The Guild of Devonshire Ringers - Ringing Round Devon Newsletter

The Guild of Devonshire Ringers


Newsletter No 47 : September 2002

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 .

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 .

A large print edition is available from the editor on request.

Plymouth: Guild Annual Festival

Master's Badge returns to St Andrew's

The tower captain of St Andrew's, Plymouth, Fergus Stracey, was elected Master of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers at the annual meeting on 29 June.

When Tom Myers, the former tower captain at St Andrew's died in 1967, the Guild opened a memorial fund, and after much discussion decided to institute the office of Ringing Master, with the master's badge as his memorial. As Fergus has recently steered through the restoration of St Andrew's bells, and called the first peal (Grandsire Caters) on the restored bells in May, it is fitting that the master's badge should return to Tom's old tower this year.

The Festival day started with open ringing at Plympton St Mary's ranging from Rounds and Call Changes through to Stedman Triples and Yorkshire S Major.

Old Priory Primary School next to the church was the base for the afternoon, and after registration James Clarke gave the 'keynote address' on his work as one of the Guild's bells advisors. He suggested that his claims to fame were the introduction of a telescope to aid inspection of inaccessible bells, and the discovery of a previously unknown Devon founder, James Moon, who cast a bell for the tin church at Bursdon Moor in 1869!

The business meeting itself followed. Former Guild president Bob Southwood was elected a vice-president, and Lester Yeo, publicity officer. Members were shocked to learn to the sudden death of Tony Pearson of St Marychurch two days previous.

Insurance for Guild Members

Mike Hatchett spoke on the conclusions of the working party appointed by the Committee to investigate insurance of Guild members. Working on the basis that most churches were insured under the 'Parishguard' policy of the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, the working party recommended that: a) tower captains should find out from the PCC what cover their band has. In general, ringers were only covered while ringing at their home tower. b) when a band visits other towers, prior notice should be given to EIG so that the ringers can be covered by the insurance. Some towers put restrictions on visiting bands if they do not have adequate insurance.

The working party put forward three options to be considered:
i) the Guild provide public liability cover for claims by third parties for all ringing members. This would cost at the present time £850 (about £1.20 per member).
ii) the Guild provide public liability plus personal accident cover. This would cost a further £509, making the total cost per member about £2.
iii) the Guild provide no cover (as at present) and ringers make their own arrangements for insurance.

The meeting declined to raise the subscription without further consultation, and so a recommendation will be made by the General Committee to the next AGM.

Competition rules There was discussion too about the rules for the inter-tower six bell competition, as some members felt excluded because they did not belong to an affiliated tower. It proved impossible during the meeting to find wording for the rules which allowed recognised groups other than local bands to take part yet remained within the spirit of the competition, but it was decided to relax the rules for this year's competition, and let the General Committee propose some revised rules next year.

It was proposed that the Guild put some thought to supporting the Huntsham appeal, possibly by donating the new treble. As readers of RRD will know, All Saints', Huntsham could possibly be described as the Guild's 'home tower'. This proposal was passed on the understanding that there should be no consequent diminution in the Guild's support for the Devon Church bell Restoration Fund.

In the afternoon, workshops covering all abilities from Doubles up to Spliced Surprise Major were run at various towers around the Plymouth area. There was also a session on tune ringing on handbells in one of the school classrooms.

The Guild service of prayer and praise was celebrated at St Andrew's, followed by a buffet supper laid on by the South West branch members. Evening ringing on the ten at St Andrews was well attended, catering for all abilities, and apparently, some people even retired to the pub to finish off an excellent day.

Sudden death of Offwell ringer

Chris Gibbs, Churchwarden of St Mary's Church, Offwell, and a keen member of its band of ringers died, with tragic suddenness, at his home in the village on 6th July. He was 56. Chris was born in Croydon, and came to the village from Reading in 1991, with his wife Kathryn, his daughters Anna and Claire, and his wife's parents. The family engaged itself most energetically in the service of the village.

Chris was elected Churchwarden in 1992 and learned to ring. He was soon a proficient ringer and conductor of call changes. Kathryn became a ringer, as did her daughters when they were old enough. Anna gained a credit in ringing towards her Duke of Edinburgh Award. For some six years the four Gibbs were the mainstay of ringing in Offwell, and without them it would have been impossible to find a band among the residents of the village.

