RINGING ROUND DEVON is the quarterly newsletter of The Guild of Devonshire Ringers, and is circulated free to all affiliated towers.
Any individual members who wish to purchase a copy should contact Lester Yeo. The cost is two pounds and fifty pence for four issues (cheques made payable to Guild of Devonshire Ringers).
Items for inclusion may be sent by e-mail to [email protected].
Reg Bray celebrated his 97th birthday on October 28 in front of the television cameras, and entered the record books.
A film crew from Westcountry Television filmed Reg ringing with family and friends on his birthday, at Newton St Cyres, where he has been a ringer since the time of the First World War. Reg recollects ringing being stopped during the war, so that the bells could be used as a warning against Zeppelin raids. He learnt to ring there possibly in 1912 or 13, but had been responsible for chiming the five minute bell when a choirboy before that.
Every Sunday, Reg still manages to get in to Newton St Cyres to ring for service, as well as being a stalwart at practice nights. Local tower captain Bob Coates reckons that Reg now holds the record for the longest membership of one tower - 85 years! - and is in touch with the Guinness Book of Records to confirm this.
Members of the Guild, of which Reg is of course a vice-president, rang a peal of Grandsire Triples at Newton the previous week; as is now traditional, before the attempt, Reg took a rope and joined five of the band in ringing a faultless extent of Grandsire Doubles. However, he declined to take the treble and ring 97 changes of Triples!
GUILD OF DEVONSHIRE RINGERS
Thurs 21 October 1999
In 2 hours 39 minutes
5040 GRANDSIRE TRIPLES
(Composed by JJ Parker)
1 Mervyn C Way
2 Frank D Mack
3 Richard C Shere
4 John Hill
5 E William Ford
6 Michael R Rose
7 Michael EC Mears (C)
8 Ian W Avery
On Saturday October 30, the Boniface Centre in Crediton provided an ideal meeting place for people keen to raise money for bell restorations.
A group of two dozen ringers and non-ringers assembled to share their ideas on ways of fund-raising and to gain advice from the Bell Restoration Committee of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.
Parishes represented were:- Colaton Raleigh, Crediton, East Budleigh, East Ogwell, Halberton, Kenn, Kenton, Landkey, Plymouth St Andrew, Powderham, South Tawton, Staverton and Tedburn St Mary.
After coffee, Prebendary John Scott introduced the speaker and gave a brief resume of some schemes of work with comments from participants quoting the sort of costs involved.
Howard Egglestone gave a brief review of work proposed at Crediton and then took us into the bell tower to see the present state of affairs. Some of the non ringers were given the chance to see a bell being rung, and to see the effect a badly designed frame had on conditions for the ringers in the ringing-room.
A very nice lunch, prepared and served by the local ladies, was taken in the Centre before resuming the meeting with presentations by John Barnes (CCBRF Chairman) and Carol Hardwick.
A very wide range of fund-raising topics was discussed and all those present were given helpful literature and contacts.
The meeting concluded with a cup of tea and everyone, including the organisers, went away having learnt much.
This venture is thought to be the first of its kind in Devon and needs to be repeated every few years for the benefit of continuing bell restorations. For further information, contact Frank Mack.
Almost thirty years ago, Frank Mack installed a ring of ten handbells in the attic of his house in Exmouth. The tenor weighed only 5lb 6oz and the ringers sat on chairs and the bed in one of the bedrooms. The tenor ringer even had to sit in the curtained wardrobe area!
These bells have appeared on television on a number of occasions, and, together with the 1lb 9oz ring of six kept in the garage, were the forerunners of many private rings of small bells. A peal had been rung on the six back in the sixties, but in spite of a small number of quarters rung in the bedroom (including one where halfway through the quarter, the sound amplification was turned off by the tenor ringer instead of being turned up), the ten remained unpealed.
However on Saturday 2 October, ten experienced small-bell ringers rang a peal of Grandsire on the bedroom ring, and subsequently discovered that no peals had ever been rung on a lighter ring of ten. Three Devon ringers (including Frank on the tenor), four from Somerset and three from Hampshire were in the band, taking two hours fifteen minutes to ring conductor Brian Mountjoy's own composition of 5021 Grandsire Caters. There were no false starts, and it took only a very short time for the ringing to settle down as the band got used to the sound amplification.
