Ringing for the 100th Anniversary of the RAF at St Clement Danes

History of the RAF
It is entirely appropriate that the Centenary year of the Royal Air Force (RAF) also falls on the Centenary of the end of the First World War.

Indeed it was the events towards the end of WW1 that led to the creation of the RAF one hundred years ago.

In the summer of 1917, German Gotha bombers appeared over London with relative ease. The Prime Minister appointed Lieutenant General Jan Christian Smuts to investigate and Smuts quickly recommended the amalgamation of the existing Army and Navy air arms to form a separate Air Force with its own staff.

Brought into formal existence on 1st April 1918, the Royal Air Force began life as the world’s first and premier Air Force and it has been at the forefront of military aviation from that day to this.

In its first week, RAF aircraft played a leading role in stemming the German offensive and provided crucial support to the Army and its allies as the Germans were driven back to the Rhine and the war was brought to a triumphant close later that year.

At the start of the war in 1914 the Royal Flying Corps had 84 aircraft and the Royal Navy Air Service had 71 aircraft. By the war’s end in November 1918, the RAF had more than 22,000 aircraft.

Second World War
In July 1940, Adolf Hitler planned an invasion of Britain by ordering his powerful air force (the Luftwaffe) to destroy British ports along the coast.

During the next 3 months of The Battle of Britain, the outnumbered RAF resisted the massive German air invasion, relying on the world’s first air defence system, integrating radar, telecommunications and radio. For every British plane shot down, two Luftwaffe war planes were destroyed and in October 1940, Hitler delayed the German invasion indefinitely.

At the end of the Battle of Britain, Prime Minister Winston Churchill said of the RAF pilots, ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’

Connection of St Clement Danes to the RAF
St Clement Danes Church in The Strand was almost destroyed by German bombs during the London Blitz on 10th May 1941.

The outer walls, tower and steeple survived the bombing but the interior was gutted by fire and the 10 bells fell to the ground. Subsequently they were put into storage and recast after the war.

Following an appeal for funds from the Royal Air Force, the church was completely restored and re-opened in 1958 to become the Central Church of the Royal Air Force.

Connection to Hornchurch Bell Ringers
With the restoration of the bells in 1958 came the need for visiting bell ringers to ring for Sunday services.

Under the leadership of Frank Gant, Hornchurch started to provide bell ringers for Sunday service ringing once a month, a tradition that has continued from 1958 to this day.

It was therefore fitting that the Hornchurch bell ringers organised the ringing before and after the service on 1st April 2018 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the formation of the RAF.

Coincidently, this was also the 60th Anniversary of the restoration of the church in 1958.

A quarter peal was rung at 10.00am before the service:

Westminster, Greater London

St Clement Danes
Sunday, 1 April 2018
1260 Plain Bob Royal

1. Paul J Bloomfield
2. John W Stephenson
3. Ros C Skipper
4. Simon J O Head
5. Colin Friend
6. Jonathan C Mills
7. James Laken
8. William J Stungo
9. Andrew P Barham
10. Clive J Stephenson (C)

Ringers who rang before the service


Short extract of Quarter Peal

A full Peal was rung at 12.00pm, immediately after the service:

Westminster, Greater London
St Clement Danes

Sunday, 1 April 2018 in 3h 6mins

5021 Grandsire Caters
Composed by A Colin Banton

1. Christopher Ridley
2. Christopher J Cooper
3. Mary Bone
4. Jillian Laken
5. David Holdridge
6. William J Stungo
7. Alan Regin
8. Fred Bone
9. Clive J Stephenson (C)
10. Edward J W Manley

Both rung to Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Formation of the Royal Air Force.

Also to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the restoration of St Clement Danes Church, funded by the RAF.

Ringers who rang in the peal following the service

Bell Ringers Visit to Purleigh

Undeterred by the snow, a group of St Andrew’s ringers and friends visited Purleigh in Essex on 17th March 2018.

A successful hour’s ringing and enjoyable pub lunch enabled us to catch up with Pauline and Rosemarie who have recently moved away from the Hornchurch area.

