The Guild of Devonshire Ringers




RINGING ROUND DEVON is the occasional newsletter of The Guild of Devonshire Ringers, and is circulated free to all affiliated towers through branch secretaries.

Any individual members who wish to purchase a copy should contact Lester Yeo. The cost for a single copy is 25p plus postage and packing. From next year, annual postal subscriptions (four copies a year) will be taken.

Items for inclusion will be welcomed by the editor.


I am delighted to write that this quarter's edition runs to ten pages of news and information; I hope this is a sign that ringing is thriving in Devon, and RRD is proving valuable. If there is no news from your branch, or from your tower, please don't blame the editor, make sure that there is someone locally whose job it is to send in news and/or pictures.

Being responsive seems to be the key phrase. I note how the branches do try to be responsive to their members and the proposed new format for the Guild AGM Day is in answer to members' criticisms. I hope that the Guild is not irrelevant to ordinary ringers' needs. It seems to me to have a lot to offer especially in teaching and encouraging new ringers, in face of the challenge of the new millennium.

Exeter: Record broken in Cathedral peal


LOCAL BAND MEMBER Matthew Hilling set a new record on Saturday 29 November, by becoming the youngest ringer to ring a single-handed peal on Exeter Cathedral tenor.

The plan had been to ring Stedman Cinques for this year's local band peal, but unfortunately, one of the band had to drop out at the last minute due to poor health, and Cathedral assistant ringing master James Grant offered to step down, to allow a ten bell peal to be attempted.

The traditional step ladder was placed next to the tenor box, with glucose tablets and Lucozade to provide energy and refreshment. The bells were raised and Michael Mears said, "Go, Grandsire Caters", and a steady pace was set. The peal was completed in 4 hours 16 minutes. Matthew Hilling is 20.

Guild of Devonshire Ringers.
Exeter Cathedral
On 29 November 1997
in 4 hours 16 minutes
(Composed by AJ Pitman, arranged by BV Mountjoy)
1 Fr Lester J Yeo
2 Frank D Mack
3 Peter L Bill
4 James Kirkcaldy
5 David P Macey
6 Timothy E Barnaby
7 Ian LC Campbell
8 Andrew P Nicholson
9 Michael EC Mears (C)
10 Matthew J Hilling

Down St Mary: Case dismissed


THE LATEST ATTEMPT by George Calvert to silence the bells of Down St Mary has failed. At a hour-long court hearing in Exeter on 1 December, Magistrate Philip Wassell declared that the prosecution notice served against the Vicar of Down St Mary was not valid because Mr Calvert had got the date wrong, and so the proceedings could not continue.

Mr Calvert, who claims to be a war veteran, asserts that he has suffered problems with his bowels because new ringers are being taught in the tower, which is close to his cottage. The ringers have offered to accept mediation, and have fitted sound control.

According to Express and Echo reporter John Fletcher, Mr Calvert is supposed to have said that the hearing was "a waste of public money". Some time ago, the Guild promised to Down St Mary P.C.C. the sum of 500 pounds to help meet any court costs, and this sum was matched by the Association. The question of costs for this hearing has not been decided.



OVER THE PAST couple of months I have managed to visit every branch in the Guild, generally encountering Guild Master Martin Mansley as I went and in whose company I have enjoyed some splendid ringers' teas, and together we have preached our message that the 1998 meeting is going to be DIFFERENT!

The reaction from members has been very positive, and we have also been much encouraged by the infectious enthusiasm of Jonathan Lear and the Aylesbeare Deanery Branch, who are our hosts. The day's activities are planned to be centred on Woodbury, with heavy emphasis on workshops, food and socialising, and more details will be released as these are formalised.

I thank several members and bands who have taken the trouble to write to me personally with their thoughts on the Guild and the purpose of its existence. At the time of writing, I have not found time to reply to them individually, but they all had relevant and thought-provoking statements to make. One big grouse is that the business meeting is boring. I am in sympathy with this view and believe that much business could be transacted in other ways; however, we are a registered charity and are obliged to hold one annual meeting which all members may attend. One member felt that the election of officers took too long and could be done en bloc if no proposals or resignations had been received, while another felt that many people were under the impression Guild officers had been decided in advance and that a postal ballot would be fairer. A 'no win' situation here, I fear!

