The Guild of Devonshire Ringers

RINGING ROUND DEVON

GUILD OF DEVONSHIRE RINGERS

Newsletter no 33 : March 1999

RINGING ROUND DEVON is the quarterly newsletter of The Guild of Devonshire Ringers and is circulated free to all affiliated towers. Any individual members who wish to subscribe should contact Lester Yeo. The cost is two pounds for four issues.

Items for inclusion may be sent by e-mail to RRD@lyeo.freeserve.co.uk.


Exeter Colleges Guild: 32nd Annual Dinner

NOSTALGIA AND HILARITY AT THE ROUGEMONT HOTEL

The first weekend in February has traditionally been the dinner weekend for the ECG. This year, like last, was no different as members and friends gathered at the Rougemont Hotel in Exeter on the 6th February for a mix of socialising, barn dancing and eating.

The weekend officially started on the Friday evening where the chance was given to catch up on all the news and gossip from the past year, especially with those that are now living away from Exeter. A few pints were had by many, and many pints were had by a few, including the Master who was already looking very worried about the daunting task that lay ahead of him! Perhaps writing the speech before Friday would have been a better idea!

Saturday morning the ECG and friends were all up early (or at least the keen ones were), and off to Torquay for the day's ringing program. Highlights included Michael Esbester actually being in charge of the ringing at Babbacombe, Cambridge Royal and Stedman Caters at St Marychurch, and some excellently struck "real" call-changes ably called by Ian Avery at Kingsteignton. The guest speaker, the infamous AJB (aka Tony Barnfield) from Ringing World fame arrived at lunch time, and a group travelled back to Exeter to ring a quarter peal at St Thomas in the afternoon. Anything to keep the guest speaker happy!

At 8pm 52 people sat down to dinner with the only disruption through the course of the meal being the Master wanting to take wine with everyone and anyone, and then more wine, at every available moment - or at least that's what it felt like. (Any excuse!) After the meal it was firstly the turn of our guest speaker. I'm not sure it was so much of a speech, but more of an act, as he had the company all singing and laughing, in between his poems and stories, recounting his many difficulties during quarter peals, and what he would do "When he is in charge" (see photo above). Following this was the customary handbell touch, this year of Grandsire Caters by: David Macey 1-2, Matthew Hilling 3-4, John Longridge 5-6, David Atkins 7-8, George Mudge 9-10.

Then it was the turn of the Master. Stephen Chambers adopted the standard format of reminding the members of everything they had done over the last year, covering everything from the competitions to the beach trip. Unfortunately, not all of it they wanted to be reminded of! The sweepstake for the length of Stephen's speech was organised by the treasurer, and then won by the treasurer! Mmm, I think there was something strange going on there! At last it was time for the barn dance which nearly everybody took part in and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Sunday was mainly spent recovering, with ringing in the morning for those who were awake enough, followed by coffee, then more coffee, and then lunch. Ringing in the afternoon was at Exeter Cathedral with those that were there just about managing to stay awake!

Finally, a big thank you must go to Rosie Green for arranging the dinner, to Stephen for organising the ringing program, to the tower secretaries and incumbents for permission to ring, and of course to AJB for keeping everyone so amused.

The ECG Dinner takes place on the first weekend of February every year, and I am sure that next year will be no different. If you would enjoy a social occasion and a barn dance then please book the date now! Everyone is very welcome; you don't need to be a member to come along. If you are interested please get in touch with any of the officers or Matthew Hilling, and they will add your name to the address list.


MARINES' ENDURANCE COURSE

Following the success of this event last year, when members and friends had a 'fun' morning running around the Marines' endurance course on Woodbury Common and getting thoroughly wet and dirty into the bargain, it may be possible for the Guild to have the use of the course again this year.

Already Wendy Campbell has had five members of the Exeter Colleges Guild express a desire to participate - bless 'em - and would like to hear from anyone else who is keen/mad enough to do the same.

The Guild raised 903 in sponsorship for the Bell Restoration Fund last year: can we make it a viable event again this year? Date to be fixed, but probably in the early summer.


