Regular events and activities
Annual Church Fete
On the afternoon of the second Saturday in June, a highly popular, traditional church fete is held usually managing to raise thousands of pounds for church funds.
Christmas Market & Coffee Morning
In November, a popular Christmas Market and coffee morning is held at Swallowfield Parish Hall where customers can enjoy morning coffee and delicious cakes whilst browsing the stalls for gifts, decorations, cakes and preserves.
There is an active bell-ringing group who ring for services, wedding and other special occasions. They often share practices and some services with ringers from St Mary’s, Shinfield. Please contact Steve Jenkins on 988 5312 or for more information. All newcomers are very welcome.
Learning the ropes – Bell ringing from a beginner’s perspective
It all began one sunny autumn morning, some two years ago now. After a couple of sets of tennis, a fellow player mentioned that she rang bells at Swallowfield and that they were looking for new recruits. I’ve always enjoyed listening to church bells ‐ such a joyous sound ‐ and so it was that one Thursday evening, a few weeks later, I found myself wondering what I had let myself in for as I walked up the church path and entered All Saints’.
I needn’t have worried. For the first couple of months, I had private tuition for half an hour before the main practice. Everyone was very friendly and keen to offer help. The skill is in being able to control your bell – not as easy as it looks – and it took a while before I was able to ring on my own. A minder continued to keep an eye on me for several weeks, though, in case things went horribly wrong. My husband always had visions of me winging around the bell tower, hanging onto the rope for dear life but, thankfully, that never happened!
Soon I graduated to ringing “rounds” in the main practice session which gave everyone a break from the more intricate “methods” or tunes. Once I no longer needed a minder, I was able to move on to “call changes” where the conductor calls for adjacent bells to swap places. More recently, I have been learning “plain hunting” in which every bell changes by one place every stroke until it reaches last or first place where it remains for two strokes. This must be mastered before successfully attempting any of the “methods” – my current challenge! As you can see, bell ringing is much more than just tugging on a rope and it is this intricacy that makes English bell ringing so special.
To sum it all up, bell ringing is fun and it is challenging. It demands your total concentration and is a great way to take your mind off things for a while. What’s more, I even heard, last week, that it may help you live longer. So what’s stopping you? Come along and see for yourself.
(originally published in Loddon Reach magazine, Nov 2016)