One real problem is the date of the meeting: it is hoped to make changes to the range of dates available to us, but this means consultation with the Charity Commission for approval to an amendment to our rules.

One of our findings was the perception by many that the AGM was a meeting day for the "experts" and nothing to do with Mr or Ms Average, whatever that means. Well, I still remember attending meetings of my local Guild, the Middlesex DG, as an overawed teenager more years ago than I care to admit, and suddenly becoming aware that there was more to this fascinating new world I had entered than the four walls of my own tower. An Annual General Meeting Day should be for us to meet up with people we don't see the other 364 days of the year and ring together on bells different to our own. We don't expect to get it right next year and please everyone on the format that this day should take, but we have taken steps for change, to try and make it a more interesting and enjoyable event.



CONGRATULATIONS to Tim Bayton and Dominic Beer who have conducted their first quarter peals.

Bigbury, Devon. 10 September, 1260 Plain Bob Doubles: Clare Stagg 1, Kate Widdup 2, Penny Alexander 3, DH Beer 4, TM Bayton (C) 5, J Vosby-Burnie 6

Kingston, Devon. 29 October, 1320 Norwich Surprise Minor: Clare Stagg 1, Ann Cotton 2, Kate Widdup 3, J Rose 4, D Crocker 5, DH Beer (C) 6. A birthday compliment to the conductor. 1st in m: 2 & 3.

North Devon: St Brannock's Dinner


The St Brannock's Society held its annual dinner on November 8th, which was attended by forty-odd members and friends; the society was especially delighted to welcome back Alan and Julie Sinden to North Devon. This year was the first time the occasion had been celebrated at the Cedars Hotel, on the edge of Barnstaple, and all agreed how suitable a venue it was.

A draw with very many prizes was held in aid of the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund, and Don Lawson organised a competition to list thirteen Devon villages, from three to fifteen letters in length. David and Celia Snowdon scooped the prize for this.

St Brannock's Tuesday night practices are well-supported, and Spliced Surprise Major is being rung (although the latest attempt to ring a touch of eight-spliced came to grief!). Visitors are always welcome  whether or not they can ring spliced!


THE DEVON Church Bell Restoration Fund has been trying to increase the grants it makes for bell repairs and maintenance buy obtaining additional income. To this end, it has been appealing to PCCs to become affiliated to the fund by sending a donation of between 10 and 20 pounds annually. The response has been extremely successful and the Trustees wish to thank warmly all the PCCs for their generosity in this first trial year.

Since February 1997 to mid-December 72 parishes have contributed, totalling 1027 pounds. The usual annual income is generally between 3000 and 4000 pounds, and so their contributions will have boosted available funds by about a quarter, and that grants will be that much more generous.

The DCBRF began in 1974 and from very modest beginnings has been able to make some 143 grants totalling 36,090 pounds; the hope is to have all Devon Church bells in a ringable condition by the year 2000. If your PCC has not yet had an appeal letter, please contact the Secretary Frank Mack.


AT THE MEETING held at Dawlish, Claire Beck was appointed Branch Secretary to replace Tony Morris, who unfortunately has had to stand down through ill health. Derek Hawkins had been acting as caretaker during the interim, and is very pleased a successor has been found! The branch thanked Tony for all he has done during his time as Secretary.


THE SOCIETY held a quarter peal day in October, three of the five attempts were successful, each a personal first. A further method practice in North Devon is now being held once a month on a Friday. Contact David Snowdon for details.

NE Branch marks long service of Ringing Master


AFTER SIXTEEN years as Ringing Master of the North East Branch, Ron Trickey stood down at the October Annual Meeting this year. Ron took over the reins in November 1981 when the Branch was going through an uncertain period following the sudden death of the Ringing Master John Hutchings in 1979 and several changes of Secretary in the years after George Hollis' death in 1975. Under Ron's guidance the Branch slowly recovered its stability during the 1980s.

