Church bells peal for 101-year-old Evelyn

Bellringers from all over Oxfordshire will descend on Wardington church this weekend to ring a peal for a very special villager.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 2:09 pm
Updated Monday, 9th December 2019, 2:10 pm
Evelyn Phillips, pictured with her card of congratulations from HM The Queen on her 100th birthday
Evelyn Phillips, pictured with her card of congratulations from HM The Queen on her 100th birthday

Evelyn Phillips, the village's oldest resident and a lifetime lover of dance, had her 101st birthday in July. The peal, that takes place on Satuday morning, is to celebrate this birthday and her centenery in 2018.

A group of experienced ringers from the Banbury and Oxford areas will be ringing a peal on the Wardington Church Bells starting at 9.30am and lasting approximately three hours.

Peals are normally rung to mark something special, which may be local or national, and this peal is being rung in appreciation of Mrs Phillips and to celebrate her notable birthdays.

Peals on tower bells can take anywhere from two and a half to over four hours to ring, depending on the number and weight of the bells. They are both a physical and a mental challenge, as concentration has to be maintained for a long period of time and each individual ringer has to ring their bell without a break, which is very tiring on bells as heavy and difficult as Wardington's.

The use of physical aids to memory in conducting and ringing is not permitted and no assistance of any kind may be given to any ringer by any person not ringing in the peal.

The ringing of a peal is a great occasion. Relatively few ringers are capable of achieving such a feat and Wardington is fortunate that such an outstanding band is visiting the village to ring the first peal on the church's bells for more than 30 years.

The bells of St Mary Magdalene are difficult to ring for two reasons; because of their weight (the tenor weighs over sixteen hundredweight) and because the ringing chamber is at ground floor level, making the ropes longer than average and, in consequence, more difficult to control. They are however a beautifully tuned set of bells, which more than makes up for any problems the bellringers may have in ringing them.