RINGING ROUND DEVON is the newsletter of The Guild of Devonshire Ringers, and is circulated free to all affiliated towers. Any individual members who wish to subscribe should contact Roger King. The cost is £5.00 for four issues (cheques made payable to Guild of Devonshire Ringers). RRD is also available on line on the Guild's website at http://www.exeter.ac.uk/gdr/, which holds back issues.
Any comments and inaccuracies in articles contained in this newsletter are the responsibility of the individual contributors, and the opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Guild.
Items for inclusion may be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEWS FROM THE EAST DEVON BRANCH
TRAIN THE TRAINER DAY HELD AT SIDMOUTH
On Saturday the 16th February, the Ringers of the East Devon Branch held a ‘Train the Trainer day.’ This was held at the Sidmouth Tower. This was a great opportunity for people from all over the Branch to brush up on their knowledge of teaching ringers. Many thanks go to Anne Bailey for organizing such a successful day. Also many thanks to the ‘guinea pigs’ for being so co-operative and patient.
The day began with us going to the bell chamber and being shown how to tie a bell in the correct fashion. We never realised bicycle inner tubes could be so useful! We then went into discussion and the process of how to teach a complete novice how to ring.
By the end of the session we had most of the ‘guinea pigs’ ringing the bell relatively competently, which I think is a very impressive achievement. We will now be able to implement these new techniques, when teaching out own new ringers.
UPDATE ON THE OPEN DAY HELD AT SIDMOUTH ON 10TH DECEMBER 2007
Speaking of new ringers; I am very pleased to report that the Open Day was a massive success. We now have 6 new ringers, all of which are now attending regularly on Practice nights. If you at your Tower are finding that Ringers are becoming scarce, then we would highly recommend doing an open day. We found out that if nothing else, it generates interest in Ringing and is just a general good PR exercise. We were very surprised at how many people just came along to go up and see the bells and see what happens.
AYLESBEARE BRANCH MINI OUTING
There was a good turnout for the Aylesbeare branch's winter mini outing on February 2nd. The 15 ringers produced a wide range of ringing on Sidbury's eight bells followed by Farway's six. It was a particularly fine day and so a very pleasant drive between the two towers. The fantastic views across the valley and the carpet of snowdrops in the churchyard at Farway delighted everyone. Lunch for twenty, including family and friends, was heartily enjoyed at The Hare and Hounds, Putts Corner, after which (although not before some had drifted away), we remembered the group photo.
The other photo shows Neil (or should it be Kneel?) Deem on the 6th at Sidbury demonstrating how to avoid knocking your knuckles on the vertically challenged clock case.
Our thanks to Sidbury and Farway towers for welcoming us.
Most of the group… Neil, Kneeling
NE BRANCH TRY SHORT-MAT BOWLING
NE Branch held their Quarterly meeting at Bampton on Saturday 5th January and had their first attempts at Short-mat Bowling. The afternoon began with Ringing at Bampton followed by a service with Rev John Stone officiating and Jennifer Rowlandson as organist. We were pleased to welcome Wendy Campbell, Guild Master, and Janet Coles, Guild Secretary for the afternoon. Tea was provided by the Bampton band in the Community Hall. A short meeting heard notices of forthcoming events and Annual Accounts from the Troyte Ringing Centre. This year the Troyte Ringing Centre’s income has reached almost £3,000, the bulk of the income coming from Peal fees. This year the funds were divided between Huntsham PCC, Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund, the NE Branch and the TRC. The Farm Crisis Network has been chosen as the Charity this year to receive £500 from the TRC.
After the formal structure of the afternoon Pat Hatchett and Ron Ayre gave demonstrations and brief instructions of Short-mat bowling. Branch members then had an opportunity to have a go themselves. The photo shows the level of competition between opposing teams with Carla Dawes measuring the distance in the hope that her team have won the ‘end’.
Carla Dawes…”I think she won!”
Having been restored, the bells of St Giles, Northleigh, have been successfully re-hung. A service to rededicate them is being held at St Giles on Sunday 30 March at 10.30am. All ringers will be welcome to try out the bells after the service – we would like to show the village what methods can be rung on four bells!
Jeanne Mills, Tower Captain
North East Branch - SATURDAY AND MID-WEEK SEMINARS
These ’90 minute mini-seminars’ were suggested by Peter Pay as an alternative to some of the NE Branch practises which were becoming less well attended.
The seminars are being held in various locations throughout the Branch on a variety of topics. The fees are £2 inclusive. Posters are distributed beforehand with further details.
They started on Saturday 26th January, under the title ‘Just beyond Bob Doubles’, which was attended by 6 members of the Branch.
Following this, on 23rd February, we had a hands-on rope-splicing seminar in Tiverton, ably led by Lynda Smith and attended by 12 members. It was a very enjoyable session in which we learned the difference between a fid and a marlin spike, and how ‘right over left and under’ didn’t work the other way around. It was the birthday of Bill Rosewell (Uffculme) who said it was a super way to celebrate.
There are 4 further seminars planned throughout the year. The next is on Saturday 29th March 11.00-12.30 entitled Health and Safety in the Tower, to be run by James Clarke, at Hemyock.
Later we have seminars on Wednesdays, 19.30- 21.00 as below. Venues to be announced, so watch this space!
Wednesday 15th October: Unravelling place notation
Wednesday 12th November: Method ringers building blocks
Wednesday 3rd December: Starting to conduct
Anyone interested in attending is asked to book through Pat Hatchett (01398 331843) or to contact an Officer of the Branch.
Splicing the mainbrace with coffee and rope. A birthday commendation for Bill
Mid-Devon Branch Training Morning
18 members of the Mid-Devon Branch met at Wolborough for an intensive morning of basic method ringing skills. Ringing ranged from Plain hunt through Bob Doubles, (lots of it!) to Surprise minor for Treble Bob Hunt practice. We also rang Bob Major and Stedman Triples. Halfway through the morning a coffee break was taken and then it was back to work.
After 3 hours of hard work the morning was voted a great success with some real progress and much consolidation of skills. A decision was made not to ring Quarter Peals on this occasion but to plan for them with the September Training Day based on St. Marychurch. Very many thanks to the Wolborough ringers for making us so welcome and for everyone who worked so hard to make the morning such a success.
Axminster - minor repairs to the bellframe following damage and decay as the result of a leaking flagstaff. Spring 2008.
Greenway House - rehanging with all new fittings of the bell on the house roof. To be completed in the next couple of weeks.
Lustleigh - complete overhaul of the ring of six and the cleaning down and painting of all ironwork to the bell frame and ringing fittings. To be completed May 2008.
Sampford Spiney - remodelling of the bells using the existing fourth as the tenor of a new ring of six, all to be rehung with entirely new frame and fittings. Work to be completed in early October 2008.
Sidmouth - the ring of ten bells to be comprehensively overhauled and all ironwork to the bell frames and fittings to be cleaned down and painted. To be completed late October 2008.
EXETER BRANCH EVENTS CALENDAR
This year we have arranged a number of branch events, both ringing and social, which we are happy for members of any branch (and their friends) to attend.
Please note that the Secretary's (Becka Rickard) telephone number should read 01392 430388. If preferred, she can be contacted by e-mail: - email@example.com
Michael Cannon and his new half size showman’s steam engine booked for October 4th
NEWS FROM THE SOUTH WEST BRANCH
The AGM of the South West Branch of the Devon Guild took place on Saturday 26th January 2008 at Lifton.
