Welcome to the Banbury Branch News Page for 2020

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Branch Officers
Diary of events
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News from previous years  2017


Photos from the archives

 Branch Events Miscellaneous

Latest News

Steeple Aston

Steeple Aston young hand bell ringers have kept active by ringing hand bells in the lead up to Christmas
Click on the link below to enjoy them ringing carols.


The  Branch Covid Experience

We have not been ringing in the tower since the Covid restrictions started at the end of March.  For the initial lockdown, Dave kept us amused with daily cartoons emailed round.  We also began to meet virtually via Ringing Room on practice nights, but our attempts were not very successful, due not least to poor internet speeds/connections, so this has fallen by the wayside.  Services resumed on 19th July, but due to a number of factors including ventilation, access and the weight of the bells meaning that by the time we’ve rung individual bells up and down we would be unlikely to manage much else within the acceptable 15 minute window for ringing once the guidelines were reviewed and we decided not to recommence.  So we decided to ring handbells outside the church to welcome the congregation, which a small number of us have managed to do for each of the regular sunday morning services, along with 2 special harvest festivals held for the school.  This has gone down very well and raised our profile with many favourable comments, and it’s in some ways more personal as it makes the individual ringers more visible to the congregation.
Thanks also to regular practices in Dave's back-garden during the summer, a handful of the tower band have learnt from scratch some of the basics of ringing handbells, while others perhaps reacquainted themselves with it!  Simon (8), has gone from having no previous experience of method ringing (either in the tower or in hand) to competently plain hunting on 6 or 8 and moving on to plain bob and Adam (4) has been having a go too! A particular highlight was a Lee family touch for the final Sunday service before the current return to lockdown with Colin and Simon ringing plain bob minimus on 1-2 and 3-4 respectively, while Zoe and Adam covered on 5-6 and 7-8.
The services have been recorded and broadcast via YouTube so that they can be accessed by members of the congregation currently unable to travel to the service in person.  We have been very pleased to have been included in this, with our ringing opening the recordings on a number of occasions
(e.g. as found at:  and and (handbell) ringing have again been curtailed due to the current return to lockdown, but we can’t wait to return once circumstances allow.

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Our last ring together as a whole band took place on Mothering Sunday on March 22nd. During the first lockdown we kept in touch via phone calls, texts and emails.
Jean expressed everyone’s frustration with no ringing through a poem in the Ringing World. In mid June Barry and Jean were asked to do an inspection in the tower following heavy rain when the vicar’s vestry roof collapsed and water got in to the newly restored organ. The only damp we found was in the clock weights chute and the safety quilting was taken out to dry.
On July 17th we did a maintenance check in readiness for ringing restarting and everything appeared to be in good order. We completed health and safety preparations in accordance with covid 19 guidelines and our first ring  took place on August 9th when Sunday services resumed. 5 ringers, hand sanitised and masked, rang 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, with the doors open.
Richard Bentley then went  into hospital for a knee replacement and two of our members have elected to stay away for the present.
So we are a depleted band but with enough to continue ringing on 5 bells, and with the right combination of ringers on 6. Our repertoire mainly consists of ringing up and down with call changes in between though we have also attempted simple methods.
We were able to ring for the installation of our new vicar Serena on September4th but after that things ground to a halt when the church clock put a spanner in the works, or rather some hammers through the spokes which couldn’t be pulled off. The clock winder got things going with the clock by inserting a length of clothes line as a replacement for a length of broken wire. However we were not prepared to ring until the clock had been properly mended. We resumed ringing again on November 1st for one week only before lockdown 2 struck.
Barry & Jean

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Our last ring as a whole band was on Sunday 15th March. Services started again on Sunday 2nd August, so we started ringing again, following the Covid19 rules, that the ringers must be 2 metres apart, and ringing with the West door open, so that there was adequate ventilation.
We ring 1 3 5 7, usually to call changes, but we have tried Bob minimus, although it is hard work turning in the 19cwt 7th!
We have rung every Sunday since the 2nd August, but have now had to stop because of lockdown because there aren't any more services in the Church until December. We last rang on the 1st November.

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Our last Sunday ringing pre-Covid was on 15th March and our last practice was on Monday March 16th after which we went to the Red Lion.
Once the Lockdown was released we restarted 'practice' nights at the Brasenose Pub in Cropredy on Monday 6th July.  The Brasenose had been doing takeaway throughout the lockdown which some of us had supported.  For our 'practice'  some pre-ordered their dinners and others came and joined for a drink.  We convened at 6pm and our food was served at 6.30pm.  Fortunately the weather was kind so we happily sat outside, often in the evening sunshine.  There was some cover in case of rain.   'Practice' continued in this way until Monday October 5th.  We braved the inside on Monday October 12th.  During this time it has been really nice to have something to look forward to and to meet up and hear news of those who for various reasons did not come.
When services resumed on August 2nd we immediately restarted Sunday ringing, tentatively dipping our toes in the water, and ringing 3 bells.  Prior to the ringing we had done a risk assessment and checked the bells.   For the next service, August 22nd, we increased to 4 bells.  Because of the 15 minute restriction on time we have been ringing the 1, 3, 5 and 7 rather than the 2, 4, 6 and 8 as this way less time is spent ringing up and down.  Occasionally when we have two couples included in the Sunday ringing group we are able to ring 5 bells, but yet again the 1 and the 8 are deemed too close for current restrictions.
Some of our ringers were uncertain about ringing after such a long lay-off so they have been accompanied to the tower before the Sunday to ring their bell up and have a short practice.  One of the biggest problems is sharing out the few ringing opportunities between the number of available ringers.  We never thought to be in this situation of  seeming to have too many ringers.  This won't be the case when we get back to ringing the eight!  When the lockdown started we had three learners, two of whom, were progressing from handling to rounds.  We shall hope to restart them when we get back to normal practices.
One very nice thing has been the compliments and thanks from many villagers on hearing the bells again.


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Steeple Aston
Ringing ground to a halt with the declaration of the lock down in mid March. For a time the church was firmly locked and we were all forbidden to enter.
Nevertheless the church clock leapt forward to start summer time. By early August the powers that be decided we could risk open air services in the churchyard. The ringers provided the music ringing handbells before and during the service.
A month later the village organized a Scarecrow competition and Fete at the gate (well spaced stalls around the village) Graham’s scarecrow was  “Steeple Jack” hanging from a ladder half way up the outside of the tower. The ringers served teas from the tower door and made £200 for church funds.
The Sunday service was again held outdoors but we decided to risk 5 of us ringing for 15 minutes before the service. Dorothy & Graham on 1&2  then Lawrence, Malcolm, Jack or Jon on 4,6 & 8 all socially distanced. We rang minimus with a cover. It was exactly 5 months since we stopped ringing, there were many warm comments from the village.
The next Sunday we had a service there was no ringing as two members had tested positive for the virus and had to self isolate. We have only been having a service every third week as they move round the benefice. We were all set to ring half muffled for Remembrance but that service has been cancelled at the church, at least we do not have to fit muffles.
I wonder if we will ring for Christmas?

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The Ringing Room

Chris Mew  of the Coventry Guild has kindly given permission to put on the website an article he wrote about the The Ringing Room a computer program developed during lock down. It can be viewed by clicking on the following link Ringing Room