The good humour that characterised this record-breaking peal was carried on afterwards as Mary Mack generously provided the band with a ringers' tea, and some of the ringers enjoyed themselves ringing the garage bells.
A squad of mostly Devon ringers have recently rung complicated peals of spliced surprise under the direction of Matt Hilling. After a number of half hearted attempts earlier in the year, eight of the squad reassembled in the autumn and rang first the so-called Horton's Four methods (London, Bristol, Belfast and Glasgow) on 18 October at St Mark's, Exeter. The seven part composition (by JM Goldthorpe) has the advantage of keeping the Glasgow and Belfast separate, as well as having a number of clues (no bobbed leads of Belfast, all changes of method from Glasgow being bobbed and leading into London etc). For George Mudge, this was his first peal of Spliced Surprise Major!
In view of the lack of success earlier in the year, four attempts had been arranged for this composition, and the band had been successful on the first attempt. The problem was what to do next. Obviously some of the squad had not been in the St Mark's peal so the same composition was attempted a week later at Pinhoe, involving other ringers, but unfortunately this was unsuccessful.
However, the third attempt on 15 November was successful, and also at St Mark's. Again a seven part composition, Paul Needham's ten-spliced added Glasgow and Belfast to the 'standard eight', and for some of the band, this served to consolidate the experience of the previous attempts. Peter Bill stood in at the last minute when George Mudge had to drop out, and rang his 650th peal.
Finally, the 'Nottingham eight' was attempted at Thorverton on 30 November. Dissatisfaction with the similarity of many of the standard eight had produced an alternative standard eight including Glasgow, Lessness, Cornwall and Cassiobury with Cambridge, London, Bristol and Superlative. This clearly reduces the number of 'Cambridge above' methods as well as providing different place bell orders. A composition by Richard Allton was chosen, and the peal was rung successfully.
Although the 'difficult ten' have been rung by the Guild before, the Horton four and the Nottingham eight are believed to be firsts for the Guild.
Following the final meeting of the Ring in 2000 committee on Sunday 21 November, the Guild and Association now have a reasonable feel for the requirements of churches all over the county to have their bells rung on 1 January.
Over the past two years the survey carried out in all deaneries has brought to light the shortfall in ringers in certain areas, and in several cases this has stimulated interest in forming a new band where previously the bells were silent. There are now home-grown bands at Kelly and Staverton, to name but two, thanks to the realisation by villagers that the bells would otherwise be silent for the millennium, and there are other towers who have had a real revival in their fortunes as the call has gone out for new recruits to come forward.
If there are still bands out there who are reading this article and know that they will need the odd spare ringer to complete their numbers for ringing on New Year's Day, please contact Martin Mansley or Wendy Campbell, or indeed the branch secretaries, most of whom are aware of the times of ringing in their area.
There will be ringers visiting the county who wish to be useful where the need is greatest, and, believe it or not, there are bands out there who have more ringers than bells! It would be good if resources could be shared, and all the bells be rung where requested.
At the annual meeting of the North and North West Branch, Anne Thorne was elected secretary to replace Mike Rose. Mike has written elsewhere in this issue of RRD his reflections on his ten years as secretary since Reg Pearce's death.
Following a number of successful meetings between Guild and Association members to plan recruiting, training and ringing for the Millennium year, the Ring in 2000 committee hopes to form the basis for continued collaboration between the two major ringing societies in Devon. The meeting held in November was very well attended by some fifteen ringers, all of whom agreed that the group had served a useful function in strengthening the bonds between the two societies.
A recruitment leaflet is planned, with additional sponsorship from Nicholson Engineering, and this will be circulated to all towers, as well as branch and deanery secretaries. In addition, the committee will plan appropriate back up for training any potential learners who come forward.
Another subject which should be of concern to both societies is the future of the St Petrock's ringing centre, and how this can be developed as a really useful resource for everyone.
Future meetings are planned in February and May, in which an agenda for future work will be drawn up, and possibly terms of reference for a new joint committee to enable this collaboration to continue. If anyone has any topics of interest or matters of concern both for Guild and Association, please let Wendy Campbell know.
