Neil Skelton

Neil Skelton

Salisbury Diocese ringer

Born 1948 in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Moved to Salisbury, Wiltshire in 1950. First bell-handling lesson at Salisbury St Martin in 1958 but short-lived due to bells being declared unringable. Resumed lessons at Salisbury St Thomas in January 1961. Elected member of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers January 1962 and awarded certificate of proficiency in April 1962 – achieved by ringing the treble unaided to 120 changes of Grandsire Doubles. Elected to the Ancient Society of College Youths in September 1972.

First quarter peal (Grandsire Doubles) at Durrington, Wiltshire, December 1962. First peal (Grandsire Doubles) at Broadchalke, Wiltshire, August 1967. To date has rung 181 peals, from Doubles to Surprise Royal, Stedman Cinques and Plain Bob Maximus, and 1079 quarter peals, from Singles to Surprise Royal and Plain Bob Fourteen. Rung in 5471 different towers, including Australia, America, Canada, South Africa and Italy.

Neil Skelton (just before the frame for the treble bell was hoisted up into Imber tower)

Within the Salisbury Branch of the SDGR has held office of chairman, secretary and treasurer and ringing master  At Guild level master, librarian and Central Council representative. In May 2022 awarded 60 year’s SDGR membership certificate

Enjoys ringing tours and outings; also, quarter peals. Reluctant peal ringer.

Joined staff of the Redundant Churches Fund in 1980, since renamed Churches Conservation Trust (CCT). Initially as a field office covering mainly the south and south-west of England but with excursions to Yorkshire, Lancashire, East Anglia and the West Midlands. Latterly the area of activity was restricted to the south and south-west, managing in the region of sixty churches.

On retirement from the CCT in 2008 took on the challenge of promoting to a wider public the isolated church of St Giles, Imber, Wiltshire within the military training area of Salisbury Plain. It was not long before the views of those who said it would never be a success in terms of visitor numbers and income were disproved. As an example, the church was open on Saturday 20th August for the annual Imber Bus Day during which up to thirty vintage buses, with some still in service, made their way across Salisbury Plain with full payloads of passengers, resulting in over 2,000 visitors to the church and an income of over £5,000 from the sale of refreshments and merchandise. During the four days between Christmas and the New Year visitor numbers average in the region of 3,000.

In 2010 played a significant part in the provision of a new ring of six bells at Imber, replacing the former ring of five bells removed in 1950. To date seventeen peals and forty-nine quarter peals have been rung on the bells.

In 2016 awarded the British Empire Medal for services to Imber church.

This entry was written in October 2022.

Related Episodes
Ringing in Redundant Churches - part 1
November 10, 202200:25:59

Ringing in Redundant Churches - part 1

What do you get when you cross The Churches Conservation Trust with bell ringers? Show host Cathy Booth finds out, in the first of two special episodes. In this month’s show, Cathy meets Neil Skelton, David Bagley and Neil Dodge to discover what exciting projects can develop when ringers get involved in supporting h...