The Guild of Devonshire Ringers - Ringing Round Devon Newsletter

The Guild of Devonshire Ringers


Newsletter No 52 : December 2003

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 £2.50 for four issues (cheques made payable to Guild of Devonshire Ringers). It is also available on line on the Guild's website at, which holds back issues.

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 .

This edition includes a copy of Interchange, the Newsletter for the Devon Guild and the Devonshire Association.

Bells to your heart's content

Two members sponsored by the Guild report on the Wantage Ringing Course

'Baby bores' can be tiresome, but on the Wantage ringing course (August 22-26) you didn't have to worry about boring the pants off anyone! You could live, breathe and talk bells with like-minded enthusiasts to your heart's content.

Achieving mastery of a new skill is not something that comes easily to me (How I managed to pass my driving test first time was a complete mystery-especially to my instructor!). Now, some twenty five years on, my slow acquisition of bell control, call changes, and plain hunt was exasperating, while mastering Bob Doubles seemed impossible! Then a friend suggested an intensive ringing course, which is how I came to be at Wantage in one of three Bob doubles groups with four other students, under tutor Phil Watts.

During the extended weekend, I rang in eight towers: four rings of six, three rings of eight (mostly in pretty village churches nestling in scenic countryside) and a ring on ten at Christ Church, Swindon. I attended a handling master class on tied bells in Wantage Church with John Anderson, Mike Trimm and Rachel Barber. I opened my ears at Mike Winterbourne's practical workshop entitled "Listening to your bell especially for those who sometimes can't". I rocked with laughter at Steve Coleman's hilarious talks on "Improving your Ropesight and managing without it" and "Raising and lowering in peal".

In addition, I swam in the large indoor pool, sang in the choir, ate heartily and talked and asked a lot of questions, downing copious quantities of water, tea and stronger refreshment during my hot, sunny, action-packed stay.

The best thing really was the camaraderie between students, helpers and tutors-in the dinner queue, in cars en route to towers and at coffee time browsing over ringing literature, there was lots of tangible support.

The worst thing was climbing up the ladder of one's cabin-style bunk bed in bare feet. Ouch! I'd try to do a bit of revision in preparation for the next day, but not for long, before, Look to.. She going... gone!

I feel I consolidated my understanding of Bob Doubles and am, striking and leading more confidently and am getting to grips with those Bobs. I am very grateful to the guild and to Bampton, my home tower, for their financial contribution towards the cost of the course. Carla Dawes.

I recently attended the Wantage Ringing Course from the early afternoon of 22 August to the late afternoon of 25 August. My specialist subject was Plain Bob Doubles.

FRIDAY. After getting to know my group, which consisted of Peter Wenham, our tutor, the four other students and our helpers, we got down to the serious business of a tutorial. This included writing a Plain Course and two handouts from Peter explaining the Blue Line and a diagram of the cycle of work for each bell, followed by questions. After dinner, we went to Compton Parva (6: 9cwt) for our first practical session.

SATURDAY. Our second tutorial took place where we given handouts explaining, in greater details the cycle of work and also Bobs. Later that morning and early afternoon we rang at Bladon (6: 6cwt) and Church Hanborough (6: 13 cwt). On returning to base (St Mary's School) I attended a talk given by Mike Winterbourne on "Listening to your bell". In the evening we had short ringing sessions at East Hendred (which were heavy) and West Hendred (which were very light).

SUNDAY. I attended a very interesting, helpful and amusing talk on "Raising and lowering in peal". This was given by Steve Coleman. Before lunch Steve gave a talk which went by the title of "Ringing Poetry" This was also informative and fun. After lunch our group departed for another practical session at Little Milton (6: 11cwt). This turned out to be our favourite tower with its lovely bells. Later I went to another talk given by Steve on "Improving your ropesight (and managing without it)". Again this was very helpful as well as being light-hearted.

MONDAY. Our final practical session of the day was at Faringdon (8: 17cwt). Before lunch I went to a handling master class at Wantage tower. This took place on tied bells and some of us were lucky enough to see our own efforts on video! Our last ringing sessions was again at Wantage (8: 21cwt). I found the course most beneficial and enjoyable and altogether an excellent experience.

Virginia Brown

Guild: six and eight bell competitions

South West Branch regains Andrews trophy

The Guild competitions were hosted by the North East Devon branch in October, and the branch provided three of the teams in the six bell competition, judged by Don and David Crocker, at Burlescombe.

1 Exeter St Mark 26 faults
2 Tavistock 28 faults
3 Cullompton 33 faults
4 Stoke Damerel 34.5 faults
5 Tiverton S Peter 37.5 faults
6 Tiverton S Paul 41.5 faults

In the afternoon at St Peter's, Tiverton, Tony Crabtree, formerly of Exeter St Thomas and the Cathedral, and now living in Shrivenham, but working in Exeter, gave the results of the eight bell competition, the method being St Simon's Triples:

1 South West 43 faults
2 North East 46 faults
3 Exeter 'M' 57 faults
4 Exeter 'I' 94 faults

George Mudge accepts the trophy for the South West team from judge Tony Crabtree.

