Central Branch Meeting at Washingborough, 10th March 2018
Frankly it was not a promising start to the Central Branch meeting at St. John's, Washingborough. It was warmer outside the church than it was inside, there was apparently no water available because of a leak and there appeared to be some sort of Guinness World Record attempt taking place for the highest number of Franciscans you can cram into a vestry.
I was early getting to the church and I was greeted by some forlorn looking bellringers who were enterprisingly setting out vast quantities of cake on tables at the back of the church. With no water available there would be no way to provide liquid refreshment to wash the cake down with. However on enquiring it turned out that no one had ventured into the kitchen to check the situation, because it would mean having to walk through the room where the Franciscans were having their meeting and they were reluctant to disturb them.
Fortunately I am the Churchwarden at St John's, so I already knew about the Franciscans and knew they were not going to mind us coming through, so I went into the kitchen to see what the situation was. It was not as bad as I was expecting. While the water was indeed turned off, the Parish Administrator had thoughtfully filled the urn up prior to closing the stopcock, so in fact we had plenty of water for tea and coffee. With the help of some of the ladies of the branch (and in fact some of the Franciscans as well) we got set up for tea and coffee fairly quickly.
By this time the Branch Ringing Master (Colin Ward) had got the bells up. Whilst we had many ringers present, experienced ringers were in short supply, so Rounds, Plain Hunt and a bit of Bob Minor was the main order of the day. In fact this turned out to be a really good practice if you were a learner, with a number of "firsts" chalked up. We did manage to sneak in a bit of Single Oxford and for the last ring of the afternoon, we managed to round up just enough experienced ringers to do a fairly complicated touch of Stedman Triples, with Singles and odd Bobs, conducted by Colin Ward.
During this time in the church, a huge quantity of cake had been laid out. Tea and coffee flowed freely and eventually the Parish Administrator returned with a large wrench to beat the plumbing into submission. About halfway through the meeting normality (or what passes for it) was restored, along with the water, much to the relief of those wanting to use the facilities.
The meeting eventually finished. We left the bells up for the following morning and Colin took a small group up the tower to look at the bells. This is perfectly safe to do at Washingborough, even if the bells are up, because there is a viewing gallery that you can stand on to see the bells without getting too close. Meanwhile much washing up was taking place in the kitchen and before long everything was dried up and put away.
The ringers departed, leaving a lone Churchwarden to set up the church for Sunday's Communion Service.
Jonathan Clark (webmaster)