Sunday 25 February at 6.00 p.m. Reverend Anne Hindle unveiled and blessed two engraved stainless steel plaques that have been mounted in the base of the tower.
The plaques commemorate the bell restoration work of 2016/2017 and the brave men who gave their lives in WW1 and WW2. After the service the congregation enjoyed looking at the plaques whilst drinking a mug of hot chocolate and eating a marshmallow or two.
Sunday 13th November we held a very moving Remembrance Service led by Reverend Anne Hindle and Archdeacon Richard Ormston. It was a superb and really well attended service where people watched a rolling montarge of scenes depicting the Great War on our television, as they arrived.
Our MP, Tom Pursglove, read one of the lessons and Les Stark, the Chair of Oundle and Thrapston British Legion, gave the Exhortation and Kohima with all the reverance and precision you would expect from a retired member of a Guards Regiment and the last post was played faultlessly by Harrison Smith from Oundle School.
Children from the village came dressed in their cadet service uniforms, Emerald and Brandon Crozier and Alice Bennett in Army Cadet uniforms and Esme Krose in her RAF cadet uniform. The cadets placed a cross on the altar for the servicemen from the village as their names were read out and their respective bell was tolled with the congregation being able to see their names on the bells headstock on the television too. The newly refurbished bells are a War Memoial for the village and, as the bells were tolled, it felt that it is a living memorial to those brave men. The bells were all rung half muffled (thanks to Nick Elks climbing into the tower to muffle the clappers), the Rita bell was rung first in memory of all who served and is inscribed "Lest We Forget" . We remembered Charles Stapleton, Frederick Sharp, Albert Berridge, and Kenneth Dundas and, as the last bell was tolled, we remembered all thos who were permanently scarred in mind and body. The Warmington bell ringers rang for the occasion co-ordinated by Nick Elks and after the service other ringers in the congregation enjoyed trying out our newly refurbished bells.
Archdeacon Richard's address set just right the tone, it was interesting, motivating, authentic, clear and targeted but with an appropriate smattering of humour. He made eveeryone laugh when he said "So Cotterstock, London has Big Ben, now you have Rita". It was wonderful to welcome him back to Cotterstock.
The "One Night Only Choir" made up of villagers and friends was rehearsed and conducted by Gill Potts and accompanied by David Milsted and sang two pieces beautifully.
Villagers had kindly given their time to tidy up the churchyard and to clean and decorate the Church for the occasion. Cherrill Sand's flowers on the altar were stunning and the candles all around the Church added greatly to the atmosphere. Hot drinks and Anzac biscuits were served after the service and Reverend David Bond was heard to say "I think we got that just right, a moving tribute" and he thanked everyone for their hard work.
Wednesday 1 November Sylvia Upex organised a team of bell ringers from Warmington co-ordinated by Alex Dyer to ring the first quarter peal on our bells in memory of Rita Bond. The ring started at 7.30 p.m. on a beautiful, still moonlit evening with the stars shining brightly and a spectacular burst of fireworks visible from the South Porch. The bells sounded joyous as they rang out over the village in a most fitting tribute to Rita. It took the ringers 44 minutes to complete the quarter peal and then everyone enjoyed champagne and truffles with Reverend David Bond who thanked the ringers most sincerely for coming.
Thursday 26 October Mike Semken from Taylor's Bell Foundry returned to St Andrew's to alter the position of the ladder as the PCC were concerned that the safety hoops obstructed the memorials in the tower. The ladder was to be fixed vertically and, to comply with the inevitable health and safety regulations, a fall arrest system was installed. This is a much more aesthetically pleasing arrangement and the memorials can now be seen clearly. Visiting bell ringers had also felt that the high ceiling made the bells, which are a light ring, tricky to control so a set of rope guides have also been fitted. These have made quite a difference to the control of the ropes and also the whole look of the tower is improved. Mike worked really hard and we are grateful to Taylor's for dealing with our concerns so promptly.
