The Guild of Devonshire Ringers - Ringing Round Devon Newsletter

The Guild of Devonshire Ringers


Newsletter No 56 : December 2004

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 .

The December 2004 version of Interchange, a newsletter for all ringers in Devon, is available here.

One of God’s uncut diamonds: Bob Southwood 1931—2004

Bob holds the engraved bowl given him when he retired as Guild president

Former Guild president and twice Guild Master, Robert Alfred Southwood was born in 1931. His family came from Kingsbridge, and he learnt to handle a bell in the South Hams. When his parents split up, Bob went to live with his father in Plympton, but during the school holidays he stayed with his grandparents in Kingsbridge. During this time he became interested in the Church and in ringing, and used to go to church at Dodbrooke. During the holidays he hung around with Robert Brown’s mother. She recalls how Granny Southwood would say "Take young Bob with you", and apparently she and her friends use to go out on dates with "Young Bob" in tow.

As a ringer, it was at Plympton St Maurice that Bob came into his own. Bill Lavers was tower captain there, but Bob was very much the enthusiast in the tower. For example, the Guild report for 1952 records, ‘We are pleased to note the efforts of young Bob Southwood, at St Maurice, are bearing fruit and hope that the coming year will witness a complete revival of method ringing in Plympton.’ Bob was working at the time as a dental technician with his father, and singing in the church choir, a fine bass like his father, but much of his spare time was taken up with ringing, and he regularly attended the practices at Emmanuel (with Jack Sims) and St Andrews (with the Myers brothers). Arthur Southwood had the same sense of humour as Bob, as well!

At St Maurice, in a cottage near the tower there lived a woman who hated the sound of the bells, and would always complain. First a compromise was struck, and she would go to the pub on Wednesday nights when the ringers were practising. But when there was ringing on other nights, she would be outside the tower when the ringing stopped to give the culprits an earful. It was Bob who came up with a solution, and a bottle of Guinness was delivered to the cottage on these evenings. This was enough to stave off the complaints! As a young man, Bob had a fine style of rope handling rather like Tom Myers, one of his mentors. His first peal was in May 1948 at Kingsteignton, when Ted Biffin called a peal of Stedman Triples. He rang the fifth to a peal of Bob Royal at St Andrew’s to mark the bicentenary of the bells in 1949 (his first on ten), and his first of minor was at Bradstone in the same year, which was also Roy Bould’s first peal.

Geoff Dodd remembers first meeting Bob while in Plymouth in 1951 waiting to go to Korea, and said that those four months were amongst the happiest of his life; together they rang Exeter tenor on an outing, and rang a quarter of Stedman Caters conducted by Tom Myers at St Andrew’s.

Bob rang four peals for the coronation in 1953, including his first as conductor—Grandsire Triples at Buckland Monachorum. In 1953 he was in Jack Sims’ first peal as conductor at Emmanuel. Richard Bowden remembers him making a good job of ringing the ninth at St Andrew’s, Plymouth, to the peal of Bob Royal rung immediately after the service of reconsecration of the rebuilt body of the church in 1957.


In the late fifties, Bob joined the RAF and served as a technician at St Eval in Cornwall. At the time, St Eval bells were restored, and Bob called six peals on the bells, which were readily available. After one of them he invited the band back to the RAF Mess for tea. They demurred, saying that surely it was only for airmen, but Bob insisted. Unfortunately, while they were tucking in to their sausage rolls, the WO walked in and ordered them to erect some tents. Nobody dared to object to this extra bit of service to the nation!

Bob was then posted to Kinloss, which was not to his taste. Alan Carveth bet him he couldn’t get out of it within six weeks, and lost the bet: four weeks later, Bob had returned to Cornwall by arranging an exchange with a Scotsman stationed at St Mawgan. Bob and Alan, together with Cyril Wratten, became great friends: the three of them went on a ‘bachelors’ ringing tour’ of Britain ringing peals in Kent, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire. On one occasion, they turned up to collect Mary (soon to be Carveth) at her grandmother’s in Chard, unshaven and unwashed, and in such a state of intoxication that she had to take the wheel and drive the two of them back to Cornwall. On another occasion, Bob insisted on singing Evensong in the back of the van as they drove round Cornwall. Ringing at Kenwyn had an additional attraction in the person of Jill Tremelling who was also in the choir. They were married in 1958 and Alan was best man.

Back to Devon

When Bob returned to Devon, he work involved driving all over Devon selling Shell fuel oil. During this period, he rang in a number of significant peals for the Guild. He rang in the first peal of Bob Maximus by the Guild in 1964 at Buckfast. This was also the first of Max for all but one of the band. He rang the fourth at Buckland in the Moor to a double peal in memory of Maurice Atkins in 1965, which remains the longest length rung by the Guild. He was in the first peal on the new ten at Brixham (Plain Bob Royal) on the day of their dedication in 1966. His first peal of Stedman Cinques was at Buckfast in 1968, and he organised handbell practices at Plympton, which also involve consuming a large amount of home brew.

