After the euphoria of qualifying for the final of the National twelve Bell Contest for the first time, the Exeter band came back to earth as they tried to organise the concentrated practices for the competition through to the end of June instead of the usual first two months of the year. With the university members not available during the Easter vacation and holidays etc. disrupting plans during May and June, as the band stood to at St Martin's in the Fields on June 28th to ring the competition piece of Stedman Cinques, it was the first time all twelve had stood together since setting their bells at the end of the eliminator at Aston on 22nd March! They were the only band not to have taken the opportunity to practice at St Martin's in the Fields prior to the final.
The Exeter band did West Country ringing proud by ringing a very creditable competition piece which did not suffer unduly when compared with the ringing of the top bands in the country. They were undoubtedly unfortunate in being drawn first, and perhaps the ringing was a touch too steady and careful for the weight of the bells (and the tastes of the judges). Many listeners outside were of the opinion that a later draw would have seen Exeter better placed than eighth, through it should be noted that St Paul's Cathedral were placed seventh!
"It was a great privilege for the Exeter band to be able to take part in such a great ringing occasion", said Howard Egglestone. "We went up to London on the early train and were able to enjoy a memorable day out in London: the magnificent bells and setting of St Martins in the Fields, the crowds of ringers from all over the country, the top-class twelve-bell ringing, and for me at least, the pleasure in seeing the Cumberlands win the competition in their 250th year."
Howard thanks all the members of the "squad" who were not in the final team. By entering the competition over the past few years, twelve bell ringing at Exeter has improved a great deal. This improvement can be measured by the number of ringers in the area who are capable of joining in this enhanced standard of twelve-bell ringing, and indeed of forming the nucleus of future competition bands...
Following the tragic death of the Princess of Wales, church bells have been rung everywhere half muffled in commemoration of her life - peals and quarters, as well as specially arranged ringing. Exeter Cathedral bells were even heard on national television, ringing before the special service there on the day of her funeral. It has been good that at a time of general mourning, bellringers should play such an active part and ringing should be seen as a most appropriate way of marking the events. When faced with criticism about noise pollution, we should remember how at times like this, our bells have such a central role in the life of the country. We have been privileged to play our part in the occasion.
On a personal note, I am sorry the newsletter is being published a little later than usual. As many will know, we have been moving house, and there has been much speculation as to my future plans: I even made the front page of the Exeter Express and Echo. I have resigned from the living of Thorverton, Cadbury, Brampford Speke, Upton Pyne and Newton St Cyres, and have decided to become a Roman Catholic; my hope is that the Bishop of Plymouth will ordain me as a Catholic priest (although as a married man, I will have to receive special dispensation). Pat, Nicholas, Catherine and I are now living in Sandford, and I am beginning a teaching course at the University. May I thank all those who have given messages of support and encouragement in what has been a difficult time.
Enjoy your autumn ringing!
CONGRATULATIONS to Jane Blight and Patricia Rice who have rung their first quarters.
Holcombe Burnell. 31 May 1997. 1260 Plain Bob Doubles. Melanie Rendell 1; Liz Rendell 2; Lynne Smith 3; Alison Rendell 4; PW Rendell (C) 5; Jane Blight 6.
Combe Martin. 22 June 1997. 1260 Plain Bob Doubles. Patricia Rice 1; DG Lawson (C) 2; D Jewell 3; TR Hampton 4; MR Rose 5; M Squire 6; a St Brannocks Society Quarter.
The Mid Devon Branch held a successful mini outing to the South Hams in July with ringing at East Allington, Churchstow, Thurlestone and (highlight of the day) Modbury. This was quite well-supported and everyone was particularly pleased to see the branch secretary, Tony Morris, looking much better after his serious operation. This is one of the branch events when the branch annually welcomes Ted Garrett - Peal Secretary of the Peterborough Guild. Ted has been timing his yearly visits to Torbay to fit in with the mini-outing for quite a few years now and is a sort of honorary member of the branch. It is always a pleasure to see him and the members hope he will be joining them for many years to come.
During Tony Morris's enforced "rest", the branch has been very grateful to Derek Hawkins (ably assisted by Mo, of course) who took on the branch secretary's work until, Tony is able to return.