Saturday 14 October Cotterstock PCC had a stall on Oundle Farmer's Market to sell little glass hand decorated Christmas Tree Bells that we had made as a reminder of the Bells Project. The bells all have an aluminimum hand-engraved tag kindly donated by Nigel Hill of Harpurs Jewellers in Oundle which says"Cotterstock Bells 1708 - 2017", the date of our new 'Rita' bell. A team of nine people helped to sell the bells, including Reverend David Bond, during the morning and although selling was a steep learning curve for some of us we really enjoyed it and found the other stall holders to be friendly and helpful; especially when we were setting up at 7.30 a.m. The bells sold well and all profits will ensure that the bell fund has some money set aside for necessary maintenance and repairs.
The bells committee would like to say a massive "Thank you" to everyone who helped in any way to make these two open weekends such a success. It was wonderful to welcome so many visitors to the village and to St Andrew's and the comments in the visitors' book show how much people enjoyed them. Graham Sands summed it up in his article in the local villages magazine "Five All" when he wrote "just shows what can be achieved when a village pulls together in harmony and love". A substantial amount of money was raised for St. Andrew's over the two weekends but on these occasions it was never about raising money, it was a true celebration of a community project to restore the bells and augment the ring to six.
Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th June on the hottest weekend of the year, the village held a Celebratory Weekend to mark this completion of this phase of our bells project. The bells were by now installed in the tower, hidden from view for probably another 150 years and the whole village was celebrating. Gardens were open throughout the village, teas and homemade cakes were served in the village hall,
a display of flowerpot people were on view in main street and of course St Andrew's was open with David on hand to talk about the project.
Gorgeous floral displays decorated the Church created by Cherrill Sands, Mavis Rowlett and Mave Duffin and people enjoyed looking at the plinths detailing the research and the video which played throughout the day. Adrian Eldridge exhibited paintings, drawings, and prints in the village hall by his late wife and well known artist Wendy and very kindly donated the proceeds from their sale to the upkeep of our church; we are very grateful to Adrian for his generosity. Roly Scotney made three distinctive candleholders out of one of the old bell headstocks which retained some of the original nails and metal work in their design; they were displayed in pride of place with a label explaining their provenance and prompted much talk over the weekend.
At 6.00p.m. the Bishop of Peterborough, the right Reverend Donald Allister, attended a special service to rededicate the bells and accepted the new 'Rita' bell from Simon Adams, a director of Taylor's Bell Foundry, in front of Reverend David Bond and a packed church; people were standing at the back and sitting on the stone ledges too.
The 'One Night Only Choir' of Cotterstockians and friends sang "A Jubilate Deo" conducted by Gill Potts and accompanied by Ben Smith.
Tom Pursglove, our MP. and other dignitaries attended the service and were served champagne and light refreshments afterwards. The bells rang, expertly organised by Nick Elks, and bell ringers from Warmington and further afield had the opportunity to ring too, including Simon Adams.
The congregation were able to watch the bells working on the television and when it was on split screen they could see the bells and the ringers at the same time as well as a view over the countryside from the top of the tower. Simon Clapham from Fazed films recorded the service for posterity and interviewed a number of people involved in the project too. Reverend Anne Hindle officiated at a most fitting service to mark this historic event.
Monday 12th June Simon Clapham from Fazed Films installed cameras in the tower and in the ringing chamber so that we will be able to see the bells on a television in Church. This will also be something that visiting campanologists will be able to use in future and also have a DVD of their ring.
Saturday 10th June a dedicated team of helpers transformed the churchyard into a beautiful and pristine oasis on Saturday 10th June in preparation for the forthcoming festivities. The sounds of mowing, strimming, cutting and digging could be heard until lunchtime. Brian mowed all morning despite suffering from terrible hay fever; that is true commitment! The mowing efforts were rewarded with a BBQ prepared by Graham and Cherrill. We are grateful to everyone, the young and not so young.