The afternoon commenced with ringing at St Mary's, Kelly, where we were greeted by local Tower Captain and Guild Member John Gym. We were also pleased to meet Mrs Elizabeth Kelly, grand-daughter-in-law of the legendary Revd Maitland Kelly who first got change ringing off the ground, both at Kelly and the county in the mid 1800's and was instrumental in the formation of The Devon Guild.
Everyone then moved on to St Mary's, Lifton, where ringing preceded the well supported service conducted by Revd Andrew Padget. The service started with a touch of Stedman doubles rung by Alena and Chris Wardle and conducted by Fergus Stracey on his large set of Gillet & Johnson handbells. The service concluded with an organ and flute recital by Mary and Andrew Mazur-Parke. This was followed by a superb tea kindly laid on by Valerie Kneebone and helpers from the Lifton band.
The AGM was held in the church and we were delighted to welcome Guild President Lester Yeo, Guild Ringing Master Wendy Campbell and the new Guild Secretary Janet Coles. We were also pleased to see Henry, Louise, Val and Bruce from the NW Branch and Mo and Derek from The Exeter Branch.
The following Officers were appointed:
Secretary John Steere
Treasurer Chris Wardle
Ringing Master David Pike
Publicity Officer Donna Baker
The 2008 program was finalised with the first events being:
A Branch Practice at Modbury on Saturday 8th March
SW Branch Outing Saturday on 1st May
Further details can be obtained from David Pike.
Le Petit Beffroi
February 2008 in 32m (16lbs2oz)
1st Quarter on the bells. 1st Quarter on tower bells in Pays de Loire.
GUILD STRIKING COMPETITION
The Guild Striking Competition is to be held on October 18th. We now have confirmation of towers for the occasion, listed below, together with recommended local watering holes where a decent lunch may be found:
Competition Time Tower
Local pub for lunch
Six Bell inter-tower 10.00 - 12.30 Abbotsham The Thatched Inn
Six Bell novice 11.00 - 12.30 Littleham
The Crealock Arms
Eight Bell 14.00 - whenever Appledore The Seagate
James Clarke and Janet Coles
THE TALE OF THE HUNTSHAM ATTENDANCE BOOK
It first came to my notice when I was browsing a ringers chat thread on the internet. The posting alerted people to an interesting book, with ringing connections that had appeared on eBay. On investigating I found that it was specific to Huntsham Church and it was the attendance and fine book for the ringing activities at Huntsham. It dates from 1874 and lists the members attending on practice evenings and Sunday service ringing with details of fines imposed for absence and tardiness. It also records the methods rung during practices along with conductors. The name C Troyte occurs quite frequently as a conductor.
My next action was to contact Michael Hatchett, the Huntsham tower correspondent, and make him aware of this valuable piece of Huntsham history and discuss what could be done about restoring it to its rightful place at Huntsham Church. Mike was about to embark on a trip to Australia so he asked me if I would bid for the book on his behalf and gave me a figure to spend. A couple of days later the book was withdrawn from the auction, the reason being given was that there were errors in the listing.
That would appear to have been the end of it. However, the vigilance of the chat list users soon revealed that it had been re-listed along with another item, a manuscript by Charles Troyte, with details and tables for compositions of Kent Treble Bob. The listing suggested that this manuscript was the inspiration for Dorothy L Sayers book The Nine Tailors. I watched both items with interest as the auction progressed and realised that the manuscript was attracting a lot of attention from collectors and probably people who had an interest in Dorothy Sayers. Sadly the manuscript went way beyond the budget.
Using my limited experience of eBay, I put into practice buying tactics that I had learned, and made a successful bid for the attendance book which I purchased within the budget I had been given.
The end result is that the book will be returned home to Huntsham. A tale with a happy ending.
Details of the Crowthorne Ringing Course for 2008 can be found in: http://www.crowthorne-ringing-course.org.uk
The following is an extract from the site:
“The aim of the Course is to provide high quality ringing training in an atmosphere of friendship, encouragement and fun. All the tutors are experienced and expert instructors, and all the helpers – many of whom are equally experienced and expert – are committed to providing the highest quality support. Tutors and helpers fully understand the stresses and problems of each stage of the learning process.
In addition, you will find enormous support and companionship from mixing with so many other ringers with similar hopes, enthusiasm and problems to yours.”
Also, there are a number of other ringing courses available, including Essex, Hereford, Keele, Whirlow Grange (Yorkshire) and the Fire Ring (Shropshire). Further information is available from the "Education and Publications" section of the "Change Ringing Resources" site at: http://www.ringing.info/
The Guild can award a grant towards the cost of such courses under some circumstances.
OBITUARY: BILL WARE
Bill Ware died peacefully on 12th January 2008 aged 87, following several years suffering with ever increasing dementia. His funeral was held at Exeter Crematorium on 23rd Jan. The content of a personal tribute which was given at the funeral is given below.
I first rang the bells at Exeter Cathedral in the mid 1970s – if Bill was not there then he joined the band fairly soon after. Bill was never a very ambitious ringer and was happy to settle for ringing simple methods. His forte was strapping the Cathedral tenor – his style did not suit everyone but I was always happy to have him on the end of the rope; for me he pulled at the right time and didn’t check the rope – what more do you need?
Bill always seemed to be there early – he was very reliable. Early on he would turn up on his scooter but in later years his wife Dorothy was always there to pick him up in the car. He tended to be rather outspoken but got to know a large number of people. The virgers at the Cathedral still ask where he is even though he hasn’t been there for at least 10 years!
I am indebted to Richard Bowden for some interesting information about the earlier years. Bill started his ringing career at Uplowman in 1937 and is one of the last of the pre-war Devon ringers – virtually all of them have now gone. He was educated at Tiverton Grammar school and flew with Costal Command during the war. Richard tells of the first time he met Bill when he came to St Peter’s Tiverton tower while he was on leave wearing his Warrant Officer’s uniform including flying boots. He must have made an impressive sight.
After the war (1946) Bill became a member of the St Peter’s band and became a very keen cyclist, touring to other towers to ring with, amongst others, Ernest J Taylor, who was the Devon Guild secretary at the time. Richard remembers riding on the back of the tandem with Bill as they travelled between towers, and also a classic occasion when Bill came off his bicycle on the way home and finished up pushing the bike the last few miles. On arrival he presented himself to the long suffering Dorothy in a very poor state, who insisted that he go to Accident and Emergency because of the blood running from his ears. He was diagnosed with a fractured skull!
Bill rang his first peal at Calverleigh in 1948 and started as he continued, ringing Grandsire for all of his peals, often ringing the tenor behind. He was secretary of the North East Branch of the Guild for many years and was instrumental in organising a number of ringing tours. As an officer he was very pleased to be asked to ring in the 1000th peal for the Guild (Heavitree, Exeter 19th November 1955) which was rung by a band of Guild officers. This was just the sort of thing that made Bill proud to be associated with ringing. As a reward for his long service to the Guild of Devonshire Ringers he was made a vice-president in 1994.
Over the years Bill supported ringing at both Cullompton and St Paul’s, Tiverton, and got to be very well known by many ringers. He was not afraid, either, to get his hands dirty and was always ready to help with bell maintenance or renovation work. He wanted a peal at Oakford which were, at the time, virtually unringable. He was delighted to get them ringable and to complete the peal, and was especially pleased that the total cost of the restoration work was a couple of grazed knuckles and a pair of trousers that got ripped on the frame!
