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 is 2 pounds for four issues.
Items for inclusion will be welcomed by the editor or the Guild Secretary, Wendy Campbell, firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Mudge, tower captain of Tavistock, was elected Guild President to succeed the Revd Bob Southwood at the Annual General Meeting held on May 2nd at Woodbury. He is the eighth person to hold this position in the 124 years of the Guild's history.
George has been Guild Master, South West Branch Chairman, and Branch Ringing Master and is currently one of the Guild's representatives on the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. He is also one of the prime movers in the augmentation of Tavistock to ten.
His family are all ringers, and are known for their regular performance on handbells at the Devon ringers' carol service in recent years. Following his appointment, George assured members that if they had anything they wished to discuss with him, they should telephone him without hesitation. He also told how he was currently teaching a band of learners at Kelly, where the Revd Maitland Kelly had introduced the first method ringing to Devon in 1865, one of the learners being the grandson of Maitland Kelly himself.
Norman Mallett paid tribute to the retiring President Bob Southwood, appreciating the contribution he had made to the Guild and assuring him that his name would be remembered for many years. Bob was presented with an engraved glass bowl and a large pile of gift tokens, and promptly elected Guild Master. He has written to thank "all the Devon Guild members for their unexpected and most generous gesture to me... This was completely undeserved in my opinion, because as president, I was only doing what I enjoyed anyway, but nevertheless I greatly appreciate the kind gesture, and all the love and support I have received over the years."
Rumour has it that Bob was on the doorstep of his local WH Smith at 9am the following day, ready to spend his gift tokens. Ever fond of gadgets, he has invested in an electronic address book / organiser and has even managed to program two addresses into it!
Several people approached me at the AGM and asked when there was going to be a reprint of the Guild sweatshirt. This got me thinking about offering a wider range of garments, and also the possibility of improving the logo by having it embroidered rather than screen printed and redraw the bell so that it looks less like a flowerpot!
I have now consulted with Andreana Embroidery Services, a company in Portishead specialising in this type of work and owned by a ringer, and in due course our logo will be created in dark blue, light blue and gold, size 75mm diameter, ready to be embroidered on to the required article.
We plan to offer:
a) raglan sleeved sweatshirt @ #17.50
b) dropped shoulder sweatshirt @ #18.00
c) polo shirt @ #17.00
d) tee shirt @ #14.00
All the above come in a wide range of colours. Size ranges vary, but generally will encompass the petite 38-inch chest up to a generous 52+ inches.
These prices are provisional at the moment because I do not expect to place an order until later in the year after touring most of the branch AGMs, but I hope that there won't be any drastic rises. We need an order of thirty garments to cover the one-off logo artwork charge; anything more than that will give us a small profit for the BRF. It is also possible to have additional embroidery above or below the badge - your tower name for example - at a small extra charge, so please let me know if you are interested.
Guild members voted the Festival Day an astounding success at the beginning of May. The organisers knew that it was something of a gamble to combine the annual business meeting with training sessions, but it was a gamble that paid off. Large numbers of people came to develop their skills and to show their support for the work of the Guild.
Workshops were held in Woodbury's two halls as well as in the towers of neighbouring churches within the Aylesbeare Deanery, and members practised Stedman, Surprise Major, Cambridge Minor and the early stages of method ringing, as well as handbell ringing, tower maintenance. An added attraction was a fascinating workshop on listening skills, run by John Harrison of the Central Council Education Committee; with the aid of computers, he tested people's ability to pick out one bell and to correct its poor striking.
The success of the day was particularly due to Jonathan and Chris Lear who organised a splendid lunch and cream tea, as well as making most of the local arrangements.
Details of the striking competition are elsewhere in the newsletter as well as news of the business meeting. Any comments to help with the planning of next year's Festival Day will be gratefully received by the Guild Secretary.
Don Lawson and Henry Trewin are pleased to report growing support for the Taw, Torridge and Tamar mid week monthly meetings. Up to seventeen ringers plus wives and the occasional visitor (Wolves Ann again!) have thoroughly enjoyed the ringing and extended lunches arranged at each venue. The dates and venues for the next two meetings are: June 11 - Braunton and Bishop's Tawton and July 8 - Northam and Buckland Brewer.
A team representing Exeter Cathedral took home the Fidler Cup after the Guild six-bell competition at Clyst St George on Guild Festival Day. Consisting of the Cathedral Ringing Master and Secretary and four members ineligible to ring for any other tower, the team rang a rhythmic touch of Cambridge Minor that impressed visiting judge John Harrison.