Half-muffled bells were rung at Chris' funeral by four resident members of the band and three friends from adjacent parishes. Jim Crabb, a Vice-President of the Guild and Ann Moss, Secretary of the East Devon Branch attended to represent the Guild.

East Devon Branch: competition

Feniton ringers held at their word

East Devon's social day on the 13th July saw branch members assembled at Feniton for the six bell striking competition.

Normally the branch tries to choose a local tower not affiiated to the Guild but on this occasion a resonably new band at Feniton had said that they would enter if the competition was held at their home tower. "We held them to their word!" says Branch Secretary Ann Moss; "they rang very well, and we hope they will enter a team for 2003".

Results of the competition were:

1st Honiton A 23.25 faults
2nd Honiton B 37.25 faults
3rd Sidmouth A 57.5 faults
4th Awliscombe/Buckerell B 58.5 faults
5td Sidmouth B 65 faults
6th Awliscombe/Buckerell A 67 faults
7th Ottery St Mary B 71.25 faults
8th Feniton B 72.25 faults
9th Feniton A 79.5 faults
10th Ottery St Mary A 81 faults

The day was rounded off by skittles and food at the Talaton Inn. Thanks go to Wendy Wayne for organising this and the afternoon tea.

Ann says, "We were very fortunate to have Martin Mansley as our judge this year. During the year he has encouraged East Devon ringers to progress and appropriate that he achieved his first as judge amongst us - not an easy task - Congratulations!"


Tony Pearson (1937-2002)

Seven ringers gathered for a quarter peal attempt at Upton in Torquay. When by ten minutes after the starting time Tony Pearson had not arrived there was not universal surprise - Tony was often late. A quarter on six was hastily started (and lost). Later that night we were all stunned to hear the reason for Tony's absence - he had died with no warning at all during one of his regular visits to Torquay Library earlier that afternoon.

Tony had been a member of the St. Marychurch band of ringers since ringing had resumed in 1975 following the war-time ban and the subsequent destruction of most of the church (except the tower) by enemy action in 1943. Tony had learned to ring in London as a young man but had given up ringing due to working in various overseas locations such as Ethiopia and France where there were not too many bells. He was never a very ambitious ringer as far as advanced methods went but he was very keen to ring Stedman - particularly Triples. He was also fond of quarter peals and often promoted them for special occasions- his last one being for the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

The aspect of ringing which really appealed to Tony, and by which many of us will remember him most, was outings. If you mentioned the possibility of an outing Tony would say "yes". His knowledge of English parish churches was encyclopaedic and you could guarantee that where-ever you mentioned, Tony would have some nugget of information - often of a quirky nature - to tell you about it. As a car passenger on the way to a "Grab" he was unbeatable - there was no chance of dropping off at the wheel because his conversation was sure to keep your interest. His topics were wide ranging - from Classical literature to local politics there was nothing that he did not have an opinion on. Of course, he also enjoyed debate to the point where it was often difficult to know what his real feelings were- he was so ready to be a devil's advocate in order to promote debate.

Tony was above all a family man and all his family with a large circle of friends from his many interests attended his funeral at St. Marychurch. One of the addresses was given by the Revd. Robert Southwood who had known Tony since coming to Stoke seventeen years ago. The ten bells which Tony had helped to restore and augment were rung half muffled (including Whole pull and Stand) before and after the service. On The following Monday a quarter peal of Plain Bob Major was rung open in his memory. MGM

St.Marychurch, Torquay. 8 July. 1264 Plain Bob Major. Helen Mansley 1, Rowena Mansley 2, Claire Beck 3, Steven Came 4,Tim King 5, Nigel Birt 6, Martin Dodd 7, Martin Mansley (C) 8. First of major 1. In memoriam Tony Pearson.

NE Branch: John Hutchings Memorial Competition

St Paul's wins trophy

Five teams from the North East Branch of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers entered this year's John Hutchings Memorial Competition (object: to promote the advancement of Method Ringing) which because of a conflicting open air event in Silverton on the 19th July had to be held at St Mary's Church Bickleigh.

The competition piece, five plain courses of Bob Doubles, was judged by Ian and Wendy Campbell from an adjacent unlicensed vantage point prior to delivering their verdict later in the evening in less formal surroundings. The John Hutchings Cup was presented to St. Paul's Tiverton (34.75 faults). Runners up were Silverton (56.5), Bampton (63.25) and St Peter's Tiverton (77.5).

