Association Centenary Peal at Winfarthing

An association centenary peal at was rung at  6, tenor 9 cwt in G
Tuesday 18:30 alternates with Shelfanger
on 15 December 2012.  Richard Carter has submitted the following peal report.

Winfarthing Church Image

Winfarthing Church

Winfarthing is set in the farming plains of south Norfolk, a vast tract of glorious countryside.  Parishes are large and wide but sparsely populated.  This is still a largely agricultural area and was once a ringer’s paradise.   This was where progressive ringers developed their skills.  Bands at Tibenham, Kenninghall and Diss progressed Norfolk method ringing rapidly at the turn of the 20th century.  This was where Norfolk’s Minor method ringing grew and flourished.  Against this background emerged ringers who were leaders in their art and figureheads for the rest of the county to emulate.  Probably the best known of these was Nolan Golden.

Winfarthing were a six by the middle of the 18th century.  However it wasn’t until after they had been rehung in 1912, by Day of Eye, that the first peal was rung on them.  This was of seven treble bob methods rung by members the Tibenham company on Saturday, October 26th 1912.  It was said that this was rung by the youngest band ever in Norfolk – average age 15.   Could a band of 15 year old Norfolk youngsters do this today?

So to this peal’s centenary.  The closest Saturday was October 6th so permission for an attempt was sought.   This was given gladly and as the day approached I was contacted to see if we would like a few refreshments afterwards; it seemed that as far as the locals were concerned this was going to be an significant event.   And so the day arrived and so did we.  Bells raised, a few round to check length and then to last minute adjustments.  Where was the marlin spike?  How many ringers does it take to twist open a rope?   I have never before rung on ropes that were so hard.  It took us 25 minutes and Faith’s hair clasp to alter rope lengths!!

So at last we were off into changes.  London runs round as does Carlisle, Ipswich and Surfleet.  Into the York and whoops who should be where, bob, no that’s not right. Stand.  What a shame, we’d let the locals down and it wasn’t even opening time yet.

So to the pub, The Fighting Cocks – to be recommended!  Standing outside we manage to upset the boxer dog however it did attract the  landlady’s attention who opened up for us.  Must use that strategy again!!

“You the ringers?” she asked once we had apologised for the early awakening of the hostelry.  We concurred. “You’re early!” she stated. Fortunately though beers were ordered and served.  Clem, one of the local ringers, arrived and we sheepishly explained that we had failed and didn’t deserve our refreshments.  Nonetheless platefuls of sandwiches, savoury tarts, sausage rolls and cakes arrived.  We fraudulently tucked in and soon the fulsome platters were just a collection of misplaced crumbs!   We were supplied with ale and conversation flowed.  I took this opportunity to enquire about the possibility of another attempt.  The rather surprising reply came, “What, you want to come again!”   I said that we did and so December the 15th was booked.  It was also pointed out there was a method called Winfarthing Surprise which the local ringers didn’t think had yet been rung(?).  Perhaps we might like to ring that next time.  I said we would.

Winfarthing Surprise Minor Blue Line

Winfarthing Surprise Minor Blue Line

December 15th and we managed to lose our attempt at New Buckenham in the morning – conductor failure.  So once again waiting for the pub to open! Not a good habit to develop.This is usually a precursor to an unsuccessful afternoon attempt.  Ah well things don’t always follow well worn patterns, fortunately.  Pete had promised to bring marlin spikes in the plural.  However he forgot – both.  The ropes were no softer and so once again we struggled for 20 minutes this time with Faith’s nail file as our only aid!!  It later transpired that there was a marlin spike on top of the Ellacome apparatus!!  Oh if only we had asked.   This time we rang Winfarthing and because of the 7 pull dodge on the front the other methods – Norwich apart – were chosen for their more static nature.  At last with Pete on his knees – I had apparently gone into Norwich overdrive – the last pair of bobs wrong called and ‘That’s All’ . A real sense of achievement by all, bells lowered and to the pub – closed again!!! (we had started an hour early due to the morning’s failure).   A flustered landlady, having tethered and gagged the boxer, opened up.  We had to wait but eventually the beer began to flow.  Then mince pie arrived followed by sausage rolls much to our grateful surprise.  Our thanks were given, Christmas greetings exchanged and we then went our separate ways.

Often peals are just another tick in a book, a line in the diary, something to mull over in the pub over the weekend.   This was, however, different.  We were welcomed and appreciated.  It made a difference.  Perhaps we weren’t the youngest band in Norfolk to ring a peal  but I’m sure we were as equally appreciated as were that band from Tibenham a hundred years ago.