[Bell Historians] Great Malvern Priory

Chris Pickford c.j.pickford.t21 at N5bKbqDjiyvMi4wbm7Nb_PRtXdjeVYeGY4Ksk_OY79J3IwKYbrjkk7Pkos3I6Zq-o4JHuFb2Z-yFQ84HycuympETmR_22z3Q.yahoo.invalid
Fri Mar 13 08:22:38 GMT 2009

Having been out all day yesterday - looking at a bellframe that the ringers hope to remove! - I've only just picked up on yesterday's postings, but would like to echo David Cawley's analysis of the outcome and his observations on the need for calm and considered responses (especially in public)

The noose has undoubtedly tightened with regard to alterations to churches and their fittings, but what makes matters worse is that standpoints have become so polarised. In truth, the "all must be kept" approach has no more validity than the "all must be new" standpoint. There is a need for a due regard for the heritage, but equally there should be scope for both necessary renewals (as, surely, ought to be possible at Great Malvern) and for well-considered improvements. The Great Malvern judgment is a prime example of what happens when opposing sides dig in and refuse to budge - more as a matter of principle than anything to do with practical realities.

I tried to cover this in my paper at the Perspectives conference at Worcester in 2007, and it might be timely to suggest that people revisit it in the light of current developments (RW supplement 25 January 2008 pp.105-28) which contains several useful contributions other than my own. My paper is quite tightly argued in places and needs to be read carefully for the subtlety (and balance) of some of the key points. I have also written a more general paper about the balances in conservation in churches - "Our Parish Churches: some reflections on the passage of time" - in Ecclesiology Today no.40 (June 2008) pp.60-66

Perspectives was arranged to address these issues and it did so with some success. But maybe we need to make more use of the published papers in order to maintain the momentum. In hindsight, Perspectives may have brought people together but it hasn't had the effect - yet - of encouraging the dialogue between opposing parties that is so badly needed. Give and take on both sides is required, and some suggestions on this are to be found in my Perspectives paper. 

We need to remember that the cause of ringing is not well served - because it merely raises hackles and sets alarm bells ringing - by the "only new will do" standpoint that fails to recognise or accommodate conservation possibilities. Conservationists react to it just as we ringers respond to dogged persistence to preserve in cases of limited historical interest and demonstrable need for renewal

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