The true winners were however a scratch team (28.25 fault points) with Leslie Boyce as conductor but due to a contravention of the competition rules could not be awarded first place.

Guild: Stedman training day

Theory and practice

It's official - Singles are easier than bobs in Stedman Triples. This was one of the things which students learned on the Stedman day held in Exeter. It is also true that the look on the faces of some of the helpers had to be seen to be believed when asked to call touches with Singles only "off the cuff" . After a little thought or a few words from Matt all was well and the majority of touches were brought round.

In the morning 5 "students" started with a discussion of the construction of the method and how the calls work. This was followed by an open discussion of tips - in particular how you can work out which way you are going in - quick or slow. Several ways were discussed with the final system (if all else fails) being - "if the other bells let you - go in quick - otherwise go in slow"!

It was then time to have a go on the bells and it was up to the tower to ring on the fine eight at Heavitree. The students were soon working hard helped by the fine group of helpers who had assembled. It was not long before everyone had managed a plain course and it was time to start on touches. Before lunch only Singles were attempted but everyone managed to ring them successfully with few problems.

The main "housekeeping" duties were undertaken by Wendy Campbell who had organised coffee and biscuits to start and had brought a menu for everyone to choose from for lunch. This meant that when it was lunch time we could go straight to the pub where our chosen meal was soon on the table. After lunch there was a small division of labour so that weddings at both Heavitree and St. Marks were manned. Once the afternoon session proper started (at St. Marks) we were soon into more touches and it was not long before we had progressed to bobs as well. A short extension had been agreed but soon it was time to wind up and head home or, for some, on to a relaxing evening at the Cathedral practice!

Very many thanks to all involved in the organisation of the day - Matt Hilling who ran the introductory group and then continued to act as ringing master for the day, Wendy and Ian Campbell who organised coffee and biscuits at Heavitree (among many other tasks) and to all the helpers who worked so hard and cheerfully all day to provide the bands for the students to ring with. Martin Mansley


Harold Milford

I very much regret to inform you of the death of my father, Harold William Milford, at Havant War Memorial Hospital early in the morning of Thursday 25th July 2002. He was 84 years old.

He was taught to ring by the Myers family at St Andrew's Church, Plymouth, Devon when ringing resumed after the Battle of El-Alamein. He was for many years a committee member of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers, including a spell as Treasurer. He worked as a civil servant in Devonport Dockyard, and was posted to Simonstown, South Africa, in the late forties. While there he rang at St Mary's, Woodstock. This led to bells being rung simultaneously in Woodstock and at St Andrew's, Plymouth, when he and my mother Valerie married in March 1952. This was the first wedding with bells at St Andrews since 1943 and took place in the choir vestry, as the main part of the building was still roofless after war damage. Earlier this year he and my mother celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary.

He was posted to Portsmouth Dockyard in 1966, and joined the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild. He initially rang at St Mary's, Alverstoke, but in 1967 settled in Havant where he taught his three sons to ring. His grand-daughter has also now learnt to ring, at Melksham in Wiltshire. He later rang at Southwick. He was at one time Treasurer of the Portsmouth branch of the W&P.

He achieved 50 years membership of the Ancient Society of College Youths, having joined in 1951. In 1987 he presented the Society with a Society silver medallion which we had come across, and this was used for Steward's insignia, first worn at the 350th Anniversary Dinner that year.

I believe that he only ever rang one peal, in memory of Tom Myers, and kept no record of his quarter peals. He did however enjoy visiting new towers on holiday, on outings and in free periods during Civil Service Whitley Committee conferences.

The funeral was to be held at the church of St James Without-the-Priory-Gate, Southwick, Hants, on Friday 2nd August, followed at 3pm by a private cremation at Portchester Crematorium. Any donations in his memory to 'The League of Friends of the Havant War Memorial Hospital' should be sent to Carrell's Funeral Service, 4 Town Hall Road, Havant, Hants, PO9 1AN (tel 023 9248 6183). Robin M Milford

Guild Competitions

Branches are undoubtedly practising the test piece of 216 Stedman Triples in preparation for the Guild Inter-branch competition, which will be held at Pinhoe in the afternoon of Saturday 19 October. The aim of the competition is to improve the standard and variety of methods rung.

Teams representing affiliated towers are also invited to enter the six bell competition in the morning at Holcombe Burnell; each team is required to ring at least 240 changes of any method (but not plain hunting). Local bands can borrow two members from the same branch, and special consideration for entry will be given this year to bands that ring together regularly but do not represent an affiliated tower.