By Martin Mansley
Was Fabian Stedman just lucky when he discovered his famed principle or was he a genius whose name will live for ever in ringing history? Whatever the answer to that question, there is no doubt that on 11 September this famous principle brought ringers from all parts of the county to try to learn more about how to ring the Triples stage.
A group of 8 students arrived bright and early at the Precinct Centre in St. Marychurch to be greeted with coffee and final details of the hard work in front of them. The first thing on the agenda was a theory tutorial led by Martin Mansley which was really a discussion of tips and hints. It was clear from the start that, although a number of the "students" had rung the method before, their main concern was the dreaded SINGLE. Martin had already decided that this should be the starting point when the discussion turned to calls. As the experienced ringers arrived they joined the group and contributed to the discussion.
Then it was down to the hard practical work (although, at St Marychurch it is very much UP). By now we had been joined by a fine body of experienced ringers who for the rest of the day formed strong bands for all the touches. Most students wanted to consolidate the plain course but by lunchtime the majority had started into touches.
Lunch was booked in the SNOOTY FOX and provided a welcome respite for tired brains. The afternoon opened with more Triples at Upton and it was soon clear that the hard work was starting to bear fruit and some quite tricky touches were brought round (including, of course, the dreaded SINGLES!)
The final session of the day was back to St Marychurch but this time we had all 10 in action and most of the students had their first taste of the Caters stage of the method. This was probably the most satisfying part of the day when we could look back to the morning when plain courses of Triples were the order of the day. Now we were seeing touches of Caters being rung with confidence - really quite astonishing progress for one day. It was now time to wind up and reflect on a hard day, but one well spent with new friends made and some fine ringing behind us.
Finally, many thanks: to the students for taking part with such enthusiasm and willingness to learn, to the helpers who untiringly rang touch after touch and also the church authorities at St. Marychurch for allowing us the use of the bells and fine Precinct Centre and at Upton for allowing us to serenade the Saturday afternoon shoppers in the town centre.
The general Secretary is putting together an order for garments with the Guild logo on, and this will be despatched to the manufacturer in the middle of December.
If anyone wishes to have a sweatshirt or polo shirt, please contact Wendy immediately.
Alternatively, branch secretaries have supplies of order forms with full details of the garments available.
The Guild's best wishes go to Guild President George Mudge, who badly hurt his head while coming down into the ringing room from the bell chamber at Exeter Cathedral in October.
Fortunately he is now well enough to have attempted a peal of Cambridge Royal at Tavistock in November.
Saturday 16th October dawned rather soggily after the heavy rain for most of the night. However the forecasters had promised better things, and sure enough, the weather brightened up and there was enough autumns sunshine foe eveyone to enjoy standing the the churchyard at Woodbury, and listening to this year's test piece of Gainsborough Little Bob Major.
Earlier in the day the inter-tower competition had taken place at Aylesbeare the first time that both the six and eight-bell competitions had been held on the same day. Four bands tested their skills on the easy going six which can be heard very clearly in the belfry... No excuses for bad striking really!
Judges for the morning were Guild Master Laurie Palmer and Ron Trickey of Culmstock, both of whom thoroughly enjoyed their task in the luxurious surroundings of the little chapel situated by the church gate, and they pronounced their results as follows:
1 Exeter St Mark 5.5 f
2 Tavistock 19.25 f
3 Heavitree 39.75 f
4 Tiverton St Peter 51.75 f
After lunch members then assembled for the inter-branch competition, held this year at Woodbury. Nobody was underestimating the difficulties of achieving good ringing on this challenging heavy eight, where tower movement makes the bells incline to be somewhat unpredictable. Four branches took up the challenge: two branches completed the set touch successfully.
After the ringing, everyone adjourned to the house of Jonathan and Chris Lear, where an excellent and most welcome tea had been laid on. Fortunately the forty plus ringers present were able to spill from the house into the garden and continue to enjoy the sunshine.
Judges for the afternoon were John Hill, Joe Beaumont and Mike Stone, who had kindly travelled down from Somerset, and they made helpful remarks before declaring the Exeter Branch winners with a steady measured bear and a peal speed of 3h34 (95.9% accuracy), and the South West Branch runners up with a brisk peal speed of 3h18 but faults accruing through the little bells not striking accurately around the bigger ones (93% accuracy). The Mid Devon and East Devon Branches were both disqualified.
