The Guild of Devonshire Ringers



Newsletter No 35 : September 1999

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.

Items for inclusion may be sent by e-mail to

1999 Master chosen from East Branch


Ringers and helpers studying the basics at Buckerell.

The annual Guild festival was this year held in Ottery St Mary, and although not well attended, was appreciated by those who took part in the workshops, and by those who enjoyed the food provided by the ringers of the East Devon branch.

Branch ringing master and Ottery tower captain Laurie Palmer was elected Guild Master, in gratitude for the work he does for and the enthusiasm he brings to ringing in this part of the county. Further details of the business meeting are elsewhere in RRD.

After lunch, and the opportunity to catch up on news from friends from the far ends of the county, ringers dispersed to various venues for the workshops, ranging from Surprise Major to moving on from call changes, and from change ringing on handbells to tower maintenance. The Guild is grateful to all who ran workshops, especially those who are not resident members, and also to Martin Mansley, Anne Moss and all the organisers of the day.

Finally, a few ringers managed to find time to squeeze in a cream tea, before ringing for service on Ottery's wonderful bells. And the service, taken by local incumbent and ringer Simon Franklin, contained handbell ringing by Tom and Margaret Chapman and those who had taken part in the handbell workshop.

Guild quarter peal week


The Guild is asking local ringers to organise as many quarter peals as possible to be rung in the week from Saturday 25 September to Saturday 2 October. It is hoped that these will include a large number of first quarters, or firsts as conductor, or first in a new method. As well as encouraging and developing individual ringing skills, the week will also be a way of raising money for bell restoration in the county, through the Guild's bell restoration fund and the DCBRF. Janet Coles has agreed to be the co-ordinator for the week. She has asked that each ringer should give one pound (to include RW donation) per quarter, and that details of all quarters rung, together with a cheque made payable to the Guild, should be sent to her.

Some branches hope to raise sponsorship for the quarters from church congregations; any additional money raised during the week can go directly to the Treasurer.

AGM: new criteria for vice-presidents


New guidelines for the election of vice-presidents were agreed at the AGM in June, to ensure that the position is seen as a sincere way of saying thank you to those members who have contributed greatly to ringing in Devon.

Members approved specific criteria for electing new vice-presidents, as well as agreeing that the position should only be held by ringers; non-ringers (such as the higher clergy) should be invited to be associate patrons. All nominations would only reach the AGM with the support of the General Committee.

The Committee had appointed a small working party to come up with some recommendations and at the meeting, Lester Yeo introduced its three recommendations. After one amendment and two small corrections the following was approved nem. con.

  1. that the Suffragan Bishops, Dean and Archdeacons of the Diocese of Exeter be appointed associate patrons ex-officio, and that the Guild have the power to invite other appropriate non-ringers to be associate patrons.
  2. that new vice-presidents shall be nominated from among the Ringing Membership of the Guild; nominations shall be made in writing to the General Secretary, giving details of the candidates' ringing career and explaining the reasons why they have been nominated; suitable reasons for nomination might include:

  3. that before submitting any nominations to a General Meeting of the Guild, the General Committee shall approve them by a two-thirds majority of those voting, after discussion of the merits of the candidates in their absence.

The adoption of the first resolution will necessitate a minor rule change. A copy of the resolutions is to be circulated to Branch Secretaries.

RING IN 2000

At the Annual Meeting, Martin Mansley reported that the joint Guild and Association committee had met every two months to co-ordinate and encourage ringing for the new millennium. He continued by introducing a draft recruitment leaflet produced by the Ring in 2000 group, and proposed that the Guild offer to finance half the cost of producing 10,000 copies after any sponsorship had been found, to a maximum of 300 pounds, on the condition that the Association do the same. This was seconded by Tim King and agreed nem. con. It was noted that the experience of other Associations was that the leaflet was ineffective if simply left in ringing chambers, but attracted recruits if placed in, for example, doctors' and dentists' waiting rooms.

Striking competitions

Both Guild competitions will be held on Saturday 16 October, the six-bell at Aylesbeare, the eight-bell at Woodbury, where teas will be available.

The order of ringing will be by application to the Secretary for the six-bell, by draw (at 2.30pm) for the eight-bell.

AGM IN 2000

The NE Branch have offered to host the AGM in the year 2000 on the last Saturday in June, at Tiverton. Members have suggested reasons for the low attendance at the 1999 Annual Meeting - such as holidays, ringing for weddings, examinations and inadequate publicity, so a sub-committee has been set up to plan the day, consisting of the Education Officer, the general Secretary, Sheila Scofield and Leslie Boyce.

