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 subscribe should contact Lester Yeo. The cost is two pounds and fifty pence for four issues (cheques made payable to Guild of Devonshire Ringers). It is also available on line on the Guild's website at http://www.exeter.ac.uk/gdr/ .
Any comments and inaccuracies in articles contained in this newsletter are the responsibility of the individual contributors, and the opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Guild.
Items for inclusion may be sent to email@example.com .
The December 2002 version of Interchange, the newsletter for the entire Devon ringing community, is available here.
Guild: 8 bell competition at Pinhoe
"Amateurs practise until they get it right. Professionals practise until they don't get it wrong", said Michael Hatchett. "We very nearly reached the professional status" replied Leslie Boyce after the NE Branch team won the Guild Eight bell striking competition at Pinhoe on19 October.
In the early days of the competition, the NE branch were always regarded as the underdogs but regularly entered and regularly were placed in the bottom half of the list. But this year, the team practised hard, and it showed, and hard practice was properly rewarded.
The judge for the afternoon was David Hilling, Ringing Master of Westminster Abbey, who was delighted to be judging a musical piece of Stedman Triples - his favourite method! Before giving out the results, he made some general comments, saying how important it was to get a good consistent beat on the tenor when ringing Triples, and how difficult it was to judge the desirable number of rounds before going into changes; bands need to settle down so that they can start as they mean to continue, but may notch up faults even before the test piece begins. All five teams rang at the same sort of speed (peal speeds between 2h52 and 2h56).
Team 1 (SW Branch) 74%. Judge's comments: A rather cautious piece of ringing, with the band making a great deal of effort.
Team 2 (Aylesbeare) Failed to complete. Hit the buffers!
Team 3 (Exeter M) 71%. Judge's comments: The tenor was rung well but for all the band the backstrokes were better than handstrokes. The promise was there, but the delivery did not quite match.
Team 4 (Exeter I) 60%. Judge's comments: This team had the measure of the bells - but not the measure of the method, although they recovered quickly from the serious method mistakes
Team 5 (NE Branch) 76% Judge's comments: A satisfying piece of ringing, although the leading was slightly irregular. This team had the measure of the bells.
Bryan died peacefully at Heavitree Hospital on Saturday 16 November after a short illness. He had been a ringer for many years at Sidbury and Sidmouth before moving to the Exeter area where he rang regularly at Pinhoe.
Bryan was a vice-president of the Guild, a former member of the Cathedral Society, and until recently a trustee of the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund. For many years he had served as the chairman of the East Devon Branch. The funeral took place at St Giles' Sidbury, where a large congregation gathered to pay their last respects, and give their condolences to Mary and their children.
Ringing Round Devon hopes to publish a full obituary in the next issue.
After nine months hanging in the attic of Ian Avery's garage at Kingsteignton, James and Elaine Grant's mini-ring were transferred to their permanent home above their spare bedroom at the end of September. This means that ringers on this 10lb six will be in the warm and have soft carpet under their feet, rather than be surrounded by Ian's odds and ends.
The first peal in the tower was rung on Sunday 20 October, and a new clapper was fitted to the third to prevent its odd-struckness. The bells are easy to ring for their weight, and can be heard clearly from the ringing chamber, as well as in the bathroom next door. The move has meant a change of name; instead of being Kings-Ting-Tong, the bells are now known as Bishops-Ting-Tong!
GUILD OF DEVONSHIRE RINGERS BISHOPSTEIGNTON, Devon (Bishops-Ting-Tong) Sunday 20 October 2002 in 1 hour 48 minutes 5040 SURPRISE MINOR In seven methods: Berwick, Beverley, Cambridge, Hexham, Ipswich, Primrose, and Surfleet 1 Ian W Avery 2 Lester J Yeo 3 Peter L Bill 4 Paul J Pascoe 5 Elaine Grant 6 James Grant (C) First peal in the tower
Some of the NNW branch are enjoying the monthly Surprise Quarter-peal attempts under Don Lawson. It appears that we are going through the alphabet. The St. Brannock's Society Dinner went very well two exiles from North Somerset, Bob Caton and Mike Fairey were welcomed back. Two quarters were scored on the day. The first was four spliced at Torrington when your correspondent was requested to ring the fifth because the sally was for some reason, almost out of sight. With my height and a box found in the church which measured about 1'-6" high we just managed to get by.