POINTS FROM PEALS

Ninety-three peals were rung by the Guild last year, the sixth highest total in the Guild's history. The leading tower was Thorverton, and Broadclyst was the fifth Devon tower to pass the hundred mark. The most popular method in the year was Cambridge Surprise Minor, and both Cambridge Surprise Maximus and Stedman Cinques were rung by predominantly Guild bands.


GUILD TOWERS IN ASSOCIATION COMPETITIONS

Affiliated towers are being encouraged to enter call-change competitions in order to strengthen the good relationship between the Guild and the Association.

Following successful co-operation in the Devon Ringers' Carol Service and the Ring in 2000 plans, the suggestion was made at the Guild Committee Meeting that method towers should join the Association and enter its festival competitions.

Already, the Cathedral band has asked to join and hopes to enter a team to ring the Queen's Peal in the Devon Eight-bell, as well to ring Erin Cinques at the National Twelve-bell qualifier!


GUILD STRIKING COMPETITIONS (6 and 8 bell)

Following the rather rushed atmosphere in the evening of AGM day last year, it has been decided to try something different, and run both the six-bell and eight-bell competitions on the same day. Competition day will now take place on Saturday 16th October in the Aylesbeare Deanery Branch, with the six-bell being held in the morning and the inter-branch eight-bell after lunch. The host towers will be announced later.

For those who may not be familiar with the intent of these competitions, the six-bell is open to any affiliated Guild tower. Each band entering shall ring a test piece of between 240 and 300 changes in any recognised method(s). Repeated plain courses are permitted, but not plain hunting.

The eight-bell competition is an inter-branch event with the aim of improving the standard and variety of eight-bell method ringing in the Guild. The friendly rivalry between branches does seem to have been hotting up quite nicely in recent years, with some very determined efforts to topple the Exeter Branch from their perch as the most frequent winners of the Andrews Trophy.

Each band rings and is judged upon the same test piece: this year's method is Gainsborough Little Bob Major and the self-styled Maestro James Clarke (Honorary Composer to the Court of the GDR) has come up with the following offering as the competition touch, so everyone can start practising now!

    2345678
    7856342
 - 6423857 M
   5738426
   2684735
 - 4357682 W
 - 7826354 B
   5463827
   2738465
   6584732
 - 4327586 W
   8675324
S 2543678 H
--------------------------------
Repeat for 288 changes

If anyone would like to see a full set of rules for either competition, please let the Secretary know.

GAINSBOROUGH LITTLE BOB MAJOR
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
2 1 4 3 6 5 8 7
2 4 1 6 3 8 5 7
4 2 6 1 8 3 7 5
4 6 2 8 1 7 3 5
6 4 8 2 7 1 5 3
6 8 4 7 2 1 3 5
8 6 7 4 1 2 5 3
8 7 6 1 4 5 2 3
7 8 1 6 5 4 3 2
7 1 8 5 6 3 4 2
1 7 5 8 3 6 2 4
1 7 8 5 6 3 4 2


Guild: AGM plans take shape

NEW DATE FOR GUILD FESTIVAL

After many years on the first Saturday in May, from this year the Guild will hold its major activity - the Guild Festival and Annual General Meeting - on a new date. This will avoid the frequent clash with the bank holiday weekend, and being later in the year, should provide better weather.

The meeting will be held on 12th June at The Institute, Yonder Street, Ottery St Mary. The timetable for the Festival day has been planned as follows and will be confirmed later:

1130 Coffee and registration
1200 Annual business meeting
1300 Lunch
1415 Workshop 1
1545 Workshop 2
1430-1600 Open ringing at Honiton
1700 Service ringing at Ottery St Mary
1730 Service
1800 Tea and open ringing

It is hoped to offer the following workshops: Moving on from call changes; First steps 'inside'; Plain Bob Minor; Cambridge S. Minor; Basic Triples; Surprise Major; 10-bell ringing; Conducting and coursing order; Rope splicing and tower maintenance; Handbell ringing.