Friday 9th June some of the research material that has been collated during the period of the project, co-ordinated by David Bond, was unveiled. It is now displayed in angled plinths made by Adrian Eldridge which stand on the wide shelves in Church. They are entiled "The History of the Bells of Cotterstock", "Church Towers of the Nene Valley", "Colleges and Collegiate Churches", "Cotterstock and Wool", "Cotterstock and Wool - The Porch" and "The Work of 2016/17". These have been produced along with two leaflets: a "A Bell Ringers Trail Around The Village" and "A Village Trail" which will be for sale in Church and at a future date it is our intention to accompany interested people on these guided walks.
Tuesday 6th June saw the start of visits and talks looking at towers locally.
People enjoyed talks and outings to Higham Ferrers Church and Chichele College, a tour of the tower of Peterborough Cathedral, a visit to St Peter's Church Raunds and St Peter's Church Irthlingborough and a video by the well known historian Mike Lee telling the story of the Henry Penn Bell Foundry in Peterborough.
Monday 5th June Years 4 and 5 pupils from Glapthorn School visited St Andrew's for the afternoon. They enjoyed looking at the new bell and the refurbished bells, watching edited highlights of the video and experimenting with sound. Their time in church went so quickly and they were so interested in the displays their teacher asked if they could return at a later date.
Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th June we held an open weekend so that people could see the 5 refurbished bells and our new "Rita" WW1 Memorial Bell and the wonderful art installation created by Angela Wright. Cherrill Sands decorated the 'Rita' bell with beautiful roses, they were Rita Bond's favourite flowers and other stunning flower arrangements created by Mave Duffin adorned the Church. We were very fortunate to have visiting organists who played for an hour at a time throughout the event. The weekend was well supported by visitors some travelling from great distances not only to see our beautiful church but also to enjoy the delicious homemade cakes and teas served in style inside and outside the church. Reverend David Bond was 'on duty' all day telling people about the project and Angela spent the weekend in the village so that she could talk to people about her work. Visitors also enjoyed watching a video detailing the project from its inception to the bells being on display.
Friday 2nd June at different times throughout the day Reverend David Bond gave talks about the history of our bells and the story of the new 'Rita' Bond bell. He also showed the video of the new bell being cast at the John Taylor Bell Foundry whilst people enjoyed light refreshments.
Wednesday 31st May Angela began working on two installations using wool; the first around the bells in the base of the tower giving the illusion that the bells were floating in a cream swirly mist and showing them off to their best advantage. Her second design saw miles of wool cascading from the altar in the chancel into a huge pool coming up to the communion rail, every strand placed to perfection. Reverend David Bond likened it to the Holy Spirit cascading among the masses which was a most appropriate Pentecost analogy.
Tuesday 30th May our bells were returend to St Andrew's on a beautiful sunny day. A group of villagers stood at the Church and watched as the lorry traversed the river bridge with 6 shiny bells on the back and it was a memorable and emotional moment. Angela Wright a London based artist who works in wool also arrived in the village with a van load of wool in preparation for beginning an art installation in Church the following day. In February 2017 Angela created an artwork in Southwark Cathedral which was seen in the television programme Songs of Praise.
Saturday 27th May lots of villagers (and children too) heeded the plea of our church arrived armed with vacuum cleaners, dusters, brass and lots of polish to give the Church a huge clean in preparation for the eagerly awaited return of the bells.
Tuesday 2nd May John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough started work on building the bell frame and strengthening the tower in preparation for the return of the bells.
Monday 24th April the 'One Night Only Choir' of Cotterstockians met in the village hall to have their first rehearsal with Gill Potts so that they can sing something suitable when the Bishop of Peterborough comes to officiate at our rededication of the bells service on Sunday 18th June at 6.00p.m. They will meet at 7.30p.m. In the village hall for 7 more weeks if anyone else would like to join them, there are no auditions and it is fun.