More details and pictures are available here

Guild ringers in 'This England'

Bell-ringers on bicycles!

The magazine 'This England' in its winter 2003 issue, contains an article, kindly sent to RRD by Richard Bowden, about the Exeter Ringers Cycling Club, which was at the forefront of promulgating method ringing in Devon a hundred years ago. Dick recalls ringing with three of the surviving members of the club during his school days in the 1940s. Details of the Club are included in John Scott's centenary history of the Guild 'Devon Bellringing 1874-1975'.

The author, one Colin Style, discovered 'tucked forlornly on an out-of-the-way shelf' in the Devon and Exeter Institution 'a miscellaneous collection of records of Devon campanologists' which 'verge on the dry side with little flesh on the bare bones'. Clearly he had found the Guild library!

Together with a couple of illustrations of pages from it, Style describes the calligraphic album chronicling the activities of the Club from its foundation in May 1903 until its captain John Richards died in 1923. Indeed the book was presented to Richards in 1909 'as a slight token of their esteem... and their appreciation of his kindness in granting them the free use of a CLUB ROOM during the past 6 years'.

Style makes it clear that the purpose of the club was not personal fitness. 'The cycling tours had the more serious purpose of spreading the gospel of modern ringing. They went off to Rose Ash and surrounding parishes in north Devon on August 7th 1904. It was a visit reported in slightly complicated English: "The local ringers were deeply interested in the music of half-pull ringing which was the first time it had ever been accomplished on several of the peals visited".'

Dick points out that there is one factual error, namely the claim that no photograph of the Club has survived, whereas there is one published in John Scott's booklet. However the purple prose of the final paragraph of the piece fails to take account of the radical and modernising nature of the club, which was after all trying to root out the established local traditions of Devon ringing in order to replace it with an alien system. After quoting details of the muffled touch rung in memory of John Richards at the cathedral, Style gushingly writes, 'It was, indeed the end of an era. Keeping old arts alive for years on end without gain, employing hardy exercise and sustained by love of countryside and native institutions, is quintessentially English. Surely there must be a corner of heaven, made like Devon, which is given for eternity to a band of Englishmen to peddle through, joyously pealing from one church to the next...'

If it was the end of an era, it was because the alien tradition of 'scientific' ringing had become established in the county, although the aim of the founders of the Guild to replace competitive ringing with the intellectual pleasures of method ringing had not been achieved. What is to the credit of successive generations is that both styles of ringing can now happily co-exist and their proponents fruitfully co-operate.

Jim marks 87th birthday with QP

Congratulations to Jim Crabb of Luppitt who we understand recently celebrated his 87th birthday with a quarter peal.

St Mark's Exeter: Augmentation Appeal

New ten planned for city

The ringers of St Mark's Church in Exeter are about to embark on a fund raising project for two new trebles to make a light 10. They have now received the backing of the PCC and will very shortly be launching the project officially.

It has for a while been an idea of the ringers to augment to 10 bells in order to further their ringing. All of the local ringers are capable on 8 bells, and with the number of visitors to the practice on a Wednesday night they will now be able to progress as a band into the realms of ten-bell ringing.

Making St Mark's into a ring of ten bells has a number of advantages:

In order to complete all the necessary work we need to raise approximately £25,000. This includes the two new bells and fittings, the new bits of frame (two of the current bells will go in individual frames above the existing frame), and of course the labour. Plans for the new rope circle have been calculated and appear to give a very good result - almost better than the current circle with none of the ropes either too close to the wall or to each other.

The local band is in the process of setting up a charity so that all donations can be gift-aided. Of course, they will be holding plenty of fund raising events to get the fund near the total needed as quickly as possible and this all starts with the Wine Tasting Party on Saturday 13th December in St Mark's Church Hall at 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome to come - tickets are available from Wendy Campbell or any of the St Mark's ringers, for £7 which includes all the wine, some cheese and some bread to help soak up the alcohol! This will be a fun and social evening with the emphasis on enjoyment and will certainly not be a serious event! The aim will be to identify the grape variety, the country of origin and the descriptor for each wine.

There are more events planned for next year including a barn dance evening and a supper and quiz evening all intended to raise lots of money for our augmentation project.

All donations welcome - whether directly or by attending one of our events. Please contact Matthew Hilling who will be pleased to hear from you.

NE Branch: John Hutchings Memorial Competition

Cullompton win by clear margin

This annual event for the North East Branch was held at St Mary's Church, Silverton on Friday 7th November 2003. Five teams entered the competition with this year's challenge to ring five plain courses of Plain Bob Doubles on the back six.