At a special Social Evening in Culmstock organised to mark his retirement, immediate past chairman Leslie Boyce paid tribute to Rons ever-cheerful presence at Branch meetings and his gentle encouragement of new and inexperienced ringers, noting the steady progress of the Branch during his tenure.

Around twenty members of the Branch had gathered to see Ron being presented with a framed railway print and a cheque. Before the buffet and skittles, past and present officers of the Branch had rung a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples at Culmstock to mark the occasion, while other members had rung at Hemyock.

All change for NE Branch

The October Meeting of the Branch saw some significant changes in officers this year. In 1983 the Branch put in place rules which required senior officers to change office after five years and to stand down completely from any of these posts after ten.

Mindful of the need to get a new team in place for the Millennium celebrations, Leslie Boyce, Peter Walter and Ron Trickey all decided to step aside this year. With some reshuffling and some election of new faces a new committee was appointed (see 'Spotlight on the NE Branch'). The new Committee is also making great efforts to encourage members of other towers, not already represented by the officers, to attend Committee meetings to ensure the Branch is as responsive to members as possible.

Towards the Millennium

RING IN 2000

AT THE GUILD meeting in St Marychurch a subcommittee was formed to look into the Guild's response to the national appeal for ringers, with a view to ringing all bells at the same time to mark the new century.


The members elected were John Steere, Don Roberts and Martin Mansley, who have now met twice to plan strategies. At the first meeting it was immediately realised that a survey of all the towers in Devon was essential to help pinpoint the towers which were not rung at all so that they can be targeted when the next step in planned.


The committee then felt that it was important to involve Association members and a joint meeting was arranged. On a dreadful night of gales and torrential rain, the Guild representatives met Frank Bye and Brian Drake representing the Association at Kelly College in Tavistock. In between the two meeting, some preliminary investigation had been done, to find out which towers have regular Sunday service bands, and which are normally silent, and the results were considered.


A complete listing of all Devon towers had been produced using the old deanery boundaries (as shown in the 1992 Devon Ringers' handbook). The group were able to complete the information for Kenn, Exeter, Ipplepen, Moreton and Plymouth Deaneries, and sources of information for the other deaneries were discussed. The next meeting will be after the Carol Service at Buckfast Abbey.

The committee believes that Deanery Associations representing the call-change interest operate in Barnstaple, Hartland, Kenn, Cadbury. Woodleigh, Totnes, Ipplepen, Holsworthy, Torrington, Okehampton, Tavistock and the Plymouth deaneries, and that there is no deanery association operating in most of the area covered by the East, North East and Aylesbeare branches of the Guild. If this information is wrong, please let one of the committee know. If you have information on on-Guild towers in these three areas, please let them know so that the survey can be completed as soon as possible and the next part of the task - considering how to help the silent towers - can begin.
Frank Bye
Brian Drake
Martin Mansley
Don Roberts
John Steere

Three generations of Devon family ring peal


ON 17th SEPTEMBER, 15-year-old Natalie Harvey rang her first peal, at Brampford Speke near Exeter. Whilst this is an achievement in its own right the matter is all the more interesting as also in the band was Bill, Natalie's grandfather (aged 67) and her aunt Wendy (who has made all sorts of threats if we reveal her age).

While Devon has had a number of ringing families, and there is at least one where there have been three ringing generations, we could not think off the top of our head of another occasion where three generations have rung a peal together in the county. Could this be a local first?

Congratulations once again to Natalie.