Friday 21st April Reverend David Bond arranged for anyone interested in learning to ring the Church bells to have their first lesson with Alex Dyer at Warmington Church. Ten villagers arrived (Young and not so young) and thoroughly enjoyed the session. Everyone decided do continue with the lessons so we are hopeful that we will have a team of people able to ring our new bells.
Thursday 4th April thirty five peoplewith one thing in common, awoke to a beautiful sunny day and boarded a coach in Cotterstock to travel to Loughborough. We were off to see our church's new Rita Bond' WW1 Memorial Bell cast at Taylor's Bell Foundry. There was a palpable air of excitement as the coach set off and Reverend David Bond took to the microphone to update everyone on the bell refurbishment project and the itinerary for the day.
An hour and a half later we alighted at Queen's Park in Loughborough to view the Carillon, a noteworthy memorial to those who gave their lives in the Great War. We also enjoyed looking at the gardens, the interesting museum and sunbathing on the patio of the cafe in the ark.
Then it was off to the foundry where Simon Adams, one of the company directors, warmly greeted us. The campanologists amongst us, co-ordinated by Alex Dyer and Nick Elks, took the opportunity to ring the bells in Taylor's Bell Tower whilst the rest of us marvelled at their skill.
This was followed by a fascinating tour of the foundry, which culminated at 2.30p.m. with the casting of the new 'Rita' bell. Members of Rita's family and friends were there to witness this moving occasion and David blessed the molten metal as it was poured into the mould. In the photograph you can see David stirring the molten metal to ensure that it doesn't solidify in the mouth of the mould.
We felt very privileged to witness the casting and thoroughly enjoyed the fascinating tour. Once outside we shared a toast to Rita and the project and are now looking forward to our six shiny re-tuned bells being returned to St Andrew's on the 30th May.
as before, until the bells are hoisted into the belfry there will be a rota of sturdy volunteers sleeping at the Church although if last year is anything to go by they seemed to rather enjoy themselves!.
Diary Dates Our bells will be returned ready for the weekend of the 3rd and 4th June. Angela Wright, a professional artist, who has just completed an installation in Southwark Cathedral for the rededication of the bells, hopefully, will be creating an installation around our bells (arrangements to be confirmed). This will be the opportunity for anyone interested to come and see the bells before they are rehung, they will be on view from 1.00 p.m. until 4.00 p.m. on both days and delicious homemade cakes and hot and cold drinks will be served in church too.
Sunday 26th February at 6.00 p.m. St Andrew's looked particularly resplendent with beautiful flower displays arranged by Cherrill Sands to welcome the Bishop of Bedford, the Right Reverend Richard Atkinson, who officiated at a multi-faith service looking at the role of bells in other religions. We also welcomed Bruce Greenberg, a Jewish representative from the Northamptonshire Interfaith Network who spoke to the congregation and Reverend Anne Hindle demonstrated a Buddhist singing bowl. Reverend David Bond delivered the prayers and was able to update people on the progress of the bell project. Villagers read poems and lessons from the Bible and afterwards the congregation enjoyed a video, created by Bob Davies, which showed the story of our bell project to date. Hot and cold drinks were served alongside delicious canapé.
Thursday 2nd February Cedars Steeplejacks began the installation of the lightning conductor on the north face of the tower. This was a condition of gaining Faculty Permisssion for the bell project to proceed. The lightning conductor will be bonded to the bell frame when it is fitted in June.
Tuesday 1st November John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough have informed us that our new WW1 'Rita' bell will be cast on Thursday 6 April 2017; a complimentary coach, courtesy of the Heritage Lottery Fund, will take villagers and volunteers to witness this event at the foundry. We can only take 35 people due to space at the foundry so if you would like to go on this trip please let Dawn Davis know as places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. The coach will leave Cotterstock at 10.30 a.m.
Tuesday 20th September Reverend David Bond has started a series of talks on Bells and Bell Towers which will take place on Tuesday mornings in Cotterstock Village Hall during the Autumn term. For details please look on the Church noticeboard. David will be repeating the course at his house on Thursday evenings and all proceeds will be donated to the Bell Fund.