MILLENNIUM BELLS MAKE TAVISTOCK TEN

The Anglican Bishop of Plymouth dedicated the two trebles at St Eustachius, Tavistock on Sunday 13 December before a churchful of worshippers, including ringers from all over the county, both method and call-change ringers. In his sermon he outlined the history of Tavistock described St Eustachius as 'one of the great parish churches of England ... which, although the abbey has gone, remains a place with a sacred space around it.' How appropriate that this church should see its magnificent eight bells augmented to ten to celebrate two thousand years of Christianity with the new millennium, especially as it is the home tower of the President of the Guild, George Mudge. How appropriate, too, that the service should end with the hymn 'Ring out, ye bells below!' which had been written by George Campbell Grills, a former Tavistock ringer.

After the service, George spoke of the dedication of the bells in 1925 when they were last rehung, and the links with the ringers of today, three quarters of a century later. He mentioned the newly formed band at Kelly, where Maitland Kelly had introduced scientific ringing to West Devon in the last century, who have recently rung for Sunday service again for the first time, thanks to help from the Tavistock ringers. With the new bells at St Eustachius, and with the two dumbbells and the simulator, West Devon now has a focus for training bellringers, so that Tavistock can become a 'centre of excellence'.

George also expressed his thanks to Doreen his wife, who had designed the project logo and the sweat- and tee-shirts, as well as producing a commemorative booklet about the project, and to George Boucher, who had given half of his time to help with the project, selling a thousand Christmas cards as well as prints of the church.

Then the bells which had been rung before the service by the local band and members of the SW branch, were rung, first by a selected team of call-change ringers, and then by the Exeter Cathedral ringers. Open ringing continued until 9pm.

The new treble is inscribed with the Millennium Commission's emblem, and weighs 5cwt 0qr 9lb; its note is F# and bears the dedication:
THE GIFT OF DONALD CONNETT A RINGER FOR MANY YEARS AND ALAN HIS SON IN MEMORY OF MARGARET DEAR WIFE AND MOTHER DEO GRATIAS 1999.

The second bell is inscribed with the same emblem, and weighs 5cwt 0qr 26lb; its note is E and has the dedication:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF SHELIA ALICE LOUISE BECKERLEG (NEE STEER) 21 JUNE 1916 - 27 JUNE 1996 DEAR WIFE OF CHARLES FOR 58 1/2 YEARS SHE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE ABLE TO SING IN TUNE.

As well as the tower bells, a set of eighteen handbells were given in memory of Ethel Speed and Clifford Farrant by the Farrant family.

Illustrations and details about the bells have been taken from the booklet 'Millennium Bells for Tavistock'.


MAY DAY PEAL

The Children's Society is again asking bellringers to ring over the May Day bank holiday week-end and to seek sponsors for the work of the Society, which provides support for children and families in need, bringing hope and a brighter future to thousands of disadvantaged children and young people throughout England and Wales.

The Society can provide publicity and sponsor forms to promote any ringing event. For further details, contact Wendy Campbell or The Children's Society, Edward Rudolf House, Margery Street, London WC1X 0JL (0171 841 4400)


THE RINGING WORLD ROAD SHOW

A Great Exhibition of all aspects of bell ringing and bell ringing music

SATURDAY 17 APRIL 10.00am to 4.30pm
At Tewkesbury School, Ashchurch Road, Tewkesbury

Special feature - the launch of the new look Ringing World and a chance to meet the Editor, Staff and Directors!

Special feature - the Lichfield Diocesan Mobile Belfry

Of interest to everyone - general public, new recruits, lapsed ringers, tower captains, steeplekeepers, experienced ringers and anyone involved with towers and bells.

Trade stands with information on books, teaching aids, bell hanging, sound control, clocks etc.

Simulators, mini-rings, ringing Italian style; computers, handbells, ringing at local towers

Competition for young ringers and chance to meet Clare O'Callaghan

Central Council Publications, Ringing centres, Bell Restoration Funds, Library, Education and Towers and Belfries Committees all available for help and advice.