Wednesday September 17, 1997
2 hours 47 minutes
1 William J Harvey
2 Natalie A Harvey
3 Wendy M Harvey
4 Mervyn C Way
5 Fr Lester J Yeo
6 Robert DS Brown
First peal: 2

Tavistock: Guild Eight bell


FIVE BRANCHES were represented at the inter-branch striking competition held at Tavistock on 18 October, and a number of other ringers also gathered in the churchyard on a warm and sunny day to listen to those beautiful bells, and the test piece of Plain and Little Bob Major. Alan and Mary Carveth from Truro were the judges, and in the church hall afterwards reminded the Guild that the purpose of a striking competition was essentially a religious one - to improve the worship of God offered in bellringing.

Like Miss World, the results were given in reverse order. Fifth were the East Devon branch with 39+ faults; the team seemed to have some difficulty ringing the methods. In fourth place, were the North East branch, who had had the difficult job of ringing first; their ringing, Alan said, was somewhat hesitant and had 27 faults. In third place, the Exeter Colleges Guild produced some reasonable ringing although the leading was a little adrift; they made 18 faults. Second were the holders, the South West branch with sixteen faults; their ringing was good and brisk, with only minor blemishes. The 1997 winners were the Exeter branch with 10 3/4 faults, a fine piece of ringing, and Mary Carveth presented Branch Ringing Master Janet Coles with the Andrews trophy.

The Exeter Branch being awarded the trophy

The host team and runners-up, the South West Branch


The North-East Branch covers the Anglican Church deaneries of Cullompton and Tiverton, and currently has nine affiliated towers


It holds meetings on four Saturdays in the year, consisting of afternoon ringing and a short service and tea. Twice a year, there is a business meeting after the service, and on one of these occasions, branch officers are elected and there is a less formal "Members Forum" at which any matter can be discussed. In addition the Branch holds weekday evening practices around the area, and many social events.


Towers that request help may receive targeted training from the more experienced ringers over a six week period, a "blitzing" policy that has proved very successful. The John Hutchings Memorial Cup is awarded by the Branch Ringing Master to the tower which has made the most progress during the year.


The branch has decided that it is not good for officers to stay in post indefinitely, and at the last annual meeting a new committee was appointed. The main officers are:

Chairman: Sheila Scofield was taught to ring by Preb John Scott as a girl at Newton St Cyres. She is a school teacher and currently tower captain at St Peter's, Tiverton. The chairman has overall responsibility for the direction of the Branch.

Ringing Master: Terry Hargreaves works for Mid Devon District Council and is captain at S Paul's in Tiverton. He organises the ringing at Branch practices and meetings and is responsible for the quality of ringing within the Branch

Secretary: Leslie Boyce is the Librarian of East Devon College in Tiverton. He was an officer of the Oxford University Society of Change Ringers as a student, and active in ringing circles in west Dorset before moving to Tiverton. The secretary carries out the instructions of the Branch Committee by arranging and advertising the programme of activities.


Towers within the branch are at differing stages and ring different regular methods, although what happens on any particular night obviously depends on the "turnout" that night. The following is a rough guide for visitors:

Bampton, Thursday, call changes and Plain Bob Doubles
Bradninch, Monday, call changes
Burlescombe, Wednesday, call changes and Grandsire Doubles
Culmstock, Friday, call changes and plain doubles and triples
Morebath, call changes
Silverton, Thursday, call changes and Grandsire Doubles
Tiv. S Paul, Friday, call changes and plain doubles and minor
Tiv. S Peter, Tuesday, call changes and plain methods to major, Kent TB
Uffculme, Monday, call changes and Plain Bob Doubles.

For further details contact Leslie Boyce.

Exeter Colleges:


THIS YEAR the ECG has been reduced in numbers, having lost a few at the end of the academic year, and gained a couple at the beginning of this year. However we are still ringing regularly at St David's in Exeter, and have many outings and trips away. Practices continue to be well supported (even if we do seem to have more people in the pub than in the tower!), but Sunday mornings have always been a little too early for some!

Last Easter, we spent an enjoyable week in the Peak District with ECG members and friends. We stayed in a large converted chapel, finding time to do a bit of ringing, a bit of cooking, lots of socialising and even time to play some silly games. The trip to Alton Towers seemed to be the highlight of the week! Since then, we have been ringing in Taunton with the University of Bristol, to the beach in the rain, made up a quarter of the Exeter band that managed to get to the National 12-Bell Competition Final, and even made a significant improvement in the Guild 8-bell striking competition at Tavistock back in October. Many thanks to Howard for helping us out!