Bob at Brixham on the day of the first peal on the bells in 1996

One New Years Eve, Bob went to ring at the old six at Stoke Damerel, where the ringers had all agreed to come in costume — miniskirts for the women and shorts for the men. The church was being re-rendered, and the tower was swathed in scaffolding, and Bob decided to climb up the staging in his white shorts, and flew a pair of plaster-spattered workmen’s trousers from the flagpole.

College and Curacies

In 1972, Bob left Devon to train for the ordained ministry. He broke the news that he was going to theological college to local ringers after a quarter at Plympton St Maurice. Roy Bould used to tell the story that at first they thought he was joking - when they found it was true they almost fell off their seats. After two years at Salisbury and Wells theological college in the close in Salisbury, he served his title at Christchurch Priory, with its notable ring of twelve, and then a second curacy at Fordingbridge on the edge of New Forest. During this time, Richard and Lis Bowden, who were once more living in Bristol, were was visited by Bob. He came for an evening meal while on a course at the Wesleyan college at Westbury on Trim, but he was mindful that he must be back in residence before the strict 11pm curfew. He left the Bowdens’ house to rush back with only minutes to spare and at 11.15 the door bell rang to reveal an indignant Bob complaining ‘the beggars have locked me out!’. Richard and Lis were pleased to have the excuse to open another bottle of wine and enjoy another couple of hours of Southwood humour and reminiscence before he occupied one of their spare beds.

Geoff Dodd recalls that when Bob was at Fordingbridge, they renewed their friendship, but Geoff failed to recognise him two years later. Bob had finally decided to get rid of his wig!


In 1979 Bob and Jill moved back to Devon, and he became Priest-in-charge of St Aidan’s, Ernesettle, a tough parish in Plymouth, where he soon became a familiar figure in all of the pubs (it’s rumoured that he was banned from all of them by the time he left the parish). The church had only one bell, but that didn’t prevent him from inviting the South West branch from holding a meeting there, and everyone was given the chance to ring the bell before the service. During this time, he joined the band at Stoke Damerel (recently recast as a light eight), and because he had no evening service was able to ring regularly for evensong. Always ready to socialise, Bob regularly went on the annual tour of the Clerical Guild and joined the occasional outings of the Devonshire Society of Clerical Ringers. He even called a quarter during the annual clergy conference in 1991, in which all the ringers were incumbents of the Exeter Diocese. Another outing at this time was with his parishioner and fellow member of RAOB Nick Schwarz. Bob was driving Nick’s Mk3 Cortina (because the rest had drunk too much) and when he went to change gear, the gear stick came off in his hand. At the same time a pheasant flew out from the hedge and into the path of the car to disintegrate in a cloud of feathers. His passengers went white as a sheet but Bob was just laughing in hysterics. He managed to get the gear lever back in and drove back to Plymouth.

Archpriest of Haccombe

In 1983, Bob accepted the unique living of Stokeinteignhead, Coombeinteignhead and Haccombe, in which, as Archpriest of Haccombe, he was entitled, much to his delight, to wear a fur tippet instead of a black scarf over his surplice. When inducted to the parishes, Bob had determined not to chime the bell (as most clergy do to show they have taken the freehold of the parish) but to ring it full circle, and, of course, Bob couldn’t set it! As popularly this is taken as a sign of how long the priest intends to stay in the parish, the good people of Combe and Stoke thought he would be with them for a very long time!

After ringing at Combeinteignhead on evening, he was walking to the pub, when a local woman opened the window and shouted out "Was it you ringing those damn bells Southwood?" to which she got the reply, "Yes, and if you don't shut up you old bat we will go back and ring them some more" (all done in a humorous fashion, of course!). Robert Brown also remembers a peal at Combeinteignhead where the band rang an extent of Cambridge (presumably RAS was on the treble). Mike Mears called it as if it was multi-spliced, and Bob didn’t notice that one of the methods was called softhead!.

Bob in pensive mood at Combeinteignhead

Guild president

Following the retirement of Brian Pidgeon in 1986, Bob, who was then Guild Master, was the obvious choice to be Guild President. In fact he claimed to have been the only person to have been simultaneously Guild Master and Guild President (if only for a few minutes!). He made a special effort to get to Branch meetings and chaired the Guild AGM and Committee meetings with his usual sense of humour and obliviousness of the hour or the relative importance of the business. It was with great difficulty that he was persuaded that it was time for him to retire from the post in 1998, and was presented with an engraved glass bowl and elected Master again! He had served in a number of other branch and Guild offices, including as chairman of the Mid Devon branch from 1983 to 2002. He also was a trustee and committee member of the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund.