Refreshments available

Coach leaves Plymouth 7.00am, Exeter 8.00am
Departs Tewkesbury 3.30pm
To arrive in Exeter by 6.00pm for those wishing to attend Cathedral practice.
Cost (approx) Adults 8, children 5
Early booking recommended (only 50 places)
Contact John Steer or Howard Egglestone


FUN WITH FIGURES

A Guild training event at Heavitree on Saturday 15 May

This interactive seminar is designed for those who have some experience of method ringing, and are looking to move into the realms of calling and conducting methods. It contains theory sessions interspersed with paper exercises but will not have any practical ringing sessions.

The seminar will try to answer some or all of the following questions:

How can I obtain a blue line from the list of numbers given in place notation?

How can I use the information in the diary and other ringing books to call a touch or peal?

Why do we need singles in Grandsire doubles but not Plain Bob doubles?

What are "in course" and "out of course" changes?

How do some people always know what everyone else should be doing?

What is the "coursing order" that you hear people talking about and how does it help?

How can I check that a composition is true?

How do I go about composing a new method or composition?

How can my computer help with my ringing?

The current plan is to start at 10:00 and to finish at lunch time, with a break for coffee. Lunch will be available afterwards at the local hostelry.

Further details will be provided from Ian Campbell when bookings are made.


Lester Yeo delves into the life of a 18th century Devon ringer

THE REAL LIFE OF BENJAMIN KENNICOTT

In the ringing chamber at Totnes Parish Church, there hangs a transcript of the ancient rules of the Totnes Society, dated 1742 and signed by Benjamin Kennicott. The rules which praise the art and science of bellringing, are beautifully phrased, evidence that Kennicott was an educated man.

"Among the many recreations approved of by the sons of pleasure, ringing as a diversion that may be emphatically said to bear away the bell, and so much does it engage the natives of Great Britain, beyond all other nations, that it has been the distinguishing appellation of the 'ringing isle.' The art then, for which this kingdom is renowned, shews a judicious taste in those of its inhabitants who have by their performances contributed thereto, sine this art wants no foreign encomiast, but the harmonious bells are the heralds of their own praise. The ingenuity required for the diversion administered in, and the health subsequent upon this exercise, give it a particular sanction among mankind and recommend it as an employment at vacant hours, worthy the regard of all denominations.

We, therefore, whose names are subscribed, taking into consideration the great pleasure that results from this manly employment, the innocence with which it is performed, and the advantage enjoyed from so healthy an exercise of our bodies, and also having the peculiar satisfaction of ringing with ease a set of eight bells, of established fame, and applauded excellence, do hereby agree to meet together in the usual place of ringing, every Monday evening, at six o'clock, for our improving this science; and for the greater certainty of attendance, we do hereby severally promise to forfeit the sum of three-pence, if not attending at the hour aforesaid, and six-pence if not present at seven o'clock, to be deposited in the hands of the treasurer for the time being, and spent as the major part of the Society shall seem fit. And for the better regulation of this our fraternity, we do also hereby agree that we remain in the belfry during pleasure, and then for the further pleasure and benefit of conversation adjourn to any house the company shall choose, and there tarry till the hour of ten, and no longer.

And whereas the stays supporting the bells are liable to damage from unskilful hands, we agree that whoever hurts shall repair the same, at this own proper charge. We make no rules for conversation, nor penalties for any misbehaviour in it, resolving to render it innocently agreable to each other, and whenever a breach of this rule is committed, that a reprimand be admitted from the Society. In all cases and disputes not hereinbefore decided, the majority of the company shall determine, that so this Society amicably begun, may be amicably carried on, and not meet the fate of others that have gone before it. (Signed,) BENJ. KENNICOTT Totnes, November 8th, 1742."

In fact, by birth, he was of common stock. His father, also Benjamin, was the town barber and parish clerk, and the young Benjamin was born in April 1718 and spent seven years as a foundation scholar at the Totnes grammar school. The father was apparently captain of the ringers, and encouraged his son to learn to ring. In 1732 the ringers gave a brass eight-light candlestick to the ringing chamber, with an inscription and the donors' names. Kennicott pere is the first name, Kennicott fils the last. The candelabrum now hangs in the Lady Chapel in flagrant disregard of the donors' wishes! Presumably ten years later the Society of ringers recognised young Kennicott's literary ability - he was by now the Master of the Bluecoat charity school in the town - and asked him to draw up a set of rules. The text is to be found in Polwhele's History of Devon, as well as Ellacombe's Church Bells of Devon. Polwhele writes of Kennicott: 'The disposition of a man is more strongly marked by trifles of this sort, than by matters of more weighty import, as the mind is here biassed neither by interest nor ambition.'