So, back to Exeter Cathedral. I remember him helping with the maintenance work there, and, especially, the hanging of the Jubilee treble bell in 1978. In his later years he became a very efficient door man, always arriving early and preventing non-ringers from exploring the Cathedral when it was locked up, although I do remember one occasion when a rather attractive French lady persuaded him to give her a solo guided tour one evening while the ringing was going on. I also remember when, in a rather zealous moment, he apprehended Andrew Brown, a young man who had lost a leg while on active service in Northern Ireland, who arrived on crutches. Bill advised him that he wouldn’t be able to get up the long and twisty staircase to the ringing chamber with the crutches, whereupon Andrew confounded him by leaving them at the bottom of the tower and walked up on his artificial leg unaided. A highlight for Bill in the later years was the national 12-bell final which was held in Exeter in 1994. Bill was asked to help steward the ringers and look after the tower door – a job he did to perfection and with pride.
I am sure that many people will miss Bill in different ways. Once he was no longer able to get to the Cathedral I found myself acting as the door keeper, hanging around in the cold for latecomers; that is when I miss him the most!
Ian Campbell, Tower Captain, Exeter Cathedral
The photograph below shows Bill Ware and the
Cathedral band in 1978, the year of his Guild Mastership.
Standing, rear row (l to r): Tony Crabtree, Bryan Coles, Wendy
Campbell, George Retter, Sharon and Ian Campbell, Fred Wreford, Mary Mack, Colin
Barr, Bill Harvey, Maggie Whiteley, Martin Whiteley, Arthur Truman
Kneeling, sitting Front row (l to r): Frank Mack, Bill Ware (with Jennifer Campbell on his knee), Charles Yates
HANDBELL RINGING IN NEWTON ABBOT TOWN HALL
On 24th January I was asked to give a talk and demonstration about handbell ringing to the Friends of Newton Abbot Museum in the Town Council Chamber. The room was packed with about 40 members who were treated to a talk interspersed with handbell ringing. After the initial ringing and an attempt to ring Devon style call changes to illustrate some musical changes (this is not easy on handbells, especially with a band used to ringing methods!) they were introduced to the concepts of change ringing, illustrated by methods on all numbers of bells from one up to ten. This included an extent of Plain Bob Doubles, a blistering three leads of Norwich Surprise Major, and concluded with Grandsire Caters and three leads of Kent Treble Bob Royal.
The audience were very responsive and the presentation seemed to be enjoyed by all (at least, nobody fell asleep, which has apparently happened previously!) and elicited a long discussion at the end with a number of ex-ringers or those who knew someone who rang. One or two even suggested that they may give it another try. So Highweek, Wolborough and Kingsteignton need to look out!
I am very grateful to Matt Hilling, Andrew Digby, Sue Sawyer and Tom Hinks for giving up their Thursday evening to help me out.
Since the event, I have been contacted by a Friend who commented “What a wonderful evening you gave us all last Thursday! Thank you, all, for giving such a fascinating demonstration on the art of bell ringing. It did help many of us to begin to understand the depth of the skills behind it all, and it sounded beautiful as well.”
The General Committee will be proposing a number of members to become vice-presidents at the annual meeting during the Guild Festival in June. These include:
The Guild Master, Wendy Campbell, who has been a Guild and branch officer virtually continuously for the past thirty years or more. She served as Exeter branch secretary for a total of eleven years, as Guild peal secretary for ten years, as report editor for fourteen years and as Guild Secretary for eleven years. Her efficiency and dedication is known to all.
Richard Bowden is currently only a Non-Resident Life Member! But few NRLMs are as active in the Guild as he is or as prominent in the exercise nationally. Richard learnt to ring as a schoolboy in Tiverton before the war, and has religiously maintained his links with the Guild and particularly the North East Branch from his current home in Bristol (where he is tower captain at St Philip and St James). He regularly attends Guild meetings, frequently contributes articles to Ringing Round Devon, and is a source of much information about Guild history.
Exeter Colleges Guild - NEW OFFICERS
At the AGM held on Wednesday 27 Feb of the Exeter University Change Ringing Society, the following people were elected:
Master: Robert Dietz
Deputy Master: Tom Hinks
Resident Secretaries: Kathryn Lowe and Hazel Davies
Treasurer: Andy Withers
Publicity Officer: Naomi Joliffe
Stock and Quarter Peal Office: Martin Gentile
Exeter Colleges Guild - 41ST ANNUAL DINNER: SATURDAY 1ST FEBRUARY
I know this isn't good form, but I'd like to start off with a complaint. In past years the old members were greeted by the current members (who were generally already half cut) and much gossiping etc. ensued, however this year I arrived at the Imperial at about a quarter past six to find nobody there. I am fully aware that the programme for the weekend said that we started at 8pm, but that is not the point. I'd also like to state that I'm not the only one who was mortified by the lack of student ringers, although I shall keep the names of the guilty parties under wraps for the safety of all concerned. For future reference to all, the start time on the sheet is purely a guideline and the earlier you can get to the Imperial, the better. Rant over (and I feel a lot better for it).
Now down to the more serious business of doing what the webmaster has asked, and report the weekend's activities in as much detail as is possible. Having arrived at the Imperial we all piled into the room and got on with the business of eating, drinking, making merry and of course gossiping (Rhiannon ;)). I had heard that there was to be a peal attempt that afternoon but this wasn't scored, but I think I'm right in saying that they did (eventually) manage a quarter of Royal - can anyone confirm this? I'm pretty sure that's all that is reportable; for further more gory details ask someone who was there!
As is traditional, everyone arrived outside St David's nice and early in order to fill up cars and trundle off to the first tower of the day. Gnobby was retrieved from the tower and given to the Keeper of the Gnome (Martin), but this year we had to wait a bit longer than usual as Gary Barr's car had a flat battery and so people had to be redistributed around the cars.
The first point of call when we eventually got going was Staverton, a nice 19 odd cwt six. There was some well struck Grandsire and by the end everyone had a good go. The last touch was to be some call changes and a lower rung by the team of us that had entered the national call change competition last year and this went well until halfway through the piece when Cat Murderer, Rhiannon and Dr Esbester (who shall be nameless) arrived in the ringing chamber. It turns out that a certain nameless person had been very ill on the journey down to Staverton (too much alcohol?) and so the bells were stopped to allow them to at least get a lower. One important note must be made here as Gnobby temporarily disappeared having been left unattended by the Keeper of the Gnome. He turned up some minutes later on top of a stone cross outside the church, much to the relief of all. Bristol might not be so kind...
The next stop on the trip was Totnes, where the heavy (28 cwt ish) bells were rung very well for the most part. Some 'interesting' ringing techniques where spotted for ringing the tenor, and for a change it wasn't just mine! This was partially necessitated by the weight and partially by the corner of the clock case being right where the tenor ringer's arm needed to go. From Totnes we moved on to our lunch venue, although some could not resist a visit to the cheese shop in Totnes first. The Dartbridge Inn provided a good atmosphere with some very nice food and a good pint of Abbot Ale, and it was here where we said goodbye to Matt and Rosie as they had to go off to Matt's sister's (second) wedding reception.