The second quarter enabled one of our mature learners to score his first on a hunting bell. John Barnes from Georgeham was very pleased with the effort and I am sure that it proved to be excellent practise. The illustrious President of the St Brannock's Society Heather Weaver, has become engaged to be married and a quarter of St. Brannock's Delight was rung to celebrate. The fortunate gentleman Michael, is not a ringer (shame) but is a model engineer. I meet kindred spirits every where. Joan Clarke has had another spell of problems with one of her kidneys but thankfully all is well now. A quarter of Aldenham Surprise was rung to wish her a speedy recovery. It seems to have worked! James Clarke
Exeter Colleges Guild
The new academic year started well, with several new members signing up at the Freshers' Squash, and there was a good attendance at our Freshers' Practice and social in the first week. Some of the new members are already ringers and given no-one left from last year we are much stronger on numbers. We have continued the weekly handbell practices, which were started last year. Some of the new members have taken up this difficult, but highly rewarding aspect of change-ringing, under the expert tuition of Matt Hilling and Ian Campbell.
We entered the GDR 6-bell competition in October, achieving 5th place, the first entry by an ECG team for a few years. Enthusiasm for entering further striking competitions is high, and hopefully we will manage to field a team for the 8-bell next year. Current undergraduates took part in a Sunday Service band half-muffled quarter peal for Remembrance Sunday.
The ECG 6-bell competition team
Perhaps the greatest achievement of the term was the full peal rung to celebrate the 90th birthday of Mrs Hilda Boobier of St David's church. Our thanks go to Andrew Digby for standing in at short notice.
Guild of Devonshire Ringers (Exeter Colleges Guild) Exeter, Devon (St. David) Sunday 17 November 2002 in 2h40 (13) 5040 Plain Bob Doubles 1 Heather Nelson 2 Andrew Digby 3 Malcolm Evans 4 Owen Dobson 5 David Maynard (C) 6 Peter Boobier First peal: 1,6. First inside: 4. First Doubles: 2 Birthday compliment to Hilda Boobier, active ringer of this tower who was 90 on 15 November 2002.
All in all it has been a very successful and enjoyable term, and a really promising start to the year. David Maynard
When I first found out about the competition I was dead excited for months. My first competition, it seemed ages away though fast enough the competition was upon us. We would have to ring in rounds for seven minutes. Seven minutes doesn't sound a long time, but it feels like forever!
I know the bells at Brixton as we have rung there before which made me feel nervous. The ropes are jumpy and everything feels like jelly when you ring. Not being my favourite bells to ring I found I worked best on the second so that was my bell. I think ringing a bell is kind of like training a dog on a lead. You need to be firm, but not pull too hard. You need to be in control to guide the bell.
The morning of the competition we did as planned, Valerie and I were set to meet our tower captain Julie at the Ridgeway car park then follow on to Brixton. Half an hour later there wasn't any Julie. She had got delayed in Jersey due to weather conditions and couldn't get back to the mainland. Quite disappointed, we thought we couldn't ring and decided to report to Brixton that Laira wouldn't be ringing.
When we arrived at Brixton we were met by the jolly chatter of everyone. I was quiet as a mouse while Valerie tried to tell them that Laira wouldn't be ringing. A tall man with grey hair looked down at her. "No worries we'll be able to put some ringers with your team and make up the numbers, you'll ring!" he said beaming.
My stomach tightened as I sat looking up at the ropes. Then the first team began to ring. I needed to spend a penny, between us Valerie and I must have spent about a quid!
Our turn came. We marched up the steps to the ropes, glanced round at each other with uneasy feelings and half smiles. The treble rang the two strokes to let the judges know we were starting, then we were off! We kept ringing, kept swinging those bells. I stayed in there, close to the treble. My ears focussed, totally absorbed into the sound of the bells. Before I knew it, it was time to stand. We did it! I felt proud and a little fragile! As I walked down the steps into the church, they asked me to ring again(!) as Plympton St Mary's needed an extra ringer!
It was so much fun. Afterwards we chatted to everyone, then there was a raffle, then the results. Laira St Mary's came fourth! We were thrilled because we didn't think we would be able to ring. First place went to be Plympton St Mary's, the team I was in! I was delighted to think I came first and fourth, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It's more about the taking part and meeting everyone than it is about how many mistakes you make. A triumphant fourth was great for our first competition and I hope there's loads more to come.
The Guild sends its good wishes to Jonathan Lear who has been is in hospital, having had an operation. There will be a period of recuperation, so he therefore is stepping down as Aylesbeare Branch secretary. Rumour has it that someone has agreed to take over, but as we go to press has not yet been elected!
Rosemary Morgan has been elected secretary of the Exeter Branch at the meeting at Heavitree in November. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The new secretary of the Devon Association is Jereme Darke.
