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Belfry News from Whaplode - March 2015

A social occasion plus a little history

An aperitif of red wine induced a feeling of warmth as we sat at the tables beneath the Norman arches of St Mary's Whaplode. The occasion was the annual meeting of the Elloe Deaneries Branch of the Lincoln Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers, held on Saturday afternoon, February 7th. The tower contains a ring of six bells, an examination of which provoked a look at their associated history. This revealed that numbers two, three, five and the tenor were cast by Henry Penn of Peterborough in 1718. Henry's foundry operated from about 1703 to 1729, becoming defunct after that date following a dispute with the people of St Ives for whom he had cast a ring. These bells were apparently not at all pleasing and culminated in a court case which resulted in a verdict in favour of Penn which he won. However, after the trial and mounting his horse at St Ives he collapsed and died. We shall never be able to hear Penn's bells at St Ives, as todays bells in that tower date from 1930 ,but in regard to his bells at Whaplode, I have heard many of inferior tone, some cast by other founders and much later than 1718. I find the general sound of the Whaplode ring is pleasing.

To return to the present day, an excellent tea was enjoyed, with sounds of the usual animated conversation. We have to thank Roy Willingham and his team of ladies for their efforts-always the "make and break" of a ringers meeting. Elected a member of the Guild was Jo Ball, our latest recruit from Gedney and we wish her all success for the future. As for the red wine, it was an innovation at a district meeting and something never experienced at any I have attended. Who knows-perhaps history was made at Whaplode.

John Bennett