Rev’d Liz Smith
Creating an open space to breathe in busy lives. All welcome to share good coffee, conversation, news, crafts, and a thought for the day based on a bible verse with a short time of reflection. Bring your own craft, or just turn up. Share interests and creativity. Find peace, friendship, and a time to find who you are. No need to book—just come along and bring a friend.
At the back of Coffee#1
We were founded in 2004 as a non-profit group, organised and run completely by volunteers. The Members of the Orchestra are very proud to have raised over £25.000 on behalf of local charities.
Amanda Williams, conductor and founder member of the orchestra says" We are a community orchestra and would like to encourage anybody thinking about picking up their instrument again to pop along. We also welcome musicians without any orchestra experience. We pride ourselves in not taking anything too seriously and have fun playing and socialising together in a relaxed enviroment. The friendships and support within the group are as important to most of our members as the music. The monies raised through our music making is a wonderful extra".
Minster Twins Club
What an exciting 5th year the Minster Twins Club has had. We are a welcoming group of mums, who all juggle multiple children. We meet every second and fourth Wednesday of the month to offer support, exchange anecdotes, give our children the opportunity to play and learn in a safe environment, whilst interacting with other multiples and drinking lots of coffee. We have welcomed many new twin mums from as far as Melksham and Gillingham as well as organised some superb engaging activities for our much loved toddlers. These have included Christmas Parties, visits from Percy the park keeper, grass hair growing competitions and pancake making. We also try to give back to our twin community and are currently selling TAMBA raffle tickets, of which we retain 50% commission to donate to RUH for their first twin cot. We have an active social media page, with frequent photo sharing opportunities and advice given by our mums for our mums. We organise lots of outdoor meets too, which are very well attended. As are our occasional social nights too!! Hannah Vost and her mum Jill have been our inspiration for creating some fantastic crafty keepsakes and Eli Martin Hodson keeps the well-deserved and much needed snacks stocked up. Charley Gillies
We provide a varied programme of fun activities with many different themed crafts based on seasonal events and days. Some of which have included; a pancake race, Easter bonnet making and egg hunt, a sport's day themed session, a summer trip out to Hope Nature Centre and our annual Christmas party. We also take part in the charity Barnardo’s Big Toddle every 2 years, which is a national, annual sponsored walk for pre-schoolers aimed at raising funds for less advantaged children. As the group is offered on a “drop-in” basis, numbers do vary, but we normally get around 15 children at each group with numbers sometimes in their 20s. We have posters distributed in many places across town and on social media. We have also set up a new Facebook group for regular members, which currently has 64 different families alongside our public Facebook page, which has general information and has over 118 families on
.Please feel free to contact us for more information on our Facebook page or the Parish office 01985 215460
RESTORATION OF THE MINSTER BELLS
On the wall of the ringing chamber, high in the tower of the Minster church, hangs a grainy black and white photograph of the bellringers taken in 1927, among them a Mr F Ashworth. His daughter, Kathleen Rosalie Ashworth, left a legacy to the Minster church, expressing the wish that her gift be used for care of the bells and belfry, as ‘my father was a keen bell ringer and I used to love hearing the sound of the bells carrying across the fields’. The present day Minster bellringers are delighted to be honouring her wish, and have raised extra funds to supplement her legacy so that all necessary work can be carried out to ensure the future of the bells for the next hundred years.
The history of bellringing at the Minster goes back several hundred years, and the eight bells themselves, tuned in the key of D major, are of historic interest. The largest bell, known as the ‘tenor’, weighs 24cwt, or a ton and a quarter, and has a diameter of over four feet; this giant was cast at the Gloucester foundry of Abel Rudhall in 1737. The other seven bells, ranging in weight from 18cwt down to 7cwt, were cast in 1881 by John Warner and Sons, whose other notable bells include the clock chime at the Houses of Parliament. Bell metal is a hard bronze alloy with a higher than usual tin content, giving a ratio of around 4:1 of copper to tin; the extra tin increases the rigidity of the metal, and makes it more resonant.