Thursday 14th July 25 people from Kettering U3a visited St Andrew's for a guided tour of the church with Reverend David Bond and to learn more about our "Bells Project". It was a gorgeous sunny day, the first for a while, and everyone throughly enjoyed their visit. FI've more groups have booked a tour with David and these will commence in September.
Sunday 10th June The children from Mrs Coulthard's class at Glapthorn School returned to play "Jerusalem" on the hand bells at a Songs of Praise service at 6.00p.m. with Reverend David Bond. As part of their work on bells, stimulated by visiting the church, they learnt to play the hand bells and the congregation were delighted by their performance. The hand bells were kindly loaned to the school by Southwick Church.
Monday 20th July The bells were carefully wheeled through the churchyard on a cart (in a way similar to that used hundreds of years ago when they were installed)and then loaded onto a flat-bed truck for their journey to Taylor's Bell Foundry in Loughborough. It was another moving and historic day in the life of our church. Despite the wind and rain many villagers came to see the bells make their appearance into the light and out onto the lorry.
Thursday 16th June Children from Glapthorn School arrived to have a tour of the church and to see the bells. They were fascinated to see them up close and to think about the time in history when they were cast. They produced beautiful drawings of the church, the bells and bell wheels which will be displayed in the base of the tower. Afterwards their teacher, Mrs Coulthard, asked if they could come back in 2017 to see the bells when they have been cleaned but before they are rehung and we will be delighted to welcome them.
Wednesday 15th June Simon Adams and Nick Elks continued to work on the project and by 4.30 p.m. the bells were down and on display in the base of the tower along with wheels, ropes, etc. It was then that a team of villagers descended on the church to clean up all the dust and debris to ensure that the bells and their mechanisms looked at their best.
Tuesday 14th June Simon Adams from Taylors Bell Foundry with Nick Elks and Nick Churchman began the task of lowering the bells. Villagers were coming into church all day to see their progress and to help by working the winch and providing refreshments for the hard working crew. It was a dirty job but SO exciting when the bells revealed themselves in the mouth of the trap door. Videos and photographs of the occasion were taken and will subsequently be displayed in the church and on the noticeboard.
Saturday 11th June The bells in St Andrew's church were rung for the last time before going off the the bell foundry to be refurbished and tuned; it was a historic day as the they will never sound the same again. When they are returned we will have a sixth bell to be dedicated in the name of Rita Bond, a hardworking church warden and verger who worked tirelessly for the church for more than 30 years. The bells were recorded for posterity on a CD, being rung individually and together. Reverend David Bond treated everyone to champagne and nibbles as we toasted this event.
Sunday 22 May, "Bells and Bubbly" The Warmington Bell Ringers rung for our family service and this is the last time that the bells will sound as they do, calling people to worship. To mark this special occasion Reverend Anne Hindle held a special service with "bells" as the theme and afterwards many of the congregation expressed an interest in joining a Cotterstock bell ringing group. It is hoped that we will learn to ring the bells in preparation for the time when our bells are rehung.
Saturday 21 May, Nigel Hill from "Harpur's of Oundle" delivered a most entertaining and informative talk about his time as a drummer in a band through to being a qualified gemologist and goldsmith with workshops in London's Hatton Garden and Oundle. Tina, Nigel's partner, displayed a gorgeous range of jewellery on the night and, judging from the cards that we and Harpur's have received, a good time was had by all. A staggering £1007 was raised towards the bell fund and we are extrememly grateful to Nigel for putting together such a brilliant evening.
Monday 16 May, You might have heard the whoops of delight from the PCC as we heard that we have officially received a grant of £49300 from the heritage lottery fund to refurbish the bells in St Andrew's and to augment the ring to six with a new lighter treble bell which will be our WW1 memorial bell. Obviously we are delighted and looking forward to beginning the project. Work will begin very quickly now; on Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th June Taylors of Loughborough will lower the bells and they will lie in the base of the tower for visitors to see during our Country Flowers and Bygones weekend. On Monday 20th June they will be collected and taken to the foundry; a visit to the foundry will be arranged in the Autumn when we will be able to see our new bell cast and the existing bells being retuned. These are very exciting times for St Andrew's.