Of course the big event of the year is yet to come. The Annual Dinner always takes place on the first Saturday in February, and like last year, will be held at the Rougemont Hotel in Exeter on Saturday 7th February. We would love to have a big attendance from Guild members across the county. So, if you want to find out more, then why not come along? A big meal, followed by a short speech or two and then a barn-dance; an evening not to be missed! Of course, those who don't want to take part in a bit of a Hoe-down can relax in the bar... Tickets are on sale from Secretary Helen Weeden for 25 pounds which even includes a bit of tower grabbing during the day. We look forward to seeing you all next February.

Feniton: ringers celebrate long service


TO THE GALLANT gentlemen who keep the bells at Feniton ringing on Sundays and special occasions, sincere thanks for the many ringing years you have given.

The photograph below, taken on October 3rd, shows left to right: Victor Chown (87), Stan Sweetland (83), John Locke (74), Tom Virgin (92), Geoff Blackmore (89), Edward Summers (77), and the baby and Captain of the group, Les Stevens (65). This gives a combined age of 567 years!

Unfortunately the camera was not available five minutes later when the bells were being pulled up and a certain gentleman forgot to replace his braces and succumbed to the bellringer's nightmare - that dilemma which forces a choice between a rogue bell rope or the loss of trousers!

North Devon: A Diamond Wedding Peal


Brian Mountjoy writes:

A COUPLE OF YEARS ago, Jenny Alderson from Castle Cary mentioned that she would like to ring a peal at Ilfracombe in 1997 to celebrate her parents' Diamond Wedding. Discussing the arrangements earlier this year, I learnt that Jenny's father was a chemist in Ilfracombe for many years and that she was born and bred in the town - another ringer living in Somerset not many miles from myself entitled to belong to the St Brannock's Society.

It was decided, if possible to ring the peal for the Society, but the attempt was transferred to Combe Martin, as Holy Trinity, Ilfracombe were unavailable. The date was duly set and a band arranged for Yorkshire Surprise Major. No-one could have foreseen that the date would turn out to be one of mourning as the nation said farewell to Diana, princess of Wales. The attempt was cancelled and St Brannock's Dinner Day suggested as an alternative.

Dinner Day came and a slightly rearranged band rang a peal of Grandsire Triples worthy of the occasion, a belated Diamond Wedding compliment to Wilfred and Kay Thorne, who came with Peter, Jenny's husband, and listened to well over an hour of the good ringing, and went home delighted with our efforts.

St Brannock's Society
COMBE MARTIN, Devon, S Peter-ad-Vincula

Saturday November 8, 1997
2 hours and 46 minutes
Composed by JJ Parker (12-part)
1 Mervyn C Way
2 Jenny M Alderson
3 Heather Weaver
4 W Henry Trewin
5 Michael R Rose
6 Terry R Hampton
7 Brian V Mountjoy (C)
8 James M Clarke
A belated Diamond Wedding compliment to Wilfred and Kay Thorne, parents of 2. Originally arranged for 6/9/97, this peal was also rung on St Brannock's Society Dinner Day

Plymouth: St Andrew's anniversary


FORTY YEARS ago, the bells of St Andrew's, Plymouth, were rung to celebrate the reconsecration of the church following reconstruction after the blitz. Tom Myers wrote the following article in "The Ringing World":

"The Mother Church of Plymouth, the Parish Church of St Andrew, suffered severe damage by incendiary and high-explosive bombs, during two heavy air raids on March 20th and 21st, 1941. The tower, with its fine old ring of ten bells, escaped serious damage, but the rest of the church was just a ruined shell. Shortly after its destruction a board with one word in bold lettering was fixed above the north porch doorway - Resurgam.

