Furness Bell Ringers On Tour

Name of walk Furness Bell Ringers On Tour
Date of walk 2014-05-26

On Bank Holiday Monday the Furness Branch of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers held their annual church tower outing to six churches with six or more bells. This year it was an ‘expedition’ to the Preston Branch organised by Keith and Anne Hackney. We would be visiting the delights of Leyland, Eccleston, Penwortham, Brindle and Whittle-le-Woods. I picked up Dalton St. Mary’s Tower Captain, Stan, and Geoff, a Barrow St. James’ learner and drove to St. Andrew’s in Leyland to arrive by 9.30am.  Brendan would then take the car and head off to IKEA in Warrington and join up with us later this afternoon.


St. Andrew's at Leyland has a ring of ten. This is the church where Stan, Dalton St. Mary's Tower Captain, and his sister, were taught to ring by their father.


A Grade ll listed building, the chancel was built in the 14th century and the tower probably dates from the late 15th or early 16th century. The church was restored in 1874.


The pews have been removed to create a multipurpose space. There are three galleries above.


A reasonable sized ringing room that can house a large group of people. Stan on the far right....positionally not politically speaking!


The tenor bell is even heavier than Dalton's tenor, at 23 hundred weight. I had a go on the 6th.



Keith and Anne gave me and Geoff a lift from church to church. Stan was meeting up with his sister who would ferry him around. Eccleston St Mary's was our next port of call. View through the lych gate along the avenue of trees that leads to the church.


The church is made from red sandstone. The present building in its original form was in existence in 1182


The weather was super, so I actually spent more time here in the extensive grounds than inside ringing a bell. I did do some drumming on the 6th.



There is a ring of six bells that are pulled from the ground floor and accessed through a glazed archway at the back of the church.


View through the glass door to the very small ringing room.




Next up was Leyland St. James. Founded in 1855 which has a ring of six bells, but very light. I rang the 6th as I prefer a bit of weight.



It has a very small ringing room, accessed through a trap door which is closed when ringing as one of the ringers needs to stand on top of it.



Next up was Penwortham St. Mary, where we would break for lunch. The church is Grade ll listed. The oldest part of the church is the chancel which dates from the 14th century. The west tower was built in the 15th century. The church was fully restored in 2011. It has a ring of eight bells.


Beryl, Margaret and Ian are ringers from Ulverson St. Mary's. Margaret and Ian often come to our practice nights at Dalton, Barrow and Flookburgh.


Anne and Keith Hackney. Keith is the Furness Branch Secretary. They are Kendal ringers, but they too occasionally make our practice nights.


Geoff and I make do with sitting on the grass for lunch. Alan perches on some stonework.



It has a small ringing room. The bells are also very light. If you ring the 2nd you have to stand on a sliding cover over the stairs. If you ring the treble you stand on a big box. I rang the 7th, safely from solid ground!



Next up was Brindle St. James. The church dates back to at least the 12th century, when its rector in 1190 is recorded as being named Ughtred. The tower was built in 1500, the nave in 1817. It is a Grade ll listed building.


I spent some time just sitting and relaxing in the church yard, listening to the bells from the outside, something I don't often get the chance to do.



The church has some excellent stained glass windows.


The one depicting the apostles is by Shrigley and Hunt.


The ringing room was tiny. Just big enough to ring six bells, but if you tried swinging one cat you'd have hit problems! As Alan said "Just breathe in and pull". It did have eye-catching bumble bee sallies. Photo courtesy of Alan Dewar.


The last church of the day was Whittle-le-Woods St. John, which has a ring of eight bells, but heavy ones. Their tenor is 21 hundred weight. St. John the Evangelist was founded in 1830 and rebuilt in 1880; it is a grade II listed and able to seat some 500 people.


Brendan met up with us at this church, so we nipped over to 'Jacks' just across the road, for a drink where I could listen to the bells ringing at the same time as finding out what goodies he had purchased from IKEA. St. John's has a nice, large ringing room.


Plenty of room for a group photo. I got Brendan to take the next three photos. I am holding on to a sally while we all get into position.


Say 'cheese'.......


Group photo outside the church......minus a few who got lost on route. Photo courtesy of Alan Dewar.


Not quite sure what we we're doing here, but Hilary (Furness Master) was obviously having none of it!


Anne and Keith had group booked our evening meal at 'The Bobbin Mill' at Chorley. They did a two meals for £10 menu, most reasonable!


Time to relax after a long and tiring day with good company.

We got home just before 10pm, so it was quite a long day. The cats were protesting about their empty bowls! But it was a very interesting excursion to some old village churches with very different rings of bells. Stan says that our ‘Dalton St. Mary’s Tower Outing’ in September will be in bell towers around Settle and Giggleswick, which should be good. I hope we get a successful and as nice a day as today was.