Eight years after retirement to Cornwall, I found myself being taught bellringing by one of our new friends. He was the captain of a nearby tower and I shall ever be grateful to him. The ringers there rang rounds and call changes but never method,. Having heard it described, quite incomprehensibly, by one of them who used to ring method at a far-off cathedral, I did not feel that I was missing anything. For ten years I rang quite happily and although never considered myself good enough to ring for the tower in the winter competitions, flattered myself that I acquitted myself well enough on practice nights, on Sunday mornings and at weddings never to feel that I was there on sufferance.
With increasing hearing loss the call changes became harder to follow without errors. Even with a deaf-aid, the rasping of the ropes as they soar through the holes in the ceiling tend to muffle the calls. The extent to which they do so depends on the clarity of the callers' voices and their pitches.
Ten years after that we moved to Devon and found, to my relief, that the local ringers rang only rounds and call changes. They did not however, appreciate the bad ringing habits that I was previously unaware of. There I rang only on practice nights and was rarely asked to ring up or ring down. Nevertheless, the ringers greatly and kindly helped me, albeit my hearing went on getting worse.
After fifteen months, my wife and I moved once more. At the local tower method was rung but largely to accommodate me, as I believe, interspersed with call changes. These became still more an embarrassment to me, and I fear, to the other ringers too. My battered self-confidence dwindled still further.
Unwilling to acknowledge defeat and give it all up, it occurred to me that provided you can hear the bells, method ringing avoids any necessity to strain to hear and follow calls. Those that are made in method ringing are of general application such as 'bob', 'go round' and 'that's all'. So I pleaded to be taught method ringing. Although I suspect that it was feared that I was too old an old dog to be taught new tricks, I was taken in hand.
Wow! They key to a garden of delights has been handed to me even if, to date, I have glimpsed them only though a fog of bewilderment and incompetence. Nevertheless, if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly, provided, as I hope, even minimal improvement is discernible.
A bright but blustery day found a coach load of branch members heading for the Forest of Dean. First stop was Aust service station (cunningly moved to a new location since the last visit by our organiser!). This caused a rather rushed return to the bus as the Severn Bridge view point is now a brisk walk away rather than the short stroll we had been promised.
I'm glad to say that the towers for the day had not gone walkabout and were very firmly where they should have been. First on the list was St. Brieval's with its unusual cast iron spiral staircase. Good use was made of the eight bells before moving on to lunch break at Coleford.
Staunton is a fine six rung from the chancel crossing. This was a very interesting church to explore when not ringing with evidence of several different periods of building and a most unusual staircase to the pulpit which then continued up into the tower.
Newland were a little heavier at 15cwt but very enjoyable. It was then time for Hide and Seek with the chip shops in Lydney - presumably the locals know where they are so they don't need to advertise too clearly! Once hunger was again satisfied we were off to the excellent ten in the town. Although several of our ringers were inexperienced on ten we managed to acquit ourselves well and a course of Bob caters and a touch of Grandsire were both well rung.
It was getting quite "dimpsey" as we found our way to our last tower at Tidenham - a nice ground floor six. Methods up to London Surprise were achieved before climbing back into the coach for the long drive back to South Devon.
Very many thanks to Phil Stevens, our organiser, and to every one else who made possible a very enjoyable day. Martin Mansley
The 36th ECG Annual Dinner weekend will be taking place from Friday 31 January until Sunday 2 February next year. (Invitations to be sent soon). It would be nice to see as many people as possible at the dinner, and also staying for more of the weekend.
There will as usual be a chance for everyone to catch up in the Imperial on the Friday evening, and a day outing in Devon before the dinner. There will be service ringing at the Exeter towers on Sunday morning, followed by coffee and lunch and ringing at the Cathedral for Evensong.
If anyone has any ideas about how the weekend could be improved, or suggestions as to events or plans which would encourage them to stay for more of the weekend, please let us know.
David Maynard (Ringing Master)
There is no doubt that computers are all around us. This is also true of ringing and over the last few years we have seen a vast increase in their use.
Initially they were used by composers and those interested in the theoretical side of ringing. They brought a vast increase in the speed which compositions could be checked for truth and now all compositions printed in the Ringing World must be checked in this way.
Computers are also good at handling data so are ideal for storing information such as method collections etc. Indeed the information in a small floppy disk would normally need several books to hold.
Another topic where the attention of program writers has been focused is as teaching tools. Programs such as BELTOWER and ABEL are quite well known. These allow practice in method ringing at home but can also be used when attached to a tower bell to form a ringing simulator.
Ringers in this part of the world will be interested that Abel now includes the ability to program call change "Peals" so that the PC calls the changes.
