Clerical Ringers visit Sussex by the Sea, April 2022
The Guild of Clerical Ringers met for the first time since lockdown in Sussex and Kent for their Annual Post Easter Tour. The Guild is very much a mixed-ability group, so the ringing was, as befits a group of clerics, like the proverbial Curate’s Egg “good and bad in parts”. A wide variety of methods were rung, and in some cases attempted.
However, if you have eyes to see there is much more to such a tour than the ringing, so here is a snapshot from each day, mentioning just a few of the 27 towers visited.
We gathered at Hawkhurst (8/23), with the Guild Eucharist at Salehurst (8/18). One mile walk in the evening from our hotel to the final tower of the day, All Saints, Hastings (8/12) – a walk of contrasts, from the amusement arcades of the seafront, Las Vegas on Sea, to the Old Town up a narrow medieval street to the church, which has a painting of the Doom over the chancel arch.
At Brede (6/13) the war memorial was draped in Ukrainian colours. Our ringing at Iden (6/15) was the first there since lockdown. Fairfield (3/3) is a fascinating little timber-framed church in Romney Marsh. It gets a picture and write-up in Simon Jenkins’ ‘Thousand Best Churches’. Brookland (6/8) boasted a lead font dated 1150 and a medieval wall painting depicting the murder of Thomas a Becket. Evensong at Rye (8/19) with its ancient clock dating from 1561/2.
The Revd. Lord Wrenbury was Curate-in-Charge at Dallington (6/10) and lies in the churchyard. John was a member of the Guild. Pevensey (6/7), a cinque port, now silted up, is overshadowed by massive castle ruins. A trip to Beachy Head was enjoyed before ringing at three Eastbourne towers.
At Bexhill (10/17) there is an early 19th century barrel organ which took the place of musicians – shades of Thomas Hardy. This in turn in 1881 was made redundant by he first manual organ. Goats graze in the churchyard at Ashburnham (6/9). In the 17th century, the chancel floor was raised to accommodate the Ashburnham family vault. After lunch in the old Railway station, we admired the superb Abbey Gatehouse at Battle (8/21). Evensong at Blacklands (8/20) followed by the tour dinner at La Bella Vista in St. Leonards.
The last day began at Sedlescombe (6/10) with its tenor inscription “Robertus Mot me Fecit 1595”. The final tower of the tour was at Northiam (6/14) and the final ringing was a course of Cambridge Minor, with our worthy President in the band. Farewells and for many of us a long Bank Holiday weekend drive home. Amen.