Judges, Bill Ford and John Longridge, gave comments and awarded places before an excellent buffet in the Lamb Inn, Silverton. David Smith, chairman, presented the cup to the winning team.

The final positions were;

1st Cullompton 38.5 faults
2nd Tiverton, St Peter 96.25 faults
3rd Bampton 105 faults
4th Tiverton St Paul 106.5 faults
5th Silverton 133.5 faults

Exeter Cathedral: competition v Bristol

Devon victory in third local derby

The now traditional informal and friendly competition between the ringers of St Stephen's Bristol and Exeter Cathedral took place in Bristol on Saturday 27th September at four towers within walking distance.

The competition started at Bristol Cathedral for some Spliced Plain and Little Bob Major. Whilst the ringing was taking place those that wanted had the pleasure of being able to climb the central tower to see the mediaeval bells and frame and the far reaching views from the top.

From here the ringers moved over the road to the Lord Mayor's Chapel for the Devon-style "60 on thirds". These bells were plenty loud enough inside, but with some visitors at the Cathedral, to hear 14 bells going at the same time produced quite a sound!

St Stephen's was the next stop to ring the back ten to a superb composition of Stedman Caters. By now things were running a little behind schedule and one of the Exeter ringers was still waiting for lunch in the pub! A quick bit of reorganisation and everything was on track again.

The final stop of the day was at St Mary, Redcliffe. Here there was time for some general ringing before the competition which the Exeter ringers took full advantage of. Erin Cinques was the chosen method, using the musical composition from the 12 bell competition a few years ago. Both teams successfully completed this and all the touches.

The Bristol ringers had arranged tea and refreshments in the Undercroft at Redcliffe to allow relaxation time. Then Kathy Carter was able to comment positively on the ringing and give her results.


Fred Mitchell, John Hill, Matthew Hilling and Kathy Carter discuss the result and ideas for the next competition

Drinking, socialising and the playing of skittles in The Ship after a well organised and very enjoyable day.

More details and pictures are available here

North East Branch Surprise Practices

Following a successful run of trial Surprise Major practices in 2003, the North East Branch is now planning to hold regular Treble-Dodging Major practices on the fourth Monday of each month in 2004 starting on 26th January. These will be held at Thorverton, from 7 30 to 9 00 pm.

The emphasis will be on starting out with Treble Bob and Surprise Major and on moving on from Cambridge and Yorkshire to the rest of the Standard 8.

Members of other branches would be most welcome to join us - please contact Leslie Boyce if you are interested in attending (e-mail ).

There will be no practices in August, September or December.

Some useful quarter peal compositions

By John Foster

I cannot claim originality for these compositions as they came about whilst playing with Beltower. I am surprised that the Single Oxford has never appeared anywhere so, perhaps, I might be able to claim that one. We have rung and enjoyed all of the compositions here at Withycombe Raleigh and the second Plain Bob Composition has been rung elsewhere using the fourth as observation. In the plain bob I use the W as the 5/6 up dodge and M as the 5/6 down dodge

1260 Single Oxford Bob Triples

1 2 3 4 5 234567 3 2 342567 - - - 245367 - s s 235467 3 part

Contains Tittums, 6x2468, 38x678, 31x468, 4x7568

1260 Plain Bob Triples

W X M H 23456 3 2 34256 S 32456 2 24356 2 64253 2 - S 23456 X=In, Before, Single 4ths

Contains Kings & Whittingtons
24 x 5678, 12x2468, 45x468

1260 Plain Bob Triples

W S3/S4 M H 234567 - 235746 S 3 735246 2 3 325746 S 362475 2 2 352746 X 3 234567

Called with the 6th as observation bell, i.e. bob H is at the end of the first lead. Contains Kings, Queens and Whittingtons. 16x2468, 65x468, 40x678

The following is a slight variation of the one above, it just has a different way of adding in the extra course.

W M H 234567 - 235746 S 3 735246 2 3 325746 S 362475 2 SS 2 352746 3 234567

Exeter Colleges Guild:

Excellent intake for University ringers

David Maynard writes

Here is a brief update on some of the things we have been getting up to here in Exeter recently.

We had an excellent intake of new freshers this year. In all I think we have signed up about ten new members, some of whom are already proficient ringers. Practices and Sunday ringing have been well attending, with all eight bells being rung at every session.

Our handbell practices are going well, with several quarters being rung at lunchtimes. Several of the new members have become involved with handbell ringing, for some their first taste of it.

The social scene has not been neglected, there have been some excellent evenings with good company, and we have several socials planned for this term. Keep checking the website for amusing photos...

A reminder that the Annual Dinner Weekend will be taking place from Friday 6 February to Sunday 8 February 2003. We will be returning to the Southgate Hotel, after the excellent evening they put on for us last year. At present this is still being planned and arranged, so any suggestions would be gratefully received. More information will follow soon. Looking forward to seeing you all in February.