And so Matthew Hilling, ringing master of the Exeter Branch and tower captain at Exeter St Mark collected his second trophy of the day and takes on the duty of polishing and keeping them clean until next year's competition, which is due to take place in the Mid Devon Branch.
The October meeting of the Taw, Torridge and Tamar midweek group marked the finish of yet another highly successful year of activity.
The undoubted appeal of this type of meeting, specifically aimed at the retired and semi-retired, cannot be questioned. The format plays heavily on the social aspect of monthly get-togethers with generally two hours allowed for the lunchtime meal and social chat.
Nevertheless, there is still a strong emphasis on a high level of striking, whilst concentrating on the more basic doubles, minor and triples methods. This suits everybody down to the ground, even more so when the choice of bells is carefully made to encompass lightness with ease of going.
Convenor, Don Lawson says, 'We regularly attract support from as far as field as Bristol, as well as occasional seasonal ringing visitors, and the resultant lunchtime badinage in sundry dialects is a delight to the ear - 'andsome me dears!' For more details about the group, and when meetings will resume after the winter break, readers should contact Don.
Fortuitiously, the final meeting for 1999 coincided with the birthday of the group's most senior member, and a well struck quarter was rung to celebrate the occasion:
21 October. Poughill, Cornwall.
1260 Grandsire Doubles.
1 DG Lawson
2 WJ Conduct
3 J Rich
4 TR Hampton
5 WH Trewin (C)
6 D Dando
87th birthday compliment to D Dando.
The Devon Association held a quiet annual meeting to plan its calendar for the coming year and to elect officers.
After the reading of the minutes, the following dates and venues were agreed for the year 2000 Association competitions:
Eight bell: Ashburton, 29 April
North Devon six: Morchard Bishop, 13 May
South Devon six: Ideford, 13 May
Major six bell final: Churchstow, 10 June
Minor six bell final: Zeal Monachorum, 18 June
It was agreed to hold the annual dinner once more at the Devon Motel, on 18 March, and to contribute with the Guild to the cost of publicity leaflets. Colin Adams took up the presidency and Mervyn Phillips was chosen President elect. Ivor Hookway was appointed Treasurer, as Norman Fanner did not wish to continue.
The trustees of the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund held their meeting on November 11th. Jereme Drake, who rings for Kenn, replaces Tom Wright as one of the trustees appointed by the Association.
It was decided to make the following allocations: Buckland Brewer £300. Stokeinteignhead £100. Rewe £1000. West Worlington £1000. Halberton £400.
The trustees decided to make a grant also to Plymouth (St Andrew), where half of the £52000 needed has been raised, but have deferred fixing the sum.
The Association draw raised £3000, an increase of £500 on last year's.
The Devon Ringers Carol Service will take place in Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 18th.December at 4.30 p.m. Once again, choristers will be welcome and practices are are taking place at St. Michael's Kingsteignton on Friday evenings from 8.15 to 9.30; anyone interested can get further details from Ian Avery. The collection at the service will be given to the work of the Children's Hospice South West.
DOWN ST MARY bells are enjoying a new lease of life with the departure of George Calvert to a home close to Exeter Cathedral (let's see him try to stop the cathedral bells!). To date, at least one quarter and a peal have been scored at Down St. Mary and everyone there must be breathing more easily.
Several enthusiastic recruits from STAVERTON have been learning to ring on the more manageable bells of Stoke-in-Teignhead and Collaton St Mary and have now progressed to the stage of being able to make a reasonable effort on their own heavy and difficult bells at Staverton, to the extent that they intend to to ring them on their own for the millennium. We congratulate these good people as they improve their ringing capabilities week by week and look forward to the time when the potentially fine Staverton six are fully restored.
This picture shows three of the Staverton learners at Stokeinteignhead. l to r they are Sheila Beare, Sue Misselbrook and Mike Winter.
BABBACOMBE bells are now being rung regularly by a newly formed band under the guidance of Steve Came; we wish Steve and his new ringers well and at the same time offer our good wishes and congratulations to him and his wife Lisa on the recent birth of their second daughter Ruth Ellen.