From L to R: Jeanette, John, Terry, Rosemarie, David, Pauline, Chris & Michelle

Successful Peal for Paul’s 70th Birthday

Paul Bloomfield celebrated his 70th birthday on 17th February 2018.

A peal to mark the occasion was rung by a visiting band from the Oxford Guild on 10th March. The peal was conducted by an 18 year old.

Full details of the peal are as follows:

Oxford Diocesan Guild
Hornchurch, Essex
St Andrew
Saturday, 10 March 2018 in 3h 06m
5040 Yorkshire Surprise Royal
Composed by Robin O Hall

1. E John Wells
2. June D Wells
3. Daniel J Page
4. David E Rothera
5. Thomas R Sherwood
6. Bernard F L Groves
7. Anna E Sherwood (C)
8. Edward J W Manley
9. Clive J Stephenson
10. Colin G Newman

A slightly belated 70th birthday compliment to Paul J Bloomfield, with whom the tenor ringer spent many a long hour ringing in bygone years. Also well known to some others in the band.

First on 10 and second peal – 5 (aged 14)
First on 10 as conductor having previously called Surprise Maximus

A short extract of the peal is available on You Tube

Lady Bell Ringers Celebrate Their Right To Vote

On 6th February 2018, lady bell ringers from Hornchurch and West Ham teamed up to celebrate the centenary of The Representation of the People Act 1918 which gave some women the right to vote for the first time.

Background
The Suffragette movement, led by Emmeline Pankhurst, had been established since 1903. They were determined to obtain the right to vote for women by any means, even if it involved breaking the law. Women paid the same taxes as men and were subject to the same laws, so why not the same voting rights?

During the war years (1914 –18) women undertook jobs normally carried out by men and proved they could work just as well. This strengthened their argument for voting rights which came shortly after.

Bell ringing celebrations
Bells are often rung to celebrate important anniversaries and for this occasion, a team of ladies rang continuously for about 45 minutes to achieve a quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles. The ringing took place at St Andrew’s, Hornchurch and was conducted by Liz Rayner of West Ham:

Hornchurch, Essex

St Andrew

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

1260 Plain Bob Doubles

1. Julie A Bloomfield
2. Heather Rayner
3. Helen J Carter
4. Elizabeth C Rayner (C)
5. Leonie J McCaughren
6. Rebecca A Woolward

Rung by an all ladies band to mark the 100th Anniversary this day of The Representation Of The People Act 1918 which allowed women to vote for the first time.

The photo shows the ladies that took part:

L to R: Julie Bloomfield, Heather Rayner, Helen Carter, Liz Rayner, Leonie McCaughren and Rebecca Woolward

‘Ringing Remembers’: A National Campaign to Recruit 1400 New Bell Ringers

On 11th November 2018 it will be 100 years since Armistice was declared at the end of the First World War.

To mark this centenary, bells will ring out in unison from as many churches as possible across the UK as they did 100 years ago.

In preparation for this event, it is hoped that 1400 new bell ringers will be recruited and trained in honour of the 1400 bell ringers who lost their lives during the Great War.

At St Andrew’s we know of at least one ringer by the name of John Brockhurst, who lost his life during WW1, in November 1917.

 WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN AT ST ANDREW’S?

It is easily possible between now and November 2018 for you to acquire the basic skills required to ring for Armistice 2018 and thereafter for other services and events.

Initial training is on a one-to-one basis in easily manageable steps and is suitable for ages 12 – 70.

If, after a few sessions, you want to register with the National Campaign to become one of the 1400, we will show you how.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER YOUR INTEREST

Contact: Clive Stephenson on 07896 342010 or email: clive-stephenson@sky.com

An open day will be arranged for March 2018.

Ringing Remembers is a joint campaign run by  two government offices and the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.

New Year’s Eve in the Bell Tower

Every New Year’s Eve for as long as we can remember, St Andrew’s bell ringers have celebrated by ‘ringing in’ the New Year.

This year was no exception and at 11.30pm a small group of ringers gathered to begin their ring.

As the midnight hour approached, the number of bells gradually reduced leaving just Gavin Carpenter to strike the tenor 12 times at midnight. The rest of the ringers then joined in again to welcome 2018 with their joyful sound.