First for 8 year old Thomas

Thomas Grant, aged eight, rang his first quarter peal in September. It was only his second ever touch.

Bishopsteignton (Bishops-Ting-Tong)
22 September 2003
In 32 minutes

1260 Plain Bob Doubles
1 Thomas Grant 	4 Phil Stephens 
2 Elaine Grant 	5 James Grant (C) 
3 Ian Avery 	6 Mike Mears 

Offwell: funeral of local ringer

Kathy Gibbs

Offwell Church was packed for the funeral of Kathy Gibbs on Monday 8 September. Kathy was one of the local band of ringers. Bells were rung half muffled for her service. Kathy will be sadly missed by all who knew her.

Mid Devon Branch: New secretary

Fiona takes over

Fiona Rock Evans is the new Mid Devon branch secretary. Her contact details are

Buckfast: Peter Bill interviews one of the Guild's vice-presidents

Fr Paulinus at ninety

The first thing I was interested in, because it's shortly your ninetieth birthday is when you actually came to Buckfast, and were you a ringer then?
It was 21st November 1931.

But you were not a ringer then?
No, when I arrived there were a group of us all young monks doing our studies some of whom were bell ringers, and I thought that's nice I'd like to have a go at that, and was told certainly, go ahead and I started learning very soon afterwards. I can't remember if it was the December or January

Where did you come from and what was your background; was it a religious one?
It was a Catholic background, though there were no other priests in the family, but I am a Yorkshire man and my father was a teacher at a Catholic School in Hull, or Kingston on Hull to give it its proper title. I had wanted to be a priest all my life, I'm not sure why, but I went to College in Durham and I was told after four years that they didn't think I would make a priest. So I left and the idea had been in my mind before about becoming a monk so I applied and came to Buckfast on 21st November 1931.

You must have been 18 at the time, but you had already been at college for 4 years so you must have gone there at 14.
Yes, just coming up 18 but I had been at an ecclesiastical college in Durham training young men to be priests which if you went the course would have lasted 13 years. I could have gone to Ampleforth which is in Yorkshire but the Priest who was advising me said if you go there you could end up teaching in the college or they had lots of Parishes outside the Monastery and you could end up in one of those, but if you go to Buckfast you will get Monastic Life. Which do you want? So I said I would prefer the Monastic Life so I came to Buckfast. And except for going to Durham to College I had never been out of Yorkshire in my life.

And has monastic life been what you thought it would be?
Yes, I have had no regrets and the only time I have lived outside the Monastery of course was during the second world war when I was an Army Chaplain.

So you came here on your own?
Yes, I came on my own but there was a group of young men here already doing their studies, as novices, which then took twelve months. It was all studying with an hour in the afternoon to do other work and then in the evenings when I had the chance there would be bell ringing lessons. In those days of course the tower wasn't finished.

Of course learning in 1931 you would have been ringing on the original twelve in the gallery. That must have been a frightening experience.
Well yes to begin with, but I was young and it didn't seem to worry me. But I always remember when I had got to the stage of being allowed to ring a bell on my own, to practice we had a clapper stay so we rang the bells silently and I was ringing up there on my own and Wham, I broke my first stay and that was a bit frightening.

Who taught you to ring?
Father Adalburt, he was the captain of the tower at the time, and there was quite a group of us ringing in those days because we used to ring mornings and evenings usually eight bells and there was sufficient, not completely to change the teams but make alterations to the teams in the evening or morning, But being me of course I rang at both morning and evening. We were ringing call changes in those days and I can remember an experienced ringer saying that we had one of the best call change bands in the West Country.

Did you enter the competitions?
No we couldn't in those days because it was a very strict Monastic Life we didn't go outside at hardly all. It was a silent order which is why, in addition to the fact that we were ringing in the gallery and wouldn't want to shout across the church, we had a special gadget with the numbers on which one person would change the numbers around instead of calling out the changes.

So the building was not completed then?
Not the Tower nor even the Abbey Church itself was completed. They had a temporary pitched roof right down the nave, I can recall the scaffolding around the outside, and you climbed up the ladders and in through one of the big windows up there which was the entrance to the tower.

When did they complete the church and when did the new bells go in?
I think it was 1936 or 1937. I think the work on the tower was started in 1935 so they took the old bells down and one of the local ladies who was a parishioner and benefactor, said if you take the bells down and have them recast she would give Hosanna, as gift, in memory of her own sister. I can't remember now whether the idea was to have the bells recast anyway but they were not bad bells, Cast by Warner's in 1910 but not installed by Aggett of Chagford until 1921.

So in this time leading up to the war you were just training for the Priesthood?
Oh yes, we were not involved with the building because we were strictly students. I did all my training here; I was ordained here on 7th. November 1937. It takes six or seven years at least because in those days we did two years philosophy and four years theology apart from all the other studies. And by 1939 I was in the Army.

