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 for four issues.
Items for inclusion may be sent by e-mail to RRD@lyeo.freeserve.co.uk.
On a suitably sunny spring day, a new page in Devon's rich ringing history was written recently in Barnstaple Parish Church. With the tower of the Diocesan Mother Church now (rightly) also affiliated to the Devon Association of Ringers, a team was duly entered by the Cathedral band in this year's Association 8-bell Festival. Participation in this event was afforded by the decision of the Association's AGM - precipitated by Tavistock's recent augmentation to ten - to allow teams from towers with more than eight bells to enter its 8-bell competition.
Although - perhaps understandably - some of the Exeter team's members had wondered what sort of reception might lie in store for them there was genuine pleasure expressed by the Association at the presence of a likewise genuine Cathedral team. A satisfying debut was marked by a steady performance which seemed to improve after some slightly lethargic sallying early on, and was rewarded with sixth certificate for the 36¾ faults accrued. Musing afterwards on what the judges might have made of it, the opinion from within the team that 'they probably though it was good method ringers trying to ring Devon call-changes' was probably about right!
Overall the competition was a close call, with barely six faults covering the first five places, Tavistock being victorious on 24¼, just ahead of North Tawton on 26 and Kingsteignton on 26¾.
The Association's 6-bell qualifiers in early May were not blessed with such fine weather, but the fresh winds at least seemed to hold off the rain, even if they did not aid the judges in their task. In the South, possibly the main surprise - not to mention disappointment - was the non-participation of reigning Devon champions South Brent, but this was somewhat offset by entries from Ide and Exeter St Petrock's. On the (plenty-lumpy-enough for a qualifier) six of Marldon, Egg Buckland rang last but finished in first place on 13¾, ahead of West Alvington on 16 and Kenn on 17¾, with Stoke Gabriel and - pleasingly - Dunsford being the other teams to go on to the Major Final.
The northern teams were possibly more fortunate in the Association's choice of venue - Bradford - where West Down just took the honours with 12 faults ahead of Molland on 13, both a considerable distance ahead of Mortehoe, Littleham and Iddesleigh, all three clustered together in the low thirties. Here again, some compensation for the absence of a South Tawton team was afforded by the first appearance of a Shebbear side from just over the river, who now go on to the Minor Final.
So on a May weekend of big sporting finals, the scene was set in the North-eastern corner of Devon, where Morebath eagerly hosted the top five teams from each of the Association's two 6-bell qualifiers - happily the Littleham team was not obliged to forfeit its hard-earned place this year, However, it was the other end of the county which was to provide this year's champions, as Egg Buckland (with a repeat score of 13¾ faults) fairly comfortably saw off Mortehoe, their nearest challengers, (18¼ faults).
A spontaneous and hearty cheer greeted Dunsford's third place on 22 faults, as their pipped Molland by ¼ fault. Indeed, on the day, the South generally had the edge over the North. Iddesleigh, on the first appearance in the Major Final, felt some small measure of disappointment as their ringing fell a little short of their semi-final performance - but they were fare from being the only ones of whom this could be said. However, when all was said and done, they were no doubt more than a little pleased to finish in ninth place ahead of their more experience Torridge rivals from Littleham.
After the Minor Final in mid-June (South Milton), another year of the Association's Festivals will be all but complete; all, that is, but for the new (top-ringing only) competition for novice and less experienced teams. This is provisionally set to be held in Throwleigh on Saturday 9 October.
The plan thus far is to start late morning and finish early afternoon - stopping for a lunch break in a local hostelry - and to include a short service. Colin Adams and Jeremy Darke have volunteered to organise the event, and more details will be made available in due course.
Meanwhile, the Devon ringing competition season is only part-ways through, what with many invitation and Deanery competitions yet to come. So, still plenty of opportunities for Guild teams to warm up for next year's Association events, the seventy- fifth anniversary of the Association, and thus heed the call of the Guild's Liaison Office and follow the shining example of the Cathedral ringers!