A set of programs which are less well known are produced by Steve Scanlon. They are all aimed at the learner and try to make the task of learning ringing more interesting. RINGBELL is intended to help practice ropesight with animated ringers ringing basic methods.
The idea is that you watch what is going on but it is possible to join in as well. LEARN-A-METHOD uses a clock face approach for learning Plain Bob and Grandsire on 5 to 8 bells.
As the ringer clicks the "Next" button the clock finger moves round the circle and a voice counts the places. CALL CHANGE RINGER allows you to compose and then hear call changes. METHOD WORKSHOP is a program for printing out "Blue lines" for methods.
There is also a method learning facility which allows you to draw a line of the method whilst the PC tells you if you have got it right. These 4 programs are all "Freeware" and available from Steve's website.
That brings us on to the Internet. If you have a Internet connection you should be familiar with our Guild Website so ably maintained by Ian Campbell and Matt Hilling. If you haven't been on it try it NOW! This site has links to other sites and in particular it is worth looking at Change Ringing Resources maintained by Roger Bailey.
There are hundreds of sites linked in which are of interest to ringers which include more programs and a program catalogue. The sites cover all the topics already mentioned and much more.
The use of the computer for ringing has come on a long way - it is well worth investigating as a learning tool.
Here are some facts and figures for 2002 and some news from the DCBRF committee meeting held on 25 October.
So far this year, grants totalling £8500 have been paid on completion of restoration work at:
Staverton - £3000
St Andrew's, Plymouth - £2000
Lamerton - £500
Fremington - £3000
On 25 October, the amount in the Fund's current account had therefore fallen to £3766 from the sum of £10,861 held in that account at the beginning of 2002. During November, I have, however, received donations totalling £3208, and these have brought the amount in the current account to a much healthier £6974, in addition to the £2500 held in reserve in a deposit account with the Central Board of Finance of the Church of England. Many thanks for all these donations, particularly the contributions from a tower that's recently benefited from a grant (you know who you are!), from the Guild Quarter Peal Day and the large sum from the proceeds of the Association Draw.
At the October meeting, the Committee agreed to award grants as follows, in addition to those already promised:
Berry Pomeroy - £2000
Crediton - £3000
Shebbear - £150
Slapton - £100
Westward Ho! - £450
The Fund was set up to support restoration of bells hung for chiming, as well as those rung full circle, hence the award to Westward Ho! We also expect to be able to award small grants to Kennerleigh and Milton Combe in the near future on confirmation of the cost of restoring bells there for chiming.
The work planned at Crediton is a huge project with the cost of restoring the eight estimated at £100,000 (excluding the cost of the planned augmentation to ten bells). The Committee felt that a larger grant could not be awarded at present in view of the financial resources currently available, existing commitments and the costly restorations planned at, for example, Huntsham and St Michael's, Teignmouth. We shall review the situation at our next meeting, in March 2003.
You may have heard the bells ringing interminably on Sunday 29th September and wondered why? For a start this was the Patronal festival of St Michael's Church and seemed like a good excuse for a special ringing event. But what to ring? It also turned out that ninety-nine full peals had been rung on Heavitree bells since they were installed in 1897 so a full peal would be the 100th. It was decided to try for a band comprised completely of local ringers; in the event all those in the band ring at the tower regularly for service on Sunday mornings.
A full peal consists of ringing the bells in all of the possible orders without ever repeating any changes until returning to rounds (ringing down the scale) where it started. With seven changing bells this is 5,040 changes and takes something over three hours non-stop with no changes of horses or even a break for a cup of tea. For two of the band this would be the first time they had attempted anything this long, while for a third this was only the second time, and never on bells as heavy as these. But we had success! No-one went so wrong that we had to stop, no-one had to give up owing to lack of energy, nothing broke (ropes, bells, clappers), and the conductor (and assistant!) kept everything in order and checked that all was OK. And after three hours and twenty minutes we were able to stop, nurse our blisters, top up our liquid levels, and congratulate ourselves on a significant achievement.
The band stood as follows:
Guild of Devonshire Ringers Exeter, Devon S Michael, Heavitree Sunday 29 September 2002 in 3h 20 (26) 5040 Grandsire Triples Comp: J J Parker 1 Pamela A L Miller 2 Matthew J Hilling 3 Valerie Oates 4 Anthony G Osborne 5 P Wendy Campbell 6 Anthony W J Appleton 7 Ian L C Campbell (C) 8 Martin Lloyd First peal: 1, 8. First as conductor. Rung by Sunday service ringers for Patronal Festival. 100th peal on the bells.