Holders Exeter St Mark were knocked into second place with 59 faults compared to the Cathedral's 27. Third were Tavistock (69 faults), followed by the Exeter Colleges Guild (81 faults), Heavitree (87 faults) and Marychurch (102 faults). In view of the recent placings in the National Twelve Bell Eliminator, one of the Cathedral band was heard to mutter, 'It makes a change not to come last!'
Once again the ringers of St Andrew's, Plymouth, have been doing their media showbiz thing. This time they made it to national television when ITV's morning worship programme came live from the church. A snippet of ringing was recorded and the fundraising project was mentioned. This proved very successful and resulted in a very generous offer from one of the viewers who had an affiliation with the church some years ago.
Local efforts have included putting a display about the bells - the history and the plans for the future - in the main branch of Lloyds Banks in Plymouth. The display was opened by the Lord Mayor, Cllr Joan Stopperton, and has produced a small but steady stream of donations. The ringers will have taken part in the Lord Mayor's Parade Day on May 16th, and the Restoration Book has been received back from the calligrapher with the names of first batch of sponsors donation #10 or more entered into it.
On 20 June a Barn Dance has been organised. Tickets are priced at #5 each and will include a light supper; drinks will also be available. Anyone interested in a fun night out can obtain tickets from the church office on 01752 661414.
A video about St Andrew's Bells has also been filmed and edited by a member of the congregation, and is available at the approximate cost of #7.
The Annual Meeting during Guild Festival Day only lasted an hour, and Bob Southwood, having relinquished his post as President, was elected both Guild Master and Publicity Officer. The other new officers was the Association Liaison Officer, Ian Avery, and the Central Council Representatives were elected for the next triennium (1999-2001): Frank Mack, Leslie Boyce, Don Roberts, and George Mudge.
It was agreed that the Guild should donate five hundred pounds from its ordinary funds to the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund, and to hold a fund raising event at Lympstone barracks on 20 June (see article). The Guild Festival next year will be held on June 12th at Ottery St Mary in the East Devon Branch. The date for the six bell competition is still to be decided.
After staying silent for more than a quarter of a century the bells of the picturesque St Petrock's Church in Exeter's High Street are ringing again. They have been overhauled and put into ringing condition, and to celebrate the occasion a team of ringers from Heavitree recently completed a quarter peal of 1,440 changes of Plain Bob Minor on them.
The six bells in the tower comprise what is said to be the lightest peal of six in Britain. This contrasts with the peal of the Cathedral, only a few hundred yards away, which is the heaviest ringing peal in the country.
The St Petrock's tenor bell, for instance, weighs only 5¾ cwt., whereas the Cathedral's tenor weighs 72½ cwt.
A novel feature of the St Petrock's peal is that one the bells - the No. 4 (cast in 1683) - is stationed higher than the rest of the peal. It is fitted into a quaint turret at the top of the tower. Another unusual feature is that the bell ropes all hang down into the nave of the church where the ringers have to stand to work them.
The oldest bell in the peal is the third, which bears the arms of Henry V, and was cast in the 15th century.
The Rector, the Rev. J.A. Goundry tells me that the bells were last restored in 1922, and were last rung in 1936, when it was thought that they had become unsafe unless major repairs were carried out. This belief had since been discounted.
Mr. Norman Mallett of the Heavitree ringers, who has taken a close interest in the present restoration, says that in spite of having lain idle for about 26 years the bearings of the bells were still moist with the oil which had preserved them in good condition.
The present restoration of the bells has included rebuilding one of the louvres in the tower. Fixing a new beam in the tower to carry the fourth bell, taking the bells from their bearings and cleaning the bearings and shafts; strengthening the wheels, cleaning and adjusting the clappers and cleaning and painting the frames and headstocks.
Students of Exeter University and St Luke's College are panning to form a group of bell-ringers and Mr. Goundry says it may be arranged for them to look after the ringing in term time. Local ringers could co-operate out of term. The bells will be rung for the evening service every other Sunday. On the alternate Sundays the service is held at St Mary Major.
The bells are to be rededicated on Saturday, December 8, at 6.30p.m. By the Archdeacon of Exeter, the Ven. R.H. Babington.
