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 purchase a copy should contact Lester Yeo. The cost is two pounds and fifty pence for four issues (cheques made payable to Guild of Devonshire Ringers). It is also available on line on the Guild's website at http://www.exeter.ac.uk/gdr/ .
Items for inclusion may be sent by e-mail to email@example.com .
After a long discussion at the Guild Committee meeting, Grandsire Major was the method decided for the Inter-branch competition to be held in the North North West branch on October 20th.
It was felt that Grandsire Major is a little bit different but well within the capabilities of any ringer who can ring Bob Major and Grandsire Triples; in other words, a musical and easily struck method, well worth adding to the repertoire.
Some local bands have found it possible to ring a plain course at a moment's notice, and as well as the competition touch, inside RRD this quarter is a useful shorter practice touch and a quarter peal.
Also at the Committee Meeting, the NE branch asked for a review of the proportion of the subscription to be kept by each branch. This was not altered but it was agreed to recommend to the AGM an increase in subscriptions from next year to £5 for adult ringing members.
As well as giving more money for branch expenditure, this would have the effect of increasing the money available for bell restoration and education, the two charitable purposes of the Guild.
Treasurer Sue Sawyer pointed out that tax payers who currently covenant their subscription would need to sign a new form, as Gift Aid, a more flexible way for charities to claim back tax on donations, had replaced the covenant scheme.
The question of insurance as a benefit of Guild membership was also raised, both in case of accidents while ringing, and to cover negligence. Local bands are strongly encouraged to check with their PCC to see what level of cover the church's insurance provides, and if necessary to argue for a better policy.
Future plans include a Quarter Peal week in aid of Bell Restoration from 29 September to 7 October, once more organised by Janet Coles, and another Towers Open Day, but not until the year 2002!.
The band that rang the first local peal of Maximus at the Cathedral in December. Matt Hilling and Ian Campbell turned in the 72 cwt tenor to Cambridge Surprise in four hours and two minutes. It was Paul Pascoe's first on twelve, Andrew Mudge's first of Max and George Mudge's first of Surprise Max.
Congratulations to Martin Clough who recently rang his first quarter peal. Thorverton, Devon. 1260 Plain Bob Doubles. Martin Clough (1st Q.) 1, Richard Shere 2, Michael Hatchett 3, Bill Ford 4, Mike Hilson (C) 5, Alan Spear 6
October 21st had been set for some months as the date of the eight bell striking competition at Wolborough, near Newton Abbot. Not wishing to rush things and peak too early the East Devon branch did not start practising Little Grandsire Triples until mid September. Early practices usually did not involve the full team with stand-ins being co-opted to help out. The final big push came during the hours leading to the event.
The team assembled at 10.40am on the 21st at Ottery to attempt to ring the full course - this had not yet been achieved. We failed the first time but one member came up with the ultimate incentive - striking from the striking if we failed again. With the team about to be lost we rang the course complete twice. Buoyed by this success we reached Wolborough in high spirits. We tried our best and were awarded 3rd place. Some may feel this disappointing but having failed to finish in previous years getting the bronze was a great achievement.
My copy of the certificate proudly hangs in Buckerell Church - a reminder of a memorable day.
In 'A Traveller's Notes in Scotland, Belgium Devonshire &c' (1867), the author G.H. writes of his visit to see the Peter Bell at Exeter Cathedral in the company of three women 'evidently tradespeople'. The text is to be found in 'The Travellers' Tales - Exeter', edited by Todd Gray (2000):
Tuesday 16th October 1866
For I did not wake till nearly 9 o'clock, and the venerable waiter was so deliberate in giving me my breakfast that I had only time for a saunter along the High Street, past the Old Guildhall... When the Cathedral bell began to ring for Morning Service. Its west front, double towers (rather like those of Westminster Abbey) and the exterior generally, are very splendid; but it is too closely surrounded by houses to display its proportions very fully. The music was tolerably good, but I was rather disappointed with the interior...
Then we mounted the steps (a hundred and fifty in number) leading to the top of one of the towers, and whenever we came to a dark part she [the old lady] squealed and the girl next to me laid hold of my arm, to protect her, I suppose, from the Bogies she fancied must be lurking about. From the leads I got a very good general idea of the City, which is almost surrounded by hills, and seems to contain nothing of interest but the Cathedral; the churches, though numerous, being very poor and plain looking.
We had to pass the 'Great Peter' Bell, and on our way down, it being close upon 12 o'clock, I persuaded them to stop, and hear the hour strike. I had not forgotten my experience in the belfry at Antwerp, but I risked the effect the noise might have upon me, for the fun of seeing their astonishment. And astonished they were, holding on, just as I had done, to the railing, too scared to scream, but looking very much as if they wanted to do so. The sound, however, was not nearly so loud as I expected, though the bell weighs upwards of five tons; and we reached the Nave again, and said good-bye without any mishap.
