Wardington bells to ring out for centenarian

Experienced ringers from the Banbury and Oxford will be performing a peal next week to celebrate the villages oldest resident.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 1:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 1:10 pm
Evelyn celebrates her 100th in August 2018

The St Mary Magdalene Church bells will ring out from 9.30am on Saturday, December 14 in appreciation of Wardington resident Evelyn Phillips who turned 101 in August.

The peal, which will last around 3 hours, is the first to be performed in the village in 30 years.

Three peals are recorded as having been rung on the Wardington bells. The first in August 1966 by a combined band of Banbury and Bicester ringers and then two more in 1988 and 1989.

All three of those peals were rung while the bells had their original plain bearings.

Barry Davis, the Tower Captain of St Mary’s, Banbury, who will be ringing the Treble during the peal, was also one of the band back in 1966.

He said: "It was our second attempt, the first one failing after about an hour and a half when the tenor bearings began to dry up and made the bell very difficult to ring. For the successful attempt we set up a slow drip feed of oil into the tenor bearings."

Not long after that the bearings deteriorated to the point where the bells became largely unringable, until, in the late 1990s, many people in the village joined together to raise the funds necessary to have the bells re-hung on modern bearings incorporating a ball-race.

The oldest bell in the tower is no.5, which was cast in 1669 by Henry Bagley in Chacombe, the treble (no.1) and tenor (no.6) were cast in 1685 and 1682 respectively.

Two more bells were added to the ring in the late 18th century and the ring was brought up to six bells by the casting of no.4 by John Taylor of Loughborough in the early years of the reign of Queen Victoria.

The peal will be composed and conducted by Colin Lee from Adderbury.

Because of the degree of concentration needed to ring a peal the church itself will be closed to visitors on the Saturday morning when the peal is taking place.