"Over 16 years later, St Andrew's Day, 1957, the restored church was reconsecrated by the Lord Bishop of Exeter, accompanied by the Bishops of Liverpool and Plymouth, and in the presence of HRH the Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone...

The ringers played their part on this great day. For an hour-and-an-half before the service the bells rang out to rounds on ten and touches of Grandsire and Stedman Caters. When the service had ended, 395 Grandsire Caters was first rung; and then (after a break to adjust ropes, etc., and lock themselves in) 5,040 Plain Bob Royal was well and truly rung by ten members of the Guild of Devonshire ringers. The bells went off into changes at 5.4p.m., and a fast beat set by Alan Carveth was consistently maintained, each part averaging a few seconds over 50 minutes, and the ran home at 8.25p.m.

"The conclusion of the peal brought to an end the festivities of this memorable day - the first in a new chapter in the ministry of St Andrew's Church, Plymouth. After a farewell handshake, the ringers made their way to their respective homes - the Rev A.S. Roberts to Carbis Bay; Alan, David and Bob to Truro, Philip to Dover; and the rest... To within walking distance of St Andrew's."

It was Richard Bowden who has brought this anniversary to our attention; he mentions that during the consecration of the church, there was an uncouth noisy demonstration by a banner waving extreme Protestant group, protesting against the Bishop's use of holy water! Ed.

Exeter: Peal rung for anniversary


On 9th October St Mark's celebrated its Diamond Jubilee, and this was marked by a week-long exhibition in the church of all aspects of its life and work, together with services of celebration and a party.

The ringers decided to mark the occasion in the way they know best, and a peal of LX Surprise Major was rung in 3 hours 8 minutes on 7th October by a band of members and friends. It was the 128th peal on the bells.

Although the church was consecrated in 1937, the bells were not installed and dedicated until 1951. It was through the generosity of Dame Violet Wills that the tower had been added to the original plans for the church, and this was constructed in accordance with the specifications of Taylors of Loughborough for the purpose of hanging eight bells. In 1938 the church was given six bells: five of these had previously hung at St George's, Exeter before being augmented to six and rehoused at St John's, Exeter. It was intended that the six bells should now be recast into five new bells, which would be added to a recently donated bell intended to become the 2nd (and which was destined to be the 4th of the octave).

The PCC did not meet to consider hanging the bells until the spring of 1949, when it was decided to go ahead with the work as a thank offering for the safe preservation of the church during the war. As soon as the decision had been taken, a donor came forward with an offer of two trebles, and seven bells were cast to blend with the bell given in 1938 and create the fine octave we enjoy today. The bells are very popular with visitors and peal ringers alike, and they are readily available for extended periods of ringing, thanks to good soundproofing. At the time of writing several youngsters have just started to learn and there is plenty of friendly rivalry as they race to achieve the various goals of the Sherbourne Teaching Aids 'Bell Club'. It would be good if these learners could be the peal ringers of tomorrow and celebrate the centenary of St Mark's church.


Everyone agrees that children do need to be protected from perverts and molesters. But surely, in a tower? When learning to ring? Aren't they safe there?

Well, of course, the answer is, "usually". But churches and bands of ringers need to be aware of the risks, and take the relevant precautions. Every parish should have received a copy of the Diocesan guidelines and discussed them at PCC, and the policy of the PCC should have been made available to the Tower Captain or whoever teaches children. This may include some sort of registration, including a declaration by the person who intends to work with youngsters. This safeguards churches and adults when false accusations are made, as well as helping to protect children from potential abusers.

If the PCC has no policy, these are the guidelines suggested by the Central Council.

37 years ago (from the Express & Echo)

Members of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers were puzzled by the results of a survey which revealed that girls were keener than boys to take up bell-ringing. "Nobody seems to know why," said the Guild's librarian the Rev J Scott. "Naturally, there are still more male ringers and they are needed where the heavier bells are concerned. A girl or woman can handle a bell up to 15cwt, but a man usually has to take over after that."


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Pages written by Ian Campbell

Updated 29/12/97