Bob’s later peals include a silent peal of Grandsire at St Kea in Cornwall—he claimed to have called Parker’s Twelve Part from every bell, and the peal of Grandsire caters at Thorverton, with a band of past guild masters. In all, he called twelve peals for the Guild. Latterly problems with his hands made peal ringing difficult, but his last peal is believed to have been at Kingsteignton, where he rang his first!

When Bob retired from active ministry, he and Jill moved to Ogwell, but he still continued to celebrate the Eucharist; even though his health was waning, his enthusiasm never dimmed, and he was instrumental in setting up the Ringing Centre at Wolborough. In recent years his particular contribution to ringing in the county has been in the co-ordination and planning of the Devon ringers carol service each year.

His many ringing friends were shocked and saddened to hear of Bob’s death back in May. He had been suffering from respiratory problems for some time and was admitted to Torbay Hospital on Friday 28 May with breathing difficulties. He died the same evening.

His old friend Alan Carveth described him fittingly as ‘One of God’s uncut diamonds’, and, as one of his ringing clergy colleagues said, “We’ll miss the old b*****”

With thanks to Richard Bowden, Robert Brown, Alan Carveth, Geoff Dodd, David Farnham, Michael Mears and John Steere, who contributed their memories for this article.

Kingskerswell: a learner reflects

After six weeks

Every Sunday the bells ring out of Kingskerswell, and in many other Devon villages. Have you ever stopped to wonder how? Well, one Sunday I did. A friend of mine is a ringer, and she suggested I cam along and tried it. The first time, it was quite nerve-racking climbing the 37 narrow twisting turning steps, that go up the ringing chamber in the tower. However when I arrived Phil made me feel very welcome. There was a lot to learn and I felt very self-conscious, because everyone else was so confident. Numbers were called out loud and it all seemed very confusing.

Pulling the sally was the first lesson to learn. We have all seen cartoons which depict people being pulled up by a swinging bell, and yes it is possible! You have to pull down the sally and let go at the right time, or that’s it! It doesn’t take long to get the hand of this. To ring independently I had also to learn the backstrokes, setting the bell and balancing it. Recently I have learnt to set the bell on the backstroke. This is very hard, especially if you are as short as me, because I have to stand on my tip toes to touch the rope, let alone pull it down. After three weeks of lessons on my own, Phil let me ring in a round. This means you have to follow the person in front of you and ring your bell at the correct time. If you don’t, everybody in Kingskerwell can hear. All six bells ring in turn.

Once I had mastered this I moved on to call changes, which is when a pair of bells change their ringing order. The length of call changes can go on for ten minutes at least! This is when I discovered bell ringing is physically demanding! Also I have had numerous blisters on my fingers—but it’s worth it.

I am very pleased my friend encouraged me to join, and all of the ringers have reassured me that I am doing well. I like the challenge of the immense concentration needed, to ring alongside other people, plus I think the sound is great. I hope the rest of the people in Kingskerswell appreciate it too.
Frankie Hill
Phil adds that Frankie who is aged 12 started learning in September and was ringing on Sundays after three weeks. These are her thoughts after six weeks!

Striking competitions

Double Exeter triumph

Sue Sawyer receives the Andrews trophy on behalf of the Exeter branch team

A double triumph for Exeter at the Guild striking competition day, which was efficiently hosted by the South west branch in October. The six bell competition was held in the morning at Bere Ferrers, and Ian Avery was the judge. Four of the teams rang minor and four rang doubles. The teams were placed thus:

1	Exeter St Mark     17 faults
2	Withycombe         17½ faults
3	Tavistock          21 faults
4	Tavistock          24½ faults
5	Stoke Damerel      25 faults
6	Emmanuel           27½ faults
7=	Exeter Colleges    36 faults
	Tiverton St Peter  36 faults
In the afternoon, Bob and Mary Hardy from Cardiff judged the Inter-branch eight bell competition at Buckland Monachorum. Nine teams entered, and had the choice of ringing a touch either of Double Norwich Court Major or Plain Bob Major.
1	Exeter	(DN)       41 faults
2	South West (PB)    61 faults
3	Exeter	(PB)       78½ faults
4	Aylesbeare (PB)    87 faults
5	Mid Devon (DN)    105 faults
6	North East (PB)   114 faults
7	South West (DN)   131 faults
The Exeter Colleges Guild (PB) and the North East Branch (DN) were not placed.

Work done by Peter Bazley

The single bell at St Blaise, Haccombe, is being rehung, and, on inspection, Whitechapel confirmed it is dated 1230, and as such is very rare. The lovely little Taylors of Oxford three at Dunterton have now had some work done and are going well. Visiting bands would be most welcome. The single bell at Virginstowe is son to be put back in its bell cote. It is a comparatively large bell, weighing about 8 cwt, and will be counter-balanced so as to be swung chimed.

