Campton & Chicksands

Campton Bell Ringers

Sadly, Peter Luddington, Tower Captain (centre) passed away on Christmas Day 2004.

Campanology  is an ancient art, several centuries old, which continues to thrive. We estimate there to be 40,000 active ringers across the 5000-odd churches in the UK, with perhaps more than a quarter of a million who have at some time started to learn but then lapsed.

The mechanics of a bell, apart from developments in tuning technology and the advent of ball bearings a century ago, are largely as they were several centuries ago. The bell is attached to a metal headstock which in turn is attached to a large wooden wheel. The five ropes that you see in the tower at Campton are attached to the wheels of the bells. The wheel, and therefore the bell, turns through almost 360 degrees, with the clapper striking the bell as it turns.

The bells are of mixed origin, originally a peal of three in a wooden frame which was augmented to five, by the addition of two smaller bells hung in a metal frame above, in 1925. Having five bells is a limiting factor in a practical sense, especially when one has a dozen youngsters learning - eight or six bells is the norm these days.

The church has been well looked after in recent years and is in excellent general condition - the bell installation is not and a major restoration will soon be necessary if the art is to continue to thrive in the village. In many rural parishes across the UK, such as in Campton, campanology is an important part of church activity. For example, the Millennium was marked by over 100 bell restoration projects.

A major restoration project, perhaps aiming for a new ring of bells in a new metal frame, would represent excellent value in the long term - bells have many positive attributes, possess real longevity and permanence (hundreds of years) and modern installations require minimal maintenance. The bells remain the enduring outward voice of the church in the village.

Campton bells are rung on Sundays from 10.45 to 11.15 for Sunday Service - no ringing on the fifth Sunday of the month.

We meet to practice every Tuesday evening from 7.15 to 8.30. Anyone interested is welcome to come along on a practice night.

We now have some established young ringers at Campton, with more starting to learn. Recently a new band has also started at Haynes, another Church in our Benefice, so bellringing's future in this area is looking good.

Minimum age to start learning is 9 years old and there is no upper age limit!

Ringing can be an absorbing activity - we try to make it fun too!

John Loveless, 19A Gravenhurst Road, Campton, Shefford, Beds SG17 5NY, Tel 01462 819074, e mail

History of the Bells

Campton Bells Appeal

New Bells Arrive

Listen to the new bells

Listen to the old bells

MAY 2009

Two Notable Achievements for Campton Bellringers

This was a great day for these two chaps, to achieve this in your 70's is quite remarkable.
Dennis "Quarter” L-R: Charlotte Smith (Biggleswade), Ros Keech (Kempston), Terry Brown (Clifton), Dennis Davis (Campton), Linda Garton (Campton), Sue Silver (Flitton)
Barrie “Quarter” L-R: John Loveless (Campton), Russell Brown (Clifton), Nick Brown (Clifton), Barrie Glenn (Campton), Chris Williams (Flitton), Linda Garton (Campton).

Since their dedication two years ago, Campton’s new bells have been put to good use, with regular practices and Sunday Service ringing, training days, and a number of peals (approx two and a half hours ringing) and quarter peals. However, none of these quarter peals have been as special as two rung on Sunday 31st May.

A quarter peal, about 40 minutes non-stop ringing, is a milestone in anyone’s ringing career, but to ring a first quarter at the first attempt as a septuagenarian is a real achievement, and for two people to do this on the same afternoon is even more noteworthy. Dennis Davis (75) and Barrie Glenn (72) are both loyal members of Campton’s Sunday Service band. Dennis, who is also registered blind, learnt to ring about 25 years ago, but only started change ringing relatively recently. Barrie came along to the launch of the Campton Bells Appeal back in January 2004, declared an interest in learning to ring, led our grant application programme and has been hooked ever since!
Regular supporters of Campton’s Tuesday practice were invited to ring in the quarter peals. Dennis was particularly delighted to find that he would be ringing with a band of “glamorous girls”! Both quarters were of a ‘method’ called Plain Bob Doubles, with Dennis ringing in the first, and Barrie in the second. Both quarters had an audience of wives and local ringers, who applauded loudly when each quarter came round  - praise well deserved! The day was rounded off with a celebratory meal and the odd drink or two at the White Horse in nearby Southill.