For the record I should say that the quarter peal already test in 26 years was rung by rung to give the bells their first Miss J. Barnett (treble), Mr J. Woolford (2), Mr. M. Lock (3), Mr F. Wreford (4), Mr G. Skinner (5), and Mr. N. Mallett (tenor). Mr. Mallett conducted.
Although the new bells of St Mark's were installed in 1951, it was not until 1968 that the first peal was rung:
Wednesday 29th May 1968
5040 GRANDSIRE TRIPLES
J J Parker's 12-part
1. Frank D Mack
2. D Roy Bould
3. Revd John G M Scott
4. George E Mudge
5. George E Retter
6. John N Longridge
7. Frederick Wreford (C)
8. Norman Mallett
Fred Wreford and Roy Bould are no longer with us, and John Scott, Norman Mallett and George Retter declined with regrets to ring in the attempt to mark the thirtieth anniversary. However the remaining three members of the band accepted the invitation with varying degrees of enthusiasm and a peal of the aptly named Anniversary Delight Major was steered to a successful conclusion in 2 hours 59 minutes:
Friday 29th May 1998
5184 ANNIVERSARY D MAJOR
Composition generated by BYROC
1. Frank D Mack
2. Nicola J Crichton
3. Lesley A Tucker
4. Ian L C Campbell
5. Richard C Shere
6. P Wendy Campbell
7. George E Mudge
8. John N Longridge (C)
Can this be true? Well, no, not yet, writes Martin Mansley, but if attendance at meetings and practices does not improve then the branch committee will have to look at some drastic measures.
Attendances at branch practices has been so poor of late that at least one tower has considered changing its allegiance - something which Guild rules give it every right to do. This is not just an idle threat and unless attendance improves we will lose a tower that we cannot afford to lose and the situation will become serious.
It is very frustrating that without our branch boundaries we have enough experienced and active ringers to achieve some very advanced ringing but we see many of them rarely or never at branch events.
So, if you live in the Mid Devon area please can we see more of you at our meetings. There is plenty of potential in the area - let's see it brought to fruition.
Galmpton are pleased to be able to report that at the end of April the scaffolding was finally taken away from around the tower and things are back to normal. The lightning strike just after Christmas had several unforeseen consequences, not the least of which was that after many years of talking about it, the Galmpton ringers finally got round to giving the belfry a thorough spring clean. It is amazing just how much rubbish had accumulated and also how many tins of Hammerite were needed to paint all the metalwork... And they have a wooden frame!
Galmpton and their friends from Salcombe have been inspired by George Mudge's simulator set up at Tavistock to have a go themselves and have accordingly arranged to borrow one of the Central Council machines for the month of August. It is hoped to install it at Salcombe where the ringing chamber is much more accessible and where of course there is a very nice set of bells.
The idea is that the bells will be available to anyone who can make good use of them for practice sessions or for peal or quarter ringing. A charge will have to be made to cover expenses but this will probably be no more than the usual rope fee. Why not book the tower for a half day session? Bring some friends and ring what you like secure in the knowledge that no one can hear you outside the ringing chamber. Local ringers of all standards are available to fill in and there are plenty of outside attractions in Salcombe to keep non-ringers happy. Contact Mike Tann to discuss your ideas.
Now in its third year, the St Peter's Shield Competition goes from strength to strength. The competition is open to all towers in the Tiverton and Cullompton Deaneries and entrants can ring either ten minutes of call changes or 240 changes of any doubles method.
This year seven towers found their way - some by rather roundabout routes - to Clayhidon on the first Saturday in March for the competition. St Andrew's, Cullompton, were clear winners with some excellent call changes, while Culmstock came second. The full results are listed below. After the conclusion of the ringing, friends, and relations joined the ringers for supper in the nearby Half Moon Inn and a convivial evening followed with Terry Hargreaves organising various groups to join in "cross and pass" on handbells.
The St Peter's Society is especially grateful to the Clayhidon ringers for their help in organising the evening. As often happens on these occasions the unpredictable struck when contractors moved in without warning at the start of the week to carry out a full rewiring of the church. Some diplomatic negotiation by the local ringers ensured that the church was usable on the Saturday evening and that there was light to see by!
Tiverton (S. Peter) 57
Tiverton (S. Paul) 86
The judges were Brian and Neil Williams
Kingsteignton were the winners at the 1998 Devon 8-bell Association competition, held at Christow on 25 April which was judged by George Whidden, Stan Martin, Ivor Hookway and Mervyn Phillips.
