Martley Guild History Webpage

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At the Annual General Meeting of the Martley and District Change Ringers Guild on 
Friday, 9th November 2018 it was agreed to end the formal procedure of the Guild 
and donate the remaining funds to the Belfry Repairs Fund of the Worcestershire and District Change Ringing Association.  
A total of only 16 members, 4 of which were founder members 44 years ago, voted to close the Guild.  
None of the officers wished to stand for re-election and there were no nominations to replace them.  
There was agreement to retain an informal arrangement where  a small group will continue to arrange outings and practices and, 
because the group covers a number of towers in the area, it will be called "The Martley Guild".

The Martley and District Change Ringers Guild was formed exactly 44 years ago on Saturday, 9th November 1974 
at a time when the churches in the Martley Deanery were struggling to maintain regular Sunday service ringing.  
With the support of relatively few ringers, and in partnership with the Worcestershire and Districts Change Ringing Association, 
a rota was drawn up enabling the bells to be rung in at least four towers each Sunday.  
Over time, the towers of Broadwas, Clifton-on-Teme, Grimley, Hallow, Martley, Ombersley, Shelsley Beauchamp and 
Suckley - later joined by Astley, Leigh and Shrawley - gained a new momentum and most became able to support 
their own towers with the attraction and teaching of new ringers.  It was noted at the 25th Anniversary meeting at Shelsley Beauchamp 
that "all towers except one could now boast a Sunday service band of it's own".

Unfortunately those original members that are still with us are now 44 years older and there are fewer younger ringers in the area. 
Although new officers on the committee have come and gone, there is not the interest or commitment to carry on in the same format.  
Is this a sign of the times?  Personally, I do not like to think so.  
Some towers do not have their own bands and the bells are not rung on a regular basis, 
but other towers are thriving with even a few new recruits.   
The nationwide call for new ringers to support the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War has been a 
wonderful success and shows that perhaps there will be a future for change ringing in our churches.  
Even though the Martley and District Change Ringers Guild is no more, things have a tendency to come full-circle (!) and who knows what the future holds.

John Westwood, Master of the Guild 1996-2006.


On Saturday 9th Nov 1974 - a typical cold, wet and windy winter day - 24 bellringers 
attended the Church of St Philip & St James, Hallow, for the inaugural meeting and 
service of the Martley & District Change Ringers Guild.

The Guild was formed to promote the art and science of Change Ringing within the 
district and to foster a strong sense of fellowship amongst its members. 
The Parishes originally covered were Broadwas, Clifton-on-Teme, Grimley, Hallow, 
Martley, Ombersley, Shelsley Beauchamp and Suckley. Since then, Astley, Leigh and Shrawley 
have been added.

The strength of the Guild lies in its role as a local body working within and in 
partnership with the Worcestershire & Districts Change Ringers Association. 
All members of the Guild must be fully-paid-up Association members; and many are 
long-time supporters of wider Association activities.

By the end of its first year, regular weekly practices had been established at most towers.  
A Quarterly ringing rota was drawn up with the aim of ringing bells at two churches each Sunday. 
Thirty years on, members still follow that same example, supporting each others’ practices 
and helping to ensure that bells are rung for all main - and many minor - services in the 
district, as well as for numerous special occasions. 

For Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee on 7 June 1977, quarter peals were 
attempted at every tower in the Guild. Commemorative scrolls hang in the towers and one was 
presented to Her Majesty.  Such is the continuity that a similar attempt was made for the 
Golden Jubilee on 4 June 2002 with many of the original ringers involved.  
The Guild also loudly welcomed in the second Millenium ! 

Today, as we celebrate our work and fellowship at the Guild’s annual service, 
we give thanks that our organisation has grown in membership, stature and activities. 
Bells which were once subdued now ring out regularly across the Teme and Severn valleys, 
due largely to the far-sightedness of those ringers who gathered in Hallow on a cold day in 1974.

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