Well done Dennis and Barrie! What next?


Belfry News from All Saints, Campton

Since our new bells were dedicated, we have welcomed a number of visiting bands, most recently from Leeds University and Essex. The bells were rung as part of an Open Day early in September, raising £700 for the Biggleswade District Belfry Repair Fund, who gave us a very generous grant. Over 30 visitors from all over the country enjoyed lunch at Campton as well as ringing our new bells.

Regular visitors to our weekly Tuesday evening practice are helping our own band of ringers to make good progress and we are very grateful to them for their support. Following our Tuesday night practice on October 2, Dean presented certificates to Campton’s younger ringers in recognition of their contributions to fundraising for the Bells Appeal. They were also awarded badges (a national progress scheme) to mark their achievements in ringing. Katie White and Linda Bryant have been learning to ring since the new bells were installed and are doing well. We welcome anyone from the age of 11 upwards who is interested in learning. Come along on a Tuesday evening 7.15 to 8.45 to find out more.

We have rung the bells every Sunday since they were installed. Our most recent learners will soon be able to join us for service ringing, and we hope that this will enable us to ring all eight bells every Sunday. Watch this space for details of more progress over the next few months.

Finally, we look forward to some special ringing to celebrate All Saints Day in early November and the 60th wedding anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip at the end of November.

10th SEPTEMBER 2005

Date for your Diary

A national Bell Ringing Exhibition, in which Campton youngsters and adults will be taking part, will be held on September 10 at Newbury Racecourse. The Ringing Roadshow is a popular event with a wide audience. If you are interested in finding out more or want to learn to ring, please contact John Loveless or Linda Garton on 01462 819074 for information. The team is practising hard. This event is not a bid for the Olympics, but a bid for Campton . Please give it your support.

JULY 2005
Campton Bellringers celebrate the start of the school holidays!

On Monday July 25th 2005,  Campton bellringers marked the start of the school holidays with a morning's ringing outing to some nearby towers, Flitton, Haynes and Southill. Our newest recruits, Tim and Helena Porteous, rang without John or Linda's help for the first time at Haynes, which are easier bells to ring than Carnpton, Well done! Once we'd negotiated the ladder to the ringing room at Southill, all of our less experienced ringers did particularly well on the heavy bells there.
We were joined not only by other local ringers from Clifton, Kempston and Biggleswade, but also by two ringers from a little bit further afield ...  Hobart, Tasmania! Our friends, Doug and Jane, have just completed a major restoration of the bells at Hobart Cathedral, so we were able to swap lots of "Bells Appeal" stories!
Although we picked a damp and drizzly day for our outing, everyone had a very enjoyable time!

Linda Garton

25th JULY 2005

A Three-Village outing

A Three-Village outing for bell ringers was held on Monday July 25, at three churches in Bedfordshire; Flitton, Haynes and Southill. It was encouraging that so many children turned up early on a Monday morning, despite the drizzling rain, along with visitors from Tasmania who were on holiday in England. The Church of St John the Baptist, Flitton is a lovely 500 year old building and the peals rang out over the village at 10am which heralded a good start to the week. At 11.00am, the team arrived at Haynes St Mary’s Church Tower, ready to start again.
Instructors Linda Garton and John Loveless, helped the younger members of the group to join in along with experienced hands, giving the whole group a chance to ring. At Southill Church, the ringers plus the adult visitors, entered the bell tower by means of a steep step-ladder and climbed through a trapdoor - a challenging task for Dennis Davis, a blind member of the regular team, who never lets anything stop him from taking part. It was a tight squeeze but even so, everyone had a turn to pull on the ropes.
The outing ended with a delicious lunch at the White Horse in Southill enjoyed by everyone. An encouraging turnout, despite the fact that many people had gone on holiday. Well done ringers and instructors.

JUNE 2005

Bloomfield Clean Sweep at Bells Contest!