Ian Avery, the Guild's Devon Liaison officer, expressed in his annual report the hope that links between the two bodies might be strengthened by bands entering call-change competitions, writes Wendy Campbell. Thanks to his gentle encouragement - some might say pressure! - eight of the Exeter Cathedral band nervously assembled at Barnstaple parish church on 24 April.
We had first met some weeks previously at Kingsteignton for the first serious practice art raising and lowering in peal and ringing the Queens Peal. For this we received the critical attention of Ian, together with Michael Mears, both of whom kindly gave us plenty of helpful tips and advice in the art of competition ringing. From this we progressed to practices at Clyst Honiton, Tawstock and Braunton before the afternoon of the competition.
Despite being 'foreigners' amongst the call change fraternity, we were immediately put at ease with a very warm welcome. We were drawn seventh out of nine to ring, and sat in glorious sunshine listening and learning from bands ringing ahead of us. Finally after tea when we hoped that the judges would be well-fed and 'the air heavier' (as an old Devon ringer used to say) we were led to the belfry to ring our test piece. Barnstaple are a ground floor ring with a tenor of 29 cwt, not the easiest of bells for a first attempt, and our rise was perhaps a little rushed. However we soon settled into good call-changes, and a well-controlled lower, and felt that we had given a good account of ourselves. In particular we felt that the striking got better and better as we settled into the call-changes, so much so that one member of the band was completely mesmerised by the rhythm, and failed to act when a change was called. Loss of a couple of marks there!
Eventually all the teams had completed and we assembled in the church rooms for judgement to be delivered:
Tavistock 24¼ faults
North Tawton 26 faults
Kingsteington 26¾ faults
Georgeham 28½ faults
Chittlehampton 30 faults
Exeter Cathedral 36¾ faults
Paignton 40 faults
Chagford 45½ faults
Exminster 78 faults
Ah well, sixth certificate is no disgrace for our first attempt. We were more than consoled to have the Guild President and his band carry away the shield and we'll be back again next year to see if we can improve on our placing.
The little inner-city church of St Mary, Laira, close to Plymouth's railway works, was never completed, and has a short stumpy tower, which in the original plans had been intended to hold bells. Lack of money and the Great War prevented these plans from being fulfilled. Now thanks to the enthusiasm and vision of the church organist, bell-ringer Julie House, that incomplete tower may soon hold a ring of bells.
Already, nearly a third of the total cost of 40,000 pounds has been raised. The intention is to replace the single bell currently in the tower, with a ring of eight, with a tenor of eleven hundredweight, as a tribute to the builders of the church and in thanksgiving for the life of the local church. Parishioners have been very generous in contributing towards the appeal, and have been asked to come forward to learn to ring.
For more information, contact Julie House on 01752 338274.
11.30 Coffee and registration for workshops Small car park attached to The Institute, entrance in Brook Street. Recommended parking (long stay) in Canaan Way
12.00 Annual Business Meeting, to be held at The Institute, Yonder Street (Nominations for Guild offices may be made in advance, in writing to the General Secretary, indicating proposer and seconder, and the candidate's willingness to stand. Further nominations may be made from the floor of the meeting, as must all proposals for the Guild master).
13.00 Lunch at The Institute, Yonder Street
14.15 Workshops (first session, to be held at local towers)
15.45 Workshops (second session, to be held at local towers)
Proposed topics for workshops:
Moving on from call changes
First steps inside: Plain Bob/Grandsire Doubles
Plain Bob Minor
Cambridge S. Minor
Ten bell ringing
Method ringing on handbells
Rope splicing and Tower Maintenance
Conducting and coursing order
Members wishing to register for these workshops should let Martin
Mansley (01803 314059) know.
Application forms available from Branch Secretaries.
14.30 - 16.00 Open ringing at Honiton (St Paul)
17.00 Service ringing at Ottery St Mary
17.30 Guild service
18.30 Barbecue at The Otter Inn, Weston
Cream teas will be available at The Institute throughout the afternoon.