Wednesday 27 January, the Diocese have granted us Faculty permission to refurbish the bells and bell frame in St Andrew's and to augment the ring to six. We apologise if the cheers of the bell project committee kept you all awake, but it was a big milestone for us! Now all we need to do is to submit a brilliant grant application to the "Our Heritage Lottery Fund"!
Wednesday 6th January, the sub-committee had their first meeting of 2016 to work on the "Our Heritage Lottery Submission". We are very heartened by the letters of support that we have received from villagers but also from the wider community including local schools. This project does seem to be one which is capturing the imagination.
Wednesday 23rd December We received a letter from the DAC today, recommending that our project receives Faculty Approval and a Public Notice which we have to display at the village hall and at St Andrew's giving people notice of the project. This notice has to be displayed for 28 days. We also returned more information to the DAC which will help them with their deliberations.
Monday 14th December The sub-committee met to begin working on the "Our Heritage Lottery Submission" and at the end of the meeting members went away to work on specific aspects.
Thursday 3rd December. Feeling mildly optimistic that about getting faculty approval our intrepid threesome, Graham, David and Dawn, visited an "Our Heritage Lottery" workshop in Nottingham. Here we see Graham and David gathering their thoughts before stepping through the rather imposing purple door. It was a very informative workshop followed by some time with a business advisor who suggested the best way to submit a lottery application. Now the work really begins on wading through a very lengthy application form but.......nothing ventured, nothing gained!
Please do get in touch if you would like to help with the project in any way, or just to offer encouragement. If we are successful volunteers will be needed in many different ways.
The DAC requested that the Church architect, Peter McFarlane, pays a site visit to confirm that the tower can support the additional weight of a new bell and the USB girders that are recommended to strengthen the existing bell frame. Peter also met with Cherrill Sands one of our churchwarden and vice-chair of the PCC, Graham Sands our "Tower Captain", Reverend David Bond a member of the bells project sub-committee, Richard Hartley a "bells" expert and advisor to the DAC, and Dawn Davis our secretary of the PCC. Peter concluded that "none of the proposals and none of the points discussed and agreed at the church give any cause for concern about inserting new beams or the scheme generally or the effects of further bell-ringing". This is very positive news and we await with baited breath to hear if we have been granted faculty approval.
The Diocese asked us to provide three reports and estimates for the work that is required. Whitechapel Bell Foundry, Whites of Appleton and John Taylor Bell Foundry at Loughborough all provided reports and estimates which have been forwarded to the DAC.
The bells of St Andrew's Cotterstock have not been rung regularly for over 25 years and, due to lack of use and maintenance, the bell frame is riddled with wood boring insects and the bells are out of tune. In July 2014 the Peterborough Guild of Bell Ringers alerted us to the severity of the problems and have continued to be supportive over remedial works that have been carried out. Over the past year a keen group of ringers has been trying to ring them more often but, unfortunately, despite their best efforts they are very hard to ring and impossible for inexperienced ringers. We feel that we need to restore this heritage before it deteriorates any further, this is important as it will continue to keep the bells in use. We would also like to augment the ring to six with a new lighter treble bell. This will be an ideal training bell upon which people can learn and develop their skills. The new bell will be dedicated as a permanent memorial to local people who gave their lives in the Great War; it will be a focus at our annual remembrance services and will allow villagers to reflect on the sacrifice made by our forbears. The PCC don't have the funds to do this work, apart from monies raised recently for this purpose and some specific donations, but are hoping to apply for an "Our Heritage Lottery" grant for the significant remainder. Before we can apply to the lottery fund we have to get permission from the Diocese to carry out this work in St Andrew's. We are applying for faculty permission now and the PCC have appointed a sub-committee to manage this exciting project.