The 2009 summer meeting of the Guild was held in Kent over the weekend of 15th-16th May. Our thanks go to Brenda Davies for organising this.
The methods for the weekend were Wye Surprise Major and Canterbury Bob Minor.
The main ringing program was as usual on the Saturday, but some towers were organised for the Friday. Ken Lee organised a quarter peal attempt on the Friday morning and although that was unsuccessful, some enjoyable Grandsire was rung. The towers for the afternoon were the 8 of SS Peter and Paul, Boughton- under Blean and the 8 of St Michael, Hernhill. These proven very popular with 25 members attending. In the evening members were very pleased to be able to join the band at the 8 of
SS Peter and Paul, Ospringe and we were made very welcome. It was the 50th birthday of one member of the local band and we were all invited to join them to celebrate this with cake and wine which ended a very pleasant evenings ringing. It was a little dull and damp by the time we were ready to make our way back to the hotel.
Forty-three members of the Guild formed the band for the Saturday. It was a challenge for this number to fit into many of the towers, but the good side of this was that there was plenty of opportunity to look around the churches and villages and to chat. The first tower of the day was the 6 of St Mary, Chartham. The church is a fine example of local Kentish architecture and is famous for its brasses. The bells are the oldest peal in Kent, five bells having been cast by Joseph Hatch in 1605 and they were augmented to a six by Samuel Knight in 1728. The church was bright and clean and whilst I am sure it is very bad for the structure the snapdragons growing up the outer tower wall were a beautiful feature.
The next tower of the morning was the 8 of St Mary, Chilham. This is a picturesque village used for filming many period dramas and the church is situated just off the square and was used as a school for many years, The bells were cast as a six in 1760 by Lester and Pack and augmented by John Taylor in 1883. From the ringing tower we could access the roof with a beautiful view over the village.
The last tower of the morning was the 10 of SS Gregory and Martin, Wye. One of our members Roy was in a nursing home here and we were very sad on visiting to learn that a few days earlier he had been admitted to hospital and was critically ill. We were however very pleased that his son and daughter were able to join us in the tower and we rang a touch for him and sent our thoughts and prayers for him and his family. There was a coffee morning and plant sale here so we were able to restore our energy and restock our gardens with herbs and shrubs.
We then had a break for a leisurely lunch and as there were so many of us, we needed to divide up into groups visiting different establishments so we did not overwhelm them. We then regrouped for the afternoon ringing at the 8 of St Mary the Virgin, Brabourne. An interesting feature here is a heart shrine which once contained a casket enclosing the heart of John de Baliol, the founder of Baliol College, Oxford. The oldest bell was cast in 1605 and the bells were augmented to a six in 1917 and to an eight in 2002.
Our final tower of the day was the 6 of St Lawrence, Godmersham. Jane Austin often came here on Sundays and her brother was the owner of the nearby Godmersham Park. In September 1987 the bells were augmented to a six and rung after a silence of a hundred years.
Dinner was held in the Abbots Barton Hotel in Canterbury where the majority of members stayed. Thirty-nine of us sat to dinner and we finished the meal with a piece of cake to celebrate Ken and Wendy Lee’s 25th wedding anniversary which was very appropriate as they had first met in Canterbury. We were also very pleased to congratulate Helen Sutton on 45 years membership of the Guild and were very pleased that she had been able to join us. A very brief business meeting followed this and the evening closed in the customary manner with hand bell ringing.
Sunday dawned with sunshine but the sky rapidly became cloudy and as the morning progressed rain followed. At 9.50 we congregated at the southwest tower of Canterbury Cathedral, ready to climb the stair to ring on the 12 cathedral bells. We had some very pleasant ringing and were very grateful to the local band for allowing us to join them. The meeting was then rounded off by a visit by some of us to the rarely rung 6 of St Ethelred about a 100yards from the Cathedral. This was a challenging 6 but it was good to have the opportunity to ring there. Members then departed and will meet again in London on the third Saturday of November.