There is also a single bell at Milton Combe, cast by Warners in about 1870, to be swung chimed.

The ring of six at Botus Fleming in Cornwall are to have new steel work, and new headstocks, and should be ringing again by Christmas.

Newton St Cyres: Reg Bray’s birthday peal

Still ringing aged 102

28th October 2004 was Reg Bray's 102nd birthday. As usual, a peal was arranged to celebrate his birthday, and Reg was there to meet us, as has become the norm in recent years. After a bit of a struggle Reg made it into the ringing chamber and managed to ring some rounds, but the annual 120 of Grandsire Doubles proved a bit too much of a challenge. After getting Reg safely back into daughter Margaret's car, a brisk peal of Grandsire Triples was successfully completed. This was the tenth consecutive birthday peal and it also marked Reg's 89th year as a ringer - some achievement.

Guild Vice-president Reg Bray on his 102nd birthday with the peal band


On Thursday 28 October 2004 In 2 hours 35 minutes A peal of GRANDSIRE TRIPLES 5040 changes J J Parker’s Twelve part 1 Mervyn C Way 2 Lester J Yeo 3 Richard C Shere 4 Andrew P Digby 5 Ian W Avery 6 Michael R Rose 7 Michael EC Mears (C) 8 Philip Stevens

Exeter Colleges Guild

Term a resounding success

The past term has been an extremely hectic one for the ECG. For Freshers' Week we prepared our stand weeks in advance, borrowed various items of ringing paraphernalia and arrived early to wait for the recruits to come rolling in. And waited. And waited. We did eventually get two new recruits but it was still slightly disappointing after last years' glut. With several stalwart members of the society due to finish their courses this year we'll hopefully have a more productive recruitment drive next October.

After Freshers' Week our first major event was the Guild striking competitions at Bere Ferrers and Buckland Monachorum. Our ringing didn't go as successfully as we had hoped and we came joint 7th (of eight) in the six bell and fired out our eight bell touch. Next year we intend to do better on bells which will hopefully be slightly more suited to us.

The next fixture on the ECG calendar was the Southern Universities Association striking competition weekend, hosted by us and based at Heavitree church hall. The weekend was very hectic for those organising it but highly enjoyable. Our thanks must go to everyone in the Exeter area who was so helpful in organising the weekend and especially Matt Hilling and Ian Avery who did such a fine job of judging the striking competitions. The competitions themselves were a slight improvement for the ECG seeing as we actually didn't get disqualified, although we did come last in the eight bell anyway.

Aside from our fairly lacklustre performance in competitions the year so far has been a resounding success. Build on last year we've collected another assortment of footnotes including a first peal (in hand!) for Kathryn and a first as conductor for our resident call change ringer, James Kerslake, and a first quarter of surprise major in hand for the society. Quarter peal week was also successful, with four tower bell quarters and five handbell quarters, despite losing attempts due to the fire alarm and a lost clapper!

Crediton: Bishop dedicates new bells

Packed church for opening of glorious ten

Holy Cross Church was packed, on Sunday 21 November for the dedication of the new ring of ten. This represented the culmination of over five years of money-raising, and it was noted that while the appeal has received valuable support from outside sources approximately two thirds of the funding has come from within the town or from those with Crediton connections.

During the service, Andrew Nicholson handed a bell rope hanging from the chancel ceiling to the Warden of Governors who passed the rope to the Bishop of Exeter who pronounced the words of dedication. Then the Rector, the Revd Nigel Guthrie, called out ‘Let the bells be rung!’ and after a pregnant pause the new ten bells were rung by the local band.

After the service, the Egg Buckland team rang sixty-on-thirds on the front six, Kingsteignton ringers rang the Queen’s peal on the back eight, and members of the Cathedral Society rang a touch of Stedman Caters, before visitors, some of whom had travelled large distances, were able to sample these glorious bells.

A tea was provided the Boniface Centre (Crediton is the legendary birthplace of St Boniface and the ninth bell is dedicated to him), and thanks were expressed to all who had helped, especially the volunteers who had helped rehang the bells and Chris Pickford, who had made a descriptive record of the old frame.

Crediton Bells on display at Nicholson Engineering, Bridport

Combe Martin: a tribute to Derek Jewell

An Ambassador for Ringing

Combe Martin ringers are missing their president, Mr Derek Jewell, from their ringing chamber. At the moment Derek cannot manage the stairs, but we are hoping for an improvement so we can hear that great bass voice “Second to Third”.

Derek started ringing at Combe Martin with Les Walters in 1949; the captain at the time was Harry Hayward, who was a good method ringer, so Derek was soon into method ringing, and achieved his first peal after a short time. He went all over Devon ringing in numerous towers and with Miss Boyle (the new teacher) went on to ringing quarter peals and peals al over Devon, and the country at large. He has held most offices in our tower, reaching the dizzy heights of President—which eh still holds, and we are proud to have it so.