Where did you go during the war?
In 1939/1940 I was in France and came out from St. Malo about a fortnight or three weeks after the capture of Dunkerque, then came back to England, to Yorkshire, it wasn't far from home and then down to Cornwall. I think I was in England just over a year and was sent out to the Middle East with the desert campaign and then Italy. I was with the 8th. Army all the time but missed the end of the North Africa campaign and the landings in Sicily because I was ill in Hospital for three months. I managed to get fit enough to land on the beaches at Salerno.

So you went to Cassino?
Well I saw it in ruins, bombed and ruined. After a time I was stationed in Naples and so was up and down to the area around Cassino many times. So that took me through until 1945 but I had a very nice ending to the war really, because I was with what was known as Rear Headquarters, 8th. Army, which was the Administration side, not the tactical side. We got up as far as just over the border to Austria as the war ended and withdrew to a nice place called Venice where I was for six months, from May until November 1945. I then came back to England, was demobbed and got back to Buckfast for Christmas.

You are back at Buckfast, a trained priest but what did you do then?
Before the war I had worked in the Abbey as Assistant Librarian but afterwards the Abbot was very kind to me. He realised I had been outside for six and a half years so he asked me to work in the Parish. So I looked after the little Church here in Buckfastleigh for a number of years and then Ashburton. At the same time working part time in the stained glass workshop with Father Charles. Then when I finished in the Parish in about 1978 I was full time with the stained glass. But of course I can't do that anymore because I don't see well enough to do it.

When I first met you in 1968 you were Parish Priest at Ashburton but you were also a competent method ringer, so how did this change come about?
Well we still had enough members who were competent bell ringers for a start and we were also able to get out and about more with the relaxation of the rules. Soon after the war the Abbey ceased to be a silent order. When I first came we had about 70 in the Community of which about a third would be ringers and there were still quite a lot left. But we learnt through....what was his name, he lived at Highweek. He came over to see Father Aloysius to talk about poultry, I think, we met him and he was a change ringer (J.E. Lilley . Ed.) and we were interested so he started giving us lessons, and then Maurice Atkins came along and Aubrey Bennett from Buckfastleigh and between them they taught us method ringing. I still have my Guild Certificate when I joined signed by Maurice Atkins. We had a practice here on Wednesday afternoons where I became quite advanced in a method I like very much, Stedman, but there were also four of us who decided to try ringing handbells and became very keen.

Who were the four?
Besides me there was Brother Pascal, Father Oswald and Father? (memory again) who was killed in a motorbike accident. We became quite good at it and practiced every night after supper and managed to get to a level of ringing a quarter peal of Plain Bob Major.

I remember ringing a peal with Brother Pascal but did you also ring peals?
Oh yes, I've rung two peals, both of Bob Minor, one at Dean Prior with Aubrey Bennett and the Myers from Plymouth. And the other one here at the Abbey.

And you then became quite involved with the Guild?
Yes, I was Branch Chairman for a number of years and also a representative on The Central Council. The last meeting I attended there was during the centenary of the Guild when the central Council meeting was held in Exeter, in 1974. But I also went to Leamington Spa and Oxford and I think the first one I went to was in Yorkshire for a centenary of Jasper Snowdon or the Yorkshire Guild which was good because I was able to nip over to Hull for a visit home.

The Abbey bells are not rung very much these days.
The Buckfastleigh Ringers are very good in that they always ring on a Sunday if they can get a band, usually 5 or 6. It is a bit sad especially as I am the only ringer left although there are some others here who can ring but I cannot get up the tower any more.. The bells though are being looked after because when the work was done on the tower recently Taylor's also did some work on the bells, on the clappers and painted the frame and renewed the chiming hammers. It was lovely to hear Hosanna with the twelve bells recently when the recording was being made. I have heard her rung with the bells before but not all twelve and it seemed to fit in beautifully.

You listen to the peals when they come around?
Yes I do but the only but the only problem now is I listen and think, I don't know this method. But one peal does stand it, and it may be the only one that was rung on the old bells. It was when the Central Council had their meeting in Torquay and of course they had the pick of the ringers, and they came here to Buckfast to ring their peal and it was so beautifully struck, Stedman it was and I remember standing out there listening to it for ages.

Many thanks for your time this afternoon and congratulations on your imminent 90th birthday on behalf of the Guild. I hope you enjoy our peal attempt in celebration in the New Year.

Crediton: Port Chaplain at Dar es Salaam

MBE for old Guild member

From the Crediton Courier (1 September)

A number of people, particularly those involved in bell ringing, will remember Lewis Cobb and family when they lived in Crediton. In August, Lewis sent a four page letter to Howard Egglestone from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he is now port chaplain.

The family left Crediton in 1981 when Lewis became Verger at St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, staying there for 10 years. All three of their children were taught bell ringing from the age of about six years at Brampford Speke.

