The weekend began early for a select bad of thirteen who were able to get away to ring on the Friday. The morning was spent ringing on the 10 of St Mary Magdalene, Newark – on –Trent, which is the oldest complete Taylor ten. This was followed by refreshments to regain energy before the four towers of the afternoon: the 8 of Balderton, St. Giles; the 6 of All Saints, Coddington; the 6 of Barnby in the Willows and the 6 of St.Helen, Brant Broughton. The sun shone and an enjoyable time was had by all.
The Saturday morning began as a beautiful bright May Day with a slight chill to the breeze. The band was joined by a number of reinforcements, some having travelled up the night before and some that morning.
The first tower of the day was the very pleasant 8 of St Denys, Sleaford. To approach the tower you had to pass the local homemade cake stall and some of us felt obliged to support them to provide funds for the local choir. The tower here had to be heavily restored after a lightening strike and the bells were cast in 1796 by Thomas Osbourne of Downham, Norfolk and re-hung by Taylors in 1886. The ringing was of a high standard and amongst other things three courses of Lincolnshire Surprise Major were complete.
The next tower was the 6 of St Denys, Silk Willoughby. The Three Horseshoes Pub just down the road, opened its doors especially for us at 11.00am. This was not so we could start to quench our thirst at this early stage but to enable us to order our lunch in advance. There had a car boot sale in the car park but fortunately for us the early bargains had already gone, so I think that we were all able to resist this temptation. The church contains one of the oldest Norman fonts in England. In 1995 a band of rang six peals in one day and St Denys’ was the fourth. They are a very pleasant ring and again the standard of ringing was high. Stephen had to act as a health and safety officer here as there were people winding up the clock who did not appear to know what was going on and others then came to view.
At 12.we adjourned for lunch. This was ready and waiting for us and we were all rejuvenated. We had a few drops of rain on the way to our next tower, the 6 of St Andrew, Horbling. We rang from the chancel and legs of different lengths would have been handy to cope with the different levels of the floor. We rang a number of surprise methods including London, Cambridge and Lincoln. Peter managed to imprison Ken in the church but realised in the nick of time before returning the key.
There was an overlap in time for the 8 at St Andrew, Billingborough that was within earshot. An advance party had the bells up and was already ringing when the rest of us arrived. The next tower was the 8 of St Michael and All Angels, Heydour. There are four Henry Oldfield bells here, the 5th and 6th from 1587 and the 7th and tenor by Henry Oldfield junior in1609. A record length of 14144 London surprise Major was rung here in 1947. We did not manage to break any records here and after nearly two days of good ringing we appeared to be getting a little tired. Our last Tower was the 10+2 of St Wulfram, Grantham. This is birthplace of Margaret Thatcher and where Thatcherite policies first developed in her father’s grocers shop. Two years ago the bells of St Wulhams were augmented to twelve by adding two trebles. This did not make a true ring of twelve, but provided a light eight, the Pinchbeck Eight, which we tested first. We had rungs Lincoln / Lincolnshire throughout the day but at the end of a long but enjoyable day, Lincolnshire Royal eluded us.
Our dinner and overnight stop was the King’s Hotel in Grantham. A few members left us at the end of the days ringing but 31 of us sat to dinner. The hotel had a new chief who provided a very taste meal and we had a very enjoyable evening. A brief business meeting then followed which closed in the customary manner with hand bell ringing.
On the Sunday the band divided between Grantham and Colsterworth for Sunday Service ringing before members returned to their home base.