National Geographic : 1948 May
For Nearly 400 Years, Fettiplaces Have Lain Here Stiffly, in Their Armor Not even the marble elbow pads have eased their long vigil! This powerful family ruled the Swinbrook area of the Cotswolds for 315 years, left funds to its church for quaint charities that are still in force today (pages 620, 621). The town's name goes back to William the Conqueror's day; it is mentioned in his Domesday Book. Originally it was called Swine Brook because pigs watered there, in the Windrush. As we fumbled around the tower, looking for the door, the bells beat upon our ears. "Tin, tan, din, bom," they sounded over and over. The reverberations stirred me deeply. Perhaps that's why bells are rung; they draw people like a magnet. Up endless stairs we climbed to a room dimly lit by lamplight. Six men and boys in a circle were pulling and letting go red, white, and blue ropes. Not a head turned as we entered; each kept eyes glued to neighbor's rope. Above, we could hear the bells sounding. From the group of onlookers a grizzled man came forward, and Alan introduced him as Mr. Arthur Lynes, foreman of the tower. "Welcome to our belfry! Are you a ringer?" Mr. Lynes asked. "No, I can't ring a bell," I replied. "Sorry; good ringers are scarce. We're always looking for a new man to lay hand to a rope." For a while we stood and watched the solemn-faced ringers pulling and letting go their ropes and sallies (grips). No one spoke or even smiled. Finally the course, or tune, completed, everyone began talking, congratulating the experts, joshing those who made mistakes.