Teams were placed as follows:
1] Kingsteignton 25 faults
2] Kingsbridge 31 faults
3] Buckland in the Moor 36¼ faults
4] Plymstock 41½ faults
5] Tavistock 44½ faults
6] Paignton 52½ faults
7] Chittlehampton 55 faults
8] North Tawton 61½ faults
9] Chagford 72½ faults
10] Exminster 89½ faults
Interestingly the teams placed first and last were the same as last year with exactly the same number of faults.
The hundredth peal on the ten bells at Thorverton was rung on Thursday 28 May. This was a peal of Grandsire Caters composed by Brian Mountjoy (the 'Thorverton' composition) and called by Michael Mears.
Twenty four of the peals have been of Grandsire Caters, and other popular methods have been Cambridge (15), Stedman (10) and Yorkshire (8). Twelve peals of Spliced Surprise Royal were rung, including 14-spliced all the work; other peals include London (3), Superlative (2), Lincolnshire, Bristol and Clyde, and fifteen other single Surprise methods.
Delightful weather and a warm welcome awaited all who made the trek to the most southerly tower in Devon on May 23rd for the annual 6 bell Major Final held in the county's newest installation, at Salcombe. This meant a journey of over 90 miles for the contingent coming from some of the most northerly areas of the county.
Five of the bells came from just a few miles up the road at North Huish and a new treble was cast making a delightful ring with a tenor of about 9cwt.
Because of the attraction of a 'new' ring, it was expected that there should be interest from non-participants to 'grab' before the competition commenced at 2pm. The bells were ringing before 1.30pm after which there were two more quickies, one in which the writer managed to get his grab!
After the judges had been 'put away' the draw followed with the bells being put to good use from the first peal. It appeared from the ringing before the competition that the bells were likely to chitter - the first peal falling foul to about six. Other teams seemed to learn from this, as the number of chitters decreased as the afternoon progressed. Being possible to change over quite quickly meant that there five peals rung before tea.
The service was, as is usual these days, at 4pm - and what a beautiful church Salcombe has. It appears to be one of a number of large churches in the South Hams, and with a good organ and organist and with the usual good singing from the ringers and friends, the service was most enjoyable. The vicar admitted a lack of knowledge about bells, but was an expert on bellringers - and didn't he sing our praises!
A marvellous tea followed and then the four remaining teams rang their peals. This was the first time the writer has not only judged, but been present at a call-change competition when only four teams were left to ring after tea - a sign of the times? I hope not!
All in all - a superb afternoon. Well done to all the participants and congratulations to the winners!
1] South Brent 12
2] Egg Buckland 16
3] West Alvington 20½
4] Lamerton 21¾
5] Morethoe 23½
6] West Down 24¾
7] Halwell 41
8] Molland 47
9] Burrington 52
The tenth team to qualify, Littleham (North Devon) did not enter the competition. The other judges were Brian Drake, Ivor Hookway and Bill Avery.
At the beginning of May the North East Branch welcomed the Rev Michael Haighton as a new member. Perhaps unusually as a Baptist minister, Michael is also a keen ringer. At his request, representatives of the Branch attended his induction service at Saint Hill Baptist Church, a delightfully remote rural location near Kentisbeare. During the service, Michael was presented with a copy of the recently published Welcome Handbook for new members. A quarter peal on the bells of St Mary's Kentisbeare followed in the evening.
Michael has moved to Devon from Cheshire but is no stranger to the West Country, having conducted a rural mission over the border in Blagdon near Taunton. While there he helped a newly formed band to establish itself at Corfe and representatives of Corfe ringers also attended the service.
Practice night at Awliscombe has been moved to Tuesday. Visitors are always welcome. Contact Roger Sprigg for further details.
At the AGM, Bob Southwood presented the new president George Mudge with a badge to wear - with a sheep on it!
If you have rung at St David's, Exeter and Thorverton, you are bound to have seen the peal boards referring to the exploits of this long defunct 'branch' of the Guild. Looking at the names it seems that they only had a passing connection with Exeter but just the name evokes thoughts of old 'sit up and begs' and acetylene lamps.
I have often talked of the possibility of resurrecting this group for fun. With all the talk of green issues and the renewed interest in cycling it seems as though this could be a good time to do something about it.
If you are interested in some gentle cycling combined with a few towers and perhaps a pub lunch, please let me know. It would be appropriate if we could launch it on the second Saturday in September as the Devon Historic Churches Trust has a sponsored church visit via cycle on that day and perhaps we could combine some fund raising. Contact Martin if you are interested.