After lunch was the 'big grab' for the day - the 12 bells of Buckfast Abbey. When we arrived there was still a service underway, so we were forced to wait outside in the blustery showery conditions before climbing up to the ringing chamber via the gallery from which the bells used to be rung. For me the drop from here is pretty scary but many people had a good look over the side. Ian Campbell took charge here and once the bells were up he opened up the belfry so that people could go and look at the bells whilst they were ringing, all the bells looking puny next to the seven and a half ton bourdon bell Hosanna. Touches were rung on the full twelve, the middle eight and half of the call change 'Queens Peal' on the light eight. Everyone found these bells to be very easy to ring despite their weight and striking was on the whole very good. Post ringing there was just enough time to visit the Abbey shops (with some purchasing some 'Bucky') before everyone went home to prepare for the evening, which this year started at the earlier time of seven o'clock.
Saturday evening - The Dinner:
Everyone gathered in the bar at the Thistle promptly and there was much to talk about as many of us had seen the shocking exploits at Twickenham. Before the debate got too hotly contested we were ushered in to dining room for the meal and formal ceremonies. The meal was well received and the standard of service very good. After coffee the formal part of the evening began with a minutes silence in memory of Chris Longridge, one of the society's founding members. After the loyal toast Rob, Laura and Tom rang some Plain Bob Minor on the hand bells and then Ringing Master Rob read out his speech. Up next were the 'advanced' hand bell band consisting of Dom Meredith, David Maynard, Tom Hinks, David Atkins and Ian Campbell ringing a plain course of Grandsire Caters. Amy introduced the guest speaker for this year, Giles Dee-Shapland, who stepped in at the last minute and gave an interesting talk on the similarities between ringing and hypnosis. Dom gave the daffodil toast and then it was on to the 'dancing' accompanied as usual by Five Bar Gait. During the dancing the Keeper of the Gnome again left Gnobby unattended and this time he wondered off and took up station behind the bar. The last dance of the night saw nearly everyone present join in for the largest circle dance I think I've ever seen, and all in all a thoroughly good time was had by all...certainly a lot better time than those at the party that was happening in the function room!
Up early for service ringing? Of course we were! As normal a number of guests joined the usual Sunday morning band at St David's before we all went for breakfast at the Imperial. A small breakaway faction then headed for tea at the Boston Tea Party before everyone met up again for lunch at George's Meeting House. This year's service ringing at the cathedral saw Gary Barr having to jump off the tenor's box as the rope was too long and then a short delay while the tail was shortened allowing everyone else to ring it 'normally'. The farewells were cut a little short this year as the weather was somewhat inclement, but I believe that a few people did make it back to an alehouse of some description. As always thanks are extended to those who made the dinner weekend as successful as it was, it certainly sets the bar high for next year!
DON SALTER HONOURED
presentation was made to Donald Salter outside St. Paul's Church, Honiton,
of a plaque recording a quarter peal, rung in his honour. The bells were
rung at St. Paul's, on Saturday 5th January, to honour Don for all his
efforts over the years for the bells and the ringers in Honiton and East Devon and also further afield. He had been Tower Captain in Honiton for 18 years and, besides a lifetime of ringing, had been Deputy Branch Ringing
Master for 16 years. Unfortunately he has had to give up ringing due to ill health, but the ringers wish him well and hope he will soon be able to return to the band.
Don Salter receives the quarter peal plaque from Derek Ballard
ANN SMITH’S 1000 PEALS
In the excitement to congratulate Paul Pascoe on achieving his 1000 peals in record time, another 1000-pealer was overlooked. Ann Smith of Tavistock rang her 1000th peal at Withycombe Raleigh on October 29th (beating Paul by six weeks – though taking five times as long: some people have other things to do with their lives!). This peal was significant in being the first of Avon Delight Maximus by a resident Devon band, as recorded below.
Ann learnt to ring at Christ Church, Blacklands, Hastings, in 1961, ringing her first peal at Spondon, Derbyshire, whilst at University in Nottingham. Of her peals 519 have been for the Sussex County Association, 147 for the Devon Guild and 143 for the Cumberland Youths. All but 50 or so have been with husband Ian; so another footnote coming up soon! She has conducted one peal (Yorkshire Surprise Major) and rung one peal on handbells (Plain Bob Royal). She has taken part in two Ann(e) peals, Yorkshire Major and Cambridge Royal. Of over 20 cathedrals at which she has rung peals she particularly enjoyed a peal of Bristol Royal at the National Cathedral in Washington, USA.
Guild of Devonshire Ringers
St John the Evangelist Withycombe Raleigh, Devon
Monday, 29 October 2007 in 3h16 (17)
5042 Avon D Maximus
Composed by: DG Hull (No.1)
|1||Ian W Avery|
|2||Howard W Egglestone|
|5||Lester J Yeo|
|6||Andrew P Digby|
|7||Paul J Pascoe|
|8||Matthew J Hilling (C)|
|9||Ian VJ Smith|
|10||John A Foster|
|11||Reginald T McKenzie|
|12||Michael EC Mears|
1000th peal: 3.
First peal of Avon Delight Maximus to be rung by a band resident in Devon.
THE GUILD LIBRARY
Many members will be aware that the Guild has been struggling for several years to find a suitable home for the Guild Library. As the successor to John Scott as Librarian I now have in Tiverton that part of the collection held formerly by him in Totnes, together with his personal collection of ringing books which he bequeathed to the Guild. The rest of the books and copies of The Ringing World are in store on Exeter University campus. John Scott’s bequest represents a significant addition to the overall collection and contains many useful items deserving of wider access than that afforded by my attic.
The search to find suitable accommodation continues and I would be pleased to hear from any members with suggestions for a library home. In the meantime we need, as a Guild, to consider what we want from our library and how we would like it to develop in the future. Here are a few suggestions for the Library’s role:
Archive of the Guild and Branches’ own records
Research collection of information about bells and bellringing in Devon and surrounding areas with suitable facilities to undertake research
General interest library of books and other materials about bells and bellringing available for loan
A teaching collection of current books and pamphlets on ringing for learners and those who instruct. A prime function of such a collection would be to allow potential buyers to preview items before purchase.
An enquiry service in response to telephone, e-mail or letter requests. This might be done in liaison with the Central Council Library.
Additionally, in the longer term the library might consider:
Whilst accommodation for the collections is a key consideration, thought needs to be given to the type of access required and the type of use likely to be made. For example, research use will require an open access collection in accommodation which would allow periods of extended study, whilst a current teaching collection might well be circulated around the branches to give all members access and as an encouragement for ringers to build up their own libraries through personal purchases after previewing the Guild copy.
A paper was put to the Guild General Committee in January. I shall be writing to Branches shortly to invite them to discuss these ideas with their members and to send back comments to me about the way forward. Work will soon start on compiling an up-to-date catalogue of the books and other items in the collections and we will aim to make this list accessible from the Guild website. In the meantime if you have an enquiry which the think the Library can help with, please do not hesitate to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
SNIPPETS FROM THE PAST – GLEANED FROM THE LIBRARY’S COLLECTION OF GUILD REPORTS
100 years ago:
1908. The evangelical fervour of the Guild in promoting method ringing at this time is evident from the comments of the Committee. “Instead of the opposition which was offered to change-ringing by ringers in the country districts a few years ago, there is now to be found a desire for information regarding the method and tacit acknowledgment of the superiority of the half-pull over the round ringing style. This change of attitude has been brought about by the increased activity on the part of the members of the Guild in visiting towers and being brought in contact with the local ringers, as also by the distribution of the pamphlet on change-ringing published by the Guild and sent to each band of ringers in the county.”
