Dronfield Bells

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Ringing Trip April 24th, 2010    

                                Melton and South Leicestershire

Saturday, 24th April was one of the few pleasant warmish days of early 2010.
Our annual ringing trip was enjoyed by about 50 ringers and friends, most travelling by coach.
The distance to the selected towers was less than of late which allowed a little more relaxed trip and an extra, sixth, tower.


Lies on the River Devon in the Vale of Belvoir . The market place has both its cross and the stocks still preserved. The Church of St Mary the Virgin is often called 'The Lady of the Vale'. One of the largest village churches in England it contains many tombs of The Earls of Rutland.

One of the most important witchcraft cases took place in 1618 when Francis Manners, sixth Earl of Rutland accused three local women, Joan, Phillipa and Margaret Flower of murdering his two sons, Henry and Francis by witchcraft. The case is commemorated on the Earl's tomb.

The church has close connections with Belvoir Castle and has the tallest Spire in Leicestershire at 212 feet.

The first tower of our trip. We arranged coffee and tea at the local inn, The Red Lion, which was very popular. Then ringing on the fine octave, tenor 22 cwt,  at St. Mary's church. One of the best rings of the day.

Bottesford Gallery

A pleasant drive along the roads around Belvoir Castle brings us to:

Waltham on the Wolds

Many of the buildings are of local ironstone. The headquarters of Pedigree Masterfoods is just outside the village and the 1033 ft television transmitter is nearby. Croxton Park to the north was used for hunting by the Earls of Rutland. The windmill near the church is called ‘black smock’ because of its shape. In February 2008, the church's spire was badly damaged by an earthquake, and the top 30 ft was rebuilt at a cost of around £100,000. The top section was put in place on the recent Mastercrafts programme on BBC2.

Access to the ringing chamber here is a little complex, requireing ascent of a ladder, then some stone steps followed by yet another step ladder. All successfully managed it for a ring on the 6 bells, tenor 10 cwt.

Waltham Gallery

It's only a few miles south from here to our lunch stop at:

Melton Mowbray

The Market town is perhaps most famous for its Pork Pies. You can sample the pies from the oldest bakery producing truly authentic pies at Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe & Sausage Shop, Nottingham St. Three hunts The Quorn, The Belvoir and the Cottesmore meet at Melton. In the 19th century it was a favourite place with those who came to the area for the season. Much 'larking' and 'ragging' went on among the huntsmen - in 1837 the Marquis of Waterford literally painted the buildings in red. From which evolved the well-known saying 'Paint the Town Red'

St. Mary's Church is the largest and stateliest Parish Church in Leicestershire, it dates from the 13th century. Sir Malcolm Sargent was a former organist of the church.

There was a wedding in the church at the time of our arrival, so we had lunch before our ringing session. There are 10 bells here, tenor 25 cwt, and very nice they are too. 

Melton Gallery

Continuing south along the B 6047 brought us to a group of villages all within walking distance of each other. The first of these is:

Illston on the Hill

St Michael and All Angels Church is a fine early 13th C church set in a very quiet village sitting on the spur of a hill at 550 feet. There are large painted boards, bearing the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, and a list of local charities. The royal arms are of 1777. The pulpit and seating apparently date from the restoration of 1866-7. In the churchyard are the base and part of the shaft of a medieval stone cross. There are six bells: (i) and (ii) c. 1600; (iii) 1641; (iv), (v), and (vi) 1946, as a thanksgiving for victory in the Second World War.

There are 6 bells here, tenor 8 cwt.

Illston Gallery

It is 1.5 miles to the next church along a reasonably quit country road. Many of our passengers opted to walk, but needed to know they should take the left fork where the road divided. If they did this they would arrive at:


St. Peters church is known as 'The Narrow Church' which becomes obvious when it is seen. Three churches have stood on this site:- 1) Early part of the 12th century. 2) About 1500 AD
3) In 1741, except chancel.

The tower is built of local brown ironstone and a cream limestone from Stamford or Rutland. The church has a one handed clock. Inscribed date on tower 1741

We had arranged for the local ladies to supply tea and scones. They usually do this during the spring and summer, and find it popular with walkers and cyclists. They needed to bake extra scones for us.

There is a toilet in this church but, it is in the ringing chamber. In fact it is right by the tenor position. This makes it a prolem when someone wishes to visit the facility when we are ringing. It was the cause of much hilarity.

St. Peter's church has six bells, tenor 9 cwt.

Gaulby Gallery

It is only another half a mile down a narrow country lane to the next church - again walked by most of our party.

Kings Norton 

King's Norton dates from c1066 AD. The splendid Gothic Rival Church of St. John the Baptist, was  designed by local architect John Wing the younger and is a fine Georgian church. The rebuild was completed in one year. A spire was added in 1775 but was destroyed in a storm in 1850 having been hit by lightning twice! The rebuilding of the church in 1757 was paid for by William Fortrey, a local squire. He loved the sound of church bells and was a keen bell-ringer. Some believe he wanted to rebuild King's Norton church in order to have somewhere to practise his hobby!. Inside the church has a classical Georgian interior with the original wooden box-pews and three-tier pulpit.

There are eight bells here, tenor 18 cwt, and provided a fitting end to our ringing trip.

Kings Norton Gallery