Devon Bells Open Day

No lock-outs and one broken rope

By Wendy Campbell
Monday 26th August

The Guild Master enjoying the tenor at Marytavy

I tumbled out of bed extremely bright and early for a Bank Holiday Monday and by 8.30am was hunting for a parking space in the narrow lanes of Ide. Armed with a sheaf of day tickets to sell and a pocket full of loose change, I walked up the path to the church. Rounding the corner, I saw a sight that made my jaw drop. A neat queue had formed from the belfry door at the back of the church, out through the porch and into the churchyard and at least twenty people were patiently waiting until the kick-off time of 9 o'clock! The tower stewards turned up very shortly afterwards, having also experienced great difficulty with parking, and after a quick consultation with the key holder, the belfry door was unlocked and the bells were being raised by 8.50.

The money-spinning venture had started the previous day when a useful £50 was raised by having the Cathedral bells open to ring for Evensong and making a modest charge to visitors for the pleasure. We were pleasantly surprised at the number of people willing to pay, considering that the third Saturday of every month is an open practice when anyone may freely attend. Many of those coming to ring were unfamiliar to the locals, and despite the best efforts of the sentinel on the door to screen the people ascending the tower as bona fide ringers, two non-ringers cheerfully paid £1 each and followed the crowd. The gentleman was even bold enough to take hold of a bell to raise, but it was quickly spotted that he hadn't a clue what he was doing and he was relieved of his rope immediately. 'Oh, I thought anyone could have a go!' was his astonished response. Nevertheless, he was thrilled by being able to see part of the building not normally open to the public and was still chattering excitedly to his partner by the time he had descended the tower.

Impressions of the Monday open day as it moves on apace: twenty-five towers around Dartmoor are open, a new tower opening for business every thirty minutes and staying open for an hour. It is bright and sunny and becoming quite warm. The initial crowd is starting to string out, which will ease the pressure a lot. Some people are trying to 'grab' every tower, while others are being more selective. We estimate that there are almost one hundred paying customers moving steadily around the circuit, plus twenty stewards. Some towers are decidedly more on people's 'wanted' list than others: there are long queues at Mary Tavy, whilst only thirty-odd brave souls manage to climb up Brentor. A call-change band joins the fray and visitors stop in their tracks to listen to the distinctive, harmonious rhythm of sixty on thirds. 'Is this proper Devon call-change ringing?' we are asked. 'Wow, terrific, we're so glad we got to hear the real thing.' One lady from Oxfordshire tells me she is having a simply wonderful time and asks if we will be having another open day next year! 'Oh, just give me strength to get through today in one piece,' I think to myself, but I manage to smile and say that we'll be hoping to organise something for 2004.

Suddenly it's 8pm and we're lowering the bells at South Brent. People are saying their goodbyes and thanking us for a great day. There's just another thirty minutes to dash and catch ringing at Ashburton before the day is finally over. It's been a resounding success: no lock-outs, one broken rope (at Sheepstor), three items of lost property to be dealt with. Our visitors have enjoyed themselves and, hopefully, gone away with good memories of the beautiful Devon scenery and the warmth of the welcome.

Now to see how much money we're made! The stewards have all made contact and reported on their financial status at the end of the day. Every single one of them has said what an enjoyable day they had and that they would be very pleased to help again in the future. That's great news and reassures me I got the balance just right. I count the cash and put the figures into a spreadsheet. There are various expenses to be met, such as postage, phone calls and stationery. The biggest and most necessary of these is the advert in The Ringing World, but it does pay dividends in the long run. I look at the figures on the screen: we are just a very few pounds short of £1,000, after the deductions have been made. The figures and the cash will have to be checked again by the Guild Treasurer, but what a great feeling to be able to send this sort of sum to the DCBRF. It was a great day, a worthwhile venture, and one that we can repeat in the future. Anyone like to volunteer to organise it?

My heartfelt thanks go to the following who acted as stewards throughout a long and tiring day: Derek and Mo Hawkins, Clive Temperton, Valerie Oates, Rosemary Morgan, Tony Woodville, Fiona Rock Evans, Andrew Digby, Aston Piper, Neil Williams, George Mudge, Claire Beck, Tim King, Martin and Helen Mansley, Paul Latham, Ian Campbell. Also to those who came and assisted at the Cathedral on Sunday afternoon to ensure that the ringing was of a good standard: Paul Pascoe, Tim King, Matt Hilling, John Hill, Rob Franklin, Ian Avery. Also to Jonathan Bint for doing sterling service with the teapot at Drewsteignton. Also to Don Roberts for devising the route for the open day (together with the late Tony Pearson).

