The Guild of Devonshire Ringers - Ringing Round Devon Newsletter

The Guild of Devonshire Ringers


Newsletter No 38 : June 2000

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

Matthew Hilling is exhausted in Paddington Station buffet after the Cathedral band are placed a creditable fourth in the National Twelve Bell Competition eliminator at St Sepulchre's, London. Full story inside.

Ring in 2000: Committee sees work at end


A new council for all ringers in Devon is to be proposed at the Guild and Association AGMs this year. The Ring in 2000 Committee which was set up to encourage and co-ordinate the ringing for the beginning of the Millennium year, has found that the close co-operation between the two societies has been invaluable, and wishes to strengthen the good relationship between them.

The committee therefore is proposing the creation of the Devon Ringers' Council, consisting of six members of each society, plus a representative of the St Petrock's Ringing Centre:

  1. To develop the relationship between the Devon Association of Ringers and the Guild of Devonshire Ringers.
  2. To encourage training in all aspects of bell ringing and belfry maintenance.
  3. To further relations between ringers and the Church authorities, the media and the general public in order to promote understanding, interest and support.

The involvement of St Petrock's will allow the council to build on the initiatives the Ringing Centre has started in developing training opportunities in the call-change tradition, as well as encourage the use of the bells by method ringers. Other ringers with particular expertise could be co-opted, either for a specific project, or until the new council is elected every third year.

The Council would be totally responsible to the two parent societies, and would hold no funds, to ensure that its work is done with their approval. Moreover all ringers would be welcome to attend meetings, which would be held at St Petrock's, and be free to contribute in the Council's discussions.

If both societies are in agreement with the proposal, the Ring in 2000 Committee would continue to meet until the first elections to the Council next year.


on Saturday 24th June 2000 at Tiverton St Peter

Timetable for the day:

9.30-10.30 Open ringing at Sampford Peverell (6)
9.45-10.45 Open ringing for Blundell's Service at Tiverton St Peter
10.15 Registration opens with information, exhibitions and coffee at The Castle School, Barrington Street (parking available)
11.15 Introduction and welcome at The Castle School to the day's events from the Guild President and Education Officer
11.30-12.50 Morning Lecture and Workshops:

12.50-1.45 Buffet lunch at the school
2.00-3.00 Guild Annual Meeting
(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 Master).

3.15-4.30 Afternoon Workshops:
4.15-5.30 Tea available at The Castle School
4.30-5.40 Open ringing at Tiverton St Peter.
Service touch by members of the Devon Association
5.45 Ringers' Service of Prayer and Praise .
6.30 Beer and skittles in the alley of the Queen's Head.
Light buffet available at 8.00

Lunch tickets £ 5 from Leslie Boyce. Please enclose a 9x4 stamped addressed envelope and make cheques/postal orders payable to 'GDR - NE Branch'.


A chance to practise for those making the transition from call changes to method ringing (Afternoon session).

A practical session ringing the Doubles stage of this ancient but fascinating principle. (Afternoon session).

St Marychurch Handbell Ringers will be demonstrating and giving opportunities for hands-on experience with simple tunes. Particularly for those with little or no experience of handbell ringing. (Morning and afternoon sessions).

A chance for extra practice - in plain courses and touches - for those who are moving from Plain Hunt to Plain Bob or Grandsire. (Afternoon session).

Ian Campbell will be on hand to demonstrate and give hands-on experience for those interested in the possibilities that computers now give for training, composition and general interest related to ringing. (Morning session).

A chance to ring Grandsire or Plain Bob Triples with an experienced band, either plain courses or touches. (Afternoon session).

A group which is both theoretical and practical and gives ringers who would like to call call-changes an opportunity to investigate the construction of call-change peals. (Afternoon session).

David Trist leads a workshop for ringers who would like to know some of the secrets of top Devon call change teams. (Morning session).

John Scott will be telling stories and anecdotes of bells and ringers he has known during his life as a ringer, cleric and bell historian. (Morning and afternoon sessions).