Don't forget that the Ringing Roadshow is at Keele on 31 March. Unfortunately, because of the distances involved, no coach has been organised from Devon.
The church of the Holy Cross at Crediton was well-filled for the Devon Ringers Carol Service on December 16th, a new venue but ideal except for the draughts, with plenty of space and plenty of car parking, situated right in the centre of the county.
Bow and Newton St Cyres bells were available during the afternoon, and Crediton bells were rung for service, ending with a well-struck touch of Stedman Triples.
Bob Southwood gave the bidding prayer and readers were Mervin Phillips, President of the Association, Ian Avery (Kingsteignton), Marion Baker (Sidmouth), Guild Master Peter Bill, bellhanger Andrew Nicholson and Preb John Scott. A choir as usual containing both method and call-change ringers led the singing, and Harmony 400 Ensemble rang handbells to a breathtakingly highest standard.
Over three hundred people attended the service which raised £267 for the Children's Hospice. Afterwards, Sandford and Shobrooke bells were rung, although an irreplaceable broken light bulb meant that the former had to be rung to candlelight!
A 95-year old bell-ringer is rejoicing after being awarded an MBE in the new Year honours list. John Butler is one of 19 Devon people honoured by the Queen.
Mr Butler, a bell-ringer for 82 years, still helps out at a church in Chudleigh where he moved six months ago to live with his daughter, Rosemary Morgan.
Today, Mrs Morgan said her father was 'amazed' by the honour after he started ringing the bells in 1919 following a recruitment campaign at the end of the First World War.
Then aged 14, he was already a members of St Andrew's parish church at Bradfield in Berkshire. He became tower captain at the church where he continued ringing the bells until he moved to Devon this summer.
The church's rector, and other bell-ringers, put Mr Butler's name forward for the MBE.
"As many men did not return from the First World War they needed some more. My father went along and started," said Mrs Morgan.
"He has been bell-ringing ever since, and other members of the family have taken up the hobby. I knew the rector had put his name forward for an honour. Dad is amazed, he had no idea he had been put forward."
The North East branch have been holding evening training classes for those in their first steps of method ringing.
The practices have been held at Thorverton Tower on alternate Wednesday evenings during the Autumn where there is excellent soundproofing.
In January three of those learners attempted and were successful in ringing quarter peals of Plain Bob Doubles.
On the 24th, Martin Clough rang the treble to his first quarter; Tom Longridge rang his first inside on the 17th, and Ann Vardy's quarter on the treble at St Paul's Tiverton on the 20th was her first for over twenty years.
Branch education officer Richard Shere commented, 'They all put in very creditable performances'.
Duncan Weaver was a true friend to many people in different walks of life and within the context of many interests and activities. All he worked with were privileged to share and enjoy his company, gentle humour and wide ranging knowledge in many subject fields and everybody who knew him will regret his sudden passing.
By profession, Duncan was a College Lecturer, holding a Doctorate in Physics but possessing a particular interest and knowledge in horology, which he was able to put to good use in a variety of projects over the years.
He learnt to ring at East Grinstead in 1968, taught by Frank Hicks when he was about thirty years in age. He made rapid progress through sheer hard work and determination, aspects of his character that were seen in many other situations. He rang his first peal on the treble to Plain Bob Minor at Thakeham on 8th September 1969, which was conducted by Frank Hicks. His first inside, also Plain Bob Minor was at Walberton on 24th January 1970.
By January 1971 Duncan had progressed to ringing Double Norwich Court Bob Major and he rang his first peal of inside to Cambridge Surprise Major at Cuckfield on 29th January 1972, a band which included Ian and Ann Smith who had just joined the East Grinstead band of experts.
In 1969 he converted the church clock at East Grinstead to electrical operation and undertook the maintenance of this clock until he left the town in 1987. His work included completely dismantling the clock movement and re-installing it in a new position in the tower at the time of the restoration of the bells in 1982.
His first peal as conductor was on the 15th October 1973, when mixed doubles was rung at Hammerwood. Duncan stood in peal and quarter peal attempts on a regular basis throughout his ringing career. His list of one hundred and forty one peals includes a wide range of surprise methods, peals of Reverse Carter, Carter and Smithfield Doubles, a peal of the Standard Eight Spliced Surprise Major, rung by a local band at East Grinstead and a peal of 6720 London Surprise Major at East Grinstead, immediately prior to the restoration and augmentation of those bells in 1982, a self help project in which Duncan was heavily involved. He rang in the first peal on the new ten, Cambridge Surprise Royal, on 8th January 1983. Subsequently, on 11th October 1986, he rang on the first peal, Grandsire Cinques, on the augmented peal of twelve bells, part of the overall Sussex Association Centenary celebrations.
