The Guild of Devonshire Ringers



Newsletter no 31 : September 1998

Ringing Round Devon is the occasional newsletter of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers, and is circulated free to all affiliated towers. Any individual members who wish to subscribe should contact Lester Yeo. The cost is 2 pounds for four issues.

Woodbury: Members' endurance put to test


Fourteen Guild members and two friends took part in a gruelling challenge on Woodbury Common in June in aid of the Guild's bell restoration fund. Jonathan Lear, tower captain at Woodbury and soon to retire from the Royal Marines, had invited the Guild to take part in the marines' endurance course.

The course involves not only running across the common, but also passing through small tunnels, and through a concrete pipe totally submerged in water. All those who took part successfully completed the course and so far have raised 500 pounds for the Guild, which will go to the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund. One of the participants remarked afterwards that it was only the thought of the pound signs that kept her going! The marines have to run all the way back to Lympstone barracks, but the ringers simply returned home for a shower and a rest!

Thanks and congratulations to Peter Bazley, Tim Bayton, Phyllis Hooper, David Langabeer, Susan Lloyd, Anne McNair, Martin and Wenna Mansley , Mark Pring, Terry Rowland, Melissa and Rosanna Spencer Thomas, Josh Vasby-Burnie, Robin Wickendon and Denis Whiteley, some of whom are in the photograph above. Also to non-ringers John Palmer and Jon Hoskin from Tiverton and of course to Jonathan Lear who also completed the course.


Dear Sir,

I read the article "Shock Story" in Issue 30 with interest.

Has the time come for the Guild to consider whether we need seven branches? Are their boundaries appropriate to today's situations?

Branches too might like to consider whether the old Ring / Service / Tea / Business / Ring formula is still relevant to today's ringers? Is 2 - 8p.m. on a Saturday the most appropriate time?

If the hallowed rituals of the Guild AGM are not considered sacrosanct, should we be afraid of changing other aspects of the Guild organisation? Has anyone stopped to ask the average ringer - especially those in non-affiliated towers - what they want from the Guild? Doesn't any living organism continually change?

Yours sincerely,

Honiton: Branch rings quarter for Tom


A quarter peal was rung at Honiton on the day of the funeral at Monkton of noted East Devon ringer, Tom Travers. The bells were kept unmuffled as a thankgiving for his life.

Honiton (S Paul), Devon, 3 July 1998, 1260 Plain Bob Triples. Jim Crabb, 1; Don Salter, 2; Edward Summers, 3; Reg Beale, 4; Bryan Coles, 5; Patrick Priscott, 6; Alan Sinden (C), 7; Derek Ballard, 8.

Galmpton: unusual tower maintenance


During the recent spring clean and general maintenance at Galmpton, the ringers discovered that when they tried to tighten one of the nuts on the frame the whole bolt turned as well. This would not have been such a problem except that the bolt head was on the underside of a large cross-beam some twenty feet in the air and six feet away from the nearest wall. Help was sought from the brother of one of the ringers, whose interest in speleology (or caving) would make the most dedicated of bell ringers look sane in comparison! He happened to be at home from University at the time with his SRT (single rope technique) kit, which enabled him to climb up and down a rope with ease and safety. With him dangling twenty feet in the air holding on to a spanner, it was possible finally to tighten the nut.


The coming new millennium has provided ringers throughout the country with the challenge to ring all church bells on New Year's Day in the year 2000, and so to ensure that there are enough people to do this!

Publicity for this has encouraged new recruits to come forward, but also a number of former ringers have shown an interest in returning to the exercise. What might they find on their first visit to a ringing chamber after twenty years away?

Perhaps in some towers, they find the band is keen, enthusiastic to improve their standards of striking and the variety of methods rung, with members ready to go to neighbouring practices in order to help or learn.

Perhaps they find a loyal band struggling to keep the bells rung for Sunday service, happy with the standards they have achieved and only too pleased to welcome a ready-made ringer into their number.

But perhaps they come to a tower where people turn up late to practices and on Sundays, where there is no sense of loyalty or of progress, where newcomers and visitors are not warmly welcomed. Will they come again. Or will they simply forget all about ringing for another twenty years?

As well as recruitment, local bands have to concentrate on retention, on retaining the enthusiasm of learner and 'lapsed' ringer alike.

Some possible strategies are: Make sure that everyone feels they belong. Socialising after ringing helps - any visitors must be invited, and there are alternatives to the pub! Why not have refreshments in the ringing chamber?

Organise social events so that people can get to know each other better. One band I know organises a regular lunch. Why not plan an old-fashioned ringing outing with a coach and invite other people from the church to come too?

Set targets for the progress of each member of the band, and work out ways in which those targets can be met. The branch Ringing Master and the Education Officer may be able to offer advice and help.

Plan a regular quarter peal to stretch the abilities of the band. This is a good way of making sure people turn up - and appear on time!