With deadlines fast approaching for training sufficient ringers for the Millennium celebrations, North East Branch Committee decided that helping towers to teach good bellhandling skills should be a priority. Accordingly, the Central Council Education Committee was approached for help and a "masterclass" on tower management and the teaching of bellhandling was arranged for March. The Branch was exceptionally fortunate in securing the services of Michael Henshaw, chairman of the C.C. Education Committee, who travelled down from Yorkshire for the weekend to be tutor.
After a Friday evening armchair session on the issues faced by tower captains in running their towers effectively, "students" gathered at Bampton tower on the Saturday and Sunday afternoon to be put through their paces as teachers of bell control. Eight existing ringers representing Bampton, Burlescombe, Clayhidon, Culmstock, Tiverton St. Peter and Uffculme took turns to teach four "guineapig" new recruits as Michael Henshaw and Ringing Master, Terry Hargreaves, watched and gave feedback on the techniques of the teachers. Other ringers from Halberton, Morebath, Siverton and Tiverton St Paul also observed.
After a total of nearly twelve hours instruction over the weekend, everyone who participated pronounced themselves well satisfied and much more enthusiastic and confident about teaching new recruits. Already two towers have held "handling clinics" for their existing ringers to try to improve ringing technique. Two devices employed during the weekend were found to be particularly useful. Bell muffles made from old motorcycle tyres were used to make the bells almost inaudible outside the tower at Bampton, but their use still allowed the sound of the bell to be heard faintly by teacher and learner inside, while the free movement of the clapper meant that the bell balanced normally. The other device used was a video camera to film people's ringing styles. This has proved very effective in showing existing ringers the "bad habits" of their handling when replayed.
The Bampton course was the second time in recent years that Central Council tutors have come to the North East Branch. On the basis of these experiences we can highly recommend the Central Council approach to teaching bellhandling as set out in the recent C. C. video. We also have nothing but praise and admiration for the commitment and quality of the tutors supplied by the C. C. Education Committee. If other branches have not already taken advantage of this facility, we do commend it to you.
An appeal for the restoration and augmentation of Crediton bells was launched with much publicity in the regional and local press in May. The intention is to cast a new ring of ten to be hung in a new metal frame, the cost being in the region of 100,000 pounds. The Governors of the Church will be appealing to various sources for grants for this massive undertaking, and recipients of the parish magazine and local businesses are being approached for donations and sponsorship.
The present ring of bells were cast by John Pennington IV in 1774, although the tenor bell was recast by Whitechapel in 1814, and apart from major work being carried out on the wooden frame in 1913 no significant work has been done to the bells. The general condition of the moving parts and fittings means an urgent and major restoration is needed. The bells are becoming increasingly tricky to handle and their weight, combined with the condition of the fittings, means that teaching new recruits is difficult. In brief, the bells are worn out. Moreover, since the appeal was launched, the tenor clapper sheared and only the front six are being rung.
Records show that in the fourteenth century, in the episcopacy of Walter Stapeldon, there were bells in the parish church which stands on the site of a Saxon Cathedral and an even earlier monastic settlement. Popular tradition tells that St Boniface, who evangelised Germany, was born in Crediton, although there is no evidence whatsoever for this.
For further information contact Bill Parr (01363 773118) or Howard Egglestone (01363 772566).
This year is was the turn of the Mid Devon Branch to organise his popular event and play host to the Exeter Branch for the evening of Saturday 22 May. Martin and Wenna Mansley had obviously spent some considerable time combing the St Marychurch and Babbacombe areas in an effort to compose enough cryptic clues to keep the competitors from getting complacent. There seemed to be much retracing of steps to search for that elusive plaque or noticeboard or shop window display which would bring enlightenment to a clue.
Those taking part were blessed with the loveliest of sunny evenings and glorious sea views as they rambled out of the church carte park, skirted the Model Village, crossed the Babbacombe Downs, and finished with a final gallop up the St Marychurch shopping precinct. Oh yes - mean trick this - the very last clue entailed minutely searching every shop window in a hundred yards stretch of the precinct for something called a Y-stake, just in sight of the ringers' local, and feeling more than ready for supper and a drink!