Miss Ashworth’s legacy was timely, as work to the bells was long overdue. It is nearly 60 years since the bells were last rehung, and the whole installation had developed a number of problems affecting the balance of the bells and clappers, and the way the bells are struck. One consequence of this has been that for many years the task of ‘raising’ the bells, i.e. pulling them gradually up from their safe, resting, position to the upright position ready for ringing, has been very difficult, and necessitated someone actually going up to the belfry, clambering around among the bells and manually moving the clappers from one side of the bell to the other – and even the clappers are very heavy. This has meant that the bells have usually been left in the raised position, which is far from ideal for safety reasons. In addition, several of the bells had become ‘odd struck’, meaning that the interval between the pulling of the rope and the bell actually sounding is inconsistent, and needs constant adjustment by the ringer.
To remedy this situation, the bells have been removed from the tower – a difficult operation in itself – and taken to the workshop of local bell engineers Matthew Higby and Co, in Holcombe. There, new components will be cast which will attach the bells to the frame, and new and more aerodynamic clappers fabricated which will make the striking of the bells much easier to control. While the belfry is empty, the frame from which the bells hang will be stripped down and recoated with protective enamel paint. When the bells return, some repositioning will be carried out to make them a better fit into the very constricted space of the belfry, and new wheels will be installed. Finally, a complete set of new ropes will be fitted. This work will cost in the region of £50,000.
The current Minster bellringers carry on an ancient tradition, and the bells continue to play an important part in the life of the church and of the town. The joyful sound of the bells announces a wedding as the bride and groom leave the church, and calls people to worship on Sundays. In recent years the bells have been rung as a farewell to the town’s regiment departing for Afghanistan, and again in celebration of its return. For more solemn occasions such as funerals and memorial services, leather pads are attached to one side of the clapper, muffling the sound of every other strike, and this produces a beautiful and very moving sound which adds enormously to the sense of atmosphere. Muffles are always used on Remembrance Sunday.
The work to the bells will be complete by the summer, and once they are reinstalled the bells should be much easier to ring. Tower Captain Heather McCombie would be pleased to hear from anyone who would like to learn this ancient skill, as more bellringers are always needed.
Bellringers April 2019
The bellringers report with great sadness the death on 31st May of Dave Marsh, who was a staunch supporter of the Minster tower and held all the tower offices over the years; he will be particularly remembered as a wonderful teacher. His reliability was legendary and he was an exemplary ringer who left us a very high standard to follow. On a happier note, a new learner joined us early in the year. She is showing admirable commitment and making excellent progress under the tuition of Graeme Byfield, assisted by Marion Moldon of Corsley tower.
After a spell of practising fortnightly we have resumed weekly practises, and this is working well. We have a committed band and do our best to keep up a high standard of ringing. We aim to ring before the Sunday service twice a month, and are always available to ring for weddings and funerals.
We look forward with eager anticipation to the refurbishment of the bells and belfry which will start early in 2019. This work is long overdue, and will ensure the future of bellringing at the Minster for many years to come. Heather McCombie Tower Captain
The choir continues to contribute to all major services at the Minster and has been considerably enhanced during 2018 by the addition of violinist Lyndy to the weekly repertoire of hymns, psalms and choruses. She has single handily made a huge difference - not only to our standard of music making, but to the pastoral care of choristers, whilst giving the congregation a good visual and aural 'lead'. With her help we have successfully managed to use all three hymn books (NEH, SOP in addition to HON) with Responsorial psalms and Taize chants throughout the year.
Our thanks to the Clergy who gave much pastoral and musical support at this difficult time, particularly the evening Advent Benefice Service at St. Aldhelm’s.
We can conclude from this that the luxury of a fully robed choir is becoming unsustainable in our church due to the fact that there are not enough people to do all jobs required. It is disappointing that any young people who might be suitable candidates are often promptly signed up for other roles within our Church.
Our historic pipe organ continues to support worship. We meet every Friday at 5.30pm to have a practise session. Lyndy & Kerry Bishop