Have you been learning a Surprise Major method but rarely had a chance to practise it? If you are in that position this is for you. Any of the Standard Eight will be available and there should be an opportunity for Spliced. (Afternoon session).

Members wishing to register for these workshops should let the Education Officer or the general Secretary know.

Application forms available from Branch Secretaries.


Crediton has been confirmed as the venue for the 2000 Carol Service, which will be held on Saturday 16 December.

Unfortunately the new ring of ten will not be cast by then, and ringing will be on the old eight. Once more, the collection will be given to the Children's Hospice.

Mid Devon Branch


A fine spring day found the Mid Devon Branch on the fringes of Dartmoor for the half-yearly meeting. A change of venue from the hoped for Buckfast Abbey saw a reasonable turnout at Ashburton and the members acquitted themselves quite well on this fine ring of eight which had been the scene of the Devon eight bell call change competition only the previous week.

Members were of course conscious of very critical ears in the vicinity and tried extra hard. Methods such as Cambridge Major and Stedman Triples were interspersed with call changes and simpler methods to cater for all abilities. No tea arrangements had been made but the excellent Cream Tea establishments in the area were sampled on the way to the service and meeting at Buckland in the Moor.

The now familiar Service of Prayer and Praise was swiftly followed by the business meeting. Nothing too controversial came up but there was some discussion about the branch competition and another debate about how to increase active branch membership.

The bells at Buckland are a strong contrast to those at Ashburton, and were found difficult at first. The ringers managed Little Bob Major and got to the first part end of the competition touch of Little Grandsire Triples. However most of the band were attempting a touch in the method for the first time. Soon numbers started to dwindle and the branch members began their various journeys home through the dusk of a glorious evening.


Throughout the country, two hundred and seventy applications for grants to bell restoration projects were received by the Millennium Commission, of which thirteen were in Devon. Of these, one hundred and fifty nationally, and six in the county, received funding.

Three of the Devon applications (Kenn, Plymouth St Andrew and Landkey) unfortunately arrived too late for consideration, and a further four (Ashwater, Colaton Raleigh, Dolton and Washford Pyne) either withdrew their application or did not meet the criteria set by the Millennium Working Party. This meant that the six fortunate recipients of Millennium Commission money were:

Malborough (All Saints) £ 4,901
Colyton (S Andrew) £ 9,113
Charleton (S Mary) £ 12,642
Chawleigh (S James) £ 14,652
Gidleigh (Holy Trinity) £ 19,656
Tavistock (S Eustachius) £ 21,854

Nationally, the project gave new rings to ten towers, four of which had not had bells before. Two rings of steel bells were replaced, and a chime of six was rehung for full-circle ringing.


Congratulations to Caroline Bendle, Catherine Cavill, Doreen Goldsmith and Jane Kingsnorth who have recently rung their first quarter peal, and to Paddy Priscott who has recently rung his first as conductor.

Honiton (S Paul). 4th November 1999. 1260 Plain Bob Doubles: Barbara Miller 1, Jim Crabb 2, Brian Gardner 3, Derek Ballard 4, Paddy Priscott (1st as C.), Dave Coles 6.

Plymouth (Emmanuel). 30th December 1999, 1260 Grandsire Doubles: Jane Kingsnorth (1st Q.) 1, DJ Crocker 2, JF Steere 3, JA Rose 4, DJ Crocker (C.) 5, Jill Larbalestier 6.

Exmouth (Littleham). 8th January, 1260 Doubles (2m): Ron Payne 1, Neil E Deem 2, Alan J Sinden (C.) 3, Julie D Sinden 4, Robert Scaddon 5, Catherine J Cavill (1st Q.) 6.

Torquay (S Marychurch). 23rd February, 1260 Grandsire and Plain Bob Doubles: Doreen Goldsmith (1st Q.) 1, Don Roberts 2, Tim King 3, Bob Southwood 4, Martin Mansley (C.) 5, Helen Mansley 6.

Clayhydon. 5th April. 1260 Plain Bob Doubles: Caroline Bendle (1st Q.) 1, Brian Samuels 2, Anne Stenning 3, John Levin 4, Ron Trickey 5, Ken Wakeling 6. Joint Cs - 2,3,4,5.