Combe Martin has been blessed over the years with good ringers and Derek must be well to the fore. His memory for dates is like a computer, and when we have visiting ringers, he is a real ambassador. He knows where their towers are, and nine times out of ten, knows a fellow ringer of theirs, or one in their area, and by the time he has finished chatting they feel one of the band. He has so many friends in high places’ (as we locals call them) - one is Andrew Stubbs, who with the Oxford ringers are great friends of the tower.

Then there is the College Youths. This is the point where his chest expands, and the tie gains great prominence. “You’ll never have one of them, Walters” - with a great chuckle..

As we owe so much to Derek for his help in keeping the Combe Martin band going, I cannot forget the assistance we have had from the St Brannock’s Society over the years in helping our learners, for which we are very grateful.

His tribute to call change ringing is also remarkable throughout Devon, and in my opinion he is one of the best, - if not the best—treble man to be had, especially in the rise and lower, speed and timing.

Derek’s guidance to our local band, and his help in keeping the striking good over the years has been 100%, with the result that it is strong and doing well—not quite up to the standard he would like but progressing!

We salute you, President!
Gerald Walters and the Combe Martin ringers

Exeter St Mark: ‘Word of Mouth’ on ringing language

Radio Four goes ringing

An interviewer for the Radio Four programme ‘Word of Mouth’ visited St Mark’s in Exeter one practice night for a piece on the language of bell ringing.

Sarah Ransome interviews Ollie Tucker

Sarah Ransome knew nothing about ringing before she came, although she claimed to enjoy listening to the bells from her home near Newton Abbot. By the end of the evening, she knew a lot more and had even had a go ringing backstrokes, under the watchful eye of Tower captain Matthew Hilling..

She interviewed a number of the ringers, including Kate and Oliver Tucker, and asked about the history of ringing and how easy it was to learn the terminology. It made everyone realise how confusing it must be for newcomers to the art.

‘Word of Mouth’, Radio 4’s magazine programme on the English language is broadcast on Friday afternoons at 4pm and repeated on Sundays at 8.30pm.

Sarah has a go and Tim gets to hold the mike

Exeter Autumn Festival

This year there was a new venture in Exeter when the Arts Festival usually held during the summer was split into two and an Autumn Festival added to the programme. The Devon Ringer’s Council felt that it was a good chance to promote ringing and Lester Yeo and David Trist headed a sub-committee to do something about it. The results were seen on Saturday 30 November.

Ring out Wild Bells (St Petrock’s Exeter)

This was a presentation of prose, poetry and ringing covering several aspects of our art. It opened with Tennyson’s poem to the dying year followed by rounds and a lower with the bells half muffled. Several poems followed taking up the theme such as John Betjeman’s Uffington whilst the muffles were quickly removed. The bells were raised and the theme moved to method ringing with plain hunt being rung to illustrate Betjeman’s “Bristol”. We then moved on to Call changes and a description by Tom Ingram of a Competition in Devon was followed by Call Changes on the bells. This theme continued with the Northlew Bellringer’s Song (sung with gusto by Jon Bint, to rapturous applause!) and more Call changes on the bells. A reading from the Nine Taylors introduced the theme of Handbell Ringing which was then illustrated by a plain course of Bob Minor in hand. John Betjeman’s Exeter was read with the sound of our glorious cathedral bells in the background. This pattern continued until another reading from “The Nine Taylors” and Kent Treble Bob on the bells brought the proceedings to a close. About 25 members of the public (Almost a full house!) attended this presentation and there were many enthusiastic comments. Almost as many ringers were involved in some way and it was a fine example of co-operation between our two traditions.

Listening Walk

As soon as the proceedings at St Petrock’s were completed Andy Stevens assembled a group to walk round the city. At the same time bells could be heard in the background. It was fortunate that there was plenty of ringing going on in Exeter that weekend (Southern Universities Striking Comp. and Guild Quarter Peal Week). During the walk the bells of St Petrock and St Thomas were heard and the walk ended at St. David’s in time to hear the bells come round at the end of a quarter peal of Stedman Triples.

The idea of the day was to bring ringing to a different audience and to present it as a legitimate art in its own right. A bi-product was that at least one person expressed an interest in learning to ring. Altogether it was a very worthwhile project and one that could easily be repeated elsewhere. Very many thanks to all who worked so hard but particularly Lester and David who masterminded the whole thing.
Martin Mansley

Troyte Ringing Centre

Huntsham bells decorated for blessing

The photograph shows the President’s bell and the Troyte bell decorated for the blessing on November 14th. So impressed were the members of the congregation that they were heard to say that the bells should be left for all to see and not put into the tower out of sight. Work on installing the second part of the frame and remaining 6 bells began on November 22nd. At the time of writing the bells are in, and the final stages of the work are in progress. If everything goes according to plan the test ring will be on December 1st.