1 Tavistock 13¾ faults
2 Exeter St Mark 15½ faults
3 Cullompton 19¾ faults
4 Withycombe Raleigh 22¼ faults
5 ECG 34½ faults
6 A377 37¾ faults
7 Heavitree 41¾ faults
I write seeking some clarification on some of the remarks you made when giving the results of the 6-bell competition.
You criticised the speed at which we all rang, you said we were either to slow or too fast, and that bells have their own natural speed. Could you enlighten us as to what speed they should have been rung at? Surely the speed is that which is best for the band, allowing them to strike as well as they can? Is it true that the only time you have actually rung on the bells yourself was to help raise them up, how did this give you sufficient data on which to base this comment?
You also "had a go" at the bands that rang doubles. On what do you base this criticism? Personal taste? Just stirring up for the sake of it? Surely it is up to the bands what they ring, as far as I know there is not a set piece, unlike the 8-bell, so it it up to the individual bands to ring what they feel happiest with. After all, and I might be wrong on this, it was a striking competition and the idea is to be judged on your striking, not on how clever you are. I must at this point praise Exeter St Marks for giving themselves a handicap by trying something difficult, it was a very sporting thing to do to give the others a chance. I also ask did the fact that several of the bands rang doubles affect the way in which you marked? Were these bands penalised for this? We rang doubles because it gave our regular tenor ringer a chance to participate, yes we could have entered a band for minor, but then one of our stalwarts would have been excluded to satisfy your criteria. I know the Cullompton band had a band only for doubles, the tenor ringer was a call change man and one of the inside ringers can only ring doubles, so they did well. If your comments are to be taken as they are then they should not have entered the competition in the first place, is that fair?
Do you think, looking back, that perhaps you should have clarified your comments at the time? Speaking for my band we thought that we were being 1) criticised for ringing doubles, 2) criticised for not ringing fast/slow enough. 3) criticised for only going there to win. Surely that is the whole point, to compete, to try and win? We did our best, knowing that we would not win, unless a miracle happened, but with the view of giving our best, and come as high as we could. It would have been a good gesture to praise people for turning up, after all it was all voluntarily done, none of us had to turn up, in fact seven bands entered this year against the five last year. Comments like yours will only drive bands away if they are going to told off like naughty schoolchildren, which is the last thing we want. The relaxing of the rules this year attracted two bands that normally would not have rung, we should encourage more towers/bands to enter not discourage.
Healthy debate is good for the Guild. Over to you!
John A. Foster
Tower Captain, Withycombe Raleigh
Many thanks for your letter. It would appear that you do indeed require further clarification on my remarks. To deal with your points in order:
Speed of ringing. No doubt, like myself you have rung peals in which the ringing just didn't seem to quite suit the bells. Also you may have rung more than one peal on the same bells one of which was fast & one on which was slow, both of these being equally good peals. It was on this basis that, in my opinion, no band appeared to ring at the right speed for the bells either the fast pace or the slow one. Whilst I tend to agree that the band should ring at the speed best suited to it, the pace of the bells must also be considered. Indeed one band varied its pace during the practice time. The fact that I had only rung on the bells once makes no difference on this point.
You felt that I had a go at the bands ringing doubles. This I dispute. What I meant to say was that most of the bands ringing doubles had more faults in the second half and I would question whether they would have been better off ringing minor and so keeping the concentration levels high. Obviously I didn't know whilst marking the make up of the bands and I could only give my opinion on what I heard. I would also point out that I ring doubles regularly and have no personal preference for minor over doubles.
Marking. I marked the competition based on the number of striking mistakes irrespective of the method(s) rung. After all it's a striking competition. If I were to have marked it like a diving or skating competition where a degree of difficulty is awarded for the chosen piece then Exeter St Marks would have won hands down. I would like to concur with your remarks regarding St Marks. It is also extremely difficult to judge a competition that does not have a set piece. I have only admiration for those who take part in competitions.
I made what I thought were general constructive comments and did not intend any of my remarks to be destructive. I felt that to comment on any individual band efforts would have been destructive and accordingly refrained from that. If any of my remarks have been taken differently to the way intended I can only apologise.
As you may be aware the 6 bell competition rules are to be reviewed at the committee meeting in January, particularly with reference to how the bands are comprised, as they are restrictive to some branches of the Guild. This may be the time to revise the rules completely, perhaps all bands to ring minor one year and the doubles the following year? I'm sure the committee members would welcome any thoughts you have on the subject.
