A Tale of Three Towers
The poster for the dedication was worded cautiously: the occasion would be “perhaps unique” (our italics). It was in fact unique, full stop.
Three neighbouring parish churches, Hartpury, Corse and Staunton had each completed rehanging their bells, and all three rings were to be rededicated on the same day, 8th November, 2023.
This was the remarkable culmination of a plan worked out between the three parishes.
The project team was led by the indefatigable but self-effacing Jim Chapman, who has delivered numerous innovative projects over the years at St Mary’s, Hartpury.
The work at all three churches was carried out by Taylors of Loughborough. It was a fairly straightforward overhaul of bells at Corse, but a much more complex rehanging at Staunton, where the bells had been virtually unringable for fifty years.
At Hartpury an even bigger project, with the ringing floor relocated, a new training area established, and three brand new bells. Both at Hartpury and at Staunton there are now ‘training bells’, where beginners can master the art of bell handling, without disturbing the neighbours.
It was a great idea to rededicate all three sets of bells in sequence. Bishop Rachel led three quite short services: in each case the bells were rung for a celebratory five-minute ‘touch’, and then on to the next church. Each service contained different readings, reflections and music, including hymns inspired by ringing.
Lunch followed in Hartpury’s Old Chapel, next to St Mary’s, after which the bells in each church were put in turn thoroughly through their paces. It was without doubt a unique celebration: no “perhaps” about it.
As a Trust, we were delighted to make grants totalling £21000 towards this splendid trio of tower projects. Our congratulations on a successful conclusion.
Jonathan MacKechnie Jarvis