The Advanced Practices have been changed from the dates shown in the Annual Report and are now on the fourth Monday of the month. The August practice was quite successful due to the presence of a visitor and good progress with Rutland was made even if the ringers did not quite manage to complete a plain course! The next advanced practice will be at St Marychurch on Monday 22 September when the special method will again be Rutland. Ringing Master Martin Mansley hopes to attempt splicing it with Cambridge and Yorkshire if the band is strong enough. He would be delighted to see anyone who can come, and everyone is invited to make a note of the date.
Wendy Campbell writes, "A reminder to everyone that the annual eight-bell competition for the Andrews trophy is to be held on Saturday 18 October at Tavistock. Our judges will be Alan and Mary Carveth of Truro. The draw takes places at 2.30pm and the test piece is 216 Spliced Plain and Little Bob Major. It would be very good news indeed if we could have a band entered from every branch."
Congratulations to Martin Lloyd and Susan Tucker, who were married at Heavitree on 12th July. They are both loyal and valued members of the local band and, fortunately, will continue to live within sight of the tower. Susan is Exeter Branch Secretary and Martin works for Nicholson Engineering.
Congratulations also to Jennifer Campbell (younger daughter of Ian and Wendy) and Daniel Monek, who were married at Heavitree on 25th July but are now living in Daniels native state of Florida, USA. Jenny learnt to ring when she was seven - perhaps people can remember her having to stand on a bench when ringing at the Cathedral in order to reach the sally! - and she was a Guild member for many years until leaving to pursue her studies at Edinburgh University.
The Annual General Meeting of the Guild this year had such a low turn-out that there were not enough members to form a quorum. As a result, a small committee was formed to look into the problem and see what could be done to create a more interesting event. To this end. Lester Yeo, Martin Mansley and Wendy Campbell held an informal planning meeting on 19 June (well, actually, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening in the bar of the Old Rydon, Kingsteignton), and have worked out a strategy for a day which might appeal to more members.
The Guild is a registered charity and by law must hold a business meeting each year, but this could be held first thing when people are reasonably bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Also the prospect of lunch to follow would concentrate the mind wonderfully!
It was felt that the format of having towers open during the day for general ringing has proved very popular in the past and raised valuable funds for the BRF, but we observed that this is not longer the case. However, there is always a demand for instruction in various guises, and it is suggested that two sessions of workshops should be held during the afternoon. These might cover handbell ringing, computers and simulators, tower and rope maintenance, mini- and micro-rings. Practical method instruction in the tower might range from Plain Bob Doubles and Cambridge Surprise Minor to Stedman Triples and Spliced Surprise Major, depending on demand, the day could be rounded off with the Guild service and an evening barbecue.
A possible timetable for the day might be as follows:
11.30 Registration for workshops
12.00 Annual business meeting
2.30 Workshops (session one)
3.30 Workshops (session two)
4.30 Open ringing
5.00 Guild service, followed by tea or barbecue.
Guild Secretary Wendy Campbell asks, "What do members think? It is your day - let it be one with something to make you want to attend rather than just another dreary chore."
Roy Bould, of Plymouth St Andrew, died of cancer on 29 July aged only 63. By profession an antique jeweller (regularly speaking at charity events and lecturing at Camborne School of Mines), Roy was at various times Secretary, Ringing Master and Chairman of the South West Branch, and served as a Central Council Representative for the Guild. He also judged the handbell section at the Torbay Music Festival and Lamerton festival.
Roy had learnt to handle a bell at Tavistock, and learnt his method ringing from the Myers family at S Andrew's. He was proud to be a member of the famous band which rang the standard methods with faultless striking, especially in regular Sunday evening quarter peals. He rang his first peal in the late 1940s and his peal ringing career lasted until the late 1970s; he rang around 300 peals, throughout the country and with many famous ringers, including forty as conductor for the Guild.
Unfortunately, in the 1980s, he became unable to negotiate tower steps and so was forced to give up ringing, but he kept in contact with his fellow ringers throughout the rest of his life. A quarter peal was rung at St Andrew's in his memory.
