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Obituary: Christopher Bryan Kitson 1946 - 2012

Bryan resided for all of his life on the Isle of Axholme and a significant part of this was at Epworth. In 1960 at the age of fourteen he was appointed verger at the Parish Church of St Andrew in Epworth by the Reverend William Harvey. For all of the ensuing years he took a keen interest in the church and for a period he also worshipped at the Church of St Pancras, Wroot. Following his funeral a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples was rung by ringing friends from around the country. This was conducted by Christopher F Mew of Warwick.

It was at this time that he was taught to ring. For fifty years he was a bell ringer at Epworth, other towers across North Lincolnshire and beyond. He had been the West Lindsey Branch ringing master for a number of years. In addition he was also the guild peal secretary for a period. He was very accomplished, a member of the College youths and he rang many peals of note. Three such peals he was particularly proud of were rung at Haxey, Kirton Lindsey and Upton.

Haxey is heavy peal of six bells and Bryan was one of the few people to have rung the tenor bell to a peal which comprised seven surprise minor methods.

In contrast the peal at Kirton Lindsey was very complex and comprised of one hundred and five different methods. Approximately twenty five years previous, when this peal had been rung for the first time, it was a record. In both successful attempts to ring the peal the late George Feirn, an accomplished ringer at Kirton Lindsey, rang in both peals. Bryan was an admirer of George!

The peal at Upton was in thirty eight surprise minor methods and was conducted by Bryan. Shortly afterwards there was a repeat performance of this peal rung at Belton in Axholme.

In total he rang one hundred and fifty seven peals and conducted thirty four of them. He rang peals on all numbers except four and five and he was experienced in spliced ringing.

Perhaps his greatest delight in ringing was to ring touches of spliced minor methods, without knowing what was to be rung! Local conductor Ian Till usually obliged by calling such touches. These touches would include plain, treble bob and surprise methods.

He also had a wide knowledge of history, church architecture and hatchments. Along with his wife Wendy they visited many churches of architectural merit in various parts of the country. His favourite area for visiting churches was the Lincolnshire Wolds where he spent many happy hours. In his study at his home in Epworth an extensive collection of church photographs and architectural records can be seen.

He was a member of the ‘Pulling for Pleasure’ holiday group which is organised by Christopher Mew. After visiting a church the ringers came away much more knowledgeable on its architecture and other points of interest as Bryan shared his knowledge of it, which he had quickly discovered!

It was at local pub quizzes when Bryan was feared as he was extremely knowledgeable and usually won! He did not however fare so well when pop music was a topic.

Professionally he had been the clerk to several town and parish councils along with administrator of local drainage boards. He had also been a justice of the peace.

Bell ringing on the Isle of Axholme is currently experiencing a revival and Bryan’s membership of the team will be sadly missed.

Melvyn Rose