Kennicott's intelligence and literary skill won him the attention of the wealthy and influential, and as a result in 1743/4 he was sent to Oxford as an undergraduate. He was awarded his B.A. by decree in 1747, ordained, and elected a fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, where he remained until 1771. He is particularly remembered at Exeter College for his affection for a fig tree which still flourishes; the story is told that one year, it bore a single fruit, with the result that Kennicott affixed a label reading 'Dr Kennicott's fig'; however, when the fig grew ripe a waggish undergraduate promptly picked it and wrote on the note 'A fig for Dr Kennicott'. On relinquishing his fellowship, he published his magnum opus, a critical text of the Hebrew Old Testament, while holding a canonry of Christ Church. He died at the age of 65 on the 18 August 1883, and must be one of the few ringers to warrant an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, the Dictionary of National Biography and the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

For the bulk of his life, then, Kennicott was in Oxford, This raises the question, did he ring as a member of the university?

Unfortunately, there is no evidence available. The records and archives of the Oxford Society of Change Ringers (founded in the eighteenth century) are thorough, and there is no mention of his name in the lists of membership, nor does Kennicott appeal in the Society's peal books. This may be due to the traditional rivalry between town and gown, and the University Society was not founded until 1873. Philip Walker amassed a large amount of information on Oxford bells and ringers from various Oxford archives and bequeathed his findings to the OSCR, but again there is no reference to Dr Kennicott. It would seem that the absence of any 'vacant hours' meant that he chose to forego what had previously given him so much pleasure.

However, there is a postscript to this fruitless tale. I came across a reference to a book entitled The History of Benjamin Kennicott by one Isabelle Major Evans - clearly a biography of the great man. So, when in Oxford, I summoned up the slim volume from the depths of the Bodleian Library, where indeed Kennicott had been Radcliffe's Librarian for a number of years. Unfortunately, the title was not a biography, but a transcript of thirty-odd seances held in Johannesburg in the 1930s, in which a medium claimed to have made contact with Kennicott, who wished to put right an error made in his earthly life! The shaky biographical details had been gleaned from the Encyclopaedia, but the spirit Kennicott does at one point mention the 'sound of bells chiming sweet and deeply'!

Thanks are due to Ian Stoyle and David Lane for their assistance in this endeavour.

Bibliography: Baring Gould, Sabine : Devonshire Characters. London 1908 Ellacombe, H.T. : Church Bells of Devon. Exeter 1866 Evans, Isabelle Major : The History of Benjamin Kennicott. London 1931 Moore, Thomas : History and Topography of the County of Devon. London 1831 Polwhele, Richard : The History of Devon. Exeter 1806 Transactions of the Devonshire Association 1878


Exeter: Carol Service

RINGERS FILL CATHEDRAL WITH SOUND

For the first time for many years, bellringers from all over Devon gathered in the mother church of the county for a service. The Devon Ringer' Carol Service started only a stone's throw away in the tiny city church of St Petrock, and has for a number of years been held in Buckfast Abbey, but on 19 December 1998, the Cathedral Church of St Peter played host to both method and call-change ringers in a magnificent service organised by Ian Avery.

Readings were given by luminaries of both societies, and by the Dean, the Very Revd Keith Jones, and a collection of 440 was given to the South West Children's Hospice. Thanks are due to Bendell's of Newton Abbot for their sponsoring the event.


JUDGES GIVE JANET JUG

Back in October, Exeter Branch Ringing Master Janet Coles receives the Andrews trophy from Guild striking competiton judges Charles Pipe-Wolferstan (centre) and David Ware.