In the Autumn of 1984, Duncan married Heather, a musician, cellist and aspiring ringer, with whom he shared many interests, not least that of the study of sundials. Heather and Duncan had met on a ringing tour in Cornwall organised by Gareth Higgs.
Duncan was especially fascinated by unusual touches of Plain Bob Triples and throughout his ringing career as conductor was able to entertain ringers with specialist touches in that method. He was a competent conductor and in particular, he was able to further the development of spliced surprise ringing in North Devon, after Heather and Duncan had moved there in 1987. Whilst ringers in Sussex generally and those in East Grinstead in particular, were saddened by this removal, ringers in North Devon, especially those in the St. Brannock's Society, were appropriately delighted.
Duncan had held several offices at the East Grinstead tower and as a committee member of the northern division of the Sussex County Association at different periods. He continued to hold offices in the St. Brannock's Society with distinction, particularly as Ringing Master and later as President, an office he held until his death.
Duncan continued to ring peals for the Guild of Devonshire Ringers until 1996 and in 1993 Heather and Duncan had been elected as members of the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths, ringing in a peal of Bristol Surprise Major at Thorverton on the occasion of the Society's County Meeting there on 10th July 1993.
Duncan's last quarter peal as conductor, Yorkshire Surprise Major, was rung at Great Torrington on 18th November 2000. On this occasion, as always, Duncan's gentle style as a conductor concealed the high level of his insight into method construction and form.
During his residence in North Devon, Duncan became very interested in Bee Keeping and as with all of his interests, was able to share his enthusiasm and self acquired knowledge freely and generously with others. Just before his sudden passing he had been awarded a special prize by the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers (London) for achieving the highest marks in the senior bee keeping examination. Heather was able to receive this award posthumously on Duncan's behalf in January 2001.
Duncan was no stranger to the pressures and tribulations of this life but he was always able to make little of these amongst his friends. The best memories of Duncan are the quiet observations he made on many subjects, his generous giving of time to others and of his fellowship within ringing and other circles. Rest in peace Duncan and may the musical melodies of bells, clocks and bees play in your celestial hearing for ever.
IVJS and MRR Feb 2001
The band, representing members and friends of the St Brannock's Society, that rang a peal of St Brannock's Delight Major at Chittlehampton on 10 February in Duncan Weaver's memory.
Below are the figures for this year's special method, Grandsire Major, which is quite simply Plain Bob Triples with an extra hunt bell. J Armiger Trollope suggests that the method was rung first by the Cumberland Youths, who rang a peal of it at St George's, Southwark in 1773.
Note that at a call, while bells are double dodging in 4-5 and 6-7, one bells makes six blows behind.
The competition touch of 256 changes is:
A useful practice touch consisting of 192 changes is:
For a quick 240 try tenor 6-7 down with a single, 6-7 down with a bob, home with a single. Alternatively, call home with a bob, 6-7 down with a single, home with a single.
Bands who wish to practice more prolonged ringing will find these quarter peal compositions useful, The first is very simple, with the tenor being called in and out: and the seventh fixed.
1280 Grandsire Major
2345678 2 3
6532478 - s
3256478 - -
5623478 - -
4365278 - s
6534278 - -
3456278 - -
5643278 - -
2365478 - s
1344 Grandsire Major
2345678 2 5
5726348 - -
6453728 - -
3267458 - -
7543628 - -
6427358 - -
6354728 - s
Calling the tenor in and out at 3
1280 Grandsire Major*
Donald F Morrison
23456 1 3 4
43625 s -
36245 s -
26435 s s
64325 s -
43265 s -
call s for - halfway and end
all courses four leads long
1280 Grandsire Major
Owen T Northwood
23456 1 2 3
62354 - -
35264 - (-)
43562 - -
24365 - -
call s for (-) in alternate parts
(parts 2 and 4 for best music)
Martin writes, I am very grateful to all ringers for their best wishes during my recent illness.
The card from the Guild committee meting was particularly welcome at a time when I was feeling really low.
I'm glad to say that I am now fully fit again and back to work after two months.
Two members of the East Devon branch have recently died, both long-serving members of the Guild.
Cyril Joyce passed away on 17 February at the age of 92. He was a long standing member of the Stockland band and had recently been elected a Vice President of the Guild. He was most active in the Tom Travers era, and he succeeded in his ambition of ringing a hundred quarters with Tom's son David. A quarter peal of Bob doubles was rung on October 1st 1998 for his 90th birthday.
Cyril was the village builder and decorator, and served his parish and church well. A quarter dedicated to him was rung at Stockland on 21 February:
1260 Grandsire Doubles. Anne Stenning 1, V John Lock 2, Margaret Gillard 3, Colin Gillard 4, Don Salter (C) 5, Derek Ballard 6.