The Exeter Ringers’ Cycling Club made the South Hams the venue for its annual tour, visiting 16 towers over three days. “Kindness was shown everywhere and appreciation expressed of the endeavours of the Club to spread change ringing.” “ To the members of the Tiverton Band a word of praise is also due for the encouragement they have given to local ringers to acquire the art of change-ringing, and by this means four new bands have become affiliated to the Guild in that district. (These included Bickleigh, Cadeleigh and Uplowman.)
Local bellhangers, Harry Stokes of Woodbury and Aggett & Sons of Chagford, were busy with rehangings all round the county including Aveton Gifford, Broadhempston, Petersmarland, Newton St Cyres, Stoke Canon, Hemyock, East Allington, Widecombe in the Moor, East Ogwell, North Molton, Christow, Torbryan. Other towers were subject to repair work.
75 years ago:
1923. Local branches had been in existence for four years and all were reporting good progress. 43 bands were “in union” with the Guild.
A new peal of eight had been installed at Exeter St Thomas and Tiverton St Peter were out of the tower for recasting.
Nine peals were rung for the Guild during the year – all of Grandsire: 2 Caters, 6 Triples and 1 Doubles.
50 years ago:
1958 . Mixed fortunes attended the Guild and its towers this year. Mid Devon Branch had an active year, but concerns were expressed about the state of ringing in the Plymouth area. St Andrew’s was sometimes not able to raise six ringers for Sunday ringing. Elsewhere Withycombe Raleigh band had broken up and the bells were not being rung. Overall, however, the Guild recorded 550 members.
Devon’s concerns were reflected nationally as the Central Council conducted a survey of Sunday Service Ringing. 50 ringable towers in Devon were recorded as silent.
The first peal of Maximus (Yorkshire) was rung at Buckfast by a visiting band. The “43-ers” were active with Cyril Deem and Ron Trickey calling their first peals (Grandsire Doubles at Honiton and Plain Bob Doubles at Morebath respectively)
25 years ago:
“1983 has been a fairly uneventful year” (Guild General Secretary)
CHANGES AT SAMPFORD SPINEY
Sampford Spiney church Volunteers and Guild Officers
It was in April 2004 that the idea of restoring the bells at the remote church of Sampford Spiney on the western edge of Dartmoor was rekindled. Permission had been obtained to swing-chime them to allow a recording to be made for the Aune Head Arts “Dartmoor Changes” project. While this was going on John Pugh, the church treasurer, who had met us, enquired about the possibility of making the bells ringable again. (A previous attempt in the 1990s had unfortunately come to nothing.)
Mary Mears, then DCBRF Secretary, agreed to send John a grant application form, and three weeks later I had a meeting with John and churchwarden Sir Peter Badge. After several more meetings it was finally decided to remodel the ring of five as a ring of six using the existing fourth bell as the tenor, all to be hung in a new steel frame. After what seemed interminable discussions with the Council for the Care of Churches, English Heritage and the DAC, the order was finally placed with Nicholson Engineering for the work to start in April 2008.
The bells had been heard on only one occasion since the recording session; this was when they were again swing-chimed for a wedding in October 2005. It was therefore decided to ring them one last time to give the congregation the opportunity to hear their bells again and to see ringing in action. This took place on Mothering Sunday at the 3 pm Evensong. I did some work on the bells to ensure that they would be safe(ish) to ring and borrowed some ropes from Tavistock, most of the existing ropes being totally rotten. Those who were to help with the restoration project, plus four Guild officers, were invited to ring.
At 2.30 pm the bells were gently raised individually and then rung one at a time so that recordings could be made. They were then rung to call changes up until service time. At the beginning of the service I gave a short talk about the bells and the work which was to take place. To me it’s always an exciting time when the bells at a parish church are restored; it’s something that only happens on average about every three generations. In the case of Sampford Spiney it is 120 years since the bells were last restored, and it had been again about 120 years before that, in 1764, when any significant work was carried out. Bell restoration is expensive – costing about £57,000 – and it is important that the parishioners know what is going to be done and why.
The bells were last rehung in a new frame in 1885. It would appear that this frame was built by a local carpenter with little knowledge of bellhanging. The frame was built to a design generally abandoned by about 1650, and the main members of the frame are far too slender for their task making the whole construction inherently unstable. Three bellhangers were consulted as to the best way forward. Two dismissed the idea of re-using the existing frame out of hand. The third said that it could possibly be strengthened by the insertion of metal tie-rods and brackets, but that within twenty to thirty years it would be giving trouble again. The decision was therefore taken to replace it with a new steel frame.
We know that there were three bells in the tower in 1553. This was still the case when the restoration of 1885 took place, although each bell had been recast at some point. In 1890 two new trebles were cast by Llewellins & James of Bristol. The No. 3 bell, cast by John Pennington of Tavistock in 1674 is a very poor sounding bell, but, because of its age, is listed and so cannot be recast. All that can be allowed is some sympathetic tuning. The fourth, by Thomas Pennington of Tavistock in 1653 is quite a pleasant sounding bell. The tenor bell, cast by the Penningtons of Lezant in 1764 is a very poor bell, described by the late Prebendary John Scott, the foremost authority on bells in Devon, as one of the three worst bells in the county.
So what have we decided to do? At an early stage in our discussions it was decided that the tenor would not be re-used, but that it should be preserved for display in the church. However in recent years the rapidly increasing prices of metal on the international market have made bells, along with copper and lead roofs, a prime target for the criminal element, so we have more recently decided that this would be unwise. Fortunately, having been cast after 1750, this bell is not listed for preservation, so the decision was taken to cut out the inscription band (which contains all the historical information about the bell) and use the rest of the metal to cast two new bells. These will form bells numbers 1 and 2 of a new ring of six bells, with existing bells 1 to 4 forming bells 3 to 6 of the new ring.
The casting of the new bells and the tuning of the old will be carried out by the Whitechapel bell foundry in London, the whole contract being coordinated by Nicholson Engineering of Bridport. We can save a significant amount of money (about £7,000) by providing volunteer labour, and I have enlisted the help of three of my fellow ringers, Robert Franklin, Roger King and Ian Campbell to this end.
Next, of course, we will need recruits to help ring the bells and I invited members of the congregation between the ages of 9 and 90 to come and watch us ringing after the service and let us know if they are interested.
At the conclusion of the service the treble rope was hastily changed (it being down to only one strand!) and it was decided to try some method ringing – a plain course of Stedman and a 120 of Reverse Canterbury being achieved – after a fashion! Bill Ford’s model bell from Thorverton was made good use of for describing how a bell worked. The bells were then lowered, four of the ropes were removed, that on the 2nd being left for chiming.
It is anticipated that the work should be completed by early October. Progress will be reported in forthcoming editions of RRD.
AXMINSTER LONG TERM RENOVATION - a tale of persistence
Group photographs: Easter 1907 Easter 2007 (With the same table!)
This past year has, at last, seen the first full uninterrupted 12 months’ ringing at Axminster since 2002 and our (straightforward £18,000) augmentation. In the interim, what a tale of woe!
It began with a false start two years earlier, in 2000 as we had planned to augment our bells for the millennium; a job originally commenced 13 years earlier when a second level frame was installed in readiness. But other activities meant this idea had to be abandoned. Never the less the ringers decided to re-panel and decorate the ringing chamber, flatten our uneven floor and carpet it with the very best Axminster (what else from a Carpet manufacturing town?).
Then the Queen’s Golden Jubilee of 2002 made an ideal opportunity to augment. We already had our tenor cast for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, so to have two bells in the same tower cast for two separate Queens’ Jubilees would have been something special, or even unique. Therefore with the support from the PCC, Rector and ringers alike, we started the ball rolling and got a tower survey from our architect to OK the project and who gave a provisional yes, but we also required a structural engineer give a second opinion. So along came Patrick Stow, the structural engineer...
