Bell ringers chime in Nafferton, East Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 03:00 16 January 2010 | UPDATED: 20:19 13 June 2016
Does Nafferton in East Yorkshire ring a bell? It soon will, as Jo Haywood discovers.
The chime of church bells is always appealing. But the people of Nafferton could be forgiven for thinking theirs sound the sweetest when they finally ring out across the village next month.
They have been silent while a ring of six bells purchased from St Minver in Cornwall have been installed and they are due to peal again in time for the Easter services.
This follows three years of dedicated fundraising with numerous lunches, coffee mornings and concerts, and generous donations, most notably from a villager who gave £60,000 in memory of her husband, which enabled the committee to reach their £90,000 total.
‘We were very surprised at the level of response we got to our appeal,’ said Margaret Senior, bell committee secretary and events organiser. ‘My husband and I are both ringers and we have others who are learning, so hopefully we’ll be ready for that first glorious peal.’
The church previously had three bells, but they were all in a bad condition and one had to be removed and melted down because it was no longer of any musical use.
‘We’re keeping the other two medieval bells, but we won’t be ringing them full circle,’ explained Mrs Senior. ‘They’ll be struck but they won’t be used as a part of the peal. You can’t do much with three bells, but now we’ve got six there are lots of methods we can use. It’s a very exciting time for us.’
Now you might think that excitement was a bit of anathema in a quiet East Yorkshire village, but that is wide of the mark in Nafferton. This is not just another anonymous little place you drive past without noticing on the way to Driffield or Bridlington. It’s a sprawling village with a very active community.
It’s also a designated conservation area because of the variety and quality of its buildings and its natural attractions, most notably the spring-fed mere that provides a focal point for the village and a haven for wildlife (and visitors) right at the heart of the community.
It was once a mill pond supplying water power to several businesses on its south east bank. The last mills and maltings were demolished in 1985 and the land redeveloped for housing, but the mere itself remains intact, and is now a picturesque reminder of Nafferton’s history.
All Saints’ Church, which stands in a commanding, almost lofty position, is also a key component of the village’s rich heritage. It’s a substantial Norman limestone building dating back to the 11th century with a perpendicular tower, north aisle and clerestory.
The church underwent major restoration work in the 19th century, most of which was carried out during the time of the Reverend James Davidson. This popular and influential vicar was the first to introduce harvest festivals to the East Riding and held what were to become his famous ‘Ship Teas’ at Christmas.
His generosity – of pocket as well as of spirit – was well known throughout the region, especially when he donated all the money raised to celebrate his jubilee to extend the village schoolroom. It was renamed the Jubilee Rooms and is now a private house in Westgate.
Agriculture, brick-making, chalk pits and the mere-side mills once made up the majority of the work-opportunities in Nafferton, but now most of the 2,000 or so population work outside the village in the nearby market town of Driffield, just three miles away, or slightly further afield in Bridlington, Beverley, Hull or York.
This is made much easier by the main railway line from Hull to Scarborough, which runs through the village with trains stopping at the station every hour.
Unlike many of its neighbouring commuter villages, however, this doesn’t mean that Nafferton has become one big housing estate with the nearest shop a car-drive away.
It has a post office – a benefit worthy of note these days – a newsagent, supermarket, chippie, coal merchant, four pubs and a smattering of other stores that mean villagers don’t have to hoof it to Driffield every time they want a pint of milk or a fish supper.
Next on this busy village’s ‘to do list’ is a £400,000 community resource centre, which will provide a new home for Nafferton Under Fives and valuable education and leisure facilities for the numerous other groups which are active in the area.
And believe me, active is a very apt description in this case. Nafferton has a long history of busy social clubs dating back to 1919 when the football team – the Robins – enjoyed their first kickabout and the cricket team started hitting sixes on The Parks. The Mothers’ Union opened its doors in 1924, followed swiftly by the Women’s Institute in 1927. The village’s annual show got off to a flying start in 1939. And in 1962 the football, tennis, bowls and cricket clubs joined forces to buy the village recreation ground, which opened a year later.
Mrs Senior has seen a lot of changes in the village since moving to Nafferton after her marriage 49 years ago. Her husband, who has lived in the same street for the best part of 75 years, has seen even more. But both say one thing has remained constant – there’s never any excuse for boredom
‘It was quite a small village when I first came here, but it has built up a lot over the years,’ said Mrs Senior. ‘It’s good for commuters because we have a railway station and good road links to York, Hull and Scarborough.
‘And it’s good for families and older people because there’s always something to do. There’s a club for everyone, from babies to pensioners. There’s no reason for anyone to be lonely.’