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The Saffron Walden ringers at Drayton

Recent outings


To gain experience, bell ringing outings have been a regular and important feature of the Society going back to at least the early 1800s. Initially the members were restricted to towns and villages of Essex and surrounding counties (see account details of 1824 outing to Waltham Abbey) but by 1893 the band was travelling further afield with a visit to Manchester. In 1886 the minutes make the first mention of an "annual" outing, the Society that year visiting Braughing. The importance to the Society of the annual outing can be seen in the planning and discussions documented in the minutes.

John F Penning, the ringer of 6th bell in most peals between 1890 and 1901, penned a little "ditty" which encapsulates the Society's annual outing to Drayton, Berkshire where their friend and famous ringing clergyman, the Rev FE Robinson lived (he rang in a number of peals with the Society in October 1898 and August 1899). This was published as the frontispiece to "Bell News" of Saturday, September 8, 1900. John wrote a second poem following the Society's outing to Horsham in 1903.

The Saffron Walden ringers at Drayton [24 August 1900]

Friday 24th by the 2.22,
Ringers off to the station ! you wonder where to?
Why, off to Drayton ! what place is that?
Well, if you don't know, you're no ringer its flat-
Now just come with us, at least in your mind-
For as you're no ringer you must stay behind-
We'll go on before for we dodge so about,
You scarcely would know when we're in or we're out!
Now fancy us landed at great Audley End
Where a few breezy minutes enforced we must spend-
No ! stay-we all rush to the " Neville Arms " bar-
Then rush faster back to the Great Eastern car!
A whistle (no bell) and again we are off
As the train moves along with a jolt and a cough,
And the telegraph poles seem whizzing' along
To the accompaniment of a joke or a song!
But each little instance, I must not dilate
Or I shall never have time to relate
The half of what happened on this ringing tour,
And you would not read it-of that I am sure
As usual, the train stopped at Liverpool Street,
And a bottle of "ginger" enlivened out feet,
Which we used to carry us on to Bank-
Then down in a hole in the ground we all sank!
Then further below went down in a lift!
And down, down, down, we fancied to drift-
In the tuppenny tube went spinning along
To the marble arch-and it didn't take long!
Then a tram we mounted and rode up the street
That they call Edgware Road-just to save our feet-
Then to Paddington Station all ran in a hurry-
You ought to have seen some of us do a scurry!
Not a moment to spare, barely in time-
If they'd left us behind, we'd thought it a crime-
But, there we were-and I really must say
I don't think I have travelled so fast as that day-
A mile in a minute and some rather less,
If you want to go it-try the Western Express.
We then changed at Didcot, when there we had got,
Though funny the name, it is not a bad spot.
Now off again, and before very long,
Abingdon we can name in our song-
There are objects of interest many to view-
We found " diggings " provided and 'tween you and me,
The view most refreshing appeared then to me,
The bountiful spread provided for tea.
A promenade after, and then the "Blue Boar"
Suggested the means of " one tooth-ful more. " 
There a pleasant hour sat with the joke and the chat,
With song, and with toast, and what pleased us most,
We had Ward in the chair, and he was our host.
But the liveliest meeting must surely have end,
And then it occurred that the best way to spend
The following day, was then to retire
To say " good-night " and the pillow admire.

Next morning a walk by the famed river side,
A walk to Drayton was then the decide.
To Drayton by foot-path where many had been, 
From one to the other is two miles between :
Past the church to the vicar's, where breakfast awaits
With a hearty welcome and many hand shakes,
And the great F. E. R. now heads the repast,
" Pray fall-to my friends-May it not be the last. "
Now for business, and up the light bells now swing,
And a peal of " Stedman " we're trying to ring ;
Two hours, two minutes, too sad to relate
We were sailing away on this good peal of eight,
When one of the ropes with the wheel not content,
(With no malice perhaps in its courses intent,)
The arm of the ringer encircled as well,
And so shortened the space from its end to the bell
As to shorten our pleasure and bring to an end,
And sadly out the belfry we wend.

A " ginger beer " and a little stroll round,
And we were again at the vicarage found,
Where luncheon awaited, F. E. R. at the head
And having done justice to the bountiful spread,
The gardens surveyed, and the loveliest flowers
That entwined so sweetly the Reverend's bowers.
With our hearty best thanks for the kindness received,
            And hopes of another good visit well sealed
            Our brake breaks away to Abingdon's streets,
  And at the station the Great Western meets.