At the Ottery meeting, Phyllis Hooper suggested that a better attendance at the business meeting would be achieved by providing something exciting before the meeting. John Steere suggested that the old formula of service, meal, meeting was worth reconsidering.

Copies of the tower version of the Welcome Pack are still available to Branch Secretaries for any newly affiliated towers.

North East Branch:


The good news from the area is that at the start of June the architect gave ringers at St. Peter's, Tiverton an immediate go-ahead to resume a full programme of ringing. This was after 15 months with no ringing at all and a further three of restriction to the front six. The end of the limitation was particularly pleasing, as it came in time for the bells to be rung at a special service of thanksgiving on the 14th July to mark the completion of the whole restoration project which, as well as the tower, had included renewal of part of the lead roofing and attention to the clerestory windows. A quarter peal of Plain Bob Major was rung on the Sunday before.

Elsewhere in the Branch work is now under way at Bampton. Here the tower is being repointed and indications are that it is likely to be the end of the year before ringing can resume. At Cullompton it is pleasing to report that scaffolding has finally appeared around the tower and that restoration work will begin shortly, now that most of the money for the project has been raised. Like St. Peter's, the bells here had also been out of action since early last year and it seems that it may be well into 2000 before they can be rung again.

St Petrock's: training days planned


The St Petrock's Ringing Centre in Exeter is planning a series of four 'Masterclasses' in Devon-style call change ringing. Prominent ringers from the call-change world will each lead a session for six to eight competent ringers who wish to improve their ringing ability.

There are no minimum standards, but organiser David Trist is keen to point out that the sessions are not aimed at novices, but at those keen to ring call-changes and to learn from the professionals!

The Masterclasses will take place on Saturdays once a month from December through to March, and full details (including how to book) will be sent out with details about the Chamberpot competition, but are also available from David Trist.

East Devon: Competition at Stockland


On Saturday 10th July 9 teams entered our East Devon branch striking competition at Stockland. This was organised by Mr Edward Summers, but who unfortunately due to ill health was unable to attend. Mr Ron Trickey from Culmstock was the judge and placed the teams in the following positions:

1st Sidmouth B 15.75 faults
2nd Honiton 16.25 faults
3rd Ottery St Mary 19 faults
4th Shute A 21 faults
5th Otterell (O.S.M./Buckerell) 23 faults
6th Shute B 28.5 faults
7th Sidmouth A 31.75 faults
8th Honiton 47.25 faults
9th Buckerell 58 faults

Cream teas were served during the competition and the day was rounded off by skittles and buffet at the Longbridge Inn.


Details: FD Mack


Following a well-supported meeting for Devon and Cornwall members of the Ancient Society at Tavistock in January, a further gathering has been organised for October.

Members and their guests are invited to lunch at the White Hart in Launceston at 1pm on Saturday 9 October, followed by ringing at St Stephens from 3pm to 4.30 and at St Mary Magdalen's from 5pm onwards.

Exeter Branch : outing to unringable threes and fours


Every so often, the Exeter Branch has held an outing which has involved little or no ringing: to the single bells in the ancient city churches, or to those in the suburbs, and to threes and fours around North Tawton.

This year, a small group of ringers explored some of the threes and fours north of Exeter, as well as a delightful chime of eight. Needless to say, there was a cream tea and a visit to the pub in the itinerary too!

The first tower was Kennerleigh, in the Creedy valley on the road to Black Dog. The charming little church there, in 1920, received a chime of eight cast by Gillett and Johnson, which are regular sounded by means of a rudimentary keyboard at the base of the tower. As well as rounds, call-changes and well-known tunes (such as the old standby, 'The First Nowell'), members put their skills at improvisation to the test.

Then through the lanes to Stockleigh English, formerly a ring of four, but with only three ropes reaching to the vestry, and they were in very poor condition. The churchwarden gave permission to swing the bells from the intermediate chamber, but even chiming in rounds proved difficult, and Richard Shere demonstrated his strength by breaking the tenor rope. According to Ellacombe, the tenor bell (8cwt in A#) was cast by the Exeter foundry in 1612.

The small convoy of cars then drove through Cheriton Fitzpaine and across the main A3072 to Stockleigh Pomeroy, which has a ring of three, recently declared unringable, even though they were rehung and recast only at the turn of the century. The ringers were allowed to squeeze into the belfry to tap the bells.