Diocese seeks new Bell Advisers


John Scott and Frank Mack, who act as Bell Advisors to the Diocese and to the Guild, are conscious of the fact that they are not immortal, and so are looking for someone (or more than one) who could take over their work in the future. The job demands, ideally:

Details of practically all the church bells in the Diocese are already on record and would be available, and the Towers and belfries Committee of the Central Council is always ready to give advice and provide a second opinion. John and Frank will (if they're spared) be able to give some on-the-job training.

For more details, or for an informal discussion, contact John Scott.

Ashburton: 8 bell competition


Eleven teams entered the Devon Association 8-bell competition, held on April 29 at St Andrew's, Ashburton, and this year's winners were local team Buckland-in-the-Moor. Winners of the cup for the best top ringing were Kingsteignton. Association Secretary Frank Bye commented on the good standard of ringing generally, and the fact that none of the entries disgraced themselves! Once more the officers were complimented on arranging perfect weather for listening to fine ringing, and a delicious tea was provided by members of the congregation from the church.

Judges Ivor Hookway, Mervyn Philips, Jeremy Darke and George Whiddon placed the competitors as follows:

  1. Buckland-in-the-Moor 39 ½ faults (16)
  2. Kingsteignton 42 faults (15 ¾ )
  3. Plymstock 52 faults (28)
  4. Tavistock 55 ¼ faults (18 ¾ )
  5. North Tawton 64 faults (33)
  6. Exeter Cathedral 73 ½ faults (30)
  7. Kingsbridge 80 ¼ faults (43 ¼ )
  8. Chittlehampton 87 faults (36 ½ )
  9. Paignton 93 ½ faults (33 ½ )
  10. Chagford 93 ¾ faults (34)
  11. Exminster 107 faults (48)

The winning team were: Pat Jonstone 1, John Caunter 2, Paul Pascoe 3, Chris Pascoe 4, Alan Brown 5, Bernard Miners 6, John Dietz 7, Graham Pascoe 8 with Brian Redstone as strapper. However it was tower captain Pickles Pascoe who went up to collect the trophy - from his brother!

London: 12 bell eliminator


The Cathedral band were placed fourth in the eliminator for the National Twelve Bell Competition, held in March at St Sepulchre's, Holborn, opposite the Old Bailey. The competition judges, former Cathedral member Martin Whiteley, together with Peter Sanderson and Quentin Armitage, spoke of the high standard of ringing throughout - the test piece was half a course of Cambridge Maximus - and that even the team placed last rang well enough to have qualified for the final ten years ago.

Unfortunately only the top two teams, Bristol and St Martin's in the Fields go forward to this year's final in June, but the Exeter band, who rang second with a peal speed of 3h27, were delighted to be only five points behind the winner, and seven points ahead of the team placed fifth.

The results were as follows:

  1. Bristol 87 points
  2. St Martin's in the Fields 86 points
  3. High Wycombe 84 points
  4. Exeter 82 points
  5. Melbourne 75 points
  6. Hull 66 points

North Devon: Mid-weekers go from strength to strength


The three Ts mid-week group has had a highly successful start to the year with record numbers attending the monthly get-togethers. The numbers attending a recent meeting held at Appledore and Abbotsham were twenty-three including visiting ringers from Truro, Swindon and Bristol.

The May meeting which included a visit to the recently available six at Arlington tempted one Bernard Ongley, a ringer at Grappenhall, Cheshire, to leave home by train at 8am to travel all the way to Arlington for an hour's ring. He then returned from Barnstaple by train at 4.20 the same day! That's dedication!

The group hope to visit Lundy on June 8th and anyone interested should contact Don Lawson. All ringers are welcome to join the group, which meets normally on the second Thursday of each month. Venues are published in The Ringing World.

NE Branch outing


It started badly. 'Leave your car at Cullompton Services and the coach will pick you up there', they said. Nothing about the charge of £ 5 for the day's parking - but I'm sure they didn't know. Happily we had time to find a bit of free road before the coach arrived and then things began to get better.

