The 2004 Summer Meeting of The Guild of Medical Ringers was held in and around Masham over the weekend of 14th – 16th May 2004. This is a beautiful area of the Yorkshire Dales with charming villages and lush dales contrasting with the bleakness of the nearby flat moorlands. Our thanks go to Nick and Brenda Davies for all their organisation.
It is true to say that the English traffic was quite a challenge to many people on the Friday, particularly on the A1. Some people took a gruelling 9 hours to come from the south of England and as a result missed the evening ringing. Despite that about 20 members gathered for ringing at the 6 of St Andrew’s, Kirkby Malzeard at 20.00 hours with an enjoyable evenings ringing being followed for many with some local brew. There are in fact 2 local breweries in Masham but a visit to these had to wait for another day.
Our central location was the Kings Head in Masham where many for us stayed. They were not, however, able to accommodate us all and others had found alternative accommodation. The hotel opened onto the very large market square, which had to be cleared of cars early on the Saturday morning for the market stalls.
We had a fairly early start to the day with ringing at the first tower at nine. However the relaxed lifestyle in Yorkshire was very evident and it was a challenge to complete breakfast in time.
This proved to be a very popular venue with over 50 members and family joining us for the day. As a result touches had to be kept short to enable everyone to have adequate opportunity to ring but that then left time to socialise and view the interesting surroundings. As we were in Yorkshire the methods of the day were Yorkshire Surprise Minor and Major.
The first tower of the day was the 6 of St Nicholas, West Tanfield. This is a pretty village in the valley of the river Ure and the church was surrounded with blue bells. From there we moved to Ripon Cathedral. This is a very friendly Cathedral with a pleasing blend of ancient and modern and the band were able to do justice to the fine ring of 10 bells here. We then travelled the short distance to the 8 of St John Divine Sharon.
Lunch was called for at this point. Some members had brought sandwiches but the majority of people retired to the 200-year-old Nags Head in Pickhill were we were made very welcome and emerged replete. Pickhill is mentioned in the Doomsday Book and its ancient church features an architecturally rare archway. The ring had recently been augmented to a six and this was our first tower of the day. One of our members lived in a neighbouring village and put us all to shame by cycling between many of the days tower together with her 12 old son.
The second tower of the afternoon was the six of St Michael Kirklington where the bells have recently been restored to a ringable condition. The church itself was also of great interest containing many carved heads relating to pagan worship and pre-Christian gods.
The last tower of the afternoon was to have been the 8 of St Gregory, Bedale. However, there was a telephone aerial installation being carried out in the tower which was causing a number of problems and the time schedule was overrunning so at a weeks notice we were very fortunate to be able to be given permission to ring on the 8 of St. Anne, Catterick. We were perhaps becoming a little tired by then but it is fair to say that we did find these quite a challenge and when even our ringing master found the treble a little difficult we knew that we were in for interesting times.
Forty-nine of us returned to the King’s Head Hotel in Masham. It had been a bright and sunny day and we were still able to sit outside comfortably for pre-dinner drinks. The meal was very relaxed and after a minimum of Guild Business the meeting was closed in the customary manner with hand bell ringing.
Many members stayed on the Sunday to join the ringers at the 10 of St Mary the Virgin, Masham for service ringing. A hardy few then went on to ring on the delightful 13 cwt three at Well which were rarely rung but where members were made very welcome by the local churchwarden. Lunch was then the order of the day an excellent meal being had in the Freemasons Arms at Nosterfield followed by a visit to an interesting ice –cream farm near Masham before heading for home. This ended another very interesting and enjoyable weekends ringing for the Guild.