In October 1992, Lewis and Elizabeth moved to Dar es Salaam when Lewis was invited to become Warden for the Missions to Seamen, not known as the Mission to Seafarers. The Seafarers Centre was in very poor condition when they arrived and, by dint of persuasion, funds were granted for its refurbishment and it is now one of the best centres of the Mission.

Due to reorganisation with the Mission to Seafarers Society, Lewis is now designated as Port Chaplain, albeit as a lay person. He is also honorary chaplain to the Royal Society of St George, Dar es Salaam, and an area warden for the British High Commission there.

Lewis says the centre receives between 600 and 1000 visiting seafarers each month with a local staff of 15 people. In October, Lewis will be going to Buckingham palace to receive his MBE, and is due to retire at the end of this year. He and Elizabeth will then move to their home in Devizes, Wiltshire.

Ottery St Mary: A non-ringer reports on the tower outing

A great day out

This is a report by a non-ringer who accompanied the Ottery St Mary ringers and other East Devon ringers on their annual outing on 4th October.

The Ottery St Mary Ringers' Outing this year took us to South Devon. On a sunny Saturday in early October, a coach load of bell ringers and non-ringers set off from Ottery and Honiton. Our first stop was Dawlish - St Gregory's Church, set above the town. Here the ringers rang and the rest of us had the opportunity to spend time in the shops and parks or seafront or, as I did, have a look round the church before walking back to the front to meet the coach. St Gregory's has been altered inside, at the West End, to allow for meeting rooms, toilets and kitchen.

A lovely coach ride through glorious sunny Devon over Shaldon Bridge and on to Torbay took us to St Marychurch, Torquay. This church is four miles out of town, so most non-ringers opted to spend the time in Torquay itself - sadly we couldn't hear the bells from there! Whilst some people shopped, some walked and some ate, I went and found 'Living Coasts'. Fantastic! If you like birds, you'll love it there - penguins, auks, terns, avocets, eiders... and fur seals too. All up close, from above the water and below!

Back on the coach, and three o'clock saw us at Stoke Fleming, right on the coast overlooking a cliff-edged bay. St Peter's Church is tucked into its churchyard and its tall tower is a landmark for passing ships. The ringers rang the six bells, having wound their way up the stone spiral staircase - no passing!

Then we regrouped for the short ride into Dartmouth. Sunshine on Dartmouth - a beautiful sight - looking out across the Dart to the steam trains, watching the ferries come and go, the fishermen landing their catches and the Navy on board their anonymous grey boat.

The final church was St Mary's at Wolborough near Newton Abbot. It was dark and drizzly by the time we arrived , and Plan A was abandoned. That had been to walk about Newton Abbot while the ringers rang, then join them for a meal in a non-existent fish and chip restaurant. Plan B worked much better - back to Wolborough for a look at the church and its lovely kneelers, then Harry Ramsden's fish and chips at Granada Services. By the time we got home it was late, but we all had a great day out.

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Glorious Devon Bells CD

The Devon ringers council has been busy over the last 12 months. By now you should have heard of the Glorious Devon Bells CD. If you haven't bought one you should do so now. Not only is it a fine record of bells and ringing in Devon as it exists at the start of the 21st Century but proceeds go to the Devon Bell fund and already a substantial amount has been raised. The team led by Lester Yeo and Jon Bint worked tirelessly to meet the deadline to enable production before the ringing Road show. Although the small team were the ones most involved; ringers throughout the county made themselves and their bells available for recording sessions. Andy Stevens, Tim King and Claire Beck were the main members with Andy in charge of recording and Claire and Tim doing anything necessary from keeping members of the public away from microphones to helping to make up numbers in bands. It was well worth the effort because a good start was made on sales at the Road show and sixty were sold on the day. Thanks to all the Devon ringers who made the long journey to Lincoln for a very memorable day. Lester and Jon were grateful for help on the stall during the day.

Tower Directory

Another ongoing project is the updating of the tower directory. We now have a representative in each Deanery who has taken on the job of continuously up-dating information about tower contacts. A list as up to date as possible is available from Jereme Dark.

Devon Ringers' Carol Service

The Devon Ringers' Carol Service is this year at Barnstaple. This is the first time it has ventured so far north and we look forward to an enjoyable afternoon. Put a note in your diary - Sat 20th December.

Any contributors?

The Council is continually looking for suitable projects. The main consideration is that it should benefit ringers from both traditions rather than be a project better undertaken by either the Guild or the Association. Although there are elected members contributions and offers of help are gladly accepted from anyone interested. Our next meeting is on Sunday 18 January 2004.

Recruitment of Ringers

As Editor of Devon Calls I eagerly await my copy of Ringing Round Devon, the Guilds newsletter and saw Lester Yeo's editorial "Two cautionary tales" in the September edition. This was a story of a person moving into the area and thinking about bellringing. Lester gave examples on effective publicity and this was certainly taken up by the Association at their AGM with the distribution of notices giving details of the local contact to be displayed in the church. Lester gave further examples of ensuring that details are published in the parish directory, in the parish magazine and that regular articles are featured so that people have regular reminders.

