A band without bells

In December 2017, we received the sad news that Church Gresley Church was to close its doors. The church; that was built in 1135, was in a sorry state and was no longer deemed as safe. The saddest part was that the strongest and safest part of the church was in fact the bell tower, having had extensive works completed three and a half years prior, after being out of action for a long 8 years.

It was an odd time of year, with so many plans in our ringing calendar being cancelled. We had so many plans for the future for individuals and for the band as a whole. We had worked so hard and invested a lot of time and energy in forming and developing the band since April 2015. We were determined not to be without a band again, if and when the church finally opened its doors. We held a meeting in early January 2018 with 16 ringers present to discuss various options for the future: go our separate ways, find another practice to join, visit different practices or find a new location to hold our practice at. We were so fortunate that St George’s in Ticknall offered us the use of their tower & simulator on Mondays for the foreseeable future. The entire band agreed to stay together, so we simply changed our practice location to Ticknall.

Our practices are still being held at Ticknall on Monday evenings, they’re always busy and the band is thriving. Recruitment is challenging as we’re practising a fair distance from Church Gresley, but we have had one or two new recruits and band members from other towers have joined us.

We still try and get out and about to ring at other towers and join other practices. We have an annual outing to Liverpool Cathedral and even managed a trip to York Minster last year to join their Sunday service ringing.

Church Gresley and our ringing teaching has continued to grow and reach out in other ways, with the recent amalgamation with Lullington Church forming the South Derbyshire Ringing Centre. We were contacted by a Lullington resident via the ART website in July 2018. Lullington has not had a band or a practice for many years and ringers from other towers have to be drafted in to ring for weddings. The local residents had been chatting in the pub and decided that they wanted to ring the bells themselves and nominated Tim to find out how they could do so. They wanted us to run a course to teach them, we explained that it wasn’t quite that simple, but we had a better idea! I was tutoring an ART Module 1 course locally in November, which was likely to lead to several keen teachers needing students, therefore we agreed to postpone teaching at Lullington after the course. We have been running group teaching sessions on Sunday afternoons with 9 learners, 3 per hour with a group of 7 teachers alternating each week. The teaching is going extremely well, with all of them approaching completion of their LtR Level 1. They’re starting to join us at our Monday practices at Ticknall so that they can progress to ringing rounds and beyond.

The DDA Southern District striking contest heats are to be held at Lullington in March this year, we’re hopeful that our learners will be able to join the Association and enter the striking contest.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress of the band!

Moira Johnson


The annual outing to Liverpool Cathedral