The weekend on Friday 16th November began with a gathering at St Giles-in-the Fields, Holborn.
The Guild had been asked to ring a quarter peal to mark the 60th Anniversary of the founding of The Royal College of General Practitioners and the move to their new premises at 30 Euston Square. There had been great enthusiasm about this at the College and it had been difficult to prevent advance publicity.
A band gathered at St Giles at 11.30, everyone arriving very punctually including the key holder who made us extremely welcome. It had been expected that the bells would be up but they had been lowered in error so as we were not in fact allowed to start to ring until 11.55 the timetable became quite tight as there was a concert in the church at 1.10 and ringing had to be finished before 1pm. A PR consultant arrived from the College to take our photograph so we all donned our Guild sweat shirts. Next was to a video of us ringing and we had persuaded them that it was not possible to video whilst we were ringing the quarter so there was to be a short practice first. However, her video was not working so by the time we had rung up the bells and she had borrowed the secretaries video camera there was only time for a few rounds. This was to go on the College website and U tube if we were successful.
Left to our own devices we shed our sweatshirts and began a quarter of 1280 Plain Bob Major. This was successfully completed in 48 minutes with Daniel Vernon calling and was really a very credible, well rung quarter with only a couple of very minor trips. This was the first quarter peal by a band of general practitioners.
We had then been invited back to the College but as the building was not quite completed this had been transferred to the nearby Shaw Theatre for a buffet lunch. We were made very welcome there and were greeted enthusiastically by all the officers who were delighted at our success. We then had our official photograph with the College President. Not only were we to appear on the website but we had an official mention in the Chairman’s Newsletter sent out to all College members and a mention at Council the next day.
Towers had been arranged for the afternoon so 12 of us set out for the 8 of St, John’s Waterloo. Numbers dropped a little then and there were just enough to ring on the 6 of Holy Trinity, Clapham Common. In the evening members joined the practice at St Botolph, Aldgate.
Arranging a quarter peal for the Saturday morning on the 17th November had proved quite a challenge as of course as always this meeting clashes with the Cumberland Peal Day. We were able to ring at St Botolph, Bishopsgate, but we were pre-warned that they were not going well due to excessive tower movement and it was advised that we rang Triples. It was a challenge and hard work but a quarter peal of 1260 Plain Bob Triples was successfully completed.
The afternoon ringing proved extremely popular with over 40 members attending. This has advantages and disadvantages this being great from a social point of view with time to chat and look at the church but with limited opportunities to ring a great deal. The first tower of the day was St Katherine Cree, Leadenhall Street, where the bells had recently been restored to full ringing order. It is the only tower in the City where the bells are rung from a ground floor ringing chamber.
This was followed by St James, Garlickhythe. The 8 bells with the 9 cwt tenor which were cast by Whitechapel Foundry and temporarily installed on a barge and rung on the River Thames during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant are now permanently installed in the tower here. This was a very fitting addition to the weekend of other Jubilee celebrations. The chamber is quite small with trap door access so we had to go up and down in bands of 8. It had been hoped to ring Jubilee Surprise here but by the time everyone had had a good ring we ran out of time.
The last tower of the day was St Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames Street. This was one of the first buildings to be destroyed by the Great Fire being only 300 yards from
Pudding Lane and was rebuild by Christopher Wren in 1940. A new ring of 12 bells was installed here in 2009.
It transpired that everyone but the secretary had used public transport and after a difficult journey both to the afternoon towers and back for dinner the secretary also vowed that she would try to find a way of carrying the necessary by public transport London next year. It seemed to have led to a much more relaxed afternoon for others which was very much appreciated.
Dinner was held at Ye Olde Cock Tavern in Fleet Street. The management had as is so frequently the case, changed shortly before our arrival so there was a little confusion but the staff did their very best to resolve matters and we all had a pleasant meal and coffee and mints were rustled up. The business meeting was closed at 9.20 in the customary manner with hand bell ringing.