Guild publicity

Lester Yeo muses on the matter of publicising ringing

Towers are always on the lookout for new learners, and are always delighted when a ready-made ringer appears at practice night wanting to join the band. But to recruit new ringers and to encourage 'lapsed' ringers top return needs publicity - although, of course, the best publicity we have is the music we make every Sunday and practice night which everyone can hear. We need to be sure that those who hear the ringing know what to do if they want to learn to ring.

However when I look at the Guild, I note how the demography of ringing has changed markedly since I learnt to ring in the early 70s. Young learners are now the exception - so much so that after 32 years ringing, I am still usually in the younger half of the band! So a number of questions come to mind. Should we continue to hope to recruit teenagers, and if so, how? Should we try to make ringing 'cool'? Or is it more fruitful to recruit and train older people? Do we restrict our recruitment from within the church congregation? What are the strategies that towers have found successful, and what approaches are a waste of time?

Publicity material of a high quality must help. Shoddily produced handouts and dog-eared photographs are going to deter people not attract them. Recently the Ringers Council produced an attractive handout which is still available, but needs to be used creatively; on the table in ringing chamber is not a good place for a tower's supply to be left! If members of the congregation are being targeted, leave them where they congregate after the service; better still, have them handed out with the weekly bulletin. If you want to recruit more widely, try libraries, and doctor's or dentist's surgeries.

For many years, I have been gathering a number of publicity resources, some of which have been on display in the St Petrock's Ringing Centre in Exeter. All this material is available for loan to towers and branches wanting publicity for recruitment or fund-raising purposes. In addition the Guild owns the excellent demonstration bell made by Frank Mack, and the miniature ring of bells given by George Tribe; both are available on loan from the Guild and are currently kept at St Petrock's.

Finally, during the autumn, and winter, each of the territorial branches has an annual meeting. Could I ask each branch at that meeting to ensure that it has a person responsible for publicity? This could be a branch publicity officer, or another office (such as the secretary?), who has agreed to take on the role. Tasks could include: Informing the local press and media of news from the branch Keeping the RW informed about branch activities Passing news items to me for publication in RRD Promoting good practice in publicising ringing and the Guild within the branch area

From the Express and Echo

Son gives church bell in memory of mother

By Steven Blaakman

Howard Egglestone and Bill Parr are hoping for public support to raise money for the Crediton Church Bells Appeal

A Devon man is planning a memorial to his mother by paying for a new church bell which will have her name engraved on it.

Bill German is one of six people so far to have given the cost of a new bell to Crediton Parish Church. Two years ago the church launched an appeal for £100,000 to get the worm-out bells replaced. People who endow a bell can have an inscription commemorating the donor, a family member, or an organisation.

Mr German, whose wife Anne is a warden and a bell-ringer at the church, decided to donate a bell in memory of his mother Margaret, who died on June 13.

Mr German, 48, said: "I wanted to do something for her. I have looked at a lot of alternatives. The crematorium in Exeter does a few things but it doesn't appeal to me. You can do benches and plant trees, but plants get vandalised and after a while benches are not looked after. I wanted to do something more permanent.

"I think it's important that bell ringing in Crediton continues. It's important to teach bell-ringing. We are very keen that the tradition continues."

Mr German is also a member of the Local History and Museum Society, and is one of the people who conducts tours explaining the history of the church.

He said the appeal had been a success. He said: "We have done really well. The appeal has been going for two years now and we are past the half-way point. We have raised just over £50,000."

The new bells are expected to last more than 200 years. The current bells were cast in Crediton by John Pennington IV in 1774.

All Change

A St Swarfega's Story

by "W Eastbrook"

Martin Cleaver, St Swarfega's newest recruit, had been living in Little Odford for about a year since his retirement from a university lectureship and had rapidly made his mark. Besides being a totally reliable Sunday ringer, he had diplomatically succeeded in widening the repertoire of the regular band to the extent that even the Tower Captain George Broadworthy had found himself poring over his RW diary trying to master the differences between St Remigius and Huntley Place. He had also recruited a group of pensioners, nicknamed the Zimmers, who once a fortnight, enjoyed a pub lunch together between two quarter peal attempts.