More a case of no clapper - that's North East Branch's newly installed Practice Bell, which is now available at Bampton both for teaching the basics of bell handling and to help ringers generally learn new methods; all without the drawback of disturbing the neighbours.
The bell, weighing around 5 cwt was cast in 1616 by John Wallis of Salisbury and was part of a ring of three in St. Mary's, East Compton (Dorset). In 1873 they were augmented to four and hung in St. Mary's, Compton Abbas.
In 1899 Thomas Blackburn of Salisbury cast a fifth bell, but it turned out sharp and instead of recasting it, he tried to re-tune the existing bells to match his. In doing so, the Wallis bell was spoilt and eventually, in 2002 this was replaced and N.E. Branch was enabled to purchase the damaged 1616 bell for scrap metal value.
On 28th. October, after a short service of blessing by Bampton's Vicar, Revd. John Stone, Martin Lloyd from Nicholson Engineering, assisted by Mike Hatchett, Jim Vellacott and Ken Smith began the task of hauling the frame components and bell up the tower and fixing them immediately above the existing 6-bell frame. In spite of a few inevitable delays, the installation was completed by the end of the week. There followed the additional job of fitting the (clapperless) bell with a sensor and associated wiring to link the assembly to a computer in the ringing chamber. This was carried out by computer wizards Ken Smith (still not a ringer, in spite of being surrounded by them!) and his wife Lynda and all was now ready for an all day session with the branch committee when Ken and Lynda carefully explained how, using the well-known ABEL program, the practice bell could simulate any bell in a ring and how the program's sound could simulate approximately the key of any tower making use of the installation.
The following Saturday, N.E. Branch members attended sessions where ringers of all capabilities were able to use the practice bell to check how accurate (or otherwise) was their striking (shown on the screen for all to see!) and to improve it. Even experienced and very competent ringers were found to be less than perfect, which was of some comfort to the beginners!
This Project, masterminded by N.E. Branch's Education and Training Officer, Mike Hatchett was funded by a grant of more than £4000 from the Lottery Awards for All scheme, together with some local donations and the facility is now available to interested groups, whether beginners, experienced, or mixed. It is hoped that in the near future a leaflet will be written and published for anyone interested in the details of how the project was set up and how it can help. For further information, contact Mike Hatchett.
Publicity Officer, N.E. Branch
Local bell hangers Nicholson Engineering have a new e-mail address. It is email@example.com
"The re-dedication of the bells of Lympstone parish church, after restoration and augmentation, took place on Sunday afternoon, November 23rd. The work, which has been carried out by parochial subscription, constitutes a commemoration of the Coronation of King Edward VII., and the establishment of peace in South Africa. The peal has hitherto consisted on five bells, dating from 1746. The whole of these bells, with the exception of the present 4th, have been quarter turned, so that the clappers strike on fresh parts of the inner surfaces. An addition has now been made in the form of a new treble, weighing 4 1/2 cwt., and cast by Messrs. Mears and Stainbank.
"The whole of the six bells have been placed in an iron frame, which represents the first of such construction in Devonshire by a local bellhanger, and supplies substantial proof of a determination not to let the county to be behind in the matter of home provision of the most modern and scientific methods of bell-hanging. All the fittings connected with the bells have been entirely renewed, and a fresh floor has been provided underneath the bell-cage. The cost of the scheme has run into about £163. Of this sum £128 had been received, and another £20 promised. The collections for the fund in the morning and afternoon totalled £4 10s., so that only a few pounds remain to be raised to entirely free the undertaking from debt.
"The contractor has been Mr. Harry Stokes, of Woodbury, and the neatness of the frame and the "go" of the bells evoked the highest expressions of approval, while the excellent matching of the new bell, and the increased beauty of the peal, excited general admiration.
"For the purposes of the re-dedication, a special form of service was sanctioned by the Lord Bishop of Exeter, and it had particular reference to the bell restoration. The service was attended by a crowded congregation, who entered into it with the utmost heartiness. The surpliced clergy present were the Lord Bishop of Crediton (Dr. Trefusis), the Rector of Lympstone (Rev C.G. Browne), the curate (Rev. S. Hankey), and the President of the Devonshire Guild (Rev. Maitland Kelly, of Kelly). At an appropriate stage the choir, clergy, and the Bishop proceeded to the ringing-chamber, where the Bishop dedicated the new treble, and re-dedicated the old bells to the glory of God and the service of the church. After this ceremony the bells were rung for a few minutes by members of the Lympstone band. The service was choral. The Lord Bishop of Crediton gave an address. He remarked that it must be a great source of gratification to think that the offering represented by the bell restoration scheme was that of the whole body of people in the parish, and that rich and poor alike had given according to their ability. In the future it would be the duty of those connected with the church to see that the bells were rung in the best method and manner possible, and to give to those who rang them a word of encouragement, and show a real, affectionate sympathy. Ringers had difficulties and trials, and, if they desired to ring to perfection, must deny themselves constantly. The ringers themselves should be godly men. The congregation would have the opportunity of hearing after the service the music which could be produced on bells by the skilled hands of those who had contributed largely to the elevation of ringing in the diocese, and done so on a deep religious basis, under the auspices of the Devonshire Guild. He dwelt upon the uses of the bells, and concluded by a plea for self-discipline among ringers generally.