Twenty-five in total, ringers and ringers' significant others, had taken up the offer of a day round Dartmoor arranged by Branch Ringing Master Mike Hatchett who had been able to fix good weather, a comfortable coach and a most helpful driver - to say nothing of a good selection of towers.

Our first stop was Ashburton where the driver demonstrated awesome skill in fitting the coach into the smallest imaginable parking space. The ringing skills demonstrated were less than awesome but perfectly creditable.

Emmanuel, Plymouth had a wedding on so NE Branch ringers were able to contribute something to the happy day, leaving the resident band to perform the service touch. Lunch was taken in Tavistock and after a slight delay while another wedding was completed we sampled the new ten and even attempted Caters with some local support. The long draught at Hatherleigh was rather daunting but method and call changes were rung successfully.

The Kayden House Hotel in North Tawton provided a sumptuous tea - almost enough to make ringing too much of a challenge afterwards. Such ringing as was done was mainly on the front six as the tenor clapper gave up the ghost soon after we began. The cars were still on the free parking area when we returned and we motored off to our respective homes after a thoroughly enjoyable day.


Stokeinteignhead: new ringing floor


The internal re-ordering is going ahead well at Stokeinteignhead, with the installation of a kitchen and the resiting of the font. It will be of interest to ringers to know that ringing should resume on Ascension Day at 7.30 a.m. by which time the new gallery and stair access should have been completed.

The photograph shows the new floor in position before the installation of the stairway.

The Stoke ringers look forward from the beginning of June to welcoming friends and visitors once again to sample their new ringing facilities. RAS

Feniton: captain hits the headlines


The Express and Echo printed a full page article about Feniton tower captain Victor Chown, who recently rang a quarter peal to celebrate his 90th birthday. Reporter Sancha Tetlow interviewed Victor and wrote a piece for the May 10th issue. In it she also describes Victor's life history (and particularly his ringing history) and the millennium ringing at Feniton.

The article says that he learnt to ring when he was twelve after watching his father Joseph lead the ringers at Feniton. However four years later, he joined the navy, and was only able to ring when back in Devon on leave. "He spent three years on HMS Furious, among the first aircraft carriers to see action. Then he went to HMS Indefatigable for 12 months before moving to the staff of aircraft commander Admiral Vine.

"In 1954, Victor, then a Lieutenant Commander, was posted to Plymouth and although he rang a bit at a church in Devonport it wasn't until he retired to Feniton 27 years ago that he took his hobby up seriously.

"Victor is very much a son of Feniton, being born in the house which is now beside his present bungalow, where his father was also born. Since retiring, he involved himself in every aspect of village life, having been clerk and chairman of the parish council, treasurer to the PCC and serving on the village hall and youth centre committees.

"Last year, he wrote a book on the history of Feniton, which gave a interesting insight of life in the village in a bygone age and the development of it to the present day.

"But it is as a member of the Devonshire Guild of Bellringers that he is best known and when the call came for all bell-ringers to join in harmony to celebrate the new millennium Victor was at the fore.

"He was the only person left in the village able to teach new members who joined to make up the ranks, including his daughter Josephine. He said, 'We asked for more people and five came in. I had to teach them, because I was the only one left. My younger daughter Josephine suddenly decided she was going to follow in the family footsteps.'

"A week before Victor's birthday the team rang at the funeral of a former ringer, who himself had rung for his 90th birthday.

"And ringing for his 90th birthday was the fulfilment of an almost lifelong ambition for Victor. He said: 'I always wanted to ring on my 90th birthday. We rang a quarter peal, which is 1,200 changes and takes 45 minutes.'

Victor is now planning to ring for his 100th birthday. He said: 'I don't think it has ever been done, the oldest I know of was a 97-year old.

"I don't intend to stop because I believe ringing is what has kept me reasonably fit. Although I suffer from asthma, and if I tend to get short of breath if I walk uphill, I can stand and ring for 45 minutes with no trouble. That shows it doesn't take great strength.'"