BRAMPFORD SPEKE ringers are having something of a revival, and rang for the Remembrance Day service on November 14th. A couple of learners from Upton Pyne have joined and have made tremendous progress, and a retired ringer in the village has rejoined the band. Now they are planning to ring in the year 2000 before a special service and celebrations in the Agricultural Inn.
Saturday, September 18 the was the day that Hurricane Floyd (or at least the remnants of it) decided to cross the South-west and it was also the day of the Branch outing of the NE Branch of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers. But NE Branch members are a tough lot, and they were determined to avoid Floyd and enjoy their day out in the Mendips.
Branch Ringing Master Terry Hargreaves had made the complicated arrangements necessary to collect members, spouses and friends from all over Branch territory and by half past nine all thirty were assembled at a wet and windy Willand prepared for a good day out despite the weather.
The first stop was at Cheddar where Terry, with great forethought, had arranged a jumble sale in the hall opposite the church with coffee and biscuits available. When all were refreshed, some good ringing with method and call-changes was enjoyed. Leaving the non-ringers in Cheddar to explore, the coach went on to Axbridge where good management enabled all twenty ringers to demonstrate their skills.
They returned to a very wet Cheddar for lunch, and most went into the nearest pub which also happened to be opposite the Cheddar Cheese Centre. What better place, therefore, for David Smith to be served a "Cheddar Ploughman's" with NO CHEESE?
Shipham was the next stop - and the next wait, as, for one reason or another, the visitors were not expected. Thanks to Veronica Matthews' mobile phone, contact was eventually made and the tower was opened for a token ring.
Getting to Churchill entailed a good deal of reversing by the coach driver and the ringing required a determination by those prone to seasickness not to succumb, due to the movement of the tower. An excellent cream tea at the Nelson Arms preceded our stop at Yatton for more good ringing. The final visit was to Wrington where the 36cwt tenor brought out the best in those brave enough to ring it (and where it has been suggested Matthew Weighell might need oxygen!).
A dark, wet ride down the M5 brought the coach back to Willand by about 8.30, and from here all departed after a thoroughly enjoyable day out. When's the next one?
David was born in Shanklin in 1929, but grew up in Gravesend in Kent. In 1956 he went to work for the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London as a chemist, and remained with the company for 34 years.
In 1989 he retired and moved to Marwood. David had been for many years a church bellringer and having arrived in North Devon rang regularly with the St Brannock's Society, ringing in a number of quarter peals for the Society.
David's family was of paramount importance to him and he will be sorely missed by his wife Lesley and family. He had been organist and choirmaster at several churches, and played the cello, latterly with the Braunton Orchestral Society. He was a quiet and gentle man, his life touching the lives of many others. May he rest in peace.
Congratulations to Celia and Neil Deem, who are the proud parents of a new baby girl. Rachel was born at home on Thursday 7th October, weighing 9lbs 2oz (4.16kg). Needless to say, Neil was ringing in a quarter-peal of London S Minor the following day at Holcombe Burnell to celebrate.
Workmen at St Andrew's, Cullompton, repairing the fabric of the church tower, have discovered a little piece of lead shot embedded in a crack in the stone work about 100ft up the tower.
It is not thought to have been fired by an irate person objecting to the ringing of the bells, but by a puritan extremist, who objected to the carvings and statues on the tower, in the period after the reformation.
Repairs on the tower began in earnest at the beginning of September, and tower captain and appeal organiser Brian Hancock had hoped to have the bells ringing again for New Year's Eve, but workmen have found the condition of the tower to be worse than originally thought.
The Revd Philip Sourbet said, "The reason for the work is because of the unsafe nature of the pinnacles and parapets at the top. We have made safe the dangerous pinnacle so there is no danger of something falling on someone's head. When we discovered there was a danger we immediately fenced off the bottom of the tower.
"The repairs will now be finished some time in the new year. But it will be a while after that before the bells can be rung so all the mortar can dry." The additional work needed has pushed the cost of the restoration work up from £120,000 to almost £160,000.