To the surprise of most of the regulars at St Swarfega's. George had become an enthusiastic member of this group despite his previous rather scornful attitude to what he called "they statistic merchants". So complete had been his conversion that he had himself become a "statistic merchant" keeping the most meticulous records (including an appraisal of the lunch) in a large exercise book which enjoyed pride of place behind the living room clock at Woodbine Cottage. Even his wife, the formidable Gloria, had been over-ridden when she proposed that the book should be kept in the desk drawer with the pension books.

"Where are we ringin' next week?, asked George as he lifted his first post-practice-night pint in the Ring of Bells.

"Pretty close to home, George. I've got Odford St John and Middle Odford," replied Martin, "with lunch at the Stryckland-Tyte Arms. I think John might be busy lambing," he added, but he'll let me know soon enough so I can get someone else."

"What's the methods, then?" asked George. "I'll need to do some 'omework."

"Well, I thought we'd go for Plain Bob, St Simon's and St Martin's in the morning and I'd like you to conduct in the afternoon. You choose the method. You know what we can do."

The Zimmers band usually consisted of Martin, his wife Pam, George, George's younger brother, Fred, now semi-retired and able to choose his working days, Joan Lysand, a very keen statistics merchant", and John Elvin, who described himself as a retired farmer, but who was often not available during the lambing season or on local market days.

When the ringers arrived at Odford St John, it was immediately obvious that lambing was in full swing; no John Elvin. Martin was full of reassurance.

"It's OK. I've got one of the Middle Odford ringers to fill in. Chap called Charlie Farmer. I expect you know him."

Oh, yes. We know him - only too well," muttered George to his brother. Martin, as a newcomer to the area, was blissfully aware of the enmity that existed between George Broadworthy and Charlie Farmer. He knew nothing of the great Fire Station row, which had led to Charlie Farmer's departure to the Nether Odford tower or of the Stryckland-Tyte Cup contest when St Swarfega's had beaten Charlie's Middle Odford ringers (he had not lasted long at Nether Odford) on the casting vote of the senior judge. Charlie and George had not spoken to each other since. There was little George could do in his present situation. He could not refuse to ring. He could not possibly explain to Martin what had happened. So he gritted his teeth and when Charlie arrived greeted him with icy politeness as though they had never met before.

"Well, who's going to ring what?, asked Martin when they had raised the bells. Pam'll be on the treble, of course, and I need to be on five."

Joan went for the second. George knew that Fred would only be happy on four as he was quite new to the methods but before he could catch the third rope, Charlie stepped forward.

"I'd better take this one then. Tricky stuff this unless you've rung a lot of it." George looked daggers at Charlie and took the tenor.

It wasn't a bad quarter overall. The one shaky patch, which was quickly brought to order by Martin, occurred when Charlie Farmer forgot which methods he was ringing and tried to dodge with the treble.

The bar menu at the Stryckland-Tyte Arms was rightly famed for its range and quality but despite the good food the conversation was bit stilted. Fortunately Charlie found himself sitting between Martin and Pam, who, quite oblivious of the previous hostilities, were able to keep the conversation going quite cheerfully. George talked to Fred and Joan almost as though the others were not there at all.

When the bells at Middle Odford had been raised George retained his hold on the tenor rope and announced that he could just as easily conduct from there so that all the others could score a quarter inside to St Swarfega's Doubles. Fred swallowed hard and looked at the floor. Martin and Joan took the two and three, but Charlie did not move.

"Which one for you then, Charlie?" asked George, cheerfully. "Either would do, wouldn't it?"

Charlie's face was a picture. He knew that George knew that St Swarfega's Doubles was as much as a mystery to him as to anyone who was not a regular member of the St Swarfega's band. He realised that George had 'got him' again and he had no escape.

"Sorry, George," he muttered through clenched teeth. "I don't ring St Swarfega's so I'd better take the tenor."

Oh! That's a pity," replied George, suppressing a gleeful smile. "I though everyone could ring that. Never mind. I can call from the fourth if you're sure you don't mind tenoring for us."

The quarter came round beautifully with some really good striking.

"Thanks for that, everyone," said George, when they had finished. "Helps to have good tenor man, don't you think? I 'spec you'd be able to ring inside another time, Charlie, wouldn't you, now you've seen 'ow it's done!"