Richard Shere has been given a scrap book of newspaper cuttings about ringing, particularly in Devon, by Mrs Stripp, for many years a ringer at St David's. If ever RRD is short of news, it is hoped to include snippets from this fascinating collection. For instance, there is a picture of the second Cathedral dinner back in 1962, and an article about Norman Mallett teaching girl guides to ring at Heavitree in July 1961, not to mention an item about a Brixham ringer losing his trousers during a competition!
Saturday 26 July saw the Society of Rambling Ringers start their forty-seventh Annual tour. During the following two weeks the Society rang on rings of bells along the East Devon and Somerset border. To be precise, sixty-one towers and two small rings in Devon and twenty-eight towers and one small ring in Somerset! So now everyone knows why all those cars and bikes, together with a range of persons aged from a few months to those of more mature years could be seen radiating in and around your churches!
An enjoyable holiday spent ringing on the wide variety of bells on offer in this delightful part of the country was had by the Society's members, who come from all parts of the country - I should say world, as two of our members live in Holland. The tour went to one four bell tower, a few fives, numerous sixes, many eights, a handful of tens, and to a couple of twelves, and included bells only a few pounds in weight to the second heaviest ring in the world. The weather also gave a helping hand with variety too: sunshine for our first week with our second week seeing the heaviest rainfall in East Devon for many years. But wellies and brollies at the ready we continued to smile, despite our tents getting a thorough soaking!
I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of all our members to thank East Devon and Somerset for making us so welcome at their towers and for helping to make our forty-seventh tour a memorable one. Thank you.
The bellringers at Shute in East Devon rang the first local band quarter in living memory on 21 June. The ringers met to celebrate Mark Pring's eighteenth birthday and the birth of Peter Raymond, the first child of Michael and Rosalind Loud.
Although it was not the first quarter for any of the band, the quarter peal - of Plain Bob and Grandsire - was still a noteworthy milestone for the whole band, and particularly for Brian Gardner, the captain of the Shute ringers, whose first it was as conductor.
Shute, Devon (S Michael)
On 21 June 1997
A Quarter Peal of Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles: 1260 changes.
1 Roy Pring
2 Mark Pring
3 Christopher Loud
4 Stephanie Gardner
5 Brian Gardner (c)
6 Michael Loud
Nine resident members of the Guild and one non-resident rang a peal of fourteen Spliced Surprise Royal at Thorverton in June. CG Wright's nine-part composition was a taxing but rewarding task for all the band, involving each person to ring each lead of the fourteen methods in the peal only once. Special mention must be made of Michael Mears the conductor, and Elaine Grant who replaced one of the original band after the earlier peals in the series had been rung.
The band consisted of Frank Mack, Lis Bowden, Lester Yeo, Elaine Grant, Howard Egglestone, Tim Barnaby, Matthew Hilling, David Macey, James Grant and Michael Mears.
The Guild has lost one its long-standing servants with the sudden passing of Les Morrell, who had been a ringer at Hemyock for seventy years. He was born on the Devon/Somerset borders and never strayed far from his roots, living most of his life in Hemyock. He learnt to ring there as a teenager having been taught in 1927 by the then Rector, the Revd Mr Keechley.
At that time, ringing in Hemyock was very much call-change territory, and so it was a surprise when with some other younger ringers he joined the Guild in July 1947. As his, and his friends', ringing progressed, outings to local towers followed, and Saturdays would be spent on bicycles, ringing quarter peals in towers up to fifteen miles distant. Seven quarters in a day were not uncommon, and ringing for weddings (a 10/- fee) was worth cycling for.
Les was a modest man and said he never kept records. It is thought that he rang about 600 quarter peals and 12-15 peals. The first of these was the first on the Hemyock bells in November 1957.
He and Audrey did not have children of their own, but shared their love by welcoming a succession of ringers to their home in Hemyock. Les became Tower Captain in 1974, and set the rest of the band a good example with his reliability, timekeeping, patience and welcome. As older ringers retired he brought together a new team, including ladies, and taught many the skills of ringing. He was very much involved in the Church Council's decision to have the bells rehung in 1982 and assisted Taylor's with the work.
His service was recognised by the Guild when he was made a Vice-president in 1992. Sadly by this time Les had given up active ringing on medical advice. It is fitting that his last two quarters were at Hemyock with an all local band he had been instrumental in teaching. Even in retirement Les continued to support the tower, helping with teaching, letting in visitors and advising the band on their striking!