Twelve teams from all over the southern half of the county competed for the coveted eight-bell trophy of the South Devon Association at Babbacombe on 2 October. Interestingly, four of the five top teams came from six bell towers but winners were Kingsteignton who narrowly beat Egg Buckland, with Lamerton in third place.
There was a false start when the judges decided they could not hear well enough, so an alternative location had to be found.
That apart, it was a very enjoyable day, efficiently organised by secretary Barry Osborne. Local arrangements by Steve Came were very good, and an excellent tea was served by members of the local band.
1 Kingsteignton 14 faults
2 Egg Buckland 16 faults
3 Lamerton 20 2/3 faults
4 South Brent 21 faults
5 Kenn 29 faults
6 Kingsbridge 30 faults
7 Stoke Gabriel 33 faults
8 Buckland-in-the-Moor 37 2/3 faults
9 Plymstock 41 faults
10 Tavistock 44 1/3 faults
11 Broadhempston 75 1/3 faults
12 Ipplepen 79 2/3 faults
Nicola Turner (Nicola Crichton before she married), formerly the tower captain at St Mark's, Exeter, and one-time Guild quarter peal secretary, was amongst those injured in the Paddington train crash in October.
She was travelling on the Great Western train approaching London, and although unhurt when the trains collided, she broke her ankle while escaping from the wreckage.
A peal of (Horton's) Four-Spliced was rung at St Mark's on October 18th as a get well compliment from the Guild.
Glorious late summer weather greeted us, writes Martin Mansley, as we gathered to meet the coach at St. Marychurch and stayed with us all day. we were soon on our way via Kingskerswell and the North Devon Link road (not forgetting a slight difference of opinion between Phil and the coach driver about the best route - fortunately for us Phil won!).
Our first tower was the lovely little ground floor ring at Bishops Tawton where we started with a fine touch of Cambridge which seemed to set the tone for the day. After ringing for all abilities we moved on to the heavy town-centre ring in Barnstaple where we managed a wide range of methods (for us!) including a touch of Erin and Gainsborough Little Bob.
Lunch was taken in the various facilities available in this pleasant town and then it was off to the heights above Chivenor and the delightful six at Heanton Punchardon. The novelty of a churchyard with fine views over the Taw estuary and some welcome shade were very tempting but we did manage to keep the bells ringing to a variety of methods.
It was then only a very short journey to Braunton to meet Mike Rose who joined us for some enjoyable ringing on this justly renowned eight. Methods here included Gainsborough (again!) and Yorkshire Surprise. A tea break was taken here and we then moved on to the last tower at Great Torrington. Tiredness was beginning to show and we did not do this very good eight quite the justice we would have liked. However, we did manage two plain courses of hastily learned Little Grandsire and some Stedman Triples to prepare some of us for the delights of the Stedman day the following week.
After an hour spent in the hostelries of Torrington it was time to head back to the other coast of Devon and reflect on a day that saw our poorest support number-wise for some years but the best by far in terms of the quality of ringing. Food for thought.
Very many thanks to the ringers and incumbents who gave us permission to ring and gave up their time to meet us and to Phil Stevens who yet again managed to find us some really fine bells.
By Jill Larbalestier
A somewhat eleventh hour decision was taken to hold a dinner marking the eightieth anniversary of the South West Branch of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers, on November 6th.
Given the short notice, a surprising two dozen or so members and friends attended the dinner in the Manor Hotel, Horrabridge, near Tavistock, arranged by George Mudge, the Guild President.
Members came from Kelly and Lamerton beyond Tavistock, back through Plymouth, with Stoke, St Andrew's and Emmanuel represented, then from out as far as Galmpton in the South Hams.
The SW Branch covers a huge area, and although the farthest towers are only fifty miles apart, much of that distance is on country lanes which effectively makes regular outings and visits unfulfilled items on many members' lists of good intentions!
After a most hearty dinner and a toast to the branch's historical past and to its future, we were regaled by tales from John Steere (Chairman). He reminded us about our predecessors, some of whose family names were well known to us, and their notoriety was brought alive by excerpts from John Scott's booklet, 'Devon Bellringing 1874 - 1975'.