Patrick is a thorough and skilled engineer and has a lot of experience in old buildings, so we were naturally concerned to hear his views. All seemed well with the tower throughout his entire visit, which lasted into the dark evening. Eventually, with no major points of concern preventing the augmentation, we turned off the Church lights, made our way to the back door by torchlight and shook hands to say "thank you and goodbye". All was well, until....
Patrick casually turned his torch around the Church behind him and towards the ceiling below the ringing chamber as we muttered something along the lines of Axminster having one of the finest peals of bells in the world etc. When he hesitated as his torch stopped below a joist and onto some flecks of loose paint. "That looks suspicious" he said. So we went back upstairs for a further look....
Unfortunately our re-panelling, nicely laid carpet and newly levelled floor prevented access to the joists. So it was agreed for the ringers to remove everything in readiness for a second visit. This we did, and in the process decided to vacuum the centuries’ worth of debris in the void between the floor and ceiling below.
During the cleaning we uncovered gunshot from the time the tower was used as an armoury during the civil war, stained glass from long gone windows and a cobbled leather boot. Unfortunately, the vacuum also sucked up every wooden lath holding the plaster ceiling below and the centre of the large oak beams holding us up!
Everything was rotten to the core. One main beam in particular had parted into three pieces and a whole comer of the floor hung unsupported in mid air! Needless to say, we were condemned on the spot and the bells silenced. To prevent collapse, scaffolding was erected beneath and our plans put on long term hold until a solution and money was found.
Fortunately our friends at English Heritage came to the rescue with financial support for a complete restoration on the whole tower inside and the south aisle roof. This delayed us by a few years, so any Jubilee augmentation was lost. But, we did end up with two new roofs, new flagpole, new weathervane and the complete re-pointing of the tower. We also had a safe ringing chamber floor, which replaced the previous one, whose timbers were later dated to the 13th - 15th centuries! Renny Shepherd and his craftsmen from Chard expertly did all the work in lead, stone and wood.
This presented the ringers with a dilemma. As the Church was focused on raising funds for other urgent repairs as a priority, the ringers with local financial support had to raise the money and proceed with the project separately. Depressingly, we had no other big idea to promote the augmentation until the Rector told us about the 250th anniversary of the first Axminster Carpet and an ideal opportunity to name our new bells after the carpet pioneers, Thomas Whitty and Harry Dutfield. (so our two new trebles and tenor are now called Tom, Vic and Harry!).
With the ringers spirits raised, we went all out to raise the money. We received a donation from the Thomas Witty Society and we pamphleted every household in Axminster, giving everyone a lifetime's opportunity to have their loved ones’ names on a bell at £500 per name. But this was not just for the deceased, since we also had a name for a newborn baby from two loving grand parents! We sold individual items, gained grants, ran a lottery and for those who wanted their loved ones’ name recorded for posterity but could not afford to have one cast onto a bell, we printed a special book of remembrance for the augmentation. To cut costs further, we volunteered labour to the bell hanger Andrew Nicholson, who helped with support and advice throughout. We paid for the bells and had them placed in the Church for the dedication before we could afford their hanging, but their presence focused our final push for funds, and eventually we got there.
We now find ourselves resting from our efforts, welcoming many visiting bands and concentrating on teaching, since, as expected, the heightened interest in the bells has brought in new ringers and Axminster is now bucking the national trend with a healthy band of able new (if not all young) recruits.
Last Easter Sunday, with 7 years of hard work behind us, we decided the time was right to have an official group photograph taken in the ringing chamber, exactly 100 years to the day when the first picture was taken. What history has happened in that time, how times have changed but how we are still ringing those bells!
Tim Whitehead (Tower Captain 1995 – present) and Roy Carnan (one of the new recruits).
THE SEAGE SILENT RINGING APPARATUS
During a ringing visit to St Peter’s Tiverton, I commented on a number of small bells mounted high up on the walls of the ringing chamber (Fig 1), roughly aligned with the bell ropes, and was told they were once part of the Seage apparatus. No further information was available, but with the invaluable assistance of numerous ringing contacts and the book on bell fittings by T S Jennings (from the GDR Library) I was introduced to some of the rich heritage of Seage and his apparatus. It turns out that the apparatus was the mechanical equivalent of modern simulators.
1. The little bells in the ringing chamber at Tiverton 2. Sketch of the Seage apparatus
The eponymous Seage silent apparatus was devised by Epaphras Seage, an Exeter printing engineer, and first installed in about 1875 at St. Sidwell’s, Exeter. With the apparatus fitted, ringing and striking could be practised on tied tower bells without disturbing the neighbourhood. Seage was encouraged by his friend, Charles A. W. Troyte of Huntsham, the first President of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers (and President of the St Sidwell’s Society of Ringers), who brought the invention to the attention of the ringing community in a letter reproduced in Church Bells, 22 July 1876, describing the apparatus as Gong or Hand-Bell Connexions with Dumb Tower Bells. Seage and his son George later became Honorary Members of the St Sidwell’s Society, although it is unclear whether either was a ringer. Curiously the Minutes of Meetings of the period mention ‘lashing the bells for gong practice’, but make no reference to Seage by name in this context.
Based on the principle of the shopkeeper's door bell, the Seage apparatus was a trip mechanism activated by the tower bell in its swing (see sketch, Fig 2). A roller at the top of the headstock on the side opposite to the bell struck a ‘U’-shaped rocker arm (Fig 3) as the bell was rising to the balance. A spike at the bottom of the rocker arm operated a cam on the top of a trip lever, depressing the end of the lever (Fig 3), which in turn was attached to a sprung wire and crank. When the lever was depressed the wire was jerked, and the little bell in the ringing chamber was struck (Fig 4). The little bells were normal hand-bell shapes, although in a few installations, Seage supplied hemispherical bells or gongs.
Interest in the device spread quite rapidly, and an advertisement for the Seage Church Bell Dumb Practice Apparatus in Bell News of April 1882 announced that the apparatus had been installed in many churches in England, Scotland and abroad. Initially, Seage and his son kept pace with demand, though later an assistant took over the work. Supplying and fitting a set of apparatus for any bell regardless of size could be done for about £1, excluding the clapper stay and the little bells, which were purchased from regular bell founders for £1 for eight bells. Taylor invited Seage to advertise in his 1881 Catalogue, agreeing to supply the inventor with much of the associated brasswear in addition to the handbells.
Unfortunately, the Seage apparatus was not protected by patent, and copies, improvements and re-designs were made by bell founders and others.
3. The rocker arm at Crawley, Sussex 4. Striking mechanism at Huntsham
Evidence of the originally installed Seage devices can still be found in Devon towers, including Huntsham, Merton and Tiverton, although nothing remains of those at Bampton, Beaford and Marychurch. Further afield, examples are at Crawley, Ryde (IoW) and Glasgow.
Aside from being silent to the neighbourhood, a major intended attraction was the accurate reproduction of the overall dynamics of ringing such that the little bell would be struck at exactly the same moment that the clapper, if untied, would have struck the tower bell. However, Jennings reports that a time delay could occur in some installations if the wire took a circuitous route into the ringing room, for example in small towers with a two-tier bell frame, or in avoiding clock and chiming mechanisms.