Les died quite suddenly on 6 July. Ringers from a wide area of Devon and Somerset rang before and after the funeral service, and two quarters were rung in his honour: one "open" in celebration of his life, the other - his favourite Grandsire - traditionally half-muffled as he would have organised.
As there are now a sufficient number of retired or semi-retired ringers in the area, the North and North West Devon ringers decided that it was feasible to consider forming the "Taw, Torridge and Tamar Mid-Week Group" in addition to their normal activities.
Their first meeting was held in July at Holsworthy and Bradford, with a meal at the Woodacott Arms at Thornbury. Unfortunately a rope broke at Holsworthy and the quarter peal attempted was lost. Ten people came for the day, including Harry Stacey (in shorts!), Henry Trewin, Margaret Reeves, Ken Ford, Terry Spearing, David Dalladay, Derek Jewell and Don Lawson. Since then, a second meeting has been held at Torrington and Parkham.
The aim is initially to meet for a pub lunch and chat in the village where ringing is to take place (say 1pm), then to ring from 2pm to 4pm. "The emphasis will be on enjoyment, sociability, informality and good striking", said Don Lawson. The hope is that this will be a monthly opportunity for ringers, some of whom do not meet on a regular weekly basis, to get together for "a ring and a natter". The organisation of the towers and running of the meetings together with the selection of the "special method" will circulate amongst everybody attending.
Don does not claim any credit for this idea as it is already a regular feature of many guild and association ringing calendars, but he adds, "I hope that those of you who are eligible will give it your support - let's see how it goes!"
The calendar will run from February to November on the second Thursday of each month. Venues will rotate between the three regions. The next meeting will be on September 11th, with ringing at Tawstock and Yarnscombe, and lunch at Newton Tracey.
The East Devon Branch striking competition was held this year at St Peter's, Dalwood, on Saturday 12 July and was judged by Mr Ron Trickey of Culmstock.
Seven teams entered and were placed as follows:
1 Shute A 9.25 faults
2 Honiton B 14.75 faults
3 Ottery A 17.75 faults
4 Honiton A 20.75 faults
5 Sidmouth 22 faults
6 Shute B 24.5 faults
7 Ottery B 35 faults
The winning team consisted of Roy Pring, Mark Pring, Edward Summers, Stephanie Gardner, Brian Gardner and Michael Loud.
This result was all the more memorable for Shute as they had not won before and submitted a late entry with two you up-and-coming ringers in the team!
During the afternoon, Mrs Kath Summers organised the teas in the village hall and this was followed by an enjoyable social evening of skittles and a barbecue at the Tuckers Arms.
During the evening Mrs Jean Turner was presented with an engraved bowl by Mr Bryan Coles (Chairman) in appreciation of eleven years as Secretary of the branch.
Devon has a number of ringable three- and four-bell towers, and the Exeter branch in June visited four of them, and so had the chance to practice Stedman Singles (very difficult) and Bristol Minimus (much easier).
The organisers were expecting only a handful of people, and were overwhelmed by the couple of dozen who appeared at Honeychurch to ring at this delightfully unspoilt church (3: 4-3-0 in C) with its loose floorboards.
It was a short drive to Bondleigh, a well-kept church (4: 9cwt in A#), where even the harmonium had patent mouse-proof pedals. At Wembworthy (3: ? in C), with its squat tower and upstairs ringing chamber, the visitors were made very welcome by the local ringer, but unfortunately one of the ropes had a tendency to break below the sally during attempts at Stedman.
Eggesford Garden Centre provided an ideal stop for tea (the scones were good, and the carrot cake was quite tasty even if the icing contained granulated sugar). The final tower of the day was Cheldon (4: 5cwt in A); here a plough had to be removed from the ringing-chamber before ringing could begin, and a rubber stamp was found in the churchyard which enabled Ordnance Survey maps to become souvenirs of the day.
A suitable pub was found for a quick drink, before the ringers separated, a decent contingent going for a curry in the excellent Indian Restaurant in Crediton.
