Sales of the Goldhanger in the Past book

From David Newman:

Sales of the book have gone really well, we have sold 170 copies and taken orders for another 30. As anticipated I was able to place a large order with the printers in early December which reduced the printing cost considerably and maximised the surplus to pass onto the Church and the Village Hall.

Orders still seem to be coming in, but it is now timely to report that we have been able to send cheques for £450 each to the Treasurer of St. Peter’s PCC and to the Treasurer of the Village Hall committee. We requested that the Church uses the funds for a local project such as the proposed sound system or heating project and that the Village Hall uses the funds for their planned VH improvements project.

The Maldon Tourist Information Centre has now offered to stock the book at their High St office, so it looks likely sales will continue.

Many thanks to everyone who has helped to make the project a success.

How the Bells are Maintained

bells‘HOW BORING’ was the reaction from my family when I said I had been asked to write notes on the maintenance of the Church Bells. Well, if you’ve read this far that’s a good start.

The picture shows four of the bells in our Bell Tower. In all, there are eight bells on this frame, which makes the area very congested and very dynamic when all eight are ringing. The bells weigh up to half a ton each, so you can imagine a lot of vibration forces when all are being rung enthusiastically.

This presents the first major maintenance problem. That of fatigue of the steelwork, their fixings (nuts and bolts) and indeed the tower brickwork itself. All these have to be checked regularly for any fatigue fractures, loose nuts and crumbling structures. The photo shows extensive brickwork repairs in the corner. Indeed, three local towers have had to stop ringing recently for tower repairs. St Mary’s and All Saints in Maldon, and St Mary’s Tollesbury.

The bells are shown in the UP position, that is with the open mouth facing up. They are held there by a wooden Stay. The bell rope is attached to the large wheel that rotates the bell. When pulled firmly, the bell rotates down and round 360 degrees back to the UP position where again it can be held by the Stay. The skill of the bell ringer prevents the Stays being hit too hard, but we’ve all broken Stays at some time during our learning! Maintenance ensures a ready stock of Stays for speedy replacement.

When the bells are in the UP position it is extremely dangerous as they are unstable and could easily cause serious injury. The bells are almost always left in the DOWN position for safety. Before we start ringing we have to get the bells UP. This involves pulling the ropes to get the bells swinging more and more until they reach the UP position. Hence you will often hear a rather ragged bit of ringing before proper ringing starts.

Health and Safety is a top priority in the bell tower. This is the first consideration with all maintenance work and also with the training and conduct of all ringers, especially learners. So any newcomers are welcome to come in the confidence they will be handling well maintained and safe equipment to enjoy the pleasure and challenge of Bell Ringing.

Bob Christy

Learning to Ring (Part the Second)


‘The Ap-peal-ing Tale of a Novice Campanologist’

by Clare Gebel

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 20.03.15The clapper is tied so that the bell doesn’t actually ring and annoy the neighbours.

For these as all other lessons the movements and techniques are built up in easy stages with the teacher looking after the parts of the strokes that you are not doing. We  started with the bell in the down position, pulling the rope so that it  would chime and gradually increasing the swing of the bell to a ringing position. As this improves the bell moves nearer to the balance point (bell pointing up). It is important to get the idea of what this feels like, so you can control the movement, stop the bell bouncing off the stay or worse still breaking the stay, be able to stand the bell in the up position.

There was some homework to do , I needed to practice the hand movements and making sure that the hands stay touching as much as possible during ringing, for this I used the rope on my washing line/ airer in the kitchen, the pull chord on the blinds a bit bizarre but then you are able to practice the technique in slow motion with the pace not being forced by a moving bell.

Alongside the practical bit in the church I was also registered for the nationally recognised “learning the ropes” scheme which comes with a log on a website with resources and the theory bits. One of the videos that was massively helpful to me was of a ringing bell with a person handling the rope at the bottom and you can see the impact of what the ringer was doing to what happened. It was at this point I had the first light bulb moment as to the actual difference between the hand and back strokes and the fact that the backstroke is started from a much higher point as the rope is wound around the ringing wheel at that point.

Now at the point when I can ring the bell unaided it’s time to join in with the others. Again this is built up and you start with one other and gradually increase the numbers. Each bell in order.

Next stage is to master being able to speed up or slow down the ringing speed in order to change the order of bells. “Call Changes” This is done by adjustments in where you catch the Sally or the length of the tail end.

The rules are very simple but I was having to concentrate so hard on the ringing technique I lacked enough thought capacity for working out the order of the bells and therefore found the really simple rules difficult to follow and would often need to ask where I should be in the order.  As technique improves the ringing becomes more natural and there is now enough brain capacity to concentrate on where I should be. (most of the time)

I was then off for my first outing to another church on this occasion in Writtle. Here there were a number of learner ringers at different stages each with their own helpers/ teachers. I was nervous and worried that I might break something. There was some chaos with ropes being missed and going all over the place which was quite distracting but I used the same skills as the ones to filter out the noise in the office and stayed really focused and managed to ring. I was the allowed to ring with call changes with some of the other members of the band.

After a number of weeks practicing I was allowed to turn up to ring for a service. This just happened to be for Christmas Day – so no pressure. I turned up at the church very nervous , legs and arms both almost turned to jelly as I pulled the rope for the first time. After the first couple of pulls the nerves subside although having to intensively concentrate. Things go reasonably well.

I have continued with this since improving consistency and correcting faults as they have appeared.

The next stage for me is to complete the couple of things left at the level one of the ITTS course and I am now getting to the point of moving on to learn the first of the change ringing methods – Plain hunt.

More to follow in a later edition perhaps ?