"The bells were rung after the service and before evening prayer by members of the St. Sidwell's society, who were joined by Mr. Kelly and members of the St. Thomas and St. David's (Exeter) and Woodbury bands. Some excellent 6-scores of Grandsire and Stedman Doubles were rung, and the bells were also fired. The visiting ringers were kindly entertained at the rectory, and on their behalf Mr. Sidney Herbert (City Councillor and vice-president of the St. Sidwell's society), cordially thanked the Rev. C.G. Browne, who hoped that there might be a visit on some future occasion.
"At the evening service there was another large congregation. The Lord Bishop of Crediton again preached and dealt with the ancient character of bells, and spoke of the need of the purity of life."
In 1996-97, the Ringing World carried several interesting articles on the Revd H.T. Ellacombe and his family and my purpose in writing this piece is to supply some further information, plus a few corrections.
When Ellacombe's 'Church Bells of Devon' was first published in 1867 in 'The Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society', he stated that the tenor bell at Clyst St George had been recast in 1864 in memory of his sole grandson, Willmott Henry Wemyss Ellacombe, who died that year at the age of ten. From this fact ringers could be forgiven for assuming that the direct male line of the Ellacombe family had therefore ceased. Fortunately this was not the case, as a few years later Ellacombe's son, Canon H.N. Ellacombe, had two more sons to add to his family of seven daughters. Gilbert Wemyss Henry Ellacombe was born in 1868 and Charles Wemyss Ellacombe was born in 1870. Charles went to live in New Zealand and died there a bachelor in 1955, whilst Gilbert, who had qualified as a doctor, went to South Africa and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Boer War. After the war Gilbert married and resided in Livingstone in Northern Rhodesia before moving to Cape Town and it is from his that the direct line of H.T. Ellacombe's male descendants continues to the present day. (There are also three granddaughters and two great granddaughters of Dr Gilbert Ellacombe currently living in South Africa.)
Previous writers have often mentioned that H.T. Ellacombe changed the spelling of the family surname from Ellicombe to Ellacombe, although this is not entirely correct. Whilst there were Elecomes and Ellecumbes in the years following the Norman conquest, H.T. Ellacombe's line can only be traced back to Walter (or Water) Ellacombe who died in Kenn in 1561 when Ellacombe was spelt with an 'a'. Around 1638 Robert Ellacombe decided to change the spelling to Ellicombe with an 'i' and this spelling of the surname continued up to 1836 when H.T. Ellicombe, who was a keen genealogist, decided that the former spelling 'Ellacombe' was the correct one and he therefore reverted to it. However this only applied to his own immediate family and his brothers and their families continued with the surname Ellicombe.
From 1540 the family were listed as yeomen but William Ellicombe who died in 1730 was described as a gentleman and it was his son Richard who was the first of the Ellicombes to graduate from Oxford University and enter the Church. Richard was the incumbent of Stoke Canon from 1753 until his death in 1778. He had two sons who followed him to Oxford and into the Church. The first son William (H.T.E's father) was born in 1754 and he served as a curate at Thorverton before becoming Rector of Alphington. The second son Hugh Myddelton Ellicombe was born in 1747 and eventually became Rector of Bridford.
Hugh died without issue but the Revd William Ellicombe had eight sons as shown right. (H.T. Ellacombe was in fact the eighth and youngest and not the second of seven as stated by A.W. Hill writing in 1919).
For much of the above information I am greatly indebted to Air Commodore John L.W. Ellacombe (great-grandson of H.T. Ellacombe) who has kindly supplied me with a print his 'Ellicombe / Ellacombe Family Tree'. A copy of this interesting document has been passed on to John Scott for the Guild Library.