By the time the branch reached Bickleigh for tea, however, the first disaster struck. Bickleigh Mill had run out of cream! Fortunately they had not run out of tea, though, and there were cakes and other things to eat.

The second disaster was between Bickleigh and Butterleigh, the final tower of the day. Heavy rain earlier in the day had caused the Burn Valley road to be flooded to such a degree that it was impassable to normal traffic. A long-winded diversion was found, and Butterleigh's bellringer was waiting to give a demonstration of how one person can chime all three bells - a feat that members of the branch tried to emulate, before crossing the road and enjoying a drink at one of the writer's favourite pubs, the Butterleigh Inn.

From the Western Morning News


It is the dream of many an urban dweller to move into a quiet village for a spot of peace and tranquillity amid rustic surroundings. And it is the nightmare of villagers that city types arrive only to object to the everyday sounds of rural reality.

So real is the fear for villagers at Thurlestone in Devon's South Hams that they have decided to warn the latest bunch of incomers of a potential noise 'nuisance' even before they buy their new homes.

Families who buy a property on an upmarket development in the middle of the village will find a clause in their deeds of sale which warns them about the noise of the church bells. The warning was written into the legal documents on the request of the parish council and parochial church council, whose members did not want to receive complaints about a cherished part of village life.

"We have bells in the tower that go back to the middle 1600s, so they have been rung here for hundreds of years," said Derrick Yeomans, parish councillor and stalwart of the team of bellringers. Bob Petit, director of the estate agency which is dealing with the sales, said, "So far we have had nobody objecting to the bellringing clause. The covenant is to the point that they are to be aware of the church bells and there can be no objection to these either now or any time in the future."


Ken was born on 6th March 1916 and was brought up in Chewton Mendip where he learnt to ring at the age of 12and appropriately rang his first peal Grandsire Triples, conducted by Thomas Withey on 16th April 1932. During the course of his lifelong interest in ringing he rang a further five peals at Chewton Mendip, including one peal of Grandsire Triples with an all local band. He revered Chewton Mendip as his spiritual home and his ashes were lain to rest in the churchyard there on Friday 30th July 1999.

In the period up to the Second World War, Ken was a member of the north Somerset, 'Wednesday' band led by Joe Dyke. This band met at towers along the route of the former Somerset and Dorset railway line, especially at Evercreech, where Harry Sanger was captain. Ken had many tales to tell of missing last trains after ringing and of cycling miles along north Somerset roads to attend practices and ring peals. During this period Ken rang in many 'firsts' for a resident band of the Bath and Wells Diocesan Association, including a peal of London Surprise Major on the old eight at Evercreech on 23rd January 1935. Towards the end of his peal ringing career, Ken returned to Evercreech on 10th December 1977 to stand in a peal of London Surprise Royal, conducted by R. C. Kippin. Altogether he rang some 88 peals, including peals at Sherborne, Queen Camel and St Martin's, Birmingham, all conducted by Joe Dyke.

Ken was very proud to be elected as a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths in 1937. After his election, he took part in a College Youth peal of Plain Bob Major on 23rd October 1937, the tercentenary year of the Ancient Society. As a member of the Ancient Society of some 62 years standing, he attended a 'country' meeting held at Tavistock, Devon in January 1999. However the highlight of his association with the Ancient Society occurred on his 80th birthday, when his family arranged for him to attend a practice at St Paul's Cathedral, London, an occasion which he valued greatly in his own modest and unassuming manner.

Following war service in Africa and the far east, Ken worked until his retirement as a coach builder with the Bristol Omnibus Company. He lived for much of this period at Ston Easton, where he built his own bungalow, and later, as churchwarden, was instrumental in having the bells rehung and augmented to six in 1971. On Monday 17th January 1972, Ken rang his first peal on the 'new' 6, the band being Ken Ford, Ron Beck, Ted Chivers, David Targett, Adrian and Robert Beck, all close friends of Ken. This was the first of 12 peals of multi-surprise minor that Ken rang variously with his friends at Ston Easton between 1972 and 1976. On his retirement Ken moved to Lanteglos, Cornwall to set up a family business and subsequently to Braunton, where he celebrated his golden wedding anniversary with his beloved wife Ena, their children, Maureen, Sue and David, their families and friends. At Braunton, he was a valued and much loved member of the Sunday service band and of the St Brannock's Society, ringing several quarter peals for the latter.

Ken was as steady, dependable and thoughtful in his manner as he was in his ringing. He will be remembered by his family as a caring and loving father, and by his ringing friends as a skilful ringer, a wonderful friend and a good companion. May you rest in peace Ken and 'listen' to the bells of Chewton for ever.