Phil and Mo Stevens answered correctly the most number of questions in the joint Mid-Devon and Exeter Treasure Hunt in June, and so won a fine prize. Guild president Bob Southwood (assisted by Derek and Mo Hawkins) had devised a devious route, starting from Combeinteignhead and leading through obscure country lanes, via Compton Castle to a pub in Abbotskerswell, where refreshments were available. Congratulations to the Came family who won the prize for bringing back the biggest leaf!
The Central Council has produced an excellent video on the training of bell handling. The process is broken down into small stages and each one is given a separate "slot" so that if tutors do not agree with the order as shown, they can pick out the stage they want to cover next. Probably the most useful part is the section which shows common faults, often exaggerated. No comments are made, so that the learner has to identify them, and then they are shown again with the answers - and how it should be done.
The Guild has been sent two complimentary copies. I have one and Wendy Campbell has the other. Because of the importance of this subject, it was felt a good use of the Education Fund and the Guild will be purchasing enough copies for each branch to hold one to loan out to its members. It the meantime, if anyone would like to see this interesting video, please let me know and you can borrow one of the Guild copies.
At least one of the branches has now established its own library of mainly educational ringing books, and I would strongly urge branches which have not already done so to consider it seriously even if it means a special fund-raising drive. If anyone would like a suitable book list, I would be delighted to discuss it with them. Just give me a ring.
As most evening services had been cancelled in the Tiverton area that day, local ringers had the opportunity to ring at Exeter Cathedral on the occasion of the Tiverton Deanery service in June. Five towers - Bampton, Morebath, Silverton, Tiverton St Paul and Tiverton St Peter - were represented by a total of nineteen ringers. Several had not rung at the Cathedral before and were very pleased to have been allowed to ring at "their" cathedral.
This was very much in tune with the spirit of the welcome given to the Tiverton Deanery visitors by the Dean earlier in the afternoon, and the fact that a number of other deanery representatives took an active part in the service. Rounds and call changes were rung on the light ten and a very acceptable touch of Plain Bob Major was rung on the Thomas eight.
Thanks go to the Cathedral Chapter for allowing the Deanery ringers to ring, to Howard Egglestone for making the arrangements, and to Ian and Wendy Campbell for welcoming and assisting the band on the day.
The draw for 1998 peals at the Cathedral was held after the Society practice in September. Each year, the Cathedral authorities receive a number of requests to ring a peal there, but under normal circumstances there are only four attempts allowed, one of which is by a local band.
This year, twelve requests for peal attempts had been received, and three were chosen at random. Attempts will be offered to Michael Wilby (February 21), Alison Regan (April 25) and Clarke Walters (September 26th). Andrew Mills name was selected as reserve, and the local band attempt will be in November.
Ringers at this outpost of method ringing in North Devon are still keen to add two new trebles to the fine eight. The hope is that money from the lottery will make this a real possibility and the new bells be in place by the end of the century.
The first peal on the bells of St Michael's, Teignmouth, since the early eighties, was rung by a Guild band on a very hot day in August to mark the centenary of the dedication of the bells. For tower captain Martin Dodd who rang the tenor, it was his fifth peal (and his fourth in the tower). Neville Gibbings rang his second peal (and needed a dip in the sea afterwards) and James Grant called his second - JJ Parker's Twelve Part peal of Grandsire Triples. The Mid-Devon branch provided six of the band, all of whom were grateful to the churchwarden who provided refreshment after the 3 hours 4 minutes of ringing.
Radio Devon are planning to broadcast a 55 minute programme on the daily life of Exeter Cathedral. Reporter Damian Davies visited the tower before the Saturday practice in August and interviewed a number of the ringers.
First of all, he listened to the bells of St Petrock's, and walked through into the Cathedral, with much rattling of keys and creaking of doors. Before climbing up the spiral staircase, Cathedral Ringing Master Ian Campbell and Andrew Nicholson were asked to speak about why people ring, the history of the bells, and why the cathedral is such a mecca for visiting ringers. After a visit to the bells, the reporter spoke to Cathedral members Elaine and James Grant (Thomas wouldn't contribute) and Ian Avery. The interviews with ringers may take up ten minutes of the programme which is to be broadcast in January.
Disclaimer - please read
Pages written by