The Guild of Medical Ringers held its 2002 Summer Meting on the weekend of 15th, 16th and 17th May, visiting some of Rutland’s villages as well as the county’s two main towns, Oakham and Uppingham. An excellent program had been organised by one of our members, Andrew Young. At our November AGM several members expressed a life’s ambition to ring Rutland in Rutland and so this was the special method of the meeting.
About 15 members managed to beat the traffic on the Friday evening to arrive in time for a pleasant evenings ringing on the 6 bells of St. Andrew, Lyddington. The rest of us travelled early on the Saturday morning which dawned to a rather overcast and damp day. We started ringing very promptly at St Andrew, Glaston where a large band had gathered by 10.00 a.m. We were greeted here by the church warden but some of us were very surprised to learn that this church together with a number of others in the area was normally left open for public access. This ground floor 6 has light trebles and we had some interesting ringing here including Primrose. Our next stop was the 6 of St. John Baptist, North Luffenham. This previously unringable five has recently been restored and augmented.
We journeyed on around the edge of Rutland Water with beautiful views across the lake to reach the 6 of St. Peter, Empingham where the C14 tower dominates the village. Although this is a small village, parking is obviously a big local issue. However we had been forewarned about this and had alerted members to it in our meeting booklet. As one of the last to arrive, I was delighted to see that our ringers had been very careful, but despite this I was accosted and asked to request that members be more considerate in future as it was wrongly assumed that we had parked in front of the village shop. You would have thought that a village antique shop would have welcomed potential trade! However other locals and the church were very welcoming. Our main problem though was that the tower was very small with the 5th right behind the door and ropes for the Ellacombe hammers unprotected. It was an enormous squeeze for a band of thirty, but when you are with friends it doesn’t matter.
By now it was time for lunch. There were some beautiful picnic stops along the edge of the lake but in good English Tradition it was raining which rather took the gloss of that prospect. Many people therefore found more sheltered accommodation and suitable liquid refreshment in the nearby town of Oakham.
There was a wedding taking place at All Saints Oakham and we had to wait for the bridal couple to leave in their resplendent American truck before we could ring on this fine 8. Here we achieved a course of Rutland Surprise Major. Our next stop was St.Peter, Brooke. After the magnificence of Oakham church, the simplicity of Brooke church was a wonderful contrast. The old unringable four were restored and augmented (new treble and tenor) in 1992. We unfortunately left one of our members here waiting with a very sick vehicle waiting for the RAC car doctors, but they turned up in their car ambulance and were able to resolve the problem without a major operation or prescription.
The last tower of the day was the 8 of St. Peter and Paul in Uppingham which rounded off an enjoyable days ringing.
Our arrangements for Dinner had proved a problem initially. Having booked a suitable room a few weeks prior to the meeting we received a phone call to say that the venue was under new management and would be closed for refurbishment. However, to give the owners their due, they had already contacted several other possible venues and the Marquess of Exeter at Lyddington proved very accommodating. Thirty two adults and six children sat to an enjoyable meal and this was followed by handbell ringing. Many members then stayed overnight at the hotel or nearby.
Sunday was a rather brighter day and provided members with a number of ringing and non ringing opportunities before making their ways home to various parts of the country. There was morning ringing at Medbourne, which proved to be an idyllic church in an idyllic village. The locals were very appreciative as there is not normally a band available to ring on Sundays. This left time for some to visit local attractions such as Bede House in Lyddington (English Heritage) to visit, gardens open in Uppingham, part of the ‘National Gardens Scheme: Beautiful Gardens 2002’ and further ringing in the evening at Great Easton, Caldecott and Gretton. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet so many old friends and we look forward to next year’s summer outing to Somerset.