Please check that your church has a notice displayed near the entrance, or on the tower door, of details of the practice nights, service ringing and a contact name and number. Also check your parish directory to see that details are published and any member of the band to consider writing articles for the magazine. You could also leave in the church, or on a notice board, or the library the leaflet "Church Bell Ringing". Leaflets are freely available from the Secretary of your organisation, or from Michael Webster, email

I hope that this gives you some ideas, but more importantly, to echo Lester's words, please ensure that any details provided are kept up to date.

Reg Bray-101

Reg Bray, the world's oldest active ringer, celebrated his 101st birthday on 28 October. Reg learnt to ring during the First World War at Newton St Cyres in Devon and has been ringing there ever since, which makes him the longest serving member of a tower as well. Recently, his health has been poor, and he was bedridden for sixteen weeks in the summer, but was still well enough to ring a 120 of Grandsire Doubles with the band that rang a peal of Grandsire Triples for his birthday. The photograph show him on that occasion with Bob Coates, the tower captain, and the peal band.

The Duchess's 80th Birthday

Monday 24th November saw more than sixty people from all parts of Devon congregate in Buckland-in-the-Moor's village hall to celebrate the eightieth birthday of one of the ringing world's truly remarkable members. It was the turn of Pat Johnstone to be eighty years young. Her achievements are far too many to list but amongst them is the fact she was a past president of the Devonshire Association of Ringers. She was born the daughter of a vicar and went up the tower in order to avoid the church services at a time when "womenfolk" were unusual in the tower. She went on to become the tower captain of teams when it was still uncommon to have a lady captain. She has tirelessly promoted ringing in all age groups and in fact was the founder member of a group of retired people who meet monthly to ring in South Devon towers.

The night started with ringing at Ashburton and Buckland where about thirty ringers met and rang their birthday wishes to Pat. The party was in the village hall where refreshments were provided and all were suitably impressed with the feast that had been prepared. A large cake had been prepared by Sylvia Mortimer and was duly cut with pomp and ceremony at the appropriate time by none other than Pat and the relevant speeches were said. The party was aided by a lady keyboard player who after singing some fitting songs played such dances as the Veleta, Gay Gordon and the Hokey Cokey just to get everyone going. This seemed perfectly suited to the moorland village hall. Most departed close to midnight having had an enjoyable evening and had truly been in the presence of a remarkable woman. We all wish Pat a happy birthday but more importantly wish to thank her for all she has done for ringers and ringing.

Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund

The Restoration fund is expecting some sizeable projects in the new year with works to be completed at Crediton, Hunsham and Teignmouth, St Michael's. Encouragingly there has been an increase in donations this last year by £5,400 to make £14,484. Of this £2,500 was from the sale of CDs. Substantial donations have also been received from several towers, notably Chagford and South Brent. Grants have been awarded to Slapton, £100, Sherford £150 and to Lydford £1000. Further awards have been promised to Crediton £3000, Hunsham £3000, Teignmouth, St Michael's £3000, George Nympton £200, Heanton Punchardon £700 and Slapton £400 for further work. Mary Mears stated that it was good to hear that another £2,500 was donated from the Association's Draw. She wishes to thank all contributors and said that donations, large or small, are gratefully received and put to good use.

Teignmouth Bell Project

Forthcoming attractions

A visit to will reveal some interesting information. For a start it gives dates of events for your diary and for December, 6th is Carlton Theatre stall; Fri. 12th Cliffden stall, 10 - 12; Sun 14th Car boot sale at Newton Abbot Racecourse, Wed. 17th Coffee morning in Narthex, St. Michael's. 10 -12 and Sun. 21st a stall in church after the service. For the New Year some exciting events so far, January Sat. 24th Supper evening- presentation by Norman Maudsley. 'With Boots and Camera Round the World'. In the church Narthex . Ticket £5. 7pm. February Sat. 14th Concert by Bishopsteignton Sinfonia at St. Michael's 2.30pm. March Sat. 11th "Western Sinfonia", at St Michael's 7.30pm. June Tues. June 22nd Torbay Police Choir, 7.30 at St. Michael's. August Sat. 21st Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir.

Past Events

The website reports on the past events and readers might be interested in the few that have been selected as these could give ideas for fund raising, whether this is for your own tower or any of the Restoration Funds.

Harmony 400 July 2003. A different kind of sound which delighted the ears of the substantial audience that listened in rapt attention to the performance of music for handbells given by Harmony 400 Association of Handbell Ringers directed by Michael Wright. The dozen or so players seemed at times to perform the impossible in terms of rapid bell-handling, especially with the largest and the smallest bells and at other times to produce a quiet sound so poignant as to leave scarcely a dry eye in the house! It was a wonderful evening's music, a success artistically and, indeed, financially because The Teignmouth Bells Project benefited to the extent of £400.