Feniton, Devon. 22 Feb, 1260 Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles: Victor Chown 1, Ann Moss 2, Pam Bailey 3, Crispen Denny 4, Don Salter (C) 5, Terry Rowland 6. For the 90th birthday of the treble ringer.

Congratulations and good luck from the Guild! - ed.


Would all contributors to this fund please note that the ACCOUNT REFERENCE HAS CHANGED from TSB 77 1005 13733853 to LLOYDS TSB 0892055 at Lloyds TSB Bank plc, 22 The Strand, Exmouth, Devon, EX8 1AG, sort code 30-93-15.

It will be important that PCC treasurers and all other donors alter their standing orders because as yet the Bank computer is unable to make the transfer automatically. Frank Mack Secretary

Woodbury: 1905 outing


Jay Glanville ( has given me a copy of this photograph of the Woodbury ringers' outing to Alphington and Crediton on 11 November. The ringers are from left to right C Stamp, B Stamp, A Stamp, J Morrish, R Pile (Cap.), S Marks, H Leach, G Glanvill, H Hitchcock, J Down and W Down.

Jay would be interested in further details about the Glanvill family, famous in Devon ringing circles. Perhaps one of the Woodbury band could contact him?


One of the Guild's Vice Presidents, and one of the few Catholic religious to have rung a peal, died in February. Dom Pascal Dowling OSB was a member of the band at Buckfast Abbey when the monks were responsible for the ringing of the bells.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to obtain a full obituary, but Br Pascal rang a peal of Bob Minor at the abbey for Corpus Christi in 1960, with two other members of the community, having rung his first quarter in the method the previous February. Other peals included Bob Minor at Saltash and Bob Major at Revelstoke. Along with Fr Paulinus, he was elected a vice-president in 1988.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.


Don Roberts is organising on behalf of the Guild an open day for towers along the A361 corridor. This is planned to happen on the August Bank Holiday, 28 August, and it is hoped that visitors from up-country will come to grab the towers between Junction 27 and Barnstaple, and so contribute towards the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund.

Stewards will be needed at each tower, so please put this date in your diary now, and be available to help. For tower grabbers, details of all the towers open and the price of the ticket will appear in The Ringing World nearer the date.

East Devon: quarter peal day


Over the past twelve months or so, a regular East Devon Surprise Minor practice has been held at Buckerell. The intention was that valuable experience could be gained so that, in time, a number of ringers would have the chance to attempt a quarter peal of Surprise Minor.

Over the months, struggles to complete a plain course gave way to comfortable plain courses and uncertain touches in turn led to fairly steady touches.

A date of 8 January was agreed for a quarter peal day, solely of Cambridge Minor, to attempt to get four ringers through their first quarters of Surprise inside. Sadly, a week before the event, one of the instigators and stalwarts of the practices, Edward Summers passed away. It was decided that the Quarter Peal day, with appropriate rearrangement, would go ahead as a tribute to him.

The intended quarter at Buckerell was dropped, as a local band quarter was planned for the following day, and an attempt was hastily arranged at Ottery St Mary, a tower often frequented by Edward, to be rung half-muffled in his memory. The remaining three attempts would remain and be rung open in thanksgiving for his life.

On a crisp January morning, the majestic sound of the bells of Ottery St Mary rand out to a steady quarter of Grandsire Triples. This was followed by three creditable quarters of Cambridge Minor - at Feniton, Cotleigh and Offwell - that gave Crispin Denny (Edward's successor as Buckerell tower captain), Bryan Coles (a long-time ringing friend and farming protege of Edward's) and Derek Ballard (the other driving force of the monthly practices) their first successes at Surprise Minor.


Exeter Branch: train outing to Dorset


Even a jazz band was provided for the members and friends of Exeter branch who visited Dorset on the annual train outing.

About forty people gathered at St David's Station to travel to Yeovil Junction, where a coach was waiting to transport them across town to Pen Mill on the old Great Western line to Weymouth, complete with semaphore signals, to await the second train of the day.