Pinhoe: First peal for 27 years


Mike Hatchett of Bampton rang his first peal for twenty-seven years, at Pinhoe on Thursday 4 June. A stately peal of Lincolnshire Surprise Major was rung in 2 hours 56 minutes, which proved an admirable way of making Mike feel properly a member of the Guild. He has retired to Bampton after working in London, and has already become an asset in the North east Branch. The peal proved that any rust has worn off already!

Joint Treasure Hunt


Thirty-five ringers from the Mid Devon and Exeter Branches together with their friends explored the buildings of Topsham on May 31st for the second annual joint Treasure Hunt. Last year's - in and around Newton Abbot - had been by care, but the charming backstreets of Topsham were a pedestrian's paradise, even if one of two found the plethora of pubs a little tempting.

Some found the directions a little confusing, and others were misled by the questions, but nonetheless, forty-two answers later, there was an opportunity for all to enjoy a well-earned drink and a hearty meal at the Nelson, while outside the skies darkened and the torrential rain began.

Winners were Derek and Mo Hawkins, who took home with them a bottle of wine, whilst runners-up Janet Coles and Donald Carter won a chocolate orange.


Lester Yeo visits the Guild Library

The Devon and Exeter Institution is a beautiful building in the Close standing between the houses of the Cathedral Canons. As well as its own library, open to subscribers, and administered by the University, it houses the bulk of the Guild's collection of books on bells and bellringing.

Copies of The Ringing World are kept in a cupboard in a reading room at the front of the building, but to reach the main Guild library, one has to climb a narrow spiral staircase to the balcony that runs round the two main reading rooms of the Institution. The books are kept on two or three shelves in one bookcase and may be consulted by any member of the Guild; it is first necessary to speak to the receptionist at the front door.

Here you will find a copy of 'Change Ringing' by Charles Troyte, who was one of the pioneers of method ringing in Devon; this little book is famous for having inspired Dorothy L Sayers to write her greatest detective novel The Nine Taylors. Here also is a copy of Ellacombe's monumental Church Bells of Devon, an attempt to list full details of all the church bells in the county, and Pearson's tiny Ringer's Guide to the Church Bells of Devon. There is a copy of Schiller's Song of the Bell, helpfully translated from German into English, and Among the Bells, the ringing diary of the Revd FE Robinson, who was the first to ring a thousand peals.

Some of the books formerly belonged to famous singers; there is Trollope's copy of a reprint of Tintinnalogia, a bound edition of the 1903 CC peal collection once belonging to ES Powell (and marked A Collection of Pearls!) and Ellacombe's copy of a French book called Les Cloches.

The Guild library also contains a number of Guild, branch and tower minute books and scrap books. In fact, most of the library's contents are now of historical rather than practical interest. Some of the rarer and more recent works are not in the Institution but are kept in the Librarian's house, and the full library list last appeared in the 1993 Guild report.

If you are in Exeter during the daytime and would like to spend a fascinating hour, why not call in at the Institution and ask to see the Guild library?

Silverton: New Competition


To mark their progress in learning the basic stages of method ringing, the team of ringers at Silverton, who are mostly novices and have rung mainly call-changes in recent years, has sponsored a competition which is to be open to all affiliated towers in the North east branch, on an annual basis. the competition, organised in conjunction with the branch committee, is to be known as the John Hutchings Memorial Competition, in honour of the former Silverton captain, an accomplished and well known method ringer.

The purpose of the competition is 'to advance the standard of method ringing and to promote good fellowship amongst ringers in the North east Branch of the Devonshire Guild'. A different test piece will be selected each year and notified in advance to all affiliated towers in the Branch. The winning team will be awarded the John Hutchings Memorial Cup.

The first such competition was held at Silverton on Friday 12 June with five teams including a 'scratch band', participating. The placing of the teams in the competition which this year was judged by Brian Drake and Frank Bye, respectively Chairman and Secretary of the Devonshire Association, was as follows:

1 Tiverton St peter 13
2 Uffculme 21
3 Silverton 31
4 Scratch band 35 1/2
5 Tiverton St Paul 40 1/2

The John Hutchings Memorial Cup (and a replica to be retained by the winning team) was presented to Sheila Scofield (Captain) by the Branch Ringing Master Terry Hargreaves.


Don Lawson is planning to organise occasional meetings for all members and friends of the Ancient Society of College Youths in Devon and Cornwall. Since most CY activities take place in London, Don has received the society's blessing for some regional gathering.

Don has the names and addressed of some forty-odd members, who receive the annual newsletter. Any other interested members are asked to contact him. the first meeting is planned for January 9 at Tavistock, and will take the form of a lunch followed by ringing.


Two octogenarians were among the forty five ringers and parishioners who went to see two new bells cast for Tavistock Church. Don Connett and Charles Beckerleg, who kindly donated the bells, went with the party from the parish to Taylor's Foundry at Loughborough

They made good time and arrived at Loughborough at 1.30pm. The visit began with a your and talk in the museum before entering the foundry for the casting. They all took their positions at either end of the casting hall, cameras at the ready, and the furnace was roaring with bell metal ready to be taken across the central walkway into the cast.