Further pictures of the bells, including work in progress can be seen on the website The site is now under the care of Ken Smith. Though not a bellringer himself, Ken shows more understanding and interest in the art than many of us so called enthusiasts. The gallery pictures themselves are well worth a visit.

The dedication service for the bells is to be held on Monday 10th January at 7.30pm. Details from Pat Hatchett.

All of this would not of course have happened at all were it not for the vision of one man. Mike Hatchett has been the inspiration and the driving force behind the whole project. Anyone who knows him will know that he sees such projects through with infinite precision and attention to detail. The North-East Branch are fortunate indeed and we are looking forward to transferring our training programme of events to Huntsham in the new year.

We give our thanks to Bill Ford for hosting the N-E Branch training events at Thorverton over the past 3 years and also for his attendance without which some events would not have taken place.

Glorious Devon Bells a Sell-out

The last copy of the Compact Disc produced by the Devon Ringers Council has now been sold. Five hundred CDs were produced, featuring a mixture of call change ringing and method ringing from across the county, in order to raise funds for the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund.

Ringers taking part were invited to subscribe in order to fund the project and in this way 153 copies were sold in advance. A display stand was organised at the Ringers Roadshow in Lincoln, where 56 copies were sold, and since then the orders have been coming in, some verbal requests, others by post. One copy was bought by the BBC who have featured a few of the tracks on ‘Bells on Sunday’, and many have gone overseas.

As a result of this project, which has advertised Devon ringing, especially top class call-change ringing so successfully, a profit of just under £3800 was made, which will be used to support bell restoration work in the county.

Guild rings 10 Spliced Max

Congratulations to the Guild band (with one NRLM) which rang Ten-Spliced Surprise Maximus at Trowbridge last month.

GUILD OF DEVONSHIRE RINGERS TROWBRIDGE, Wilts S James On Saturday 13 November 2004 In 3 hours 33 minutes

A Peal of SPLICED SURPRISE MAXIMUS 5282 Changes (Composed by A J Cox, arranged by J R Leary) In ten methods: 530 Yorkshire, 528 Barford, Bristol, Cambridge, Lessness, Lincolnshire, Newgate, Superlative, Swindon, Wembley; 17 changes of method, all the work. 1 Matthew J Hilling (C) 2 Pauline C Champion 3 Ann Smith 4 P Wendy Campbell 5 Lester J Yeo 6 Paul J Pascoe 7 John Hill 8 John R Leary 9 Ian V J Smith 10 Ian L C Campbell 11 John A Foster 12 Michael EC Mears

Taw, Torridge and Tamar Mid Week

Surprise Grandsire for Golden Wedding

Seven years since the group was founded, the Taw, Torridge and Tamar Mid-Week group is still going strong, bringing together ringers from Devon and Cornwall and regular visitors from all over the West Country. The group embraces both disciplines, so the monthly meetings are amiable, relaxed and friendly, and the towers visited are usually easy-going, thanks to the local knowledge of Henry Trewin, Don Lawson and Richard Stevens. Two days before he died, Richard was hoping for wheelchair friendly towers for the September meeting!

Members were also saddened by the death of Tom Dando from Poughill and Brian Weare from Wells. May they all rest in peace.

On a much cheerier note, Charlie and Betty Taylor celebrated their Golden wedding in October. To mark the occasion, a ‘surprise’ quarter of Grandsire Triples was arranged at Combe Martin on the afternoon of the October meeting. The success f the quarter set the tone for the group’s final get-together of the year which took the form of a Quarter peal day—three attempts in the morning ensured that everyone available had a rope. Following lunch, everyone range on the glorious bells at Stratton before saying goodbyes until next year.

Emmanuel Appeal

Jill Larbalestier writes:

The problem that we were having with the 5th bell was diagnosed as a broken gudgeon, which we are now waiting to have repaired. Ringing without the 5th has been difficult, not just because 134678 sounded different, but that the problems with the other bells became more apparent. We have realised that our 100 years old Warner bells need re-hanging and turning. This will ensure that future generations of ringers can continue to ring for Sunday services, weddings, and for the sheer enjoyment of our especially fine ring.

We need around £1,500 – £2,000 to repair the 5th followed by an additional £20,000-£25,000 for the rehang. If you have rung here at Emmanuel, or wish to support us, please give generously and help us in our fundraising.