Stan Sweetland passed away recently at the age of 86. He was married into his farm at Dunkeswell and in the 1950s he came to Hemyock to ring. Stan was the instigator to refurbish the bells at Dunkeswell, where he rang for several years.
He subsequently moved to Fenny Bridges where he kept and bred his racehorses. He rang at Feniton then until his death. A quarter peal was rung to celebrate his 80th birthday.
The funeral service was held at Feniton and the burial was at Southleigh, where he learnt to ring.
Call changes were rung at the service at Feniton by a band selected by his family: Geoff Coombes (Feniton), Henry Selway (Colyton), Dennis Moss (Colyton), Robin Hartnell (Southleigh), Les Stevens (Hemyock, formerly Feniton), Don Salter (Honiton).
May they rest in peace.
Many of the Branch members had their first opportunity to experience the new ring at Laira under the approving eye of Julia House, on 27 January. There was enthusiastic approval for the ground floor ring, the handling of the bells and their sound from both inside and outside the church.
After refreshments, ringing continued at St Budeaux where the AGM was held in the body of the church. This included election of Officers, new incumbents being Deputy Chair Yvonne Porter, Treasurer Fergus Stracey, Ringing Master George Mudge, and Assistant Ringing Masters Geoff Hill and John Rose. Forthcoming events included Branch outings on May 5 and September 22, Guild competitions on October 20 and the Ringing competition on November 10.
A magnificent meal was contributed to by many members of the Branch and was followed by an entertaining anagram competition prepared by Mike Tann (examples: 'mindless patter' = Stedman Triples, 'rest in peril' = Erin Triples). After the obligatory raffles, Ian Campbell, Ringing Master of Exeter Cathedral, amused the company for half an hour with his tongue in cheek tales of good belfrymanship.
Michael Mears called a peal of Eight-Spliced Surprise Major at St Mark's, Exeter, in January, with a specially selected band: he had called the first peals of eight-spliced for all the other seven ringers and this was his hundredth as conductor! Of the hundred peals, twenty-seven have been at St Mark's, and twenty-two at Thorverton. He has used ten different compositions but that called for the hundredth was by far the most popular, having been used 72 times! His first of eight-spliced as conductor was also the first by a resident Guild band, as well as the first of eight-spliced for half the band.
EXETER (St Mark)
Thursday 25 January 2001
2 hours 47 minutes
5024 SPLICED SURPRISE MAJOR
(In eight methods: 672 London, Rutland, 640 Lincolnshire, Pudsey, Superlative, 608 Bristol, 576 Cambridge, Yorkshire; 129 com, atw)
Comp. Neil R Aspland
1 Richard C Shere 02/02/1991
2 Paul J Pascoe 13/04/2000
3 P Wendy Campbell 20/09/1979
4 Michael R Rose 28/07/1983
5 Robert DS Brown 14/11/1987
6 James Grant 31/03/1990
7 Philip Stevens 14/08/1988
8 Michael EC Mears (Cond)
100th Eight-spliced S Major as conductor
The dates are those of each ringer's first of eight-spliced.
EXETER (St Mark)
Thursday 20 September 1979
2 hours 59 minutes
5024 SPLICED SURPRISE MAJOR
(In eight methods: 640 Bristol, Pudsey, Rutland, Superlative, Yorkshire, 608 Cambridge, Lincolnshire, London; 120 com, atw)
Comp. Noel J Diserens
1 Keith R Middleton
2 John N Longridge
3 Mary E Lucking
4 P Wendy Campbell
5 Martin G Mansley
6 Margaret Whiteley
7 Frank D Mack
8 Michael EC Mears (Cond)
1st eight-spliced: 3,4,5,7; as conductor and by resident Guild band.
So, what do you do if you've agreed to go to a workshop (Judging striking competitions), it is twenty-five miles away and the car is double booked for an important appointment in the other direction? 'On yer bike' seems the only solution.
This is how the glorious spring morning of 24 February found me pedalling up the lovely Teign Valley to Dunsford. A drawback is that I've two hours to wonder what I've let myself in for. I'm not a regular call-change ringer. I know next to nothing about judging - surely the rest will be experts - I'll probably make a fool of myself. But aren't these the thought of many of us on the way to a training event.
On arrival in this very busy little village I realised that I had forgotten to ask where it was being held. The good organisation which would be the hallmark of the day soon clicked into place and I found a sign pointing to 'Bellringing Workshop' in an annexe of the village hall. The organisation was by the St Petrock's Centre with David Trist having the job of persuading everyone to come but he had delegated the organisation of the day to Maurice Sharland and the Dunsford ringers.