In recent years, our vicar Barry and wife Mary have come along to watch the fireworks from the top of the tower and open a bottle of champagne whilst the bells ring.

The photo shows Mary and Barry joining the ringers afterwards for a celebratory drink. Barry then thanked the ringers for their efforts during the past year, particularly the peals.

What a lovely way to start the New Year!

Bell Ringers Christmas Peal 2017

The bell ringers’ Christmas peal was successfully completed in 3 hours and 9 minutes.

All 10 bells were rung to the tune of Grandsire Caters and a short 3 minute extract can be found on YouTube using the link: https://youtu.be/kUcHsHPmpJw

Full details of the peal are as follows:

Essex Association

Hornchurch, Essex

St Andrew

Saturday, 23 December 2017 in 3h 9min

5021 Grandsire Caters

Composed by A Colin Banton

1. Paul J Bloomfield
2. Anthony J Bloomfield
3. Jillian Laken
4. David E Rothera
5. Clare M Merivale
6. M Louise Booth
7. Jonathan C Mills
8. William J Stungo
9. Clive J Stephenson (C)
10. Alan S M Street

Rung for The Festival of Christmas.

First on 10 – 5 & 7; First Grandsire – 2,5 & 7.

350th peal – 1.

Peal for Platinum Wedding Anniversary of HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

On 20th November 2017, HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, celebrated their Platinum (70th) Wedding Anniversary.

On 18th November 2017, a peal of Stedman Caters was rung at Hornchurch to mark the occasion. A 5 minute extract of the peal can be accessed below:

Full details of the peal are as follows:

Essex Association
Hornchurch, Essex
St Andrew

Saturday, 18 November 2017 in 3h 7min

5055 Stedman Caters
Composed by John Pladdys

Christina D A Brewster
Paul J Bloomfield
John Pladdys (C)
Stephen A Waters
Jon Waters
Ian P Hill
Clive J Stephenson
Peter G C Ellis
Robert J Crocker
10 Andrew P Brewster

Arranged and rung to mark the 70th Wedding Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

Quarter Peal for 100th Anniversary of WW1 Victim

The August 2017 edition of the Hornchurch parish magazine records the death of a Hornchurch ringer, John Brockhurst, on November 2nd  1917 in Palestine during WW1. C.T. Perfect’s book about Hornchurch, written  that year, lists among the ringers J.W. Brockhurst and J. Brockhurst who was the Tower Captain. It is likely that it is the former who was killed and the latter possibly his father.

On November 5th, the nearest Sunday to the centenary of John’s death, the current Hornchurch ringers rang a quarter peal for evensong and in memory of John Brockhurst.

The published details are as follows:

Hornchurch, Essex

St Andrew

Sunday, 5 November 2017

1250 Yorkshire Surprise Major

  1. Christopher C M Pain
  2. Ros C Skipper
  3. John W Stephenson
  4. Jillian Laken
  5. James Laken
  6. Matthew E Rayner
  7. Paul J Bloomfield
  8. Clive J Stephenson (C)

For Evensong and in memory of Private John Brockhurst, a ringer at St Andrew’s who fought in WW1 in Gallipoli and Palestine and was killed in action 100 years ago on 2/11/1917 aged 27

First in method – 2

Remembering Sylvia Blows

Sylvia Blows was known to the bell ringers through her late husband Dennis who was a bell ringer and chorister.

Sylvia was a very active member of the church here at St Andrew’s in the 1980’s and 1990’s before moving away to be closer to her family. One of her many roles included a long period as PCC Secretary.

She passed away on 28th August 2017 and the following quarter peal was dedicated to her memory:

Hornchurch, Essex

St Andrew

Sunday, 8 October 2017

1312 Double Norwich Court Bob Major

1. Dennis Ellisdon
2. Gavin S Carpenter
3. John W Stephenson
4. Elizabeth C Rayner
5. Colin G Wright
6. Christopher C M Pain
7. Paul J Bloomfield
8. Clive J Stephenson (C)

For Evensong and remembering Sylvia Blows, widow of Dennis Blows and previously an active church member at St Andrew’s, who recently passed away.

First in method – 2.