In conclusion here are two further snippets concerning H.T. Ellacombe. 1) In 1872 he wrote a long complaining letter to 'The Builder' entitled 'A Plagiarism' in which he rebuked John Warner and Sons for altering his original drawing for chiming hammers without permission or acknowledgement and passing it off as their own in their latest catalogue. Warners regretted losing Ellacombe's good will and eventually had the good grace to apologise. It is interesting to note that when Ellacombe published 'The History of the Parish of Bitton...' in 1881 he made the surprisingly frank admission that the basic idea for manually operated chimes was not originally his but had been suggested to him by a clever local workman named Sam Watts.
It is well known that before he wrote 'The Church Bells of Devon' Ellacombe visited and took details from all the towers in the county except two. This was an arduous task for an elderly man and he later resorted to several years of correspondence to collect sufficient details to enable him to produce 'The Church bells of Somerset' and 'The Church Bells of Gloucestershire'. I originally assumed that this was a massive task involving large numbers of individual hand written letters. However when one of these came into my hands a few years ago it was apparent that a single hand written original circular letter with a questionnaire had been lithographed to produce several hundred copies (see below). All Ellacombe did was to pick up his pen and write in the date and the name of the parson from whom he was seeking information. Even so this was a slow way of gathering information and it involved, in some cases, writing to the same tower two or three times to get an answer. I have an original letter from Ellacombe to the Revd William Stokes-Shaw (Vicar of Twerton-on-Avon, Bath) dated 13 October 1870 in which he ends as follows:- "I am now doing by Circular all the Bells in Somerset - but some of the Parsons are very reticent.
Have you taken to Ringing? It is a grand Science.
RJB October 2002
THE EIGHT SONS OF THE REVD WM ELLICOMBE (1745 - 1831) & HANNAH nee ROUSE (1751 - 1821) (William and Hannah were married at St Martin's, Exeter, in 1773)
William Ellicombe was Rector of Alphington from 1780 - 1831
Richard Ellicombe (the fifth son) was Rector of Alphington from 1831 - 1851
1. William Rouse Ellicombe (Revd) 1774 - 1849
2 Richard Ellicombe (died in infancy) 1775 - 1778
3 John Williams Ellicombe (Ensign) * 1776 - 1799
4 Hugh Myddelton Ellicombe (Attorney at Law) 1777 - 1857
5 Richard Ellicombe (Revd) 1780 - 1851
6 Charles Grene Ellicombe (Lt. General - K.C.B.) 1783 - 1871
7 Henry Thomas Ellicombe (died in infancy) 1788 - 1789
8 Henry Thomas Ellicombe (Revd) 1790 - 1885
(He changed the spelling of his surname back to Ellacombe circa 1836)
* The third son Ensign John Williams Ellicombe of the 40th Foot was killed in action in the Netherlands on the 19th September 1799 aged 23. The window at the west end of the south aisle of Alphington Church is dedicated to his memory.
Recent correspondence in 'The Ringing World' has clearly identified Reg Bray as the oldest active ringer in the world. Reg learn to ring at Newton St Cyres, during the first world war, and has been ringing regularly there ever since, faithfully attending practice night and ringing on Sundays for 87 years. Reg celebrated his 100th birthday on Monday 28 October with a family party at Thelbridge, although the television cameras were at Newton St Cyres to film him ringing rounds and call changes with a band including four other members of his family. The previous Saturday, virtually the whole parish came to the village hall to wish him well, and to listen to a peal of Grandsire Triples rung by the Guild, of which Reg is a vice-president. The peal was called by Mike Mears who learnt to ring at Newton St Cyres, and was tower captain there for a time. Before the peal, Reg joined members of the band to ring a six-score of Grandsire Doubles and after the peal, Preb John Scott, the former vicar of the parish, joined in the lower. In its heyday the band at Newton regularly entered (and won) Devon call-change competitions, as well as ringing well-struck methods. Reg told the reporter of the local paper, "I've always greatly enjoyed bell ringing which I reckon is a good thing for helping you keep fit, though my job as a professional gardener on the Quicke family estate here, and my hobbies of gardening and walking all helped as well. I very much appreciate the kindness of my family and my fellow Devon ringers in arranging this lovely birthday weekend." In the article published on the day of the village party, the Express and Echo described Reg as the 'King of ringers'.
GUILD OF DEVONSHIRE RINGERS NEWTON ST CYRES, Devon St Cyr and St Juliac Sat Oct 26 2002 2h47 (13) 5040 Grandsire Triples Comp. JJ Parker 1 Mervyn C Way 2 Lester J Yeo 3 Richard C Shere 4 Andrew E Digby 5 Michael R Rose 6 Michael C Hansford 7 Michael EC Mears (C) 8 Philip Stevens Rung to celebrate the 100th birthday of Reg Bray, the world's oldest active ringer, at his home tower since 1915.
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