In the bar of the Ring of Bells that evening George and brother Fred were enjoying a refreshing pint.

I" s'pose I'd better fill Martin in about Charlie Farmer before our next outing," remarked George. "Don't think he'd fit into the Zimmers all that well, do you?"

Exeter Branch: miniring outing

A taste worth acquiring

Ringing on small bells is an acquired taste, and like most acquired tastes is surely worth acquiring. It is definitely one that many members of the Exeter Branch have got, after an afternoon to Somerset to ring on five privately owned peals of bells, the heaviest being no more than 22lbs. And some of the owners said how pleased they were with the standard of ringing, one adding that it was the best ringing on the bells by ringers on an outing.

Richard and Marion Newman are old friends of the branch and made everyone (even the late arrivals) feel very welcome at Little Orchard and their delightful ten, where methods up to Grandsire Caters and Bristol Major were rung. The Summer House Campanile at Shepton Mallet holds six bells rejected by Higby and Bowditch, but are very musical and highly enjoyable; so was sitting in Aaron Moulder's back garden enjoying the sun and listening to the music of Jen Campbell's new cor anglais.

Many of the branch members had previously rung at Pig-le-Tower, and so knew what an easy going eight they are; eight-spliced was the method high point here. Lastly to Chilcompton, where Matthew Higby was patiently waiting to let the branch ring not only on his soon-to-be-augmented ten (more Grandsire and Bristol), but also on the microring in his workshop (tenor just under 6 ounces), where Cambridge Minor and Grandsire Doubles proved no problem to some!

For the less experienced miniringers, the outing was memorable, and all acquitted themselves well, especially eleven year old Kate Tucker, who was starting from scratch and ringing competent rounds by the end of the day. Many thanks to all the owners for allowing the branch to visit.

Association Committee Meeting

The Association held its committee meeting in August and is making the following recommendations to the AGM in November. This should mean that the business will be transacted much more easily.


President Elect for 2004: Harry Bardens
Chairman: Brian Drake
Hon Secretary: Jeremy Darke
Assistant Secretary: Clive Ward
Hon Treasurer: Ivor Hookway
Publicity Officer: Mike Webster
Training Officer: Dave Trist
Honorary Life Vice President: Edgar Cole. Edgar has been proposed because of his outstanding service to the association, including over twenty years as Honorary Secretary.

Competitions 2003

8 March: Novice Competition at Christow
Judges to be left with the organisers to arrange

26 April: Eight Bell at Buckland Monachorum
Judges: Mervyn Phillips, Ivor Hookway, Rian Trout, Barry Osbourne
Scrutineer John Cole

10 May: Six Bell Qualifier (South) at Dodbrooke
Judges: Ian Avery, Paul Pascoe, Pat Johnstone, Percy Pester
Scrutineer Bill Avery

Six Bell Qualifier (North) at Clovelly
Judges: Ivor Hookway, Cedric Hocking, Mervyn Way, Brian Drake
Scrutineer Gerald Arscott

24 May: Minor Final at Littleham
Judges: Steve Facey, Frank Bye, Harry
Bardens, Jack Rhymes
Scrutineer Cedric Hocking

14 June: Major Final at Staverton
Judges: Brian Drake, Ivor Hookway,
Paul Pascoe, Ian Avery
Scrutineer Sue Husband

This article appeared in the ringing press back in July 1959 and has been sent to RRD by a member of the NE branch in the hope that the author may not be too old to recognise it!


It could possibly be said that an article of this nature is flogging a horse which has been dead for a long time. On the face of it, this statement could be true, but I hope to show that Bellmanship, although it had no such title, existed long before Stephen Potter introduced his well known "One-up-manship".

The study of Bellmanship divides itself into two main fields:
1. The practical Bellman, or BELLMAN MARK I
2. The Theoretical Bellman, or BELLMARK II (who is an expert on conductorship)

BELLMAN MARK I This type is the mainstay of the Guild meeting and travels great distances to attend remote country practices held under the auspices of even more remote Guilds or Ringing Associations, of which he is always a life member.

He is to be found at least half an hour before the scheduled start of the meeting leaning against the church wall smoking a foul pipe, awaiting the arrival of the first of his prey.

His prey usually consists of other visiting ringers who are keen - this is obvious by the number of ringing badges displayed on their coats - but who are inexperienced in anti-bellman-ship.

He describes to them in minute details the musical and historical attributes of this particular ring of bells whilst waiting for the other ringers to arrive.