After a short ride, it was a short and pleasant walk through Dorchester to the old fashioned eight at St Peter's, in the centre of town. A service was in progress in the church, and the ringers had to wait outside, wondering who William Barter was and why he was worthy of a statue (clearly it was not the ringer from Teignmouth nor the former master of the UBSCR!). Call changes, standard methods and, of course, Dorchester Surprise Major were rung here.

Lunch had been organised opposite the church in the Judge Jeffreys Restaurant, a few doors away from a bridal shop intriguingly called 'The Peal of Gongs'. An exceptional buffet was provided, catering for all tastes, and, needless to say, the bar was well patronised. As a result, one member of the branch had to run to catch the train, as he had been taking a post-prandial nap!

Many of the other members of the branch enjoyed the sunshine in a local park, where a jazz band was playing, and morris men were dancing,

One of the ringers was even interviewed by BBC local radio about how much she was enjoying the town's May day celebrations. Branch secretary Valerie Oates was applauded on even organising all this entertainment.

A short ride on the train took the ringers to Maiden Newton station, and then it was a twenty minute walk to well-known peal tower Cattistock, where methods up to 8-Spliced were rung (congratulations to Heather Weaver on remembering most of the leads in the touch).

Cattistock is a gem of a Victorian church, designed by GG Scott, and completed by his son, who added the tower with an elaborate gothick baptistery on the ground floor.

The tower had contained a carillon of 35 bells, but these were destroyed in a fire in the 1940s.

The time for ringing at Cattistock overran, and so for some it was a very brisk walk indeed back to ring at Maiden Newton, a pleasant and traditional village six in a central tower with access around the back of the church.

Jonathan Bint remembered how to ring Bob Minor, and the ringing ended with some well-struck Treble Bob.

Fortunately, the local stayed for the ringing as the RRD photographer left his camera in the ringing chamber and had to go back for it.

Then it was station platform farewells to Andrew and Sarah, and the Nicholson family, who, living in Dorset, had not needed to come on the train, and an easy journey back to Exeter.

Valerie arranged the entire outing with such efficiency and imagination, that branch members are wondering how she will equal it next year.

She says one year at a time is quite enough!


The Ring in 2000 will be circulating a new Devon Ringers' recruitment leaflet produced jointly the Guild and Association, with sponsorship from Nicholson Engineering. Each tower in the county will receive a specimen, and can request further copies according to their needs.

The suggestion is to leave them in public libraries and doctors' and dentists' waiting rooms, which have been found to yield a greater response than placing publicity in churches. I wonder, my dentist used to ring; perhaps this might tempt him back!


At the last Annual Meeting, it was agreed to form a small working party to look afresh at the Guild rules, and attempt to plug any of the minor loopholes in them. The General Committee appointed John Scott, Mike Mears, Lester Yeo, Wendy Campbell and George Mudge to do this, and they have prepared some suggestions to go the Committee in January.

The final version will then be circulated to all ringing members for consideration at the 2001 AGM. Some members will be pleased to note that the suggestions include more emphasis on method ringing.


Welcome to Joan Summerhayes and Peter Beresford, who arrived in Petrockstowe earlier this year, and are already beginning to be visible in the Devon ringing scene. Although their home is a long way from any method ringing, they have on occasion joined the St Brannock's Society for its Tuesday practice.

Welcome, too, to Michael Brady, who has now moved permanently to Exbourne, and also to Reg McKenzie. Both are enthusiastically joining in all kinds of ringing and post-ringing activity!


Radio Devon recently ran a short piece on ringing in the county. George Mudge, John Scott and John Steere were interviewed, and there was ringing from the Cathedral, Stoke Damerel and Tavistock. Also featured was Chagford, where the bells are temporarily unringable due to structural weaknesses in the tower; the point was clearly made how much the bells are missed when they are not rung!

SW Branch: Summer Outing


Saturday 13 May saw the SW Branch summer outing to the Somerset Levels, an area rich in history, glorious churches and interesting bells. Seven towers were visited during the day - three eights, two sixes and two fives. Two were recent augmentations associated with the Millennium, and one of these, Isle Abbots, had one of the best appointed ringing chambers this correspondent has yet encountered. Would you believe blue cotton rope handrail with shiny brass suppots all the way up the staircase!