Eventually everyone assembled with their answer sheets and enjoyed a good supper. Martin then gave the answers to the clues and declared the results. There was a five-way tie for first place, but fortunately the prize was a large box of sweets and this was duly divided up as an amicable solution.
Thanks are due from everyone who took part to Martin and Wenna for all their painstaking work in ensuring a most enjoyable evening.
After consultation with the Aylesbeare Deanery Branch, whose turn it is to host the competitions this year, the eight-bell inter-branch competition will take place on Saturday 16 October on the challenging bells at Woodbury. All branches are invited to enter a band, the methods being Gainsborough Little Bob Major and the draw taking place at 2.30pm. Teas will be served during the afternoon.
The inter-tower six-bell competition has been moved from AGM day and will now take place in the morning of 16 October. Aylesbeare is the venue and all towers are warmly encouraged to try their hand for the John Fidler Cup. The rules are very simple: 240 to 300 changes in any method (s) shall be rung with repeated plain courses of the method being permitted. Each band must contain at least four Sunday service ringers who are also Guild members, but may make up the remainder from others who also belong to the Guild and the Branch. Members belonging to towers may ring for both, although not on the same bell. Ringing will take place between 10am and 12 noon, so please contact the general Secretary and book a slot to suit your band.
The stickers measure approximately 11 by 2 inches and are priced at 5 pounds for five, plus 40p postage. Anyone interested can obtain them from Sally Shupke, 5 Magazine Cottages, Old Manor Lane, Chilworth, Surrey, GU4 8NE.
Levi says that similar poems exist for other parts of the country, for Derbyshire, Shropshire and Northamptonshire. John Holloway collected them in his 'Oxford Book of Local Verse', and gave them the generic title of bell-jingles. For example, one begins:
Roast-beef and marsh-mallows
Says the bells at All Hallows.
Pancakes and fritters
Says the bells of Saint Peter's.
Roast beef and boiled
Says the bells of Saint Giles.
Poker and tongs
Says the bells of Saint Johns.
Shovel, tongs and poker
Says the bells of Saint Pulchre's.
So, if you want something to think about when at a loose end (e.g. while ringing the tenor behind to Plain Bob Doubles), how about composing a bell-jingle for your part of Devon, and then sending a copy to Ringing Round Devon. Ideally, it should follow the rhythm of 'Oranges and Lemons', with a witty rhyme for each tower name, and should have some sort of plot - the more amusing the better! It doesn't have to be long - the famous version has only six verses - and there may be a prize for the most outstanding composition!
The DCBRF will be receiving a fat cheque in due course, which will ultimately be to the benefit of all ringers. If for whatever reason you didn't support it this year - or know of others who didn't - but would like to in future, please contact the promoter (Julia Endacott 01647 432550) to ensure you receive some tickets.
Winners were: 1st/ G Clark, Horn's Cross, Bideford. 2nd/ WH Pascoe, Ashburton. 3rd/ R Richard, Lewdown. 4th/ M Fowler, Kentisbeare. 5th/ A Eames, Plymtree. 6th/ Mr & Mrs Morris, Kenton. 7th/ D Blount, Kenton. 8th/ R Roach, Lustleigh. 9th/ Rowlands, Starcross. 10th/ Frimm, Bolton, Chudleigh. 11th/ D Knight, ticket no 20329 (If this is you, please contact Julie Endacott).
As a newcomer to Bampton, lately from Los Angeles, it was no surprise that the contrast and quality of entertainment between the two places is somewhat stark.
But an event at the unusual hour of about 10pm last Wednesday somewhat diminished the difference.
Immediately after the inauguration of the new vicar it seemed somewhat magically, the church bells began to ring, nay seemingly dance, on their own.