So if you feel the inclination and want to give it a try the practice night in Goldhanger is on Wednesday evenings 7.30 – 9 pm you would be welcome to turn up or catch one of the ringing team and have a chat.

Clare Gebel

Learning to Ring


‘The Ap-peal-ing Tale of a Novice Campanologist’

by Clare Gebel

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 20.00.24When I tell people I am learning to ring the bells this is usually followed by – what made you want to do that? (And the look from my work colleagues who now have confirmation that I am a bit mad) So I thought this would be a good place to start.

I had enjoyed listening to the bells ever since we came to Goldhanger particularly as they were ringing as we were walking around the sea wall with the dog or on Christmas Eve whilst staggering home from the pub. Carrying on from there I just felt it was important that they should continue to be heard.

I think my husband may have mentioned this to Caron and this was followed with an invitation to turn up and give it a go.

I had no real appreciation of what was involved. I could imagine the moving ropes and would have doubts about catching them (at school I was useless at any games involving either hitting a moving target or catching) and if I would be strong or fit enough ?

Therefore it took a number of months to pluck up the courage but eventually decided to try and see how I got on.

Everyone was very friendly,  welcoming and very patient. After a visit up the tower to look at the bells and the mechanism, initial lessons were to stand with a helper who firstly explained how to hold the end of the rope and then pull the backstroke (with the helper handling the hand stroke and ensuring that they were ready to catch the rope should anything go wrong)  A similar process is adopted on the hand stroke ( pulling the Sally, the stripy fluffy bit) and then adding in the feeling of keeping hold of the tail end in the left hand while pulling the Sally.

Progress was initially slow ,and I can after all be very impatient, so when Andrew offered the opportunity to have some longer one-2-one lessons I jumped at the chance.

to be continued …

Bellringing at St. Peter’s

Bellringing activities for April

The bells will be run on Sunday mornings thirty minutes before the services.

Regular practices are on Wednesdays 7.30 – 9pm.

On Wed. 8th April at mid-day there will be a bellringing demonstration for Goldhanger W.I.

AM on Sat. 11th April a peal organized by Essex Association members.

On Sat. 18th April ringing for a wedding at 2pm.

No other special activities are planned in April.


Peal Ringing

By Andrew Kelso – Tower Captain

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 18.17.46Change ringing developed in England in the 15th century, with developments in bell technology, which meant that bells could be swung through 360 degrees, controlled precisely, and with minimum of effort. Rings of bells were tuned into diatonic scales, and initial change ringing comprised “plain changes” – changing the order of the bells one at a time from the basic sequence “rounds” (123456).

As ringing became more sophisticated, the positions of more than one bell could be changed at a time, and “methods” (different combinations of bells in a pre-determined order) were developed. There are now thousands of different methods, with names such as Cambridge Surprise, Plain Bob, Stedman, or Bristol Surprise.

Within a method, each different combination of bells (e.g. 123456, 132456,134256) is called a “change”. The maximum number of changes (or “extent”) that can be rung on 5 bells is 120, on 6 bells is 720, and on 7 bells is 5040. On 8 bells it is 40320, which takes around 24 hours to ring!).

Initially, the term peal was used to mean any extent of a method, but over time it has evolved to mean any uninterrupted ringing of more than 5000 changes, with the minimum number of repeated changes (e.g. on 7 or more bells no changes should be repeated. To do this, without error, requires sustained concentration and skill.

The first true peal was 5040 Plain Bob Triples, rung at St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, on May 2nd 1715, by the Norwich Scholars (a prominent ringing society of that time). A few crazy individuals have rung more than 3000 peals, but most bellringers will content themselves with less stressful ringing pastimes.

On Saturday 11th April 2015, a peal will be attempted at St Peter’s Church Goldhanger. This has been arranged by a notable local ringer, Yvonne Towler, who has herself rung more than 1400 peals, and this attempt is to celebrate her first peal, Plain Bob Major, rung here on 9th April 1965. Ringing will start at around 9.30am, and will last for no more than 3 hours. We wish her and the rest of the band every success in their attempt.


Goldhanger War Memorial – A New Plaque

Goldhanger War MemorialA good start has been made towards the goal of raising funds to make a new War Memorial plaque honouring the fallen of Goldhanger in the First World War. Fund raising is going well but more donations are needed.

£120.00 was raised at the recent “Goldhanger In The News” presentation in the Village Hall. David Newman and a helpful band of History Group readers made for a very interesting evening.

The plinth of the present memorial has been cleaned by members of The History Group in preparation for the 2014 commemoration of the start of World War One.

You can read more about our War Memorial and about the The Goldhanger Flight Station on the very informative Goldhanger History website. There have also been some updates to the Goldhanger History website.

If you wish to make a contribution by cheque please make it payable to ‘Goldhanger Bell Tower’ and deliver to Barry Unger, Martin Gebel, or David Newman. For their contact details please use the form below to contact David Newman.



St. Peter’s Photographic Competition on Display 2014

St. Peter’s Photographic Competition

Emily Harris, a local professional photographer and film maker, judged the entries.

If you would like to see your photos on the Goldhanger website, please send them to

Hopefully you managed to see the entries on display in the church. There were no entries for the sequence photos.

The Results were as follows:

Children under 12 – Single Photos

  • 1st prize – Ottilie Willis
  • 2nd prize – Oliver Wharnsby
  • 3rd prize – Edward Wharnsby

Adults – Single Photos

  • 1st prize – Stephen Watson
  • 2nd prize – Sheila Evans
  • 3rd prize – Bekky Willis

Other entries by:

  • Kaye Shrubb
  • Maria Wharmsby