QUARTER PEAL QUERIES

At the General Committee Meeting in January, 478 quarter peals had been recorded as rung in 1998, a drop of 47 from the previous year. Thorverton was the top tower, and Grandsire Triples the most popular method. Leading conductor was Wilf Dunn, and there were seventeen first quarters, and two firsts as conductors. The number of quarters rung continues to fall, especially of triples and minor. Quarter Peal Secretary Derek Hawkins said that when they were published in the annual report, an asterisk would appear against those quarters rung by visiting bands and predominantly non-resident bands; it was interesting to note that the same number of quarters as those starred had been rung by GDR bands outside the county.


RESTRUCTURING?

Brian Samuel's letter published in RRD about the Branch structure of the Guild was discussed at the Committee Meeting. It was noted that branches have frequently adopted different patterns for meetings and practices. After some discussion, it was difficult to see what other pattern of branches/districts would be equally effective.


Exeter: Cathedral AGM

NEW DATE FOR CATHEDRAL DINNER

Following some rather disappointing dinners, and a noted fall in numbers, the Cathedral Society agreed to find a new date and venue for its annual dinner. It was decided at the Annual Meeting in January to investigate the Red House House in Whipton, where a private room could be made available, for a meal on 27 September. It was noted that the suggested venue was in walking (staggering?) distance of the Ringing Master's house.

James Grant had asked not to be re-elected as Assistant Ringing Master, due to pressure of work, and Matthew Hilling was unanimously chosen to take his place. The Society also agreed to offer membership to three regular attenders at cathedral practices.

In 1997, a number of Ringing Worlds had been given to the society and a bookcase obtained to store them. It was agreed that this could also house a bellringing resource library, to complement the Guild library, which is of more historical value, but that this would have to be for reference in the ringing chamber only.


From The Bell News, 9 September 1899

ST MARY'S GUILD, TAUNTON, SOMERSET

The Guild enjoyed an excursion on Saturday August 26th to Exmouth. The members, with the Rev. F.C. Powning, left Taunton by the 7.40 train for Exeter, and on arriving at St David's Station were met by A. Blake, and after a very interesting drive of twelve miles, Exmouth was reached by 11.0a.m. A little spare time being at the visitors' disposal, some took a stroll on the sands, others took a boat, one o'clock came the appointed time for dinner at the London hotel, where a capital repast was served, to which every done the usual service. This over, the tower of Withycombe Raleigh was visited, the company being met by C. Bond, an old member of the St Mary's Guild. A light ring of eight was found which was soon raised in peal and set going in Grandsire Triples, several touches being rung, then the bells were lowered in peal, and the company returned to the London hotel at 4.30 where the brake was awaiting to take them back to Heavitree, Exeter.

After a most enjoyable drive of two hours Heavitree was reached and here was found a splendid ring of eight, tenor 25cwt, put in by Taylor to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee. They were soon raised in peal and some well-struck touches of Grandsire Triples brought round, and bells again lowered in peal. Steps were next taken for the City of Exeter, where the company sat down to tea at the Arcade. After refreshing the inner man and chat with some Exeter freiends time arrived to catch the mail train for Taunton, where all arrived just before midnight, well pleased. The company wish to thank the incumbents of the two churches visited for so kindly granting the use of the bells, and the members of the respective companies who met them.

(Rather a lot of eating and very little ringing - what's new?? And two hours from Withycombe Raleigh to Heavitree!! You could practically walk it in that time.)


COMMITTEE ODDS AND ENDS

A suggestion was made after the Guild Festival in May to hold a Devon Tower Open Day to raise money for the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund, and to be an opportunity for members of the Guild to enjoy some social ringing. The Committee discussed this and felt that it was worth investigating further, looking towards a date in the year 2000. Also at the Committee meeting, a sub-committee was set up to look at the way new Vice-Presidents of the Guild should be appointed. This has now met and is preparing some recommendations to put forward to the Guild AGM in June.


North Devon: Mid Week Group

WHAT A PERFECT DAY!

On the second Thursday of each month, ringers from North Devon and North Cornwall have been meeting for a very social day's ringing. The Taw, Torridge and Tamar Mid-week groups consists of members of both the Devon and Truro Guilds who enjoy a visit to a couple of towers and a leisurely lunch together.