Devon had three members attending the Central Council meeting at Dublin, Don Roberts, Frank Mack and Rev Preb John Scott (John was one of eight who had attended the previous meeting there in 1958 when the attendance was only about half the number this time of 176).
The great honour of life membership was conferred upon John Scott to mark his long and skilled service to the Council.
Proposed changes to the methods of voting for Committees were rejected, but when candidates for the major posts (President, Vice-president, Secretary and Treasurer) are considered in future, the Alternative Vote System would be used.
Council supported bell restorations in accordance with the Code of Practice - issued by the Council for the Care of Churches 1993.
On the social side, members had the privilege of the presence of two Archbishops at the Dinner held at the HQ hotel on Sunday evening. The entertainment by singers and Irish dancers was first class. After the meeting Dublin's Lord Mayor gave a reception in the Mansion House. The whole meeting, the wonderful welcome given by the Irish Association, and all the arrangements for members made this one of the best that could be remembered.
We first met Meghann, an American exchange student, at Exeter University Freshers' Squash in October last year. Being an enthusiastic carillon prayer back home she was very keen to join the Exeter Colleges Guild and learn how to ring 'English style'. She came to our first practice and hasn't looked back since. Now, after just 20 weeks she has ably rung her first quarter peal with only a few blisters to show! Meg has also been a reliable member of our Sunday service team, and will be greatly missed when she returns to America next month.
Members of the St Brannock's Society in North Devon are busy practising spliced Grandsire and Oxford Bob Triples for the Guild eight-bell competition in October. The society has twelve ringers capable of ringing eight-spliced regularly at practice night, and Joan Clarke says that they are ringing "flawless touches", thanks to the leadership of Heather Weaver.
Six new Vice-presidents were elected at the Annual Meeting, all members of the East Devon Branch.
Marion Baker has been a member of the Guild for some fifty years; she was been Branch representative on the Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Branch for many years, and now is Branch Chairman.
Bryan Coles learnt to ring at Sidbury some fifty years ago. He has been Secretary, treasurer and Chairman of the Branch until recently when he moved out of the district to Exminster. He continues to serve the Guild as a representative on the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund.
Jim Crabb started ringing at Luppitt in 1928, where he is currently vice-captain, although he rings regularly also at Honiton and Offwell.
Jack Sage began to ring in 1927, also at Luppitt, and was instrumental in the upgrading of the bells from six to eight. In previous years, he has been Branch Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer.
Don Salter began his ringing career at Hemyock in 1941, and has been captain of the Honiton tower since 1959. He has held the positions of Guild Committee Member and Assistant Ringing Master.
Edward Summers started ringing at Awliscombe in approximately 1932, and has been captain at Buckerell for the last fifteen years. He has been involved in organising the Branch annual striking competition and has been Chairman of the Branch on various occasions!
The Guild Committee has been asked to draw up guidelines to help other branches who wish to honour their members who have served the Guild.
A printout of tower contacts in the county is always available from Frank Bye in North Tawton - email@example.com at a cost of 3.50 pounds. As a result, there are no plans for the Guild and Association to publish another edition of the Devon Ringers handbook.
Congratulations to Neil Holloway, Veronica Matthews, M Wriggley, and J Elston who have recently rung their first quarter peals.
South Brent, Devon. 24 January 1998. 1260 Doubles (1p/4p/1v) : Liz Humphrey 1, Wendy Campbell 2, Ian Campbell 3, Andrew Mudge 4, George Mudge (C) 5, Neil Holloway (1st Q.) 6.
Tiverton, Devon (S Paul). 31 January 1998, 1260 Grandsire Doubles : Veronica Matthews (1st Q.) 1, Sheila Scofield 2, Paul Mainwaring (Jt C.) 3, Mike Hilson (Jt C.) 4, Terry Hargreaves (Jt C.) 5, Tony Trigg 6.
Galmpton, Devon. 8 March 1998, 1260 Doubles (2m.) : Clare Stagg 1, B Hancox 2, M Tann 3, T Bayton 4, D Beer (C) 5, M Wriggley (1st Q) 6.
Silverton, Devon. 21 April 1998, 1260 Doubles (2m.) : J Elston (1st Q.) 1, D Osborne 2, Jean Parkinson 3, Sheila Scofield 4, L Boyce (C) 5, A Campbell 6.
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