Campton Bellringers took part in a local Mid Beds bellringing contest at Meppershall Church recently. The team of ringers selected contained five current Bloomfield School pupils all aged under 14 - four of them are even in the same class! The sixth ringer was also an ex-Bloomfield pupil, making it a Bloomfield clean sweep!
l to r - Eleanor Dawson, Natalie Taylor, Lily Farmer, Joe Redman, Robert Taylor, Nick Brown.
The youngsters all ring at Campton Church and some practice at other churches in the area as well. This was the first time any of them had rung in a ringing contest. The contest was followed by an excellent fish and chip supper hosted by Meppershall ringers John and Anne Parsons. Our thanks to them and also to the judge, Michael White from Huntingdon. The winning team was Henlow, followed by Eaton Socon, Biggleswade and Meppershall.
The verdict for the Campton team was was 'good to see you entering, a good performance but with room for improvement' and the objective for next year is to gain experience and move a few places up the table.
Ringing at Campton continues to flourish. Campton Bells Appeal, which has already raised £40,000 towards a new ring of bells for All Saints, continues to flourish. Some of the youngsters will be on our stand at the Ringing Roadshow at Newbury Racecourse on September 10, which is our next big fundraiser.

If you are interested in learning more about Campton Bells Appeal, or would like to know more about learning to ring, please contact John Loveless or Linda Garton on 01462 819074.

15th FEB 2005

Campton and Haynes Bellringers Outing

On the morning of February 15th Haynes Village Hall car park resembled a school playground – during half term! Twenty one young bellringers from Campton and Haynes congregated for a ringing outing, accompanied by mums and dads, some other young ringers from St Andrew’s Bedford and plenty of grown-up ringers from Campton, Haynes and other parts of Bedfordshire.

Our first tower was Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, a lovely ring of eight bells which are easy to ring. For most of the Haynes ringers, this was the first time that they had rung at a different tower, and they all did really well. Of course some of the Campton young ringers are becoming old hands at this ‘tower grabbing’

At lunchtime most of us invaded the Kettering Business Park with a choice of the gourmet delights of Pizza Hut, Burger King or McDonalds, whilst some enjoyed a picnic in nearby Wicksteed Park.

Our second tower was Warkton, a picture postcard village full of thatched cottages and a pretty church with interesting monuments to the Montagu family who lived in nearby Boughton House.

Our final tower was Barton Seagrave, whose eight bells are hung anticlockwise – quite unusual.  This is the tower where I learnt to ring (just a few years ago!) and the main attraction for the young ringers (and grown-ups!) was succeeding in identifying me on a photograph taken in 1976!

The ringing over, the young ringers demonstrated their bowling skills at Bedford Megabowl and the grown ups collapsed over a coffee or two! 

The verdict was that it had been a really fun day!  Thank you to all the mums, dads and other ringers who came along and made the outing possible.  No doubt we’ll organise another when we’ve recovered from this one!       Linda Garton


Another first for young Campton Bell-ringers!!

After observing two minutes’ silence on Remembrance Sunday, Campton’s young bell-ringers, Eleanor Dawson, Lily Farmer, Kathryn Hare, and Robert and Natalie Taylor met Simon Thomas from Blue Peter to show him the ropes on the six bells at Haynes Parish Church in preparation for Simon joining the team to ring the twelve bells at St Martin-in-the-Field (in Trafalgar Square) at the end of November.

Filming took seven hours, which will provide just four minutes of broadcast footage.  The youngsters, along with Will Seear from Haynes, were filmed ringing and chatting with Simon about their experiences as bell-ringers.  Linda Garton, who along with John Loveless has trained the youngsters, skilfully put Simon through his paces and he was able to progress from complete beginner to ringing his own bell in rounds as part of the team in the space of the day.

Each of the young people (and not so young!) was proudly awarded a Blue Peter badge and Simon, who was extremely approachable, happily gave signed photos to everyone there. They will all meet again to ring at the Christmas Tree service at St Martin-in-the-Field on 30th November and, at the time of writing, the broadcast of a feature on bell-ringing is expected on 13th December, so set those videos and get the red carpets ready for Linda, John and the young local TV stars!!
Kathy Taylor

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