This was indeed a memorable church and its tower is accurately described as being one the finest in a county famous for its towers. The writer also liked the inscription of the third bell (1633)

I will not fayle to sing mi part
according unto music arte
with mi side mates I do agree
in perfect shape and harmony

The second augmentation was at Aller, the three original 16th century bells now part of a very nice six.

Curry Rivel (8) was another interesting ring with a beautiful tower with fine tall bell openings decorated with Somerset tracery. This church also has many fine grotesques, the local name for which is 'hunky-punks'. They are properly called gargoyles only if they have water spouts.

One other church must be singled out for mention and that is Muchelney. The bells are fine but if you should ever visit be sure to go into the church and have a look at the Tudor 'topless' angels that are painted on the roof. Topless in this context does not mean that they have no heads!

Altogether this was a grand day's ringing; we were blessed with good weather, the organisation by David Pike was faultless, and what was particularly pleasing was that of the twelve towers affiliated to the branch, nine were represented on the day.

On this sort of day, one always learns something new and for me it was a new adjective to describe a particularly difficult ring of eight that no-one seemed able to get going well. They were well described as 'fidgety'.


Martin Mansley provides a few...


...for the inter-branch competition

All branch Ringing Masters should by now be well aware that the method chosen for the inter-branch eight-bell competition this year is Little Grandsire Triples. A couple of branches have started practising early and there have been one or two comments made that the methods and touch are quite difficult. In suggesting this method for the competition, the Mid-Devon Branch felt that it was a method that should be within the grasp of most ringers able to ring Grandsire Triples but at the same time a little different. It is also musical and rewarding. However although the plain course looks relatively easy, touches can prove a little more tricky. For this reason it has been suggested that a few tips might be timely.

First of all do not leave it to the last minute to start practising. One of the problems noticed is that the method bears some similarity to Oxford Bob Triples but in fact is quite different. It is therefore important to learn it as a separate method.

The next problem is that at the bobs, the bells which have been double dodging when the hunt bells are in fifth continue to do two more dodges and these need to be carefully counted. For the bells in 2-3 and 4-5 the bobs are exactly like Grandsire Triples but be aware of what work you move on to next.

Calling the touch

First of all it is worth looking at the calling positions.

We will assume that the conductor if ringing no 7. The Wrong comes at the end of the first lead of the course.

A call at the second lead causes the 7 to go into the hunt. The observation bell can then be called out of the hunt at any lead up to 5. (Out with double dodge in 4-5 down)

Assuming there have been no other calls in the course a call at the third lead or if there have been calls when double dodging 6-7 up (after 4-5 up) in a Home and shortens the course by two leads.

A call at the fourth lead or when making thirds is the Before.

A call at the last lead or after passing the treble in 4 causes the observation bell to double dodge in 4-5 up and is the Middle.

The Test Piece


752634 B Call 7 into Hunt
527634 B Call 7 out of the hunt at 3
735246 B Call 7 back into hunt (4 and 6 dodge in 6-7
357246 B Call 7 out at 3 (4 and 6 dodge in 6-7) QUEENS
623457 B Call 7 Home (6 in)
236457 B Call 7 Home (6 out at 3)
652374 B Call 7 Wrong with 4 (6 in)
526374 B Call 7 Wrong with 4 (6 out at 3) TITTUMS
435726 B Call 7 Middle (4 in)
354726 B Call 7 Middle (4 out at three)
423567 B Call 7 Home with 6 (4 in)
234567 B Call 7 Home with 6 (4 out at 3) ROUNDS

From the above you can see that there are several guides to help with calling. The touch is basically constructed by calling the 7 in and out and 3 twice to produce Queens. The 6 is then called in and out at 3 twice to produce Tittums and then the 4 is called in and out at 3 twice to produce rounds. Most conductors would probably prefer to note that they are doing at the calls rather than watch another bells going in and out so I have chosen 7 as observation. Another point to note is that the same pair of bells is together at the back at the In and also the Out at 3. This means that if you are calling yourself twice W or twice H it will be with the same bell at the first and the second and that you will dodge with them at the double dodge just before the call is made. Please note that you do not dodge with the same bell in the two Middles.