Our re-cycling project involves both used printer cartridges and old mobile phones. If you are replacing either of these 2 items, please save your old ones for us. We will be present at this years carol service at St Andrew’s Plymouth, our city church, on the 18th of December. We will also be attending our branch AGM at Tavistock on 22nd January 2005, or you can give your re-cyclables to any of our many bellringing associates throughout the South West. Just contact us for details: e-mail us on

Cheques should be made payable to Emmanuel PCC Bell Account, which is a ring-fenced account for the bells. UK taxpayers can gift aid their donation making the gift worth 28% more. Forms can be supplied for signatures and receipts will be sent.

Mid Devon: Branch Outing

Bigger coach needed next year

For the last few weeks and days before our annual outing there are constant emails and phone calls worrying if there will be enough ringers to fill the coach. They happened again this year but this time it was worrying if there was enough room for everyone – definitely a first.

On the day we nearly had a spare seat as the Guild Education Officer only just made it in time – but there were more shocks in store – Lynette was early! The sun was shining and good time was made as we sped up the motorway to Gloucestershire. Philip, our intrepid organiser, had had a few headaches (no, not because of his home brew this year!) before the day due to clashing with the G & B training day. However every cloud has a silver lining and Martin gained 4 out of 5 new towers.

First stop was Randwick where we competed with the villagers preparing the Harvest Festival. On to Stroud where the various Chip Shops and watering holes were sampled before enjoying the fine ten. The six at Avening were “interesting” in their central tower and then it was on to our tea stop – more chip shops – in Nailsworth. Our only 8 of the day followed at Horsley – still struggling with DNCB, and then it was time for our last tower. Tip to outing organisers – do not try to get a coach down the drive to Wickwar church – there aint room! Still by the time we had finished ringing it was extricated and Phil had rung at Wickwar before.

Tired but happy we wended our way home meeting the rain at Taunton – yes, it had rained most of the day in Devon. Many thanks to all who made the day possible – even our treasurer was happy as we broke even for a change. We may have to have a bigger coach next year.


Dunkeswell practice night is now held on Thursdays 7.00 to 8.00pm (please note time). Contact details remain as per the Annual Report.


East Devon's next generation of ringers? - congratulations to Mary Jacks at Musbury on the birth of George and to Catherine and Tim Whitehead at Axminster on the birth of Sam.

North / North West Branch: Annual General Meeting

Special Branch ringing for Wedding at Filleigh

The AGM, held at the beginning of November, for the N/NW branch of the Guild took a different form this year. After requests at last year’s AGM for afternoon sessions, it was decided to have ringing in the afternoon followed by the meeting and then a ringers’ tea.

A quarter peal was rung at Kilkhampton and the ringers drove up to Appledore to join the rest. Business matters were soon dealt with and two new members from Filleigh were elected. Charlotte Smalley and Angela de Ruset rang their first quarter during the sponsored quarter peal week and were welcomed into the branch and Guild.

Our Ringing Master, Mandy Spearing, gave an encouraging report, mentioning our monthly practices of which the ones at Witheridge and Pilton had been the most popular. We held a training afternoon in May, which helped a group learning Plain Hunting and Bob Doubles. Unfortunately we did not enter a band for the Guild Striking Competition, due partly to exams, but also to the request for ringing at a very special wedding at Filleigh – among the guests were the Princes William and Harry. Their detectives spent the service at the door of the ringing chamber watching their charges intently.

We had been sorry to hear of the work required at Bridgerule and had collected money at practices for the Tower. It was pleasing to find that we could send £150 towards the cost of the new frame.

It was proposed that our September outing should be to the Ringing World Road-show at Newbury on September 10th.

Finally, it was decided to hold next year’s AGM, together with a short service, at Bridegrule, our most westerly tower, after the bells have been rehung.

Points from Peals

Grandsire Triples was the method for the annual Alan Somerwill memorial peal at Pinhoe. This allowed Sue Sturdy from Sowton to ring her first peal.

Rebekah Hartley rang her first peal of London S Major at Wolborough on 2nd November.

Ian Avery rang his first peal of Bristol S Major at Kingsteignton on 15th November, only sixteen and a half years after announcing that he was going to ring one to celebrate his 40th birthday.

Alison Waterson and Louise James rang their first peal of Bristol Major at Okehampton on 8th October, and Andrew Digby and Jill Hansford rang their first peal of Bristol Royal at Thorverton on 25th November; Andrew having rung his first peal of London S Royal at Chilcompton on 23rd October.

Andrew Digby and David Maynard, rang their first on twelve in the local band peal at the cathedral on 27 November. Congratulations, too, to Ian Avery for ringing the tenor single handed.

Mid Devon Branch

Certificates awarded at AGM

Guild certificates were awarded to Thomas Grant and Pam Anthony at the Mid Devon Branch AGM on 27 November. Congratulations to them both!

Exeter Branch

Five certificates and five new members

At the Exeter branch meeting held at St Marks on 20 November, five new members were elected, and certificates awarded to four of them.

