Tree planting in memory of Reverend Mark Turner – 22nd November 2018

On the morning of the 22nd November Selattyn School planted a tree in memory of the Reverend Mark Turner who was much loved at the school and who loved the school. The cherry tree had been the focus of our Mothering Sunday service this year, when we talked about being “rooted and grounded in God’s love” (Ephesians 3:17). It will now watch over the school and be a reminder of Mark’s love and God’s love for us all.

Mark loved being involved at the school, taking part in assemblies, the Little Badgers Toddler Group (which he helped to set up), holiday clubs, youth clubs…to name just a few. He is sadly missed especially his sense of fun and the general mischief he liked to cause!

 

The inscription on the plaque reads:  “This tree is planted in the memory of Revd.  Mark Turner. Much loved by our school. It is also to all who read this inscription: May we all be “rooted and grounded in His love” Ephesians 3:17

Looking at the photo L to R: Rev Alan Reynolds, Rob Turner (Mark’s son), Claire Morgan (Selattyn school headteacher), Tim Kirk (Selattyn school chair of governors). Behind: Lee Pimble (Selattyn school governor).

Little Badgers Teddy Bears Picnic – Friday 20th July 2018

The Little Badgers Teddy Bears Picnic took place on the last Friday of the school term where Little Badgers were invited to make use of the church and grounds. There was the usual coffee and toys. Louise Woolcock, the community worker, led the story and prayer time. There was also decorating teddy biscuits, picnic and a teddy bear hunt around the church yard. A great time was had by all. Thank you to St Marys for hosting the event and Sarah Evans who leads the group each week.

Rededication of the bells at St Mary’s – Sunday 24th June 2018

Pictured from L to R: Chris Cooper,  Peter Woollam,  Peter Furness,  Greg Morris, Hilda Rothera, Brian Rothera, Bishop Mark Rylands, Peter Bennett.

The History of St Mary’s Bells and their restoration

Bells have featured in worship in the Christian Church since the 5th century when ltalian monks revived the ancient knowledge of Bell founding that had been developed in China as early as 2000BC. Today, bells are cast in the same bronze alloy of copper and tin as then in the approximate ratio of 4:1.

Very early bells are rare, many having been destroyed during the Reformation and others broken up to be recast into armaments, principally cannon, at times of strife. Of those which survived into the 17th century, many were re-cast as technology developed and it became possible to produce bells of greater size. Improved means of transport allowed dedicated foundries to be established in fixed locations from where they could be shipped to their destination, where previously it had been more practical for itinerant founders to assemble the necessary materials on site and set up temporary foundries in churchyards.

The oldest parts of St Mary’s church date from the 13th century and the church inventory commissioned by King Edward V1 in 1549 records: “ii small belles” at Selattyn, but we have no further details of these. In common with most churches, St Mary’s has seen many changes over the years and the present tower was built in 1703-4. In 1758, Abel Rudhall cast three new bells at Gloucester, the leading foundry of the day, and it is highly likely that the earlier bells were sent to be melted down in the process. Most of these journeys would have been by barge along the river Severn, less navigable now than then owing to the amount of water extraction that takes place. Rudhall cast the following inscriptions on the 2nd and tenor (which measured 27%“ in diameter at the mouth):

A B RUDHALL FOUNDER 1758 and A RUDHALL PROSPERITY TO THIS PARISH 1758

The treble of the three was evidently found to be unsatisfactory in some way and was recast in 1851. The church celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria by having all the bells recast again and augmented to five, this time by Charles Carr of Smethwick, who incorporated the following inscriptions:

Treble:          “CHARLES CARR” SMETHWICK  1897                                                                       4 – 1 – 6    25 1/4   (Cwts – qts – lbs)

2nd:                A RUDHALL 1758 RECAST BY “C CARR” SMETHWlCK  1897                             4 – 0 – 18   26 1/2

3rd:                PROSPERITY TO THIS PARISH   1758                                                                        4 – 2 – 18     27 3/8

4th:               THE SCEPTRE NOW VICTORIA SWAYS,  FAIR QUEEN OF BRITAINS ISLE, MAY HEAVEN GRANT HER LENGTH OF DAYS,                                                                                WITH PEACE & JOY THE WHILE  1851  RECAST  1897                           4 – 3 – 9    29

Tenor:           DIAMOND JUBILEE   1887  “CHARLES CARR” SMETHWICK MADE ME       5 – 2 – 3    31 1/2

The figures to the right give the weights and diameters of the bells – note that ringers cling to the imperial system of units! Carr retained the original 1758 timber frame for the three heavier bells, which took up only a little more than half of the space in the belfry, and added a part-timber-part-steel frame alongside for the extra bells.

