The Guild of Devonshire Ringers - Ringing Round Devon Newsletter

The Guild of Devonshire Ringers


Newsletter No 57 : March 2005

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 by email to .

Bells protestor dies at 76

George Calvert, who bought a house adjacent to the churchyard at Down St Mary, and then complained regularly about the noise of the bells, has died in Exeter at the age of 76.

He launched a series of legal challenges against the Vicar, for ringing a single bell before Morning and Evening Prayer, against the PCC, against the ringers, and against the diocese. He claimed that the sound of the bells was damaging his physical health.

None of these court cases was successful, and in 1999 Mr Calvert, with his wife Frances, moved to Exeter, to a double-glazed flat close to St David's Church.

The Guild and Association set up a fighting fund to assist the Down St Mary PCC in the courts, but the money was never needed.. In 1993 Mr Calvert sought an injunction against Marydown vicar, Simon Beveridge, but withdrew it subsequently.

In 1997, he asserted that his bowel problems were caused by new ringers being taught in the tower. The ringers fitted sound control, but still the case went to court, where it was dismissed on a technicality.

In 2001, he claimed £50,000 in damages from the church because he had been forced to move house because of the bells, ringing for long periods.

The funeral was on Wednesday 23 February at Exeter Crematorium. There were no bells.

On the previous evening, the Guild rang a peal of Edinburgh Delight Minor to mark his death.

E-mail list for Devon ringing news

Often Devon ringers point out that they haven't heard the results of the six- bell competition, or that such-and-such a person has died. With the support of the Devon Ringers Council, Guild education officer Tim King has set up a system to make this news get out more efficiently (at least to those with internet access).

DevonRinging is a new e-mail list for all wanting to receive news about ringing and ringers in Devon. All subscribers receive all e-mails sent to the list, The intention is to use the list to publicise coming events, as well as news of births, marriages and deaths, competition results, and anything else of interest to Devon ringers. DevonRinging is not meant to be a list for gossip or to discuss matters of general ringing interest, but items about training will be acceptable.

To subscribe (there is of course no charge), you should send an e-mail to You will get an email back inviting you to confirm your membership. You can do this either by clicking on the supplied link or by following the other instructions in the email.

Once subscribed you can send appropriate email to where it will be sent on to all of the other subscribers.

Ottery St Mary: 2004 outing

A poetical day in the sun for Ottery ringers

The Ottery St Mary Ringer's Outing is becoming the big "must do" event in the East Devon Calendar. The 2004 version, organised by Richard Coley, confirmed this view with its blend of good towers, good route and excellent company.

We set out from Ottery at near break of day
On a dull autumn morning, the sky it was grey
The weather map showed just one patch of sun
Right over the tower of church number one
We were blessed.

The coach it was filled with Ottery's best
Supported by stars from around the South West
The talk was of ringing of towers we had known
And one or two saying how fat I had grown
This year

We travelled through Exeter over the Exe
Then out beyond Crediton wherever next
Then Dick on the tannoy announced the first stop
At Winkleigh and there was the church on the top
Of a hill

We climbed up the steps and opened the door
We were greeted with coffee and biscuits galore
The ringing was good we made a good sound
But kindness like that is so rarely found
We were touched

Then on to Torrington perched on a hill
I've rung there before at least once but still
I'm drawn by the view from the car park in town
The ringing was good we let nobody down
We were hot.

After lunch from a lunch box Bideford loomed
I suppose from the outset our efforts were doomed
The ringing fell short of the standard we'd set
I guess after lunch it's a good each way bet
That it would.

But then on to Appledore a first for a few
Has any church got a more lovely view?
Here we returned to the standard of yore
I put it down to the view from the door
And our skill

The cream tea as promised in Bideford town
Was less than ideal as the place was closed down
I own that it wasn't the summer, I'm sure
But isn't cream tea a part of the draw
Of the west

And then we were back on the trail once again
Shadows were lengthening sky was aflame
To Hatherleigh now we wended our way
And this was the tower that ended our day
It was fun

A fish and chip supper a room full of noise
A charabanc packed full of tired girls and boys
Sped back to Ottery and left us each one
With fond memories of a day in the sun
A success

Thank you Richard for organising another wonderful Outing. See you all next year. Laurie Palmer

Plymouth Emmanuel

Bells still in trouble

Most people now know that the 5th at Emmanuel became unringable and was repaired in time for Christmas ringing. As all those who have experienced major repairs in the belfry will know, there followed a tough time negotiating the red tape and flaming hoops which were suddenly erected in our path before we were finally able to have it back ringing again. We are now faced with the problem of getting the other bells rehung and re- roped as well, in the very near future, and are actively fund raising for that purpose. Our timing is unfortunate, as out PCC has major plans afoot for the rest of the church and are therefore unable to support us financially in any way. They have even asked us not to prevail on the goodwill of our business community as they expect to do that themselves. The funding for the repair of the 5th came from within our own ranks and, on our own, have started fundraising activities towards the bell restoration. From now on our bells are being sponsored for Sunday ringing and quarter peals. At the moment this has been popular with the congregation, especially for baptisms and in memory of relatives. We will need another £18k probably, at today's prices to do the job. Our fundraising activities are currently car boot sales, (the next one is computers and TVs) old mobile phones and ink jet cartridges (almost all except Epson), old toner cartridges, at least one classical concert in the church, the sponsorship of the ringing on Sundays, £1 a week for practices, and the income we might get from visiting peal and quarter peal ringers. We raised over £125 from a chocolates quiz for St Valentines Day. Any other suggestions or donations would be welcome. Please contact Jill Larbalestier

ECG: Annual Dinner Weekend 2005

Students' new gnome has first engagement

The 2005 dinner started in the usual way, with drinks in the Imperial on the Friday night. As always it allowed the current students to mix with some of the past members, swapping anecdotes and moaning about all the students making the pub so busy. After the requisite standard of inebriation was reached the group split up and headed home.

This year's outing took place principally to the north of Exeter and the turnout was high, including one particularly special member, the new gnome, fulfilling his first official engagement as our mascot. The first tower was the eight at St. Martin le Tours, Exminster. The early start, combined with the slightly tricky bells meant the ringing was the worse of the day but we still succeeded in ringing some satisfactory call changes. After this it was off to the highlight of the day, the recently installed ten at Crediton. The ringing here was of a good standard, with some impressive Cambridge Royal and Grandsire Caters as well as well-struck call changes for the less experienced ringers.

The venue for lunch was the Fisherman's Cot at Bickleigh, which provided excellent food along with a picturesque view of the river flowing outside. The pub was thoroughly enjoyed despite a slight shortage of beer. After lunch we took a brisk stroll up the hill to our third tower, St. Mary the Virgin, Bickleigh, although some of the (allegedly) more mature members of the society chose to spend more time in the pub and only arrive for the last fifteen minutes of ringing!

The final tower of the day was St. Mary, Silverton, a tower which was the venue for many of the early ECG quarters. The bells proved to be exceptionally tuