Thinking allowed

T S Eliot Festival 2018

This year’s T S Eli­ot Fest­iv­al at Little Gid­ding was held on Sunday 8 July 2018. Here is a selec­tion of pic­tures by Carry Akroyd.


End of an Era

Today marked the end of an era for ringing in Saint Ives. This after­noon saw the funer­al of Les Fish­er. He was a small child when, in March 1918, the tower of Saint Ives church was hit by an aero­plane.

The pilot was killed, and amongst much oth­er dam­age, the bell wheels and frames were smashed, the bells them­selves fall­ing to the bel­fry floor. It was over 12 years before the bells were ringable again — apart from rebuild­ing the spire and repair­ing all the dam­age to the church, it was decided to place the bells lower in the tower than before, at the level which had pre­vi­ously been the ringing cham­ber, and to ring the bells from the ground floor of the church. In addi­tion the bells were melted down and recast as a some­what light­er set of eight. Not until Septem­ber 1930 was the new ring ded­ic­ated by the Bish­op of Ely.

It was around this time that Les Fish­er learnt to ring, and just a few years later, in 1935, he became a mem­ber of the Ely Dio­ces­an Asso­ci­ation of Church Bell Ringers, remain­ing a mem­ber until his death 70 years later.

Les was for many years the Tower Cap­tain in Saint Ives, main­tain­ing the ringing through the incum­ben­cies of sev­er­al vicars. In 1985 a peal was rung to cel­eb­rate his 50 years mem­ber­ship of the Ely DA, and it had been planned to ring a peal this year to mark the 70th anniversary. Sadly, this peal will instead now be rung to cel­eb­rate his life.

Many ringers were present at today’s funer­al, amongst them George Bon­ham, Chair­man of the Hunt­ing­don Dis­trict of the Ely DA, who cap­tained the ringing before and after the ser­vice. The bells were rung half-muffled, a tra­di­tion­al sym­bol of mourn­ing, and a rather eery sound, in which the hand­strokes sound nor­mally, and the back­strokes as a muffled echo.

Les will be remembered as the back­bone of St Ives ringing over more than half a cen­tury. He will also be remembered as the donor of a mod­el bell, which, with a mod­el frame added by Bob King, enables us to demon­strate how a bell moves when it is rung. At the moment this mod­el is not on dis­play, but we hope to provide a suit­able table and pro­tect­ive case so that it can be left on gen­er­al view, both to encour­age an interest in ringing, and also as a memori­al to Les Fisher.

May he rest in peace!