The peels (sic) rang directly into our window. It was a sweet peeling as one might experience in Heaven itself. Each peel of the six bells was different and of an evenness I had not previously heard from that tower (or any other tower for that matter).
Some of the townspeople I know missed it because they were celebrating an almost equally sacred event, the second coming of Manchester United as they miraculously triumphed over Juventus. Too bad. The bells were great. And to my mind the performance was worthy of nomination to the bell ringing equivalent of an Oscar at the Academy Awards.
The Exeter Branch had their annual train outing on Monday 3 May. The now firmly established fixture in the diary was well supported with forty-seven people of all ages turning out for a combination of railway expedition and ringing outing that has become equally popular with ringers and non-ringers alike. The aim is to give everyone a relaxing and enjoyable day out with a varied and hopefully interesting ringing opportunity - and all done within the constraints of a railway timetable!!
The 1999 outing covered the three towers of Trowbridge, Westbury and Frome. After the initial two hour leg of the rail trip to Trowbridge, including one change, everyone was keen and ready to begin ringing on the twelve and over an hour's full ringing followed. This set the pattern for the day and, along with the heavy Westbury eight and the challenging Frome, the well-orchestrated ringing allowed full opportunity for the broad range of ringing abilities to participate in and enjoy a wide range of ringing - everything from rounds to Glasgow Major and Stedman Cinques.
The itinerary would not have been complete without a lunch stop being slotted in somewhere and over forty expectant 'trippers' were provided for at a restaurant next to the church to Westbury before the ringing.
This was the fourteenth Annual Train Outing and the format of rail and ringing seemingly blessed with reliably good weather, has become a favourite that hopefully will continue for a few years yet.
Cadeleigh proved to be an excellent venue for the fourth St. Peter's Shield Competition in March. Five teams from the Tiverton and Culm Valley gathered for the draw in the setting sun at the hilltop tower with its splendid views away to Dartmoor, while the prospect viewed through the bottom of an ale glass in the Cadeleigh Arms also proved popular with many participants. After some good ringing from several teams, judges Neil and Brian Williams from Somerset gave their verdict:
First St Peter's Tiverton 21 faults
Second Silverton 78 faults
Third St Paul's Tiverton 81 faults
Fourth Clayhidon 98 faults
Fifth Bampton 119 faults
At long last St Peter's had managed to win its own competition. Some less charitable folk, however thought that the lack of an entry from Cullompton, twice previous winners, might have had something to do with St Peter's success! Whatever the case, the competition rules also lay stress, as Brian Williams reminded us, on promoting good fellowship amongst local ringers and the magnificent buffet provided by the Cadeleigh Arms played no small part in making it an enjoyable and very successful evening.
The North and Northwest Branch held a successful quarter peal day on 15 May, and three out of four eight-bell quarters were rung. Anne Thorne was delighted to ring 6-spliced surprise at Tawstock, her first of spliced, and John Conduct proved he could still ring surprise in a quarter of Rutland at Appledore. At Braunton, Mike Squires was pleased to ring Grandsire Triples, and James and Joan Clarke taught the rest of the band a 'Clarke's single' in Stedman at Kilkhampton, the only loss of the day.
Branch secretary Mike Rose puts down the success of the day to carefully planning the methods rung and to concentrating on good striking as well; even the swap in the front work in Stedman (in a Clarke's single it appears that bells make seconds and long thirds over the quick bell's leading) was done cleanly!
The method chosen by the Guild committee for the Guild eight-bell competition on October 16, Gainsborough LB, is, although far from difficult, not in the standard repertoire and easy touches and quarters are not readily available.
Branches might appreciate the following touches and simple quarters in order to practice for the competition:
The test piece is:
M W B H 23456 288 - - x - S 25436 Repeated
168 M W H 23456 - - - 65432 Repeated
288 I/V H 23456 X S 32456 Repeated
Two basic 1260s:
M W H 23456 - - - 65432 - - 43652 - 3 - 26354 Three part
M W H 23456 3 3 - 42356 Three part
The plain course is
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