To Oxford ! we cry, and soon the grand sight
Of its glorious towers appear in their might,
From the tram's upper deck exteriors surveyed
And alighting, the interior inspection was made.
We had very good guides in brothers Pitstow:
Who vied in the various attractions to show
In most out-of-way places they gave us a look.
(They'd be capital guides for the great Messrs. Cook.)
To tell of the sights of this wonderful city,
I will not attempt in this poor little ditty;
But one thing I must not pass by without mention,
And you will not notice this little detention
When I tell you that we accidently met
A ringer as good as any born yet:
Charlie Hounslow by name, of good reputation,
I hope he won't mind this little narration.
Mr. Payne, too, of the Long London peal,
At Merton we met and the welcome was real.
(One of our band had a curious whim,-
Passing his hand o'er his two-day's growth chin
Says he " you may think I funny behave
But I can't go further without having a shave."
So he missed the sights that most of us saw,
All through thinking he had a rough jaw.)
And then we went back again, back to the train,
Back to Paddington, might and main:
Just missed a train then off to the city,
And as we found later, a disastrous pity.
From Bishopsgate bursted as if for a prize!
The main train was gone,-oh ! what a surprise.
In future, let none of the G.E.R. complain,
Their great punctuality gave us the pain
Of waiting about until the 10.2,
And even that wouldn't carry us through,
So we had to walk for two miles or more ;
But that was a walk we'd encountered before.
And we well knew the roads though dark was the night,
So we managed to reach home again and all right,
And though of the walking you might hear us complain,
Not one but would gladly see Drayton again.     J. F. P.

Recent outings

Please scroll down or click on the following links for a selection of photographs (warning large files, hover over thumbnail for location) of our more recent outings:

2011 - (autumn) Newcastle and Durham

2011 - (summer) Mid-Suffolk (north of Bury St Edmunds)

2010 - East Kent (centered on Ashford)

2009 (autumn) - South Leicestershire (centered on Ullesthorpe)

2009 (spring) - North West Essex 

2008 - North Norfolk (centered on Wells-Next-the-Sea)

2007 - Lincolnshire (Boston and surrounding area)

2006 - Wiltshire (centered on Marlborough)

2004 - Staffordshire (centered on Stoke)

2003 - Warwickshire (centered on Kenilworth)

2002 - Sussex (centered on Eastbourne)

1999 - Isle of Wight

1997 - Hampshire

2011 (Autumn) - Newcastle and Durham

Durham Cathedral Durham Cathedral Durham Brancepeth


2011 (Summer) - Mid-Suffolk

Ampton Ampton


2010 - East Kent (centered on Ashford)

Great Chart Great Chart Benenden The Bull, Benenden
The Bull, Benenden The Bull, Benenden The Bull, Benenden Appledore


2009 (Autumn) - South Leicestershire (centered on Ullesthorpe)

Countesthorpe - BT engineer phones home Wigston Magna Frolesworth Frolesworth Lunch at Great Oxendon
Rothwell Countesthorpe Lost! Patrick's entertainment After-dinner ringing


2008 - North Norfolk (centered on Wells)

Little Walsingham North Creake North Creake Holkham Holkham Sculthorpe Holkham
Holkham Beach Holkham Beach Weybourne Holkham NE_IMG_5284.jpg (1293690 bytes) Fakenham Great%20Ryburgh


2007 - Lincolnshire (Boston and surrounding area)
Boston Boston Bricklayers Arms Bricklayers Arms Bricklayers Arms Bricklayers Arms Boston
Surfleet Patrick and John Butterwick Robert and Patrick Roger and Linda at Spalding Butterwick  


2006 - Wiltshire (centered on Marlborough)
Aldbourne Aldbourne


2004 - Staffordshire (centered on Stoke)
Leek Wolstanton Wolstanton Wolstanton Wolstanton Wolstanton Wolstanton Keele


2003 - Warwickshire (centered on Kenilworth)
Henley in Arden Alveston Stratford%20on%20Avon Stratford%20on%20Avon


2002 - (centered on Eastbourne)
JP1.jpg (464631 bytes) JP2.jpg (425021 bytes) Ria and stones2.JPG (341842 bytes)


1999 - Isle of Wight
JP1.jpg (372016 bytes) JP2.jpg (338260 bytes) JP3.jpg (390370 bytes) JP4.jpg (428854 bytes)


1997 - Hampshire

JP1.jpg (518992 bytes)


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