There are now sufficient members to ring and the local ringer is struggling to take control until the Branch ringing master arrives. He asks for a touch of Plain Bob Minor, and our ever enthusiastic Bellman can be heard explaining to a very young ringer that Plain Bob is nothing more than St. Clement's above the treble and Oxford Bob below the treble!

His favourite gambit can be brought into play when a young conductor is trying his first touch in some method which contains at least one other member who is unsure of himself. After the ringing has been going on for a few minutes and the unsure ringer has been nursed along, the Bellman will succeed in attracting his attention as though to dodge, then disappearing into 5-6 leaving our unwary friend with his bell at backstroke, not knowing, as our London friends would say, whether to have a shave or a haircut?

Another harmless but useful play is to describe in minute detail and in very loud voice the way to ring London Minor alongside some poor unfortunate who is trying to conduct a touch in the method.

The requirements necessary to become a BELLMAN MARK I are as follows: 1. A very loud voice 2. A set of facial expressions which can be changed from carefree -- when he knows he has crossed over with the fourth, but that the conductor hasn't noticed it, to doubtful, when the conductor is trying to remember whether he should call a bob this lead or at the next.

3. The ability to make other ringers cross over with him without noticing it. This is an unending source of interest, and can be exploited to the extent of making a touch come round a lead or so before the conductor expects it!

BELLMAN MARK II Bellman Mark II is usually a more experienced version of Mark I. His voice has increased power to such an extent that the unsuspecting faint.

His success is being able to convince the rest of the band that they are wrong when he, in fact, was a whole pull out. This can only be done with the aid of a voice more powerful than any other and an expression on his face similar to that of a berserk Regimental Sergeant Major who finds a raw recruit peacefully asleep in bed in the middle of the parade ground.

He complicates such methods as Cambridge by calling singles, and Kent Treble Bob Major by making places in 5-6 instead of 3-4.

He delights in ringing peals of triples without a cover bell, and is well versed in the methods of stopping a peal after two hours ringing through personal suffering, i.e. eating pork and raisins beforehand, or losing his braces - when in fact he had missed a bob.

Another delight is in calling touches of Minor with 6-5's at backstroke or 2160's instead of three 720's when he knows that the rest of the band do not approve.

His greatest triumph lies in succeeding to ring plain course of Superlative while everyone else is trying to ring Cambridge.

This however can only be achieved by a really experienced Bellman Mark II.

For Mark II of lesser rank it's possible to try various gambits to the effect that simultaneous peals of Minor on handbells is "forcing the medium"; that peals in the built up areas should only be rung after 9pm; that ringing seven peals in one day with the President of the National Association of Bellmen is the height of fame, or the extent of Major on the tower bells would be child's play if only they would let him ring 5-6.

Lympstone: 90th birthday

Birthday celebrations

David Burton of Lympstone celebrated his 90th birthday recently with a tribute from the local bell ringers.

Mr Burton, who edited the Lympstone Herald newsletter for 24 years and was a ringer until last year, sat in the churchyard to enjoy the bells being rung in his honour.
from the Exeter E&E

Clyst St George: Fiftieth anniversary of rededication

Local band rings Jubilee quarter

To commemorate the rededication of St George's Church in Clyst St George fifty years ago, a quarter peal of 1260 changes of Grandsire Doubles was rung on Saturday 6th July 2002 on the delightful ring of six bells, which were restored after their damage during the war.

The quarter was rung by local ringers who support the practices and Sunday service ringing. The Vicar, the Revd Geoffrey Rowe, led the band in prayer prior to the attempt, which was completed successfully in 42 minutes. The ringers were:

Treble Faith Elford
2 John Langabeer
3 Sue Sturdy
4 Tony Appleton
5 Tony Williams
Tenor Stephen Carter
Conducted by Tony Williams (Tower Captain)

A special congratulation to the tenor ringer Stephen Carter (the latest recruit) on ringing his first quarter peal. Well done, Stephen.

Ringing Roadshow Lincoln 2003

Date: Saturday 26th July 2003
Time: 10.30am to 5.00pm
Venue: Lincolnshire Showground, Lincoln

Simply everything about bells and bellringing: displays, seminars, activities, plus local towers open for ringing

Refreshments available all day

For further details, contact Robin Rogers, email

Disclaimer - please read

Pages formatted by Ian Campbell

Updated 1/9/2002