The above notes are for assistance. Please do not be put off by this method and touch -- the method is well worth ringing and touch is extremely musical. So - have a go and enjoy it.

Exeter: Society completes first minute book


In the last edition of 'Ringing Round Devon', I began to outline the history of the Cathedral Society through the contents of its first minute book, which was started when the society was reformed in 1915, and completed with the minutes of the 1999 meeting. In that article I covered the first fifty-odd years of the society; this concluding article looks at the activity of the society from 1967 to the present, as recorded in the minutes.

At the 1968 meeting, it was reported that there had been no improvement in the standard of ringing, but Erin Cinques had been mastered; the only prolonged ringing was a solitary quarter of Grandsire Cinques. It was also mentioned that two successful outings had been arranged and that the dinner had been successful - one wonders what would have made them unsuccessful! The following year, the outing had taken the society to Bridgewater and Fred Wreford, the Ringing Master, had been struck by a falling heavy weight. In 1969, the society managed a half peal of Plain Bob Cinques.

In 1971, 'attention was drawn to the need for greater care in view of the threat to the Cathedral to damage it by a bomb. The entrance to the roof from the West End would be watched ore closely by the staff.' It was agreed also to install further sound proofing in view of the complaints received during peal attempts. George Betts had died during the year, aged 83; he had been one of the founding members of the society, and a peal of Little Bob was rung on the middle eight in his memory.

A suggestion that the single bell from the redundant church of St Mary Major be used as a treble to form a light ten came to nothing, as 'the Dean and Chapter had found it necessary to sell (it) as scrap to offset the costs of demolition'. In 1974, 'comments were made that the standard of striking was getting poor, and that conducting could be given to younger members of the band. It was suggested that more control should be exercised in who rang, so that only people who could ring what was asked for, would be invited to ring in the touch. The ringing master did not agree with this...' The following year Fred Wreford stood down as Ringing Master, and was succeeded by Frank Mack. The minute reads, 'His ability to entertain and keep the ringers in harmony did quite a lot to make his term of office so successful.

In 1976, Joan Clarke had taken over as treasurer and found the accounts in a very unsatisfactory condition, as her predecessor had not passed on any records. Since the suggestion of using the Mary Major bell, the dean had promised to look for a donor for a new bell, but that year it was agreed to set up a fund in order to achieve the augmentation to celebrate the Queen's silver Jubilee. As a result, Joan Clarke was congratulated the following year 'on her achievement in raising the balance from £ 27.83 to 208.98' but the Dean regretted he could not sanction any appeal to the public. It was hoped to use bell metal from redundant churches in Dartmouth and Barnstaple. The bell was finally installed in 1979.

Once again, in 1978 a plea was made to improve the standard of ringing; it was proposed that 'more discipline should be maintained... by eliminating the inexperienced ringers when attempting difficult methods.' And at the 1982 meeting, Martin Whiteley before being elected to the band suggested why ringers were not keen to join: 'he considered the striking was poor; there was no atmosphere; there was no teaching, particularly of more advanced methods; there was no control and the present Cathedral members were more concerned with their own towers'. In 1984, 'theft of the money from the cash box in the ringing chamber was causing concern as no action had apparently been taken to find the culprits'; about £ 85 was missing.

At the 1986 meeting, Charles Yates stood down as secretary after 25 years in the post, and during the year a visiting ringer, Mr Fogwell, had collapsed on the stairs and died. More recent meetings mention the hosting of the National Twelve Bell Competition at Exeter, and the band's placing of equal seventh. The society's regular entry in the competition, it was felt, had led to a 'gradual improvement in the general standard of ringing'. By 1997, the local band had reached the final of the competition through the qualifying rounds and had been capable of ringing two quarters of Bristol Surprise Maximus.

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Pages written by Ian Campbell

Updated 30/5/2000