2022 Summer Meeting

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The 2022 summer meeting of the Guild was held on Saturday 21st May. The pandemic meant this was the first time that members of the Guild all had the opportunity to meet together face to face for two and a half years and it was wonderful to see friendly faces again. We had a very good turnout with 42 attending for the dinner.  With the uncertainties about the situation and the difficulties of booking at fairly short notice to fit around a backlog of weddings and other church commitment, we had a somewhat reduced program.

The meeting was held in North Hertfordshire. On the Friday many people travelled from various parts of the country and congregated at the 12th century church of St Mary and St Thomas a Becket in the grounds of Knebworth House. We were very grateful that the local band welcomed us to join their practice night.

Saturday was a pleasant sunny day and we began the day’s ringing at St Peter, Benington with its 8 bells. The special method for the day was Cambridge Surprise in Minor, Major and Royal form, rung with variable success throughout the day. It is said (reputedly) that the first peal of Cambridge was rung here in Benington in 1873. Next, we journeyed to Stevenage, the first post -war new town and to the 8 of St Nicholas. The church here had recently had a significant restructuring, part being divided to meeting rooms and small refectory, and the church warden kindly made tea and coffee there for many. In view of the numbers attending, we arranged to split ourselves in two groups to alternately visit the six-bell towers of St Mary’s the Virgin, Little Wymondley, where the three original bells became a ring of six in 2003, and the 12th century church of St Mary, Graveley. This was followed by lunch which we had pre-ordered at the George and Dragon in Graveley. This had recently come under new management and we were served with enjoyable food and drink to revitalise us.

The afternoon began with the 8 of St Mary the Virgin, Stotfold. This too had been tastefully redesigned below the galleried ringing chamber which looked out across the church. The last tower of the day was the 12 of St Mary, Hitchin. We had tried to make this a relaxed day and on arrival we had tea and cake in church before starting the ringing. We had ringing on various combinations of the 12 bells. This was followed by a team photograph taken from the ringing gallery and a brief business meeting in the church.

This was our first paperless meeting with several new initiatives. The programme brochure was published electronically and made available on this website. An attachment calendar diary of the day’s programme of towers with Google map links and postcodes for everyone’s phones, was sent by email. Electronic booking for attendance and meals was done through our membership website, the information loaded directly into spread-sheets for the secretary.  This was a learning exercise for all of us and recognised as a challenge for some, but with great credit to everyone for their effort, it was a successful venture moving with the times. We had also acquired a community bank account and card reader, allowing card payment and moving us into the 21 century.