Many church bells are rung by being chimed, where the bell swings back and forth through a small arc. The bell is fixed to a headstock fitted with a lever to which a rope is attached. Ringing a bell in this manner is somewhat haphazard. The bell’s movement is governed by its weight, the ‘hanging radius’ and any friction in the system. Where two or more bells are rung by this method, they chime in a random and uncoordinated manner. Ringing of this nature is widespread throughout, e.g. most European countries.

In the 17th century, English ringers began experimenting with means to control a swinging bell more accurately. Levers on headstocks were replaced with quarter, then half and finally full wheels. Bells could now be controlled by rope to swing back and forth through a full circle, during which the clappers struck once at the same moment each time. Pausing a bell’s movement briefly at the point of balance allowed sufficient control to dictate the sequence in which a ring of bells would strike and to change the sequence at will. Ringing in this way requires a surprisingly small amount of effort – the ringer has only to pull gently at each end of the bells swing in order to send it on its next rotation. The changes of sequence were at first generated by a conductor making occasional calls to vary the order but this soon developed into ‘scientific’ ringing, where changes occurred at each pull of the rope following an ordered pattern.

Scientific ringing, today referred to as ‘method’ ringing, developed rapidly, as did the number and variety of the ordered patterns of changes – ‘methods’. There are today literally thousands of such methods, ranging from the relatively simple to the extremely complex, often with names which reflect the places where they were first rung, e.g. Cambridge, Kent, London, Norwich.

The Church of England has some 16,000 churches, of which about one-third have between four and 12 bells hung for full-circle English change-ringing. As the name implies, it is largely confined to England, with far fewer to be found in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It was exported in small quantities and a few ringing towers exist in the former colonies in Australasia and the South African and North American continents.

St Mary’s bells are hung for full-circle ringing and the recollection of some older residents of the village is that they were rung regularly for services for many years. However, they became increasingly difficult to handle, blame being apportioned to Carr’s additional frame which, it was said, was of too lightweight a construction to cope with the considerable forces which are exerted when bells swing through a full circle.

Bell-ringers have a weekly journal, The Ringing World: containing accounts of the exploits of ringers, including the activities of those who travel to other churches for ‘hobby ringing. The most recent mention of Selattyn dates from 1995 when a group of visitors described the bells as “challenging”. All ringing ceased at about this time and, partly it seems as a result of ‘Chinese whispers’, the bells developed the reputation of being unsafe to ring.

Many will remember Phil Rothera — former landlord of the ‘Cross Keys’ — and will know that he was a ringer of national repute. Peter Fumiss, Tower Captain at Chirk and another distinguished ringer, asked if he could investigate whether it would be safe to toll a bell at Phil’s Thanksgiving Service in January 2015. He found little in the belfry that suggested otherwise and asked why the bells weren’t being rung.

Greg Morris, a local parishioner who looks after the church clock, took the matter up and, together with Peter Woollam, a ringer at Oswestry and Bell Adviser to the Lichfield Diocese, set about ‘making good’ in the belfry. The frame, headstocks, bells etc are held together by over 100 nuts and bolts and Greg and Peter found that all were loose. Once they were tightened, trial ringing took place which confirmed that there were in fact no significant safety issues. Ringers from other local churches subsequently attended on a number of occasions to ring for major church festivals and a wedding.

In 2017, Hilda Rothera, Phil’s widow, asked if any more repair work needed to be done. The answer was that everything that could be done by volunteers at no financial cost had been completed. But the answer was also that the clapper bearings were badly worn and the ground pulleys – mounted on the lower part of the frame to guide the ropes down via the clock room to the ringing room – needed replacing. Part of this work would have to be completed by a specialist firm of bell-hangers at an estimated cost of between £1k and £2k. Hilda set about fund-raising, in part by asking family and friends for donations instead of gifts for her ‘significant’ birthday later that year. The outcome was that she raised more than £900!

Quotations for the work were obtained and a successful application for a grant for the balance of the cost made to the Bell Restoration Fund of the Shropshire Association of Church Bell Ringers. As before, Greg and Peter undertook all of the work in the tower – removing and later re-fitting clappers and pulleys – with the specialist work being entrusted to Nicholson Engineering Ltd of Bridport.

We were delighted that Bishop Mark was able to join us for the celebration and rededication of the bells following the above restoration work and we look forward to hearing them proclaim the living church in our midst for many years to come. For the time being, this will depend on the willingness of ringers from elsewhere to attend, but anyone interested in learning to ring should contact Peter.

There are many poets, from Betjeman to Tennyson, who wrote of bells and could be quoted here. The following is taken from A. E. Houseman’s collection ‘A Shropshire Lad’, first published in 1896:

In summertime on Bredon
The bells they sound so clear,
Round both the shires they ring them
In steeples far and near,
A happy noise to hear.