Mike Rose


As is normal at this time of year, the ringing at St David's in Exeter grinds to a halt as all the students have gone back to their homes for the long summer break. However, now we have more local members, and these people combined with the St David's ringers now make almost regular ringing possible. Unfortunately, Mrs Boobier had a fall a little while ago so she hasn't been ringing (GET WELL SOON!), but with the assistance of Peter Boobier and Geoff Crockett some ringing has been achieved. Term starts again at the beginning of October - all visitors will be most welcome to come along on Tuesdays between 7pm and 8.30pm.

So what else has been happening? We have spent a lot of time in the tower doing some maintenance work on the bells at St Davids. Under the watchful eye of Pete we have painted all the metal on the frame, and repaired one of the stays, and given the tower a good clean from top to bottom. Some new lighting has also been installed in the ringing room to give a "new look"!

The regular trip to Exmouth beach for a swim and barbecue went without a hitch - even the sun shone for us - and our pancake party was definitely a success with not one stuck to the ceiling. Not to mention the ringing outings to Dartmoor, and the joint trip to Somerset with the University of Bristol ringers.

But, of course, it is coming round to that time of year again when we all get out barn dancing shoes on and go to the Rougemont Hotel in Exeter for a good meal and then a bit of a hoe-down! As usual the dinner will be the first weekend in February (Saturday 5th Feb) and tickets will be on sale soon. The traditional format will be to meet somewhere on the Friday evening, then do some general ringing during the day on Saturday (exact location yet to be decided) followed by the dinner and then a barn dance on Saturday evening. Sunday will be spent recovering with normal ringing in the morning and then general ringing at Exeter Cathedral in the afternoon. Tickets will be in the region of 25 pounds each to include all tower donations, the dinner and the barn dance. Also, reduced rates can be obtained for those that want to stay at the Rougemont Hotel overnight.

See you all there!!

For more information please contact either Matthew Hilling ( or Michael Esbester ( or Ed Oakeley ( The latest information will always be published on the web site:

South West Branch: towers and ringers very busy


Most of the towers in the South West Branch are having a busy year, writes Yvonne Porter. Many have had new recruits who have reached varying stages of ringing, and it looks good for the future and the millennium. Tower outings have been organised: Emmanuel had a local day outing to Brentor and district, ending up with a barbecue at John Bower's woodland location. Stoke Damerel also had a day outing around the Teign valley with seven towers, and ending up with an enjoyable evening meal at Bickington.

Ringing at Stoke Damerel has made big strides, and Grandsire Triples is regularly rung for service with ringers to spare, and on practice nights it is a mammoth task to organise ringing to accommodate all needs and wishes.

For several year ringers from Emmanuel Church, Plymouth, have attended the Sparsholt Ringing Course due to the enthusiasm of their tower captain Jill Larbalestier, and five ringers from Emmanuel were attending this course on the August Bank Holiday weekend this year. We look forward to hearing and reading a report on this in the next issue of RRD.


The Midweek Group have had an enjoyable and successful year, with the number of ringers taking part in the monthly ringing days being as high as twenty. The final day-out of 1999 will be on October 21 (not the usual Thursday) and the towers to be visited will be Holsworthy and Poughill. Lunch will be in a local pub between the two sessions of ringing.

All ringers who are free that day are invited to join in, and further details are available from Don Lawson.

North North-West Branch: ringing outing to Somerset,


The St Brannock's Society held its annual outing to Somerset, and had the opportunity to ring on the new twelve at South Petherton; unfortunately it was not possible to visit the newly augmented ten at Shepton Beauchamp nearby, but James and Joan Clarke arranged an enjoyable and useful day for all, with Bristol Major and Stedman Cinques being rung, and Spliced Surprise Major being attempted!

Ilminster was the first tower of the day - a delightful 23 cwt ring of eight; then to Hardington Mandeville, where the resident society was joined by two expatriate members. The lunchtime pub was ideal and had a magnificent skittle alley.

East Coker, another eight, is in a fascinating setting, with an interesting access to the ringing chamber; recent stained glass in a lancet window on the spiral staircase there used position and shape to good effect by depicting a sally. It was here that the spliced was attempted, but the absence of a conductor did not help matters . At South Petherton, more members were waiting, and for some it was their first experience of ringing on twelve. The local band must be congratulated on the augmentation, and St Brannock's members went home with souvenir wooden light pulls accurately turned by a local dentist!