Fascinatingly written, the booklet tells of our great heritage of bells and the colourful character of the ringers themselves. The photographs were taken nearly a hundred years ago, and the formally dressed be-whiskered gentlemen peering out at us from the pages looked only slightly more earnest or startled than Guild members today.
Our aims are the same: that or promoting good ringing and belfry reform. The evening allowed us to widen our circle of ringing companions and to understand some of the problems that they have and to share in their achievements.
In his booklet John Scott concluded by assuring readers that 'ringing in Devon is a vigorous enough tradition to adapt itself to changing times.' Let us hope that his assumptions are right.
After a number of years in post, Susan Lloyd asked to stand down as Exeter Branch Secretary at the AGM at St Marks. She was thanked for all her work and fellow Heavitree ringer Valerie Oates was elected to take her place.
Also at the meeting Dawlish was welcomed into the branch; previously the tower had been affiliated through the Mid Devon branch, but recently members have felt that its links with Exeter were stronger.
It has been my privilege to have been elected by members of the N&NW Branch as Secretary / Treasurer for the past ten years, since the passing of Reg Pearce. During that time there have been made small but significant milestones passed in the ringing activity of the branch.
Despite the scattered geographical distribution of members and the attendant difficulty of getting together for events, ringing activity has been maintained and good progress maintained.
Both peals and quarter peals have been rung with bands essentially composed of branch members. The annual dinner of the St Brannock's Society has continued to be a successful and well attended event. As more members have reached retirement age, the Don Lawson 'Thursday' meetings have flourished. Many members have attained particular goals in their personal ringing development. Practices at both ends of the branch have continued to offer a wide range of methods and progression.
On the other hand it is fair to note that all members of the branch are now ten years older and the number of relatively younger members has not increased. In part this reflects the sociological pattern of North Devon but is a matter for some concern for the future. What will the pattern of ringing in our branch be in a further ten years time?
Despite my best efforts to date, it has not proved possible to pass on the role of Secretary / Treasurer to another pair of hands (or PC!) and more importantly, a fresh mind. In reality, in a branch consisting on average of some forty members and three affiliated towers, the secretarial function of holding this office causes few problems. However with the longer term in mind, there is a need for a change in the holder of branch offices, to provide new thinking for the on-going development of ringing along the North Devon coast. It is easy to vote in officers 'en bloc', but is this always the best policy?
It is interesting to note the major role the St Brannock's Society has played in the maintenance of enthusiasm and participation in ringing activities in the North and North West Branch area. It is perhaps useful to emphasise that membership of the St Brannock's Society is not solely confined to paid up Branch members, although all active St Brannock's members would consider themselves to be loyal members of the Branch and the Guild. The particular qualification for St Brannock's Society membership was carefully constructed to embrace any ringer who is, or has been, domiciled in the geographical area of the North and North West Branch of the Guild (and the Bude area of Cornwall. Ed.) Thus it is possible to live at the present time in Exmouth or Glastonbury, for example, but qualify for membership of the St Brannock's society!
In a Devon Guild branch area, where the number of ringers who practise the 'method' style of ringing is unlikely to exceed fifty members in the foreseeable future, it is very important for there to be a strong central forum for ringing activity. The St Brannock's Society has provided such an identity in the North Devon section of the branch area, in much the same way that an active tower group might do in another branch, where there is a greater density of method ringers overall and a substantial number of affiliated towers. The particular role that the Master of the St Brannock's Society plays in organising the weekly practices and co-ordinating other activities, contributes massively to the overall ringing standard and available opportunity in the North Devon area as a whole, Those who have held this office over the years are thanked and congratulated on their contribution to ringing in the northern latitudes of Devon.
In a wider context, it is pertinent to ask whether the formation of other societies, similar to that of the St Brannock's Society in North Devon, might not provide an advantageous stimulus for ringers in other areas of the Guild? This is a relevant question for Guild members to address but in the meantime, whether or not continuing to hold a Branch office, I hope to continue to maintain an active participation in the N&NW Branch, the Guild and the St Brannock's Society for a few more years yet!
Some fine ringing was heard around the lower reaches of the Tamar on Monday the 8th November celebrating the 80th anniversary of the South West Branch. The ringers from Emmanuel who had already retired were joined by others, who had successfully negotiated themselves a half day away from livestock, employers and various meetings. Guests included friends from Stoke, St Budeaux, Ermington, Lamerton and Association ringers from South East Cornwall.
