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The local Branch of the Diocesan ringers’ Guild held its AGM in February. The Branch represents ringers in 17 towers with bells, and for historical reasons it covers Bracknell Deanery and parts of Maidenhead Deanery as well as Sonning. Over thirty ringers gathered for afternoon ringing on the light ring of six bells at St James, Finchampstead, before evensong led by the Rector, Rev Canon Julie Ramsbottom, which featured three ringing themed hymns.
The meeting followed a sumptuous tea provided by the local ringers. Four of the 18 new members elected were from All Saints, and All Saints ringers now serve as three of the ten officers – Jane Mellor newly elected training officer, and Nigel Mellor (ringing master) and John Harrison (chairman) reelected.
Although a few modern ringing societies date back to the 17th century, most of them, including the Oxford Diocesan Guild) were founded in the late 19th century as part of the ‘Belfry Reform’ movement (which in turn was inspired by the ‘Oxford Movement’ within the Anglican church).
By setting up the societies, the Victorian reformers’ encouraged ringers in different towers to band together for mutual help and support, and to promote the art of change ringing. That spirit is very much alive in Sonning Deanery Branch, which supports its members with regular joint practices, training courses and other benefits.
All Saints is one of the stronger bands (viz the number of officers) and thanks to the sound control, which we installed nearly 40 years ago we are able to host many activities, since we can ring far more than most towers without inconveniencing our neighbours. The monthly advanced practices and elementary practices are both held at All Saints, as have been many of the courses organised in recent years.
For more detail about ringing at All Saints and in Sonning Deanery, see: allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk/ & odg.org.uk/sdb/
John Harrison (February 2020)
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