Martin Mansley's Sponsored Cycle Ride. Sat. Aug 23rd saw Martin cycle from "The Barbican to Barnstaple" for The Project. Martin himself writes: Saturday was a super day with first class support-a work colleague even got up at the crack of dawn to see me off from Plymouth. From then on the plans went fairly smoothly with each of the supporters passing on to the next with no problems. It was good to see a welcoming party at each stage. It was exactly 10 hours from start to finish.

The Car Boot Sale on October 26th. This was again a great success with Richard Barter and Roger Hawkins at Newton Abbot Racecourse earning more than double the usual yield. On 29th October the Christmas Coffee Morning raised £104-20. This event was well publicised and supported. It was run by Pippa and Bill Barter with Alan Furse. The monthly stalls in Church after the main service of the day continue to do very well. Run by Barbara Dodd and Pippa Barter. On Halloween Day the 'Dairymaid' restaurant put on a special lunch which was a total sell-out and raised £85-00. Peter Colkin played the keyboard and challenged customers to ask for a tune of their choice in exchange for a £1 donation. He had a lot of takers but was not 'caught out' once! Gill Furse's handmade cards, bookmarks etc. continue to sell well. They really are most unusual and beautifully produced. Christmas Fair, held on Carnival Day, November 15th was the 'Jewel in the Crown' held at the shop formerly known as Aladdin's Cave in Regent St. It was very hard work but the response was magnificent. We attracted a lot of 'passing trade' which was most encouraging. A magnificent sum of £713-00 was collected. Regular events take place, such as a raffle at the local off licence and regular stalls.

Well on target, but please continue the support. Since the summer of 2002, when the fund-raising began in earnest, the Project has amassed over £28,000 by local efforts and has been favoured with the awards of grants of over £21,000, on target for £50,000 by the end of this year. Although there is still some way to go before the target of £60,000 is reached. The Project feels confident enough to recommend to the PCC to start the process of getting the work commissioned. Nicholsons, a specialist firms of bell hangers have been approached and it is hoped to have the re-hanging of St Michaels' eight bells completed by the end of next year (2004).

St Marychurch, Torquay

Congratulations to St Marychurch for featuring on Bells on Sunday on Radio 4 on 23 November. This was linked to the events 60 years ago when the church was bombed by enemy action and a number of people, including Sunday School children were killed.

If you are on the internet, you can hear past recordings through the BBC website. This allows you to listen to a programme at a time suitable to you.

Ringing Centre at Wolborough

What exactly is a Ringing Centre? Apart from the normal ringing activities, it is a centre of good practice in teaching ringing. This means having available teaching equipment such as simulators, dumb bells and video kit and the requirement of competent ringers to run courses, a suitable space for teaching, sound control for long periods of time. For the centre to be successful a management team is required, and needless to say the co-operation of the local ringers and the vicar is essential.

Wolborough is fortunate in that the passion of the vicar, Russell Chamberlain, has led to the ringing centre at his church. He is supported by the committee of Chris Barnes, Tim King, Claire Beck and Bob Southwood. The ringing centre is to promote ringing for areas between the other ringing centres of Exeter and Tavistock and it is gaining momentum.

There is an eight bell simulator with the computer offering up to 22 bells. The sound replicates Wolborough bells and aims to improve striking and as a practice aid.

The belfry has been lit up to facilitate the arrival of video cameras so that people can see the bells in action. Video cameras will be present within the ringing chamber to record a persons ringing style. There are also dedicated teaching areas within the church.

During the display a number of us had our striking assessed which was interesting as you can set the speed to suit yourself. One of the guests was able to ring method successfully on 16 or was it 22?

Funds are already low but the money has been well spent and the ringing centre is an asset to South Devon. There are regular committee meetings and future plans are for a website, a programme to aid ringers of all abilities, numerous teaching resources and a library.

Ringers sought for Lynton Bells

St Mary's Church, Lynton has seen its number of ringers decline in recent years despite the major restoration work paid by the local community when a campaign was launched in 1997 to restore the bells dating from the 16th century. Trish Morgan said, "We try to ring as often as we can. To do it properly you need a full team. Ideally we need four more. It would be a disaster if the bells did not sound out over Christmas." The Rev Pam Jarvis agreed that the bell ringers work very hard and that it would be a terrible shame if they did not have the bells ringing over Christmas.

There is something uplifting about the sound of church bells on a Sunday morning but could this sound become a thing of the past?

Interchange is published as part of both Guild and Association newsletters. Any opinions expressed in Interchange do not necessarily represent those of the Guild or the Association, or the Devon Ringer's Council. Please send items for the next issue to Lester Yeo, Chapel House, Sandford, Crediton, EX17 4LZ.

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Pages formatted by Ian Campbell

Updated 6/12/2003