The still autumn air echoed to the familiar sounds of classic raising and lowering, changes, Grandsire, Plain Bob and Stedman at St Budeaux, St Mellion, Maker and Anthony. Fine weather, good views of the countryside and coast, a picnic in Maker Churchyard (evidence below, whilst there was just about enough light) left us wanting more. For Jack Sims and Ted Bickle who have been ringing for three quarters of the 20th century and our guests this was a delightful way of spending an idle November afternoon.
If the South West Branch continues to link good ringing with such pleasurable company in a relaxed atmosphere, we are all for it. With work out of the way, we really could enjoy ourselves!
With a one second exposure almost everyone managed to keep still for the whole time...even the dog.
As always, the first weekend in February (Friday 4 - Sunday 6) is the ECG social event.
There will be ringing around the Teignmouth area during the Saturday, before returning to Exeter for the dinner (7.00 for 7.30pm) at the Rougemont, complete with barn dance afterwards. Ringing at the Cathedral on Sunday afternoon rounds off the weekend. Everyone is most welcome to join us on this fun weekend.
Tickets are expected to cost £25, to include all the above! For more information, or even to book, please contact Michael Esbester, on [email protected].
In April this year, we had an outing to four other towers in the area, Buckerell, Awliscombe, Luppitt and Upottery - not only did we have a great time testing our skills but we all gained confidence in our abilities. So much so that when we received notification that the Devon Association was mounting a Novices competition in October we decided to enter.
We were encouraged by the information that we would not have to ring the bells up - we are still struggling to do that elegantly with our own bells, let alone ones that we are not familiar with! There were two classes in the competition and we opted for eight minutes of ringing rounds - the other class was call changes.
The competition was held at Throwleigh on Saturday 9 October. Six teams were entered for our class and when the draw for the order of ringing was made it put us in fourth place. The first team from Kingston were all of school age and it was encouraging to see so many young people who are learning to ring. We listened to the first three teams which certainly increased out nerves as the time drew near for us to climb into the tower. We were not allowed to practise and we knew the bells were lighter than our own in Gittisham so the first few rounds were a bit ropey (pardon the pun!). However we soon settled down and found that the eight minutes went very quickly.
We really appreciated the wonderful hospitality extended by the residents in Throwleigh, particularly the sandwiches and cakes. The competition was really well organised and everyone we met, fellow competitors included, was extremely friendly. The winning team was from Silverton, Townstall second and we came third,. This was our first competition and the team of Merlyn Broadhurst (Captain), Brian Dowle, Roy Langworthy, Barbara Mullett, Anne and Peter Stansell was well pleased with their result.
By Christine Cope Due to a printing error in the last edition of Ringing Round Devon, some readers may be under the impression that Jill Larbalestier had strenuously persuaded us not to go to Sparsholt for many years. What a different a W makes!
Five intrepid ringers from Emmanuel enrolled on the course - feelings ranged from wild enthusiasm (Jill) to 'What am I doing this for?' (the rest of us). There were approximately twelve groups of learners on each of the eight courses on offer, ranging from Surprise methods to rounds and call changes. We were kept very busy all weekend and visited six towers in all, and even had the chance to ring on the 14 at Winchester Cathedral. There were plenty of helpers so that only one learner at a time was in.
When not ringing, there was still no time to relax as various talks and demonstrations had been arranged. These were very informative and in the case of Steve Coleman, entertaining. His talk on ringing up and down lost nothing for a repeat performance as we saw him at Tewkesbury earlier in the year.
Accommodation at Sparsholt Agricultural College was adequate, but times have changed - most rooms came with en suite facilities. Meals were taken in the dining room; it made an opportunity to meet new people and catch up with the rest of the group from Emmanuel.
The high or low light - depending on your point of view - came with Sunday evening's entertainment provided by course members, helpers and organisers. It's amazing what some people will do after a glass or two.
At the risk of making this sound like a restaurant review - go, before it gets too popular. The golden rule is, don't be too ambitious - you'd want to have a good time, wouldn't you?
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