Maintenance was essential. Exposed iron wire corroded quickly, and copper wire became strained, inducing mechanical faults. By the end of WW1 Epaphras Seage & Son had ceased trading, the apparatus seems to have fallen out of favour and many sets were removed from their towers. Those which remained and were in working order enjoyed a brief renaissance during WW2, 1939-45, as the practice of silent ringing was allowed to continue.
Installation of the Seage apparatus would almost certainly have been restricted to those towers with a method ringing band. It would have limited attraction to call change bands in Devon and indeed elsewhere because bell raising and lowering could not be simulated. The advertisement in Bell News of 1882 promotes the use of improved clapper stays, which held the clapper centrally in the bell, rather than tying the clapper with rope. These stays may have been used for tied bell practice long after the apparatus itself went out of use, and variants can still be seen in many towers.
The Revd Arthur Du Boulay Hill, a master at Winchester College between 1874 and 1882, later wrote “…I had under my instruction a fairly proficient band of ringers in the school. The College authorities most willingly granted the use of bells (a handy ring of 6, tenor about 12 cwt) under my superintendence. I fitted them up with Seage’s ‘silent practice apparatus’ and Dale’s ‘clapper stays’ and we could fix everything up for silent ringing in three minutes…. and though we never rang them open we accomplished Grandsire and Stedman…some of my pupils went on to become useful members of the Oxford University Change Ringing Society”
Records of the Rev George F Coleridge, a noted Devonian and ringer, refer to his use of Seage’s Dumb practice apparatus fitted to the front 8 in the tower of New College Oxford in 1879. His original objective seems to have been 720s of minor although he also mastered triples and major methods on the device. Certainly the apparatus was in use there through WW2 and was only dismantled in the 1960s.
Sometime in the 1880s, Seage supplied one of his devices to Great St Mary’s in Cambridge. The Cambridge Youths proved a little more adventurous than their Oxford counterparts and in January 1897 rang a peal of 5056 Plain Bob Major, composed by J W Trollope, in 3 hours 13 minutes. A peal board in the ringing chamber records ‘the first on the Seage’s apparatus’; it is assumed this refers to being the first in that tower. The apparatus was removed from Great St Mary’s during the major re-hanging of the bells in 1952.
According to Chris Pickford, “peals were rung on Seage's apparatus, in quite a few places though it might be hard to find out where as reports didn't always say so”.
This proved to be the case, as the only other peal on Seage apparatus to be positively confirmed is that at Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow, where in 1922 a peal of 5040 Kent Treble Bob Minor (with 7, 8 cover) was rung in 3 hours 24 minutes, in honour of the birthday of King George V. The footnote claims it was the first peal of minor in Scotland. A contemporary report from the Ancient Society of College Youths registered it as a peal (by majority vote), but only after assurances from the umpire present during the attempt. In the same report, it seems that the Bath & Wells Association, some years earlier, had condemned such a peal on a ‘silent’ apparatus at Christ Church, Bath.
Communication with the Scottish Association confirms that the device was in regular use at Glasgow until the 1970s, when it was made superfluous by modifications to the louvers reducing the sound of the tower bells to acceptable levels. In its day it was regarded as a valuable teaching asset, though it took a while to set up and needed constant adjustment. The Seage equipment is no longer in use but could be made operational with some maintenance and there are plans to try it out later this year.
The Seage apparatus fitted at Crawley, Sussex, in 1880 was evidently well-used as it had to be refurbished in 1916, by Mears and Stainbank at a cost of £3. By the time the bells were re-hung on ball bearings in 1935 the apparatus was again worn out. In 1982 it was renovated (by a Crawley ringer, coincidentally named Jennings); modifications were made to the striking arrangements, and some components replaced with those from the Seage installation at Cuckfield, West Sussex. A quarter peal of Superlative Surprise was rung on it in 1982 (RW 1982 p.160). Reactions to ringing the Seage apparatus for the Crawley quarter peal were varied, and whilst some enjoyed the experience, others found it somewhat incongruous to pull a bell of several hundredweights and be rewarded with the sound of a small handbell. Correspondence with Wendy Wheeler, who rang in the quarter peal and provided the original sketch for the RW report, confirms that the apparatus was used extensively over the years, but is now retired. Given time, WD40 and patience it could be made functional. Her experience with the Seage apparatus at Crawley is that the modified arrangement ensures the little bells strike at the same time as the ‘big’ bells. However, as she says “it takes very much longer to set up than say the Cummins, or Bagley simulators, but has the advantage that it does not need electricity, so can be used during power cuts”!
Practicing ringing on tower bells without annoying the neighbours remains as much a requirement as in Seage’s time. Nowadays we can ring tied bells and listen to sounds appropriate to their weights by simple adjustments to the simulation software. However, I believe we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the ingenuity and inventiveness of Epaphras Seage and his pioneering mechanical simulators, which doubtless contributed immeasurably to the function and acceptability of the family of modern devices. It was disappointing not to discover evidence of a Seage peal or quarter in Devon, but maybe in the future, from tower records somewhere in the County this may be amended.
Apart from those mentioned in the text, I am indebted to locals Richard Bowden, Leslie Boyce, Mike Hatchett, Martin Mansley and Ian Smith and to Philip Earis and Tessa Beadman (Cambridge), John Eisel (CC Librarian), Phil Gay (Keele), Suzanne Foster (Winchester), Terry Williams and Magnus Peterson (Scotland) in the preparation of this article.
REV HENRY THOMAS ELLACOMBE 1790 – 1885
When the passing of the Rev’d H.T. Ellacombe was reported in the Exeter Daily Gazette in August 1885, it was stated that “He was always accustomed to ring with his local men up to within a few years of his death, and invariably rang out the old year”. Clear evidence of this is given below in the vivid pen portrait, by a non-ringer, which was published in the magazine Church Bells on 5th January 1884.
As usual, the ringers of Clyst St George assembled to ring out the Old and ring in the New Year on Monday night at nine o’clock. The scene in the old redstone tower was most interesting and picturesque. Lighted up by flickering rays of tallow candles in the heavy iron sockets attached to the walls, a weird light was thrown upon the faces of the ringers, which rendered the tout ensemble very effective. On a side-bench sat the old Rector, of ninety four Winters, his long grey beard descending over his cassock, and his venerable head covered by a skull cap, his true Devonshire complexion and bright eyes lighted up by a little oil lamp that stood by; whilst opposite him sat a sturdy old ringer, alas! Gripped by rheumatism, and only able to look on at others doing what he had done for fifty Old Years’ nights before. He may well rest on his laurels, for he has passed the fourscore and a good slice of same was spent in the most arduous of daily toil.
With two exceptions, viz the worthy old sexton and the young blacksmith, the ringers comprised a family party – Father Steer and his two sons, John and Henry, and his son-in-law George Davey, all good men and true ringers. Having rung peals and changes for an hour, we – for though only a looker-on, I was amongst the number – adjourned to the Rectory, where a substantial supper of roast leg of mutton, with other adjuncts, and a first rate plum pudding, beer, and toddy, all taken in moderation and good fellowship, refreshed the inner man, whilst jokes and conversation, and old saws and reminiscences, made the time pass rapidly until fifteen minutes to twelve, when an adjournment was made again to the tower, the candles re-lit and the Old Year rung out. The peal ended, and twelve strokes given to bury the poor dear, dead old fellow, with all due honour, like so many kindly taps on his now green grave, we all knelt down for a short service. The good old Rector prayed that God would accept the service that was offered to Him, would blot out the sins and short-comings of the past year, and give us strength to run with increased strength during the year we had just entered; and finishing with the Lord’s Prayer and Benediction, we rose form our knees, and the ringers took their places to ring in the news of the birth of the infant year. The Rector propped his back against the wall and took the tenor and pulling as lustily as a stripling, once more upon the still air rang out in joyful tones the sweet music of six tongues. It is worthy of record that the five times the peals were brought to an ending during the night, there was not a single jar to spoil the harmony of the stop. All honour being done to the Old, and a welcome given to the New, the candles were doused, darkness reigned supreme, the Rector retired into his Rectory with many goodnights and good wishes, and we went to our several homes.