Maurice started proceedings by giving some examples of recordings of bells and our task was to count the rows. This was to get our ears tuned in to the bells. I needed it - I got one wrong! He then went on to an explanation of the judging system used: squared paper, minor faults = one dot, 4 dots top a square (one fault), clashes = one stroke (full fault). We were then led through a series of recordings (top ringing only) lasting between one and three minutes. We judged them first and then discussed the results. After about an hour of this we were given a change. The judge in a call change competition not only checks the striking he also has to tell if the calls are made correctly. This is of course, usually sixty on thirds, but to give us some experience we were given sheets with two alternative callings and we had to work out what was being rung.
We were then joined by Bill Avery who is well known as a ringer and very experienced judge. He then marked some recordings with us and we were able to compare his marks. During the morning I had gained the reputation of a heavy marker and this was clear when marked against Bill's scores.
A short break for lunch and then the local band was brought into action and we were given a chance to judge some live ringing.
During the afternoon we concentrated just on raising and lowering but this was preceded by a discussion of the replies to a questionnaire sent to a number of experienced judges.
The day was due to end at 3.00 but enthusiasm was such that we asked to try a full peal lasting sixteen minutes. This was a tape of Egg Buckland at their best and Bill gave it seven and a half faults. It was clear that we judged this piece with much more confidence when we started with in the morning.
It was then sincere thanks to David Trist from St Petrock's and to Maurice and Bill and all the ringers at Dunsford. The preparation had obviously taken hours of hard work but was much appreciated.
St Petrock's Workshops are open to all and tower captains should have had a mailshot with details. It is hoped to run this workshop again - watch out for details.
Contact David Trist for full details. Future plans include Bell maintenance at Bradninch and Cullompton on 21 April, and a call change masterclass at Shirwell in the morning of 9 June (before the Major final).
"A few years ago"? The picture of the Newton St Cyres band (RRD December 2000) was taken, I think, in 1968 - I find it quite flattering to think that was a few years ago.
The ringers are (L to R): Marion Mears, Sylvia Mears, Michael Mears, Linda Yates, Reg Bray, Angela Coward, Sid Skinner, Sheila Mears, Rev. John Scott and Rebecca Scott. Congratulations to Reg for his amazing record.
Ever since I started ringing, I have realised that it is traditional to criticise 'The Ringing World'. Most ringers, however, believed that it was important to have a weekly paper for news and comments, features and publication of performances, and a perfect journal was never going to be achieved.
Modern technology has however given ringers the opportunity to disseminate information quickly without needing the printed page. And the criticisms of the 'Comic' have not abated, indeed it sometimes seems that one valid criticism of the RW is that it has not succeeded in coping with computer technology.
As a result, Devon Guild member Tony Parry felt that a website where peals and quarters could be published rapidly, together with ringing news and comment was necessary. He contacted Tina Stoecklin, former editor of the RW, for some expertise, and with Anne Carpenter, they created Campanophile, 'the ringers' resource on the World Wide Web'.
Campanophile is a no-frills site, currently mainly a record of peals and quarters. The mark of its success is the quantity of the details of performances that it receives. Obviously many ringers want their peals and quarters published quickly, and many more want to read about them while they are still news. Its weakness is that not everybody has access to the web, and there is no commitment amongst ringers to supplying details (as there is to the RW) and therefore as a historical record the peal 'columns' are not comprehensive.
A 'news' page gives details of notable firsts and notable footnotes, as well as new methods rung, and a few snippets of other news.
A site, then, for the dedicated ringer of peals and quarters. But the editors are open to ideas, suggestions and submissions, which could make it useful for all ringers.
Mo Mortlock, Tower Captain of St Budeaux since the sad and premature demise of Roger found happiness again in her marriage to Richard Wakerell on Saturday 24 February 2001 at St Budeaux. The early spring sunshine was brilliant, the temperature warm and the daffodils blooming.
At least 15 ringers rang before service and many members of the Mortlock and Wakerell family contributed to the service. Music was provided by Timothy Wakerell the groom's son, and Richard Gauger the bride's son-in-law. The marriage ceremony was conducted by the Reverend Michael Jones. Julie Gauger took the reading and the address was given by Peter Chapman from the Shekinah Mission. Friends and ringers filled the church to wish Mo and Richard well and a reception followed.
The new ringing gallery and staircase at Stokeinteignhead.
Ringers throughout Devon will know Jack, former tower captain at Emmanuel in Plymouth, and will remember Phyllis his wife, who was always supporting Jack in his enthusiasm for ringing. Jack had a fall recently and was admitted to hospital, where eventually a serious fracture was discovered, which required surgery.
Meanwhile, Phyllis was also taken into hospital and sadly died on Sunday 18 February; hospital staff had moved them into adjacent beds, and so Jack was with her, holding her hand when she died. The funeral has been arranged for Monday 5 March at Emmanuel, and the bells are to be rung open, as Jack requested.