Norton sub Hamdon was the final tower of the day, a rather challenging eight, so members were pleased to stop at The Poacher's Pocket, on the old A38 near Burlescombe, for a meal and liquid refreshment before returning to North Devon.

From the E&E 20 years ago


Bell ringers from all over Devon handed over purses of money to help pay for the restoration of Exeter Cathedral's bell tower at a service on Saturday.

Miss Yvonne Porter, secretary of the guild, explained: "we felt ringers should contribute something towards its restoration". The money collected by the ringers was presented to cathedral officials after a service conducted by the Bishop of Crediton, the Rt Revd Philip Pasterfield.

Last year Devon ringers contributed more than 500 towards a new bell for the south tower, to be called the Jubilee Bell. This has now been cast and the framework is being made. When the Jubilee Bell is installed, cathedral ringers will have to work less hard for it is a lighter bell than the one presently used for the bass octave.

Tavistock: Grandsire Caters for silver wedding


The first peal on the new ten at Tavistock was finally rung on Sunday 25 July for the church's flower festival, and as a silver wedding complement to George and Doreen Mudge. 5003 Grandsire Caters took three hours and ten minutes, and it was the first peal for treble ringer Jim East, as well as the first on ten for Paul Pascoe, Philip Mudge and Geoff Hill.

Tavistock, Devon
St Eustachius
Sun July 25 in 3 hours 10 minutes
5003 Grandsire Caters
Composed by John Pladdys

1 Jim P East
2 Paul Pascoe
3 Ian VJ Smith
4 James Grant
5 Philip CW Mudge
6 John Pladdys
7 George E Mudge (C)
8 Andrew GJ Mudge
9 Robert DS Brown
10 Geoffrey C Hill


Congratulations to Pat Munson, AN Kingsnorth, Chris Hellier, Jean Patch, Chris Gibbs and Paul Latham who have recently rung their first quarter peal and to John Rose who has recently rung his first as conductor.

Plymouth (Emmanuel). 28 February, 1260 Grandsire Doubles: Pat Munson (1st Q) 1, Geoff Larbalestier 2, Jo Hargreaves 3, Chris Wardle 4, Alena Wardle (C) 5, Jill Larbalestier 6

Plymouth (Emmanuel). 28 March, 1260 Plain Bob Doubles: AN Kingsnorth (1st Q) 1, Geoff Larbalestier 2, Chris Wardle 3, Alena Wardle 4, JF Bowler (C) 5, Jill Larbalestier 6

Ermington. 4 May, 1320 Cambridge S Minor: David Farnham 1, Clare Stagg 2, Jane Barnacott 3, Dominic Beer 4, John Barnacott 5, John Rose (1st as C)

Kentisbeare. 5 May, 1260 Grandsire and Plain Bob Doubles: Chris Hellier (1st attempt) 1, Mike Hilson 2, Wilf Dunn (C) 3, Ken Manley 4, Terry Hargreaves 5, Alan Spear 6.

Offwell. 5 June, 1260 Grandsire Doubles: Jean Patch (1st Q) 1, Anne Moss 2, Pam Bailey 3, Derek Ballard 4, Don Salter (C) 5, Chris Gibbs (1st Q).

Torquay (St Marychurch). 6 July, 1260 Plain Bob Doubles: Paul Latham (1st Q) 1, Tony Pearson 2, Revd Robert Southwood 3, Tim King 4, Martin Mansley (C) 5, Steven Came 6.


Before starting work on RRD, I try to contact each of the branches to discover if they have any news to be reported. Some branches are excellent at sending in snippets, but others find it difficult to do so, not because the situation is unhealthy, but because, as one branch secretary said, their "ringers are busy within their own towers, with ringing on Sundays and for weddings, teaching, outings and some quarters, which it is all about really, and which is very healthy." That branch secretary went on to question the need for branches, or at least the need for branches to organise things, if towers are doing their job properly.

I wonder if there is indeed a valid point here. Surely, the local branch exists to serve the needs of each tower and of each ringer, for example by providing opportunities to ring at a higher level of ability. Perhaps, then, branch committees should regularly audit the needs of the branch membership before planning its activities. And the result of that audit might be a complete restructuring of the way the branch works.

Moreover, in every branch area, there are ringers who are not members of the Guild, and towers which are not affiliated. Branch committees may wish to consider their needs too, and see whether the branch activities can meet some of them, so that all ringers, both method and call-change, can work closely together for the furtherance of our art.

Happy autumn ringing! Lester Yeo

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Pages written by Ian Campbell

Updated 18/9/99