On the way back to our rental we spotted a strange cupula on top of a church looking somewhat Russian (it turned out to be a navigation device used by ships in the English Channel long ago to guide them) and came up upon Saint Nichola’s Chruch in a tiny village called Ringwould. The church was over 800 years old with two trees outside over 1000 years. There was a youth group inside having tea and getting ready for an excursion but the pastor kindly invited us in and his wife was very proud to show us around.
The organ pipes were painted in what looked to me to be a modern pattern and our guide told us that the Victorians painted it when they “had a go” at renovating and decorating the church.
She was a font of information and told us that the richer the church members, the closer to the church they were buried. The very rich could be buried inside but apparantly not buried very well as an odor developed leading to the phrase: “stinking rich”. She also told us that you can tell that a church is very old by mounds of dirt higher than the foundation of the church as bodies were piled up and covered as time went on.
We were just getting ready to leave when she said, “Do you want to see the church bells?”. We did of course and she took us in a locked room with ropes looped up to the ceiling and she took a rope and started pulling it which was when we saw her very muscular arms as the rope was pulled up and down connected to a round wheel unseen up above. she had been a bell ringer for almost thirty years. I think it must be fairly common in England to be a bell ringer. They don’t do melodies but a sort of rythm.
I asked her if her husband would be worried if he heard the bell ringing thinking there was some sort of emergency but she said he was used to it. There turned out to be six bells, four from 1638 , one 14th century, one 1957. She told us many visitors visited from the States looking for graves of the Estes family-there aren’t any-as an Estes immigrated to America centuries ago.
Anyway, it was a fun, unexpected encounter.