Jack is recovering from the surgery and is always pleased to receive visitors; please check his current whereabouts with Jill Larbalestier (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Jack and Phyllis at the South West AGM on January 27th.
The place of a 'beer and bells' event in the North East Branch programme each year now seems assured. The 'tradition' was established in 1997 with a visit to Taunton towers (including Potter's Yard) and the Somerset Beer Festival. The following year we held a very convivial occasion in the Exe Valley Brewery at Silverton to which our friends from the Dunster Branch were invited. This year the prospect of a beer festival on a steam railway seemed too good to miss! Hence the idea of 'Beer, Bells and Boilers' was born.
After much pawing over timetables and maps and calculation of walking and drinking speeds a proposed itinerary was agreed, a coach, two towers and two rains were booked and the event advertised. One the day, in the knowledge that if trains were missed the whole day could unravel, I set off in some trepidation with twenty members on the coach to Watchet.
A pub lunch at the outset seemed a good way to start proceedings and this was followed by a trek up the hill to St Decuman's. My confidence was boosted when everyone reappeared at Watchet Station on time and on arrival the guard of our train called out, "Where's my party of bellringers. 'The Guild of Devonshire Ringers' - what a splendid name." In the event arrangements ran very smoothly, although I was glad to have the coach driver's mobile number in case things went pear-shaped.
At Washford more exercise was taken climbing up the hill to ring at Old Cleeve, but generous train timings allowed energies to be restored at the Washford Hotel before continuing to Minehead. Here we were not certain what to expect. The notion of a beer festival on a railway station platform left most of us wondering . However it wasn't long before most of the party were ensconced in some old coaching stock with pints of various local brews and a good supply of sandwiches and pasties from the on-train buffet. Others had a good two hours to investigate other delights in Minehead - and bang on cue our coach was waiting in the station approach to take us back to Devon.
Everyone pronounced themselves as having had a most enjoyable day, though ringing played only a small part in it. The trouble is they keep asking me when the next one will be!
More than 50 years ago Luppitt ringer John Sage began making notes about his home village, so that visitors to the church could learn something about its history. In 1986 he put on an exhibition in the village hall and his fellow villagers were so impressed they asked him to write a book.
A thousand copies have now been printed, with each home in the village being offered one free of charge. Copies of 'Luppitt: Parish, Church and People' are available from the author at £7.50 if collected or £10.50 including postage and packing.
Amazingly 5 years and a number of breakages to the running gear have passed, since the alarming deterioration in the condition of the 10 bells at St. Andrew's Church Plymouth became a reality. The vastness of the task involved with having to raise sufficient funds to complete the project was particularly daunting given the prevailing financial climate; best estimates suggested that it could quite easily be 10 years of fundraising that lay ahead of us. When the chance of matched funding from the Millennium Commission became a possibility, the fundraising tempo was increased and the original plan being reviewed with the hope of seeing the work completed by the end of December 1999.
Funds have been raised in a myriad of ways, some of which include running the London Marathon, holding a sponsored 'Ringathon', being involved in the Lord Mayors day parade, the re-cycling of newspapers and a number of generous donations from members of the congregation. One of the most successful initiatives has been the commemorative book, where an inscription can be inserted by a local calligrapher for a minimum donation of £10.00. This book was commissioned when the project started and will close when the refurbishment is complete. It is then intended to display the book within the church as a mark of thanks for the generosity of the people who have helped maintain the last remaining ring of bells within the City of Plymouth.
The pressure of fundraising has taken its toll over the years, which can be seen by the fact that the original band has made very little progress when it comes to the actual ringing. You can imagine the excitement when we actually reached our matched funding target of £26,000, which was dampened shortly afterwards when we were notified that our bid had been unsuccessful; who was it that said tower restorations were easy? Having had to contend with members being re-located due to employment, others having to contend with family illness, the band has been recently been augmented by a number of enthusiastic learners and other bell ringers who are also keen to see the restoration succeed.
The objectives have been reviewed, originally it was intended to renew all the fittings however, the level of wear and tear is becoming an increasing concern and we feel that to delay the project any further could result in the bells falling silent. To this end, a quotation has been accepted which would see the bells being removed, re-cast where required, tuned as a ring of ten bells and new clappers and bearings being fitted. Wherever possible the existing fittings will be used again, although there is a plan to change these as a medium term project, unless of course additional funds can be raised in the intervening period.