In February, morning ringing was at Kilkhampton and included most of the simpler standard methods, followed by a meal in the London Inn. Then the ringers travelled through country lanes to West Putford, where Minor and Doubles were rung, although the hastings stay on the second caused a few problems.

March's meeting (on the 11th) will be based in Bideford. Contact Don Lawson for further details.


RING IN 2000

At the most recent meeting of the Bellringers' Joint Committee for Devon, it was felt that with less than twelve months before the beginning of the Millennium year, it was necessary to start to co-ordinate arrangements to make sure that it was possible on January 1 to ring the bells of all churches who wanted them rung. It was agreed that Deanery representatives should contact all towers in their area to try to establish what is being planned in each church, and a standard letter has been drafted by Martin Mansley. Once these plans are known, it will be possible to work out where there is a shortage of ringers and where there are plenty!

Members of the ad hoc committee also wanted to encourage the continued close co-operation of Guild and Association. One suggestion was that members of the Guild could take their place on the management of the St Petrock's Ringing Centre.


BILL'S ANNUAL BIRTHDAY PEAL

GUILD OF DEVONSHIRE RINGERS

Thorverton, Devon (S Thomas)
11 February 1999
2 hours 54 minutes
5040 LINCOLNSHIRE SURPRISE ROYAL
(Murray A Coleman)

1 Mervyn C Way
2 Elisabeth AG Bowden
3 Howard W Egglestone
4 Matthew J Hilling
5 John Hill
6 E William Ford
7 Michael R Rose
8 Timothy E Barnaby
9 Frank D Mack
10 Michael EC Mears (C.)

1st of Lincolnshire Royal: 6


OBITUARIES

ALBERT PRITCHARD

Albert was not a great ringer in the conventional sense, but he was the sort of stalwart without whom most bands could not function. Albert came to Tiverton in the early 1950s to work on the land. He subsequently worked as a drayman with the Starkey, Knight and Ford Brewery and finished his working life as a caretaker at East Devon College. He was eventually forced to take early retirement because of ill-health.

Albert took up ringing at St Peter's, Tiverton in the early 60s and for many years he was steeplekeeper and keyholder. Illness aside, you could always rely on him to be there on time to unlock and over the years many visiting bands have become familiar with Albert's larger-than-life presence in the tower to welcome them. During his long period of service as steeplekeeper he spent many months repainting the bell-frame - a job which has remained good for over twenty years - and many hours splicing ropes, a skill which he has always been keen to pass on to other in towers throughout the area. For many years Albert has also been St Peter's principal teacher of bellhanding to recruits. His infinite patience and good humour has probably saved many a learner from falling by the wayside.

Albert was great 'character' - a big man in every sense. Quite apart from his physical bulk, you could not miss Albert in the tower. He loved a good argument, but always showed a warm, and generous spirit without malice. He enjoyed his food and drink, while his snuff-taking was very much a trademark. Above all, although he had received little in the way of the formal education, he had a lively, restless and enquiring mind.

Ill-health dogged his later years, although he refused to let this curtail his many activities until very recently. By early December, however, a long-running infection had begun to take its toll and Albert was rushed into hospital. After a week's struggle he died on Monday 14 December. With his death, the St Peter's Society not only loses a very loyal ringer whose practical skills will be sorely missed, but also a great friend and character who brought some colour to the life of the tower and the town. Leslie Boyce

ELIZABETH BROWN

Elizabeth died on October 29th at her home in Auchenlarie after a long and defiant battle with cancer. She learnt to ring at Damerham as a member of a young ladies' band and after studies at London University took a post-graduate course in social sciences in Oxford. She then came to Exeter as a social worker, and joined the band at St Thomas, where John Scott was curate and she had known him and Clare well in Oxford. She was more experienced in the range of methods than most of the band and rang in a number of peals with the Guild, before her career took her away to Cardiff, Edinburgh and Scotland. She also regularly made the journey to Lyme to ring with the Surprise Major band there.


