Sunday 13th November 2016 – Martinstown, Dorset.
A truly perfect autumn day.
1260 Grandsire Doubles – Ringers:
Robert Walters, Timothy F. Collins, Mike Pitman, D. John Knight, Howard J. Bowering and Robin J Mears
Rung half-muffled for Remembrance Sunday on bells which are the village war memorial.
Full peal available to download from DIVAcontemporary STUDIO bandcamp :: link
Five bells in the tower of The Church of St. Martin, Winterborne St. Martin, Dorset were given by parishioners in memory of Frederick Chick, Alfred Joseph Dunford, John Hocking, Frederick Charles Park and Albert Trent. Who gave their lives in the war 1939 – 1945. The sixth bell was recast and with the help of German POWs, the tower was cleared and all six bells were installed in 1947.
Prior to the Remembrance Sunday Service at St Martin’s Church, Howard and his team of bellringers were ringing the traditional half muffled quarter peal of Grandsire Doubles.
Half muffling is used for solemn occasions. The clappers of the bells are half covered in a leather “sock”. This means that every other round of the bells has a quality which is distant and dreamlike, a soft echo of its former self.
The day was bright and still – the natural sounds of leaves ruffling and falling gently, crows calling across the churchyard and of course the occasional drone of aircraft or electrical garden tools – lets not pretend we really are in another century!
But the focus of the morning was on the past – remembering the fallen of all the many conflicts of the last hundred years. Once the quarter peal got under way the sound which filled the church, churchyard and the village was transporting. For 50 minutes the ringers rang their way through Grandsire Doubles, the order of the bells constantly changing and the effect was mesmerising.
We recorded outside in the churchyard, inside the church and up in the ringing chamber. This lovely sound has a physicality which is the pull of the ropes, the efforts of the ringers, the fluid movements of the bells and bell support systems. We hoped to be able to capture all of this.
After the peal, and before the Church Service, at least 100 residents of Martinstown gathered on the green outside the church in the autumn sunshine. A bugler played the Last Post, solemn words were spoken, wreaths of poppies laid and a hymn sung. Like so many of our experiences in this village there seemed to be a timeless sense of community and a sharing of experiences which we felt privileged to be witnessing.
R.I.P. Albert Edwin Haim, Private in the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, grandfather of the tenor ringer, who died on the Somme 100 years ago.