Gransden Church Bells 

Gransden / Swavesey Annual Outing - Saturday 26th October 2013

We have been running the Gransden / Swavesey outing for several years and this year it was the turn of the Swavesey ringers to organise it. The choice of venue was the Thaxted area of Essex where we visited five churches.

The first tower was Stebbing with 6-bells and a tenor of 12.5 cwt. We found the bells to be quite pleasant. Unusually the church has a stone chancel arch screen which compliments the perpendicular style nave arches, but which almost completely hides the chancel from view.

 Stebbing - St.Mary the Virgin
6 bells - tenor 12-2-14 in F#
   Stebbing chancel arch screen
   Ringing at Stebbing
  Stebbing rope spider

Great Easton was next which is a ground floor ring of six with a tenor of 11.5cwt. There is a redundant 15th century bell on the floor of the ringing chamber and a large hook used as a rope spider. The church has a warm atmosphere and in the chancel where the children congregated to pass the time there is a very striking reredos.

 Great Easton - St.John & St.Giles
6 bells - tenor 11-2-0 in G
   Great Easton reredos
   Disused 15th c bell
 New and Old - tablets and crayons
   Ecclesiastical chair
   Unusual rope spider

We had a break for lunch with each family group finding a different location because we were unable to find a venue which would accomodate us all on this ocassion. Some found the White Swan opposite the church in Thaxted (our next tower) to be ideal. The large church has a ground floor ring and a tall tower necessitating the use of amplification for the bells to be heard whilst ringing, but apparently they are very loud outside. The long draft and light trebles made challenging work for some, but a good touch of GTs was scored here as well as call changes. 

 Thaxted - St.John the Baptist
8 bells - tenor 15-0-2 in Eb
   Thaxted windmill
(south west of the church)
   Lecturn in Thaxted church
   Thaxted - interior
 Bench end in Thaxted church
Photo: Naomi Laredo

Hempstead was our penultimate tower where we quite liked the ring of 6 at 12.75cwt. The north transept holds the tomb of William Harvey who discovered that blood circulates around the body. The church also contains an ecclesiastical chair which has the form of a grotesque head on the arm ends.

 Hempstead - St.Andrew
6 bells - tenor 12-3-8 in F

   Grotesque image on chair arm
   The tomb of William Harvey

Finally on to Steeple Bumpstead - 6 bells 14.5cwt.  In a description of the church the bells are said to be an "excellent ring". Amongst it's treasures the church has a magnificant award winning window in the north aisle.

 Steeple Bumpstead - St. Mary
6 bells - tenor 14-2-2 in F#
   Award winning window in Steeple Bumpstead church
   Happy band of ringers and children outside Hempstead church before ringing

What an excellent day - I am confident in saying that everyone enjoyed themselves. The ringing masters catered for all capabilities and the children enjoyed playing together. Many thanks to Andrew for organising the towers this year, and we hope to meet again for the Gransey Outing at the same time in 2014.

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