Tavistock: Local College Youths meet

ASCY ENCOURAGEMENT TO DEVON MEMBERS

Twenty-four College Youths met on 9 January for a gathering of Devon and Cornwall members of the Ancient Society. After a buffet lunch in the Tavistock Royal British Legion Club, Don Lawson read the letter he had received from the secretary giving the encouragement of the Society to this gathering and the guidelines for such occasions. He then proposed that there should be two such gatherings a year and that each should be self-financing. It was agreed to arrange the next meeting provisionally for October 9th, and subsequently, if interest continued, in March and October. The attention of members was drawn to the Society peal day on September 19th.

As there were currently about forty known members in Devon and only fifteen in Cornwall, it was suggested that for every one gathering in Cornwall there should be two in Devon; this would prevent each county acting as host at the same time of year. All approved of the arrangement of meeting in a room with refreshments and the opportunity to talk informally before ringing. It was agreed that it would be good to find ways of encouraging Society officers to be present occasionally, and the idea was mooted to offer to organise the Country Meeting in the region.

Michael Rose asked members to gather outside the church for a photograph, and Don Lawson and George Mudge were thanked for their arrangements of the day.

Methods rung were Grandsire Caters, Cambridge Surprise Royal, Stedman Caters, rounds, Yorkshire Surprise Royal, Erin Caters, Double Norwich Court Major, Little Bob Royal and Belfast Surprise Major. Ken Ford was congratulated for his sixty years membership of the society; he had rung in Society peals before the second world war.


FIRST QUARTERS

Congratulations to Coral Came, Harry Grange (aged 10), A. Hartley and Rebekah Hartley who have recently rung their first quarter peal.

Torquay (St Marychurch), Devon. 21 November 1998, 1260 Plain Bob Doubles : Coral Came (1st Q.) 1, Tim King 2, Philip Stevens 3, Alan Paton 4, Martin Mansley (C.), Lisa Came 6. Ruby wedding compliment to Jill and Bob Southwood.

Kingskerswell, Devon. 23 December 1998, 1320 Grandsire Doubles: Rebekah Hartley (1st Q.) 1, M. Mansley 2, R. Southwood 3, T. King 4, P. Stevens (C.) 5, A. Hartley (1st Q.) 6.

Exeter (St Mark), Devon. 29 December 1998, 1260 Plain Bob Doubles: Harry Grange (1st Q.) 1, Ian Campbell 2, Richard Shere 3, Robert Grange (C.) 4, Ian Avery 5, Wendy Campbell 6.


CC reveals BRF statistics

DEVON BELOW AVERAGE

In early 1999, a report appeared in 'The Ringing World' of the survey of Bell Restoration Fund, which the Central Council undertakes every three years. Its purpose was to establish the level of activity in raising funds and making grants towards bell restoration, to provide information on sources of income and to assist the BRF Committee in its work.

Forty-eight affiliated societies were approached, and all replied. The survey revealed that Devon is well below the average in terms of income received and of grants made:

Income per member
Average 8.05
Highest 19.66
Lowest 0.55
Devon 3.76

Grant per member
Average 5.40
Highest 16.99
Lowest nil
Devon 2.73

Capital per member
Average 31.89
Highest 82.83
Lowest 2.07
Devon 4.94

Average Grant
Average 1308
Highest 4014
Lowest nil
Devon 307

After an appeal at the Committee meeting to look for further possibilities in raising further income for the Bell Restoration fund, it was agreed to hold a sponsored quarter peal week starting on the 25th September. Further details will follow in due course.


Education news:

GUILD STEDMAN TRIPLES DAY

Where? St Marychurch, Torquay

When? September 11th

Who is it for? Participants should have rung Stedman Doubles and be ready to progress to Triples.

Conducting? Ringers who are already experienced in Triples will be given opportunities to call touches.

What time? 9.30 start, lunch in a pub, finish about 4.30.

How many? To give all participants a good chance to progress, places will be limited. At present two places per branch are envisaged.

Further details? The day is only at the planning stage yet, but more details will be sent to branch secretaries nearer the time. For information contact Martin Mansley.

NOTE. We will be needing experienced Stedman ringers to man the towers and generally help with the day. Please mark the date in your diaries now.


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Pages written by Ian Campbell

Updated 28/2/98