The red-hot spitting metal was poured into a ladle and stirred with a willow stick to remove impurities: quite a spectacular sight as flames and sparks leapt into the air. The temperature was tested and found correct, the ladle was moved across to the casts which had been prepared during the previous weeks and buried deep in the sand. The molten metal was carefully poured into the first cast, leaving this bell to be puddled by one of the expert casters. The ladle was moved to the second bell cast and the precise job repeated.

They were able to see around the rest of the foundry, the area where the cores are made from red sand, black sand, horse dung and chopped straw, the stove where the cores are dried at a temperature of 150 degrees, the area where the lettering and inscriptions are put on the bells, a skilled job as the words have to spelt backwards in mirror fashion; and finally to the tuning room, where the bells are clamped to a vertical boring machine and slithers of metal are removed from inside the bells, until the correct pitches are achieved.

Philip and Andrew Mudge with the two new trebles recently cast at Loughborough for St Eustachius' Tavistock.

The afternoon was brought to an end with ringing on the foundry bells, followed by a short walk to Loughborough Parish Church for a ring, before returning to the foundry, where a quarter peal was rung. They rang at Claybrooke, Sapcote and Stratford upon Avon, where the non-ringers were able to spend some time looking around the town, while the ringers went to ring at Welford upon Avon.

The eight were rung on Sunday 6 September for the last time before the augmentation to ten. Work started on September 7th with the builders erecting the sound lantern and blocking up the louvres. The two new bells at at Nicholson Engineering, in readiness for transporting to Tavistock and installation in October.

Loughborough (Foundry), Leics. 23 July 1998. 1260 Grandsire Triples : John Pladdys 1, Andrew Mudge 2, Paul Pascoe 3, Jerry Burnham 4, John Steere 5, Philip Mudge 6, George Mudge (C) 7, David Pike 8



The 1998 Annual Dinner will take place on 14 November, once more at the Hidden Valley, West Down. Members and friends of the Society should contact Joan Clarke or Don Lawson for tickets, which cost 10 pounds each .


David Pike, vice captain at St Andrew's, Plymouth, was married at that church recently. Needless to say the bells were rung for the service, both by local ringers, and by other members of the South West branch. The Guild's congratulations go to David and his wife.


The Taw, Torridge and Tamar mid-week group holds its last meeting at Great Torrington on October 8th before a winter break. These opportunities for ringing and socialisation will resume in February.


Another peal has been rung on Frank Mack's delightful ring of horse bells in the garage at 7 Bapton Lane. The first peal was rung in 1965, and it has taken 33 years to succeed in ringing the second - 5040 Cambridge Surprise Minor in 1 hour 57 minutes, conducted by Brian Mountjoy. The band included Tom and Margaret Chapman, who have a mini-ring of their own at Marston Bigot, near Frome.


The quarter rung by Tavistock ringers and friends for the casting of the new trebles was as follows: Loughborough (Foundry), Leics. 23 July 1998. 1260 Grandsire Triples : John Pladdys 1, Andrew Mudge 2, Paul Pascoe 3, Jerry Burnham 4, John Steere 5, Philip Mudge 6, George Mudge (C) 7, David Pike 8.


... to former Exeter Branch ringing master Nicola Crichton who married larger-than-life prolific peal ringer Colin Turner in Oxfordshire on Saturday 5 September.


Congratulations to Peter Boobier, Mark Foster, Paul Pascoe, Carolyn Schofield, Jackie Tuohey and Ken Wakeling who have recently rung their first quarter peals.

Tavistock, Devon. 5 April 1998. 1260 Grandsire Triples : Paul Pascoe (1st Q.) 1, Margaret Reeves 2, Donna Baker 3, Penny Alexander 4, Peter Bazely 5, Andrew Mudge 6, George Mudge (C) 7, Mike East 8.

Exeter, Devon (S Michael, Pinhoe). 7 June 1998. 1260 Doubles : Jackie Tuohey (1st attempt) 1, Janine Field 2, Maureen Hawkins 3, Derek Hawkins 4, Robert Franklin (C) 5, Bob Sparks 6.

Exeter, Devon (S David). 14 June 1998. 1260 Doubles (7m) : Meghann McFarland 1, Sarah Garle 2, Stephen Chambers 3, Matthew Hilling (C) 4, Michael Esbester 5, Peter Boobier (1st Q.) 6.

Salcombe, Devon. 22 June 1998, 1260 Plain Bob Doubles : Ann Cotton 1, Clare Stagg 2, Carolyn Schofield (1st Q.) 3, DH Beer (C.) 4, TM Bayton 5, B Hancox 6.

Exmouth, Devon (S John, Withycombe Raleigh), Devon. 5 July 1998, 1260 Plain Bob Doubles : Mark Foster (1st attempt) 1, John Foster 2, Robert Perry 3, David Wills 4, Brian Horrell (C) 5, Trevor Bradley 6.

Clayhidon, Devon. 5 August 1998. 1260 Doubles (2m/4v) : Fred Gardner 1, John Levin (C) 2, Anne Stenning 3, Brian Samuels 4, Dean Bowden 5, Ken Wakeling (1st Q.) 6.

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Pages written by Ian Campbell

Updated 25/9/98