West Lindsey Tour, Wakefield - 5th May 2014
It looked like a really nice day, so I decided to take my old Honda 750-four motorcycle up to the Wakefield area. I pulled up outside Nostell Priory at about 10:10am and it looked like someone else had decided to dust off the classic vehicle, as I parked my motorbike next to a circa 1972 Alfa Romeo. Ringing was already underway, so I joined the West Lindsey Branch member for a quick course of Cambridge Surprise Minor, before ringing the bells down.
Next it was a short journey to All Saints Crofton. This is a pleasent little church where the bells are rung from the Chancel crossing. Quite a heavy ring of six bells this, but very enjoyable nonetheless. It has a nice open feel to it and access is very easy. Refreshments were available in the kitchen on a "Do-it-yourself" basis, which many members took advantage of.
Next it was off to lunch, this being at The Castle in Sandal Magna. A long table had been prepared for us and it kept getting longer and longer until there was a danger that the serving staff would not be able to get in to deliver our meals. Excellent fare at The Castle and generous portions. Having seen the size of some of the portions of Fish and Chips, I'm glad I opted for the Minute Steak sandwich.
The next tower was also in Sandal Magna, this being St. Helen's. Since it was about 200 yards from The Castle, many of us decided to leave our vehicles in The Castle car park and walk to the church. There was quite a narrow set of stairs here and a low passage to traverse, which required anyone much over 5 foot to stoop to get into the tower. This gave the impression that when we reached it, the ringing room would be quite cramped, but in fact it was quite the opposite, being extremely roomy with plenty of natural daylight from the three windows and bright whitewashed walls. This is obviously a well loved tower judging by the walls, which were covered with old photographs, newspaper clippings, cartoons and a "Rogues" Gallery of local ringers.
Next stop was St. Peter and St. Leonard at Horbury. This required a certain degree of navigational ability to reach this from Sandal Magna. Probably OK in a car with a SatNav. Not so easy on a motorbike. Despite this, I tracked the tower down and found that the access to this tower was much easier. The ringing room was however something of a contrast to Sandal Magna, being much more cramped, especially as this was the first 8 bell tower of the day. The single window was at floor level and the decor somewhat darker. However we did some reasonable ringing and in between ringing people could look round the church below.
The final tower of the day was Dewsbury Minster. We were met by the local representative, who I sensed was probably not a ringer, but probably one of the churchwardens. The layout of the church is quite unusual. The church has basically been split in half. The east end of the building is now used for community, heritage and refectory facilities. The worship space is in the west end of the building and the altar is at the west end of the church by the tower. To access the tower we were taken in through the east entrance and through the church, which is quite breathtaking. A very impressive 3 manual (plus pedalboard) organ with remote console is one of the key features. The easter garden on it's own was quite impressive and one of the largest I've seen. In order to access the ringing room, we had to walk behind the altar and through a door into a store room. Being an altar server this feels a bit wrong to me, but I put my feeling to one side and made may way through a flower arranging room under the tower to the tower door. From there, it is a short ascent to the ringing room. Another bright and airy ringing room, with another "Rogues" Gallery of local ringers. This is also a ring of 8 and we attempted various methods including Stedman and Grandsire Triples.
Once we had rung the bells down we made our way out to our assorted modes of transport and after a brief chat with my fellow ringers, I made my way home. All in all an excellent little tour, with just the right number of towers and plenty of variety and ringing for everyone.
Jonathan Clark (Webmaster)