July 2017

Checkley (Staffs) Church Bell Extravaganza 22nd July 2017


The 22nd July 2017 has been in my diary for several months. The Alton Hand Bell Ringers, of which I am a member, had been invited to take part in this significant local event.

However, for the people of Checkley this occasion was something they had looked forward to for many years.  The bells of Checkley Church fell silent decades ago after the bell tower was deemed to be structurally unsafe.  As an ex tower bell ringer myself, I can remember ringing in several church towers where you could feel the building move due to the inertia of several tons of bells swinging around.  It is remarkable how many old bell towers have survived as well as they have when you think about the mechanics of tower bell ringing.  The original oak bell frame at Checkley is thought to date back to 1575.  So, silence befell the church tower at...

Christchurch Church Hall, Tean, Staffs, 10 July 2017


A Monday afternoon earlier in the year. Door bell rings. (no pun intended) Outside is a smiling Lynne clutching a small notelet. The notelet explains that AHR would like to recruit new members and Lynne wondered if I might be interested. I was and so the following Wednesday I attended my first practice session. 

I was immediately warmly welcomed by the group and made to feel at home. The next weeks were to be a very different learning exercise in producing music. This was certainly very different from my usual music lessons and playing with a band.

The music has no notes, in my case only numbers. There are no staves, no time signature, no key signature, no crochets, quavers, minims and all the other odd sounding notes that one might find on a traditional sheet of music.

The handbell ringers have their own method of indicating the note to be...

Checkley, Staffordshire, Bell Extravaganza and Fun Day, Saturday 22 July

Alton Handbell Ringers' 12 bell team will be ringing tunes from 12-12.30pm in the Church.  The Fun Day runs from 11am until 4.30pm.  There will be a demonstration of Tower Bell ringing before and after the Handbell ringing.

The Mobile Bell Frame will be in the Community Centre car park between 11.30am and 4.30pm.  Afternoon tea will be served in the Community Centre from 2pm.


Leek Arts Forum Celebration Evening 29.6.17

Tumultuous applause and whistles!  Well, this was the first time ever! 

At the annual celebration evening in Leek, we rang a selection of 12 bell tunes to a very appreciative audience.

Ours was just one of the many performances by talented musicians, actors, humorists and poets who came together from Biddulph, Cheadle, Alton and Leek to share the range of performance arts that are alive and well in the Staffordshire Moorlands. 

The Alton Handbell Ringers (AHR) are very fortunate to be supported by Cheadle Arts Forum which is a branch of Staffordshire Moorlands District Arts Forum.

Art Development Grants are available for members of the arts forums and over the last few years we have benefited by receiving grants to help with the following projects.

1.Travelling expenses for the team to attend the Annual Rally of the Handbell RIngers of Great Britain in York where we rang and attended workshops....

A Different Sort of Sunday


Part One - Before

Where are we off to early tomorrow morning (Sunday) all dressed in our smart black outfits, with blue scarves for the women and bow ties for the men? To church? No. To work? No. To record our first CD? Yes!

By lunchtime 8 tracks should be safely captured. (We’ve been practising 9 to have a spare, in case….) Handbells, not their ringers of course, can be quirky at times, so best to be prepared.

Checklist for the morning: outfit (don’t forget the scarf), no jewellery because the bells zing off it, packed lunch, comfy shoes as we’ll be standing for 4 hours, bottles of water for me and the dog, who has to come, tho’ she doesn’t ring. Oh and don’t forget my special specs that focus exactly on the music. Leave home at 8.15 am, pick up Sarah and set off for the Summerbank Recording...