PS – should I have used any terms not in accordance with bell ringing in what I describe about peals, changes, ringing, and stops, my ignorance of the art must be my excuse: I only describe what I saw and what I heard. I think it worthy of record that a Rector of ninety-four winters rang the New Year 1884 in.
Twenty people gathered in Newton Abbot on 7th March for the Mid Devon Branch Quiz. Eight rounds of twelve questions provided plenty of variety, though perhaps the ringing questions were set a little too easy this year as all teams got 11 out of 12 in each of the relevant rounds! The half-time 'bring and share' supper was a real treat of home made favourites, and the tea and coffee kept flowing. Back to business and when the final round came up the scores were close. In the end team 'Wolborough' beat 'The Seasiders' on a tie-break, 'Kingsteignton' coming just four points behind. Donations and a raffle together raised a total of £47 for branch funds, and the camaraderie was priceless.
The ringing questions are included here. Try them on the other members of your tower and see if you can get them all right without looking anything up. The answers are included below.
Ringing Miscellanea: 1.Ropes. 2.Andover. 3.Three. 4.Ringing Roadshow. 5. 15C. 6.DVD. 7.Tintinnalogia. 8.Pomegranates. 9. Spurs & hat. 10.In a wooden cage in the churchyard. 11.Swan tower, Perth. 12.Royal.
Devon Ringing: 1.John Langabeer. 2.Eighty three. 3.St Petrock's. 4.Janet Coles. 5.Kingsteignton. 6.Huntsham & Bampton. 7.Exeter Cathedral. 8.East Budleigh. 9.Merton. 10.Torquay. 11.It depends which branch you are in! 12.Jacobstowe.
LESTER'S PEAL-RINGING APPEAL
During the six months from April to September 2008, Guild president Lester Yeo is asking for sponsorship of his peal ringing in aid of the Busoga Trust. The Trust (Registered Charity 288388) enables people in Uganda to obtain clean drinking water by the construction of wells for local people in the Busoga and Luwero regions. Each well costs about £2500, and this sponsorship will contribute towards the well to be given by the National Shrine of St Boniface, Crediton. During this period, Lester expects to ring between twenty and thirty peals. Please contact him if you would like to support him and help the people of Uganda get clean water; if you are a tax payer, please consider giving by ‘Gift Aid’.
MARCH 2008 Sat 1 Branch Practice: Cockington (19:30) Mid Wed 5 Advanced Doubles Practice: Honiton (19:30) East Fri 7 Quiz Evening: Newton Avvot, St Pauls (19:30) Mid Sat 8 Branch Practice: Modbury (19:00) SW Mon 10 Branch Practice: Dalwood (19:30) East Mon 10 10 Bell Practice: St Marks (19:30) Exeter Thur 13 Plain Hunt Practice: Sidbury (19:30) East Fri 14 Plain Hunt Practice: Clyst St George (20:00) Ayles Fri 14 Surprise Minor Practice: Buckerell (19:30)* East Sat 15 Branch Training Day - Bob Doubles: Huntsham (10:00) NE Tues 25 Branch Practice: Sidmouth (19:30) East Wed 26 8 Bell Practice: Huntsham (19:30) NE Fri 28 12 Bell Novice Practice: Withycombe Raleigh (19:30) Ayles Sat 29 Spring Quarter Peal Day St Brannocks Sat 29 Branch Mini-Seminar: Health & Safety in the Tower (11:00) NE Mon 31 Branch Practice: Littleham (19:45) Ayles APRIL 2008 Wed 2 Advanced Doubles practice: Honiton (19:30) East Sat 5 Branch practice: Newton Abbot Clock Tower (19:00) Mid Sat 5 Branch quarterly meeting: Uffculme NE Sat 5 Branch practice: Torrington (19:00) NNW Wed 9 Branch Practice: Plymtree (19:30) East Thur 10 Plain Hunt practice: Sidbury (19:30) East Fri 11 Plain Hunt practice: Clyst St George (20:00) Ayles Mon 14 8 Bell practice: Heavitree (19:30) Exeter Fri 18 Surprise Minor practice: Buckerell (19:30)* East Sat 19 Central Council Seminar at Huntsham ALL Wed 23 8 Bell practice: Huntsham (19:30) NE Thur 24 Targeted practice: St Thomas' (19:30) Exeter Fri 25 12-bell novice practice: Withycombe Raleigh (19:30) Ayles Sat 26 Devon Association 8 Bell Competition: Huntsham (14:00) Assn Tues 29 Branch practice: Sidmouth (19:30) East Wed 30 Branch committee meeting: Castle School, Tiverton (19:30) NE MAY 2008 Sat 3 Branch Training Day, Huntsham: Raising & Lowering (10:00) NE Sat 3 Branch practice: Appledore (19:00) NNW Mon 5 Branch training outing: Bristol Exeter Wed 7 Advanced Doubles practice: Honiton (19:30) East Fri 9 Plain Hunt practice: Clyst St George (20:00) Ayles Sat 10 Ringing & Half Yearly Meeting: Buckfast Abbey (14:30) Mid Sat 11 Quarterly meeting: Farway (14:30) East Thur 15 Plain Hunt practice: Sidbury (19:30) East Fri 16 Surprise Minor practice: Buckerell (19:30)* East Sat 17 Branch walking outing: Otterton/Colaton Raleigh (Details) Ayles/Exeter Sat 17 Branch outing to Poole & Brownsea Island NE Sat 17 Branch outing: TBC SW Fri 23 12-bell novice practice: Withycombe Raleigh (19:30) Ayles Tues 27 Branch practice: Sidmouth (19:30) East Wed 28 8 Bell practice: Huntsham (19:30) NE JUNE 2008 Wed 4 Advanced Doubles practice: Honiton (19:30) East Fri 6 John Hutchings 6 Bell Competition: Silverton (18:30) NE Fri 6 Annual Outing: Central Devon St Brannock Sat 7 BBQ at 3 The Mede, Exeter Exeter Sat 7 Branch Striking Competition: Stokeinteignhead (19:00) Mid Sat 7 Branch practice (19:00) NNW Mon 9 10 Bell practice: St Mark's (19:30) Exeter Tues 10 Branch Practice: Broadhembury (19:30) East Thur 12 Plain Hunt practice: Sidbury (19:30) East Fri 13 Plain Hunt practice: Clyst St George (20:00) Ayles Fri 20 Surprise Minor practice: Buckerell (19:30)* East Sat 21 GUILD AGM: Exeter branch Guild Tues 24 Branch practice: Sidmouth (19:30) East Wed 25 8 Bell practice: Huntsham (19:30) NE Fri 27 12-bell novice practice: Withycombe Raleigh (19:30) Ayles Sat 28 Branch Training Day, Huntsham: Moving on from PB Minor (10:00) NE Mon 30 Branch practice: Littleham (19:45) Ayles
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