Congratulations to Ed Robertson (St Mark’s), Mark Bertram (Unattached), Kate Tucker (St Mark’s), Rebecca Rickard (Heavitree) and Oliver Tucker (St Mark’s) on their membership of the Guild and to Kate, Oliver , Rebecca and Jonathan Hole (Pinhoe) on being awarded a certificate.

Mark rings at Ide, and there is a possibility that that tower might be seeking affiliation to the Guild. Derek Hawkins offered to stand down as Assistant Ringing Master as he and Mo will be in Australia and New Zealand for much of the year, and Andrew Digby was elected to take his place.

Heavitree: ringing priest’s jubilee and birthday

Fr Michael’s double celebration

Prebendary Michael Hart celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his priesting and his sixty fifth birthday in September. He has been rector of Heavitree for thirteen years, having previously been in Blackburn diocese, where he was president of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers.

Although he has little opportunity for ringing now, two of his early milestone peals were rung for the Devon Guild during a peal week in 1969, when he rang his first of London at East Budleigh and his first of Stedman triples at Bradninch Fr Michael was made a prebendary of Exeter Cathedral in 2002.

Another Score Draw!

Exeter 2 - Bristol 2

The return fixture of the informal competition this time hosted by Exeter took place during the afternoon of Saturday 11 September. Four towers following the M5 corridor finishing at Exeter Cathedral were chosen to enable some different towers to be used. Our judges for the day were Peter and Marion Bennett from Newport, Wales

First stop were the lovely bells at Kentisbeare for the 6 bell part of the competition where Primrose S Minor was the chosen method. Both teams rang well, with each making just a single mistake. Then it was on to Cullompton for a half course of Cambridge S Royal. These rewarding bells presented a challenge to both teams but the churchyard critics could not yet declare a winner.

The superb ring of 8 at Broadclyst was the next venue where a full course of Yorkshire S Major was the test piece. The ringing here was a joy to listen to with each course being completed with near perfect precision. Finally it was to the Cathedral for a two course touch of Stedman Cinques. The touch was a little different to that normally rung as it included a "whittingtons" course end which presented difficulties for both teams. However, both touches came round again leaving no clear winner.

At last it was time to relax. A wonderful spread of food had been prepared and judging by how much was left over was thoroughly appreciated! Peter Bennett then made his comments on the afternoon's ringing. He and Marion had enjoyed listening to all the ringing and they had fortunately both agreed on the winner of each round! Bristol were obviously more awake than Exeter in the early stages as they quickly took a 2-0 lead winning both the six and ten bell rounds. Exeter came back to make it 2-2 winning the eight bell and the twelve bell on their home bells. An excellent result!

We decided that time had come to make a trophy, rather than continuing to present each other with random gifts! We had a base made for the Bristol Glass presented to Exeter last year, and as a friendly goodwill gesture presented this back to Bristol!

Three John Scotts

As reported in the Ringing World, the Weatherspoon pub chain magazine contained an article about how it was decided to restore the bells of St Mary’s Hull, while drinking in a Wetherspoon’s pub. The article begins ‘the peal of church bells is once again being heard I Hull—thanks to a group of 12 disciples of The Three John Scotts”. Apparently the pub is named after three former vicars of the church, and not the Devon Guild librarian and two of his clones. Of course, nobody in Devon would dare to say that just one John Scott is quite sufficient!

Urgent QP request

As I have to complete the Quarter Peal report earlier than usual this year it is essential that I receive all details not later than Friday 11 February 2005. Would organisers or conductors of quarters not published in the Ringing World by the end of January let me have details by post or e-mail. My postal and e-mail address can be found on the first page of the 2003 report
Derek Hawkins

Axminster: Tim Whitehead reports

New ten almost there

We are well underway with the fund-raising for the bells. We have had £3000 donated from the 'Weavers Tales', a charitable trust set up to mark the 250th anniversary of Thomas Whitty's first Axminster carpet next year. £5000 has also been donated from the Axminster Garden and Crafts Festival. With a further £3000 donated from the public to date, we only have another £7000 to go.

Anyone can donate towards the bells. £500 will get your loved one's name cast onto the bell and various donations from £35 to £491 for other items from stays to wheels will get your loved one's name on a special plaque on a specially designed board and a special book in the Church.

The work in the Church with regards the tower and church roof, ringing chamber floor, pointing, flag pole, clock face etc should start in January. We have raised nearly £200,000 for that which makes the bell money we raised all the more impressive.

If anyone would like to donate towards this project and have their loved one's name associated with the two new bells and fittings, then contact me asap. It will be a superb 10 bell peal when complete!

Nicholson Engineering are supplying all the ringing gear and Whitechapel are casting the bells. In fact Andrew Nicholson has been very kind in helping with various problems we have had and deserves our indebted thanks.

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Updated 12/12/2004