the tower and brought in through one of the windows which has had its stone tracery removed.

  

The bells are laid out in the position they'll occupy in the framework.

Each bell is fixed within a wheel on which it will turn as it's rung.

We had to wait until November 2016 before we could ring them, while the tower settled and the mortar dried after our extensive tower works, meanwhile continuing to train a brand new band of ringers.

 

One of our ringers, Sarah, wrote an article for publication in the Ringing World all about our new band - to read it please click here.

If you've forgotten about it since you read it further up the page, you can enquire about booking to ring at our tower by using our Contact Form and selecting 'Bell Ringing Enquiry' from the drop-down "Who do you want to contact?" field or Sarah Downes (Tower Captain) direct on 07846217495.

With the kind permission of Richard Westman (who rings in Runcorn and who is very supportive of our project and new band) you can see and listen to our bells by clicking here: First public ringing of the new bells on You Tube (about 10.5 minutes)