Work, subject to faculty being agreed, is programmed to commence on Monday 11 June 2001 with a final peal on the existing bells being rung using local ringers shortly before the restoration work commences. The same band will be invited to ring the inaugural peal when the bells have been formally set to work, which is provisionally planned for the week commencing 1 October 2001. As you can imagine this is an exciting time for the team who have worked hard against all odds to raise sufficient funds to undertake the restoration work. There is however a considerable amount of work yet to be completed which includes the cleaning and preservation of the bell frame.
We are investigating the possibility of arranging a trip to Whitechapel to see the bells whilst they are being worked on but will very much depend on the level of interest. Anyone who would like to be included in such an excursion should contact Fergus Stracey who will ensure your name is registered. Whilst there are still funds to be raised, we would like to take this opportunity thank everybody who has supported us so well over the years, without which we would not be so close to completing these essential works.
The success of events like 'Beer and Bells' (see report in this issue of RRD) has led the North East Branch Committee to review the format of its Saturday events and to include a much stronger social element in them.
So for the coming year the traditional 'ringing, service, tea, meeting' line up will be followed by a different activity in the evening.
In January, Tiverton St Paul's organised a splendid skittles and buffet at the Rose and Crown in Calverleigh.
Future plans include a barbecue, a 'Ghost Walk' in Exeter, and a pub quiz.
Ringers from outside the Branch will be most welcome at the events - please watch the Ringing World for details.
In the middle of Newton Abbot, as a reminder of the historic past of the town, stands the 13th century tower, locally known as the Clock Tower. It was here that the Abbots of Torre established a chapel dedicated to St Leonard within the parish of Wolborough, at the heart of their new town on the banks of the River Lemon. In 1834 the mediaeval building was removed for road widening, and a new church built nearby, but the tower with its six bells cast by Pack and Chapman in 1772 remained.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the ring was augmented to eight as a memorial to Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887, the money being raised by public subscription. The bells, however, are dated 1889, and it was thought that it took two years for the townsfolk to raise the money required. Nevertheless as the centenary of the bells approached, Peter Bill noticed in the Guild peal book that the first peal was rung in June 1888, apparently eight months before the bells were installed! Some investigation in the local newspaper revealed the following story, which was published in a fuller form in The Ringing World in July 1988.
Although the date of Victoria's Jubilee day was 21st June 1987, it was as late as March 10th before the civic dignitaries were prompted to do anything about the celebration and called a public meeting at which it was agreed to mark the event in some way and open a fund to provide a permanent memorial of the occasion. The various schemes promoted included the provision of public baths, a free library, a recreation ground, entertainment for the poor, and support for the national appeal to fund an Imperial Institute in London.
The idea of providing bells for the Jubilee had been suggested for other communities in the area with schemes being proposed for the churches at Ringmore, Broadhempston, Leusden and Torbryan, although not all of these came to fruition. It was, however, not until well after the event that the Jubilee Committee announced the provision of three new bells for the tower and an apparatus for playing tunes on them. In October 1887 the order was placed with the Croydon firm of Gillett & Co, to provide the new bells together with one of their patent carillon machines.
The new bells were installed by Christmas of that year, but the townspeople were most unhappy about the quality of the work. Gilletts apologised, explaining that the work had been done in haste, and offered to take out the new bells and recast them, providing heavier clappers for the ringing bells. The recast bells were installed by March 24th but again it was reported that "One of the bells is said not to harmonise with the rest and it is impossible to hear the two new bells when being rung in peal, but we trust that when a party of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers visit Newton, for we understand they have been invited by the Rector to try the bells, we shall know what is wrong with the works!"
A third attempt was made by Gilletts at casting the bells and these were installed on June 9th, and although they were an improvement, the committee was still not satisfied. At the opening of the bells by the St Sidwell's Society, the ringing was found to be extremely unpleasant, as the two new bells could not be heard at all in the belfry and only faintly outside. A peal attempt on that date was lost but the Exeter ringers returned on June 30th and were successful. This is the performance recorded in the Guild peal book as the first peal on the bells, and in 1888.
The following year, the Jubilee committee resolved the difficulty by asking the Whitechapel foundry to cast two new bells to be in tone with the old six. The new bells were cast and installed in February 1889; the odd chiming bell was scrapped, and so many of the tunes on the chiming barrel could not be used, but the work was done to the satisfaction of all. St Leonard's Tower finally had the ring of bells which are in place today.
The next peal in the tower was in 1902, and was also claimed as the first on the bells. The chiming apparatus seems to have got lost during the Great War. In his RW article Peter Bill wonders why Gilletts failed three times to cast satisfactory bells, especially when nearby their bells at Kingsteignton are one of the best eights in the county.
Campanology was not in my vocabulary that wet and miserable October evening in 1957 as I staggered up the railway station footbridge in full kit.
So this was Millom, the posting of my choice for the next twenty months or so. First impressions could not have been gloomier. I didn't even notice the impressive sandstone spire of St George's hard by the station entrance.
At that time, the town was dominated by the futuristic superstructure of the Iron works (sadly long since gone), and the unforgettable smell of the tannery: in my book, a hard working, hard playing, and equally hard drinking town of some seven thousand souls.
What to do to pass time usefully for the next year or more? I quickly realised that naive as I was, I would have to make the effort and become involved in some part of community life - not easy, I thought, but needs must.
Strangely for one without any religious upbringing whatsoever, I took the decision to attend the local Anglican Church on the assumption that here at least I ought not to fall into doubtful company. Knowing virtually nothing of the 'Good Old C of E' or its customs, I ventured forth in best battledress, and was not to be disappointed.
After a relatively short time attending the church, I had the good fortune to espy a charming young lady in the choir. By fair means or foul I determined to meet this fair maid. Time has blurred my mind as to how I managed to be bold enough to present myself at her front door. A somewhat bewildered but delightful mother asked me inside without further ado - on reflection, what nerve!
From that day onwards my whole life changed dramatically. Muriel, who was about to take her 'A' levels, became my constant companion. At her instigation, I took the first tentative steps up the winding stone staircase to the ringing room of St George's to have a look at bellringers and bellringing for the first time - I really had no idea what to expect.
Naturally I was intrigued, and was quickly absorbed into the local band, at that time captained by Jim Ullock - still alive and ringing today at the grand old age of 84. The band was then struggling with plain courses of Bob Minor on not the easiest of peals. Much to the amazement of my army pals on camp, I soon had a large multicoloured chart of Plain Bob Minor resplendent on my billet wall.
At the time, the late Nicholas Newby of Barrow in Furness, a real gentleman of ringing to whom I owe it all, was running a local authority evening class in bellringing during the winter months. He quickly took me under his wing. This meant a weekly train journey to Foxfield, followed by a mile walk to Broughton in Furness where the class was held. Under Nick's expert and friendly guidance, I gradually made progress along with others from local towers.
I was now well and truly hooked, and attended as many practices and monthly meetings as my national service pay and time would allow. I was soon to meet and ring with the statesmen of Furness Branch ringing - Alan Capstick, Jack Bagnall, Jim Burles and Jim Blackburn, the latter two gentlemen sadly no longer with us.
These were for me halcyon days in wonderful surroundings and good honest down-to-earth Cumbrian company: times I often look back upon with pride and nostalgia from far way Devon. But for conscription, 23395184 would never have become part of our ringing world with all its undoubted blessings.
If any other Guild members have reminiscences - about old ringers or about how they first started to ring, RRD would be delighted to include them. Please send them to email@example.com.
Historic bells are to be silenced for the first time in more than sixty years to allow repairs costing around £10,000 to go ahead.
Work on the belfry at St John the Baptist Church, Broadclyst, is expected to begin later this year.
It involves replacing bearings on the mountings and clappers of the bells. The bell frame also needs painting to prevent further corrosion from taking place, according to the church's team rector Reverend Tony Mortimer.
He said the original bells were melted down and recast in 1937.
"When work takes place later this year it will be the first time they have been silent in more than 60 years," said Mr Mortimer. "They are among the finest peals of eights in the country. The bellringers who are currently raising the money for the repair work have already collected in the region of £2,000."
He said the fittings and bearings are worn and need to be dismantled before new parts can be fitted.
Engineers have also found parts of the wheels which hold the ropes are cracked and need to be replaced.
Mr Mortimer said he expected the repairs to take about two months to complete during which time the bells would be silent.
"The church tower is about 100 feet high so the painting work will be carried out internally," he said.
Church members are appealing for help in raising their target figure to allow the work to progress.
After many months of planning and discussion, the Faculty has at last been obtained at Stoke Damerel to create a window between the ringing chamber and the body of the Church.
This will enable the congregation to see the ringers and to appreciate this as being part of their worship. The window will be of an 18th century design and will be positioned beneath an existing 15th century granite arch. The design of the window will be in keeping with that of the windows of that side of the church.
The final fitting of the window promises to be a time to be commemorated by both ringers and congregation. Watch this space!
Richard Shere rang a quarter at Bridgerule and was met by Trevor Bowden, who told him about some of the old ringers from the area. Richard noticed a peal board in the tower dated 25 November 1934 recording a peal of Grandsire Triples with Ronald Hill ringing the treble. Trevor said that he was now living at North Tamerton and was ringing until recently.
Richard asks whether he holds the record for ringing a Devon Guild peal the longest time ago.
RRD recently published a picture of Matthew Hilling taking a well-earned rest at Paddington Station after the National Twelve bell competition eliminator. For some reason, RRD has been asked to publish this photograph of the editor enjoying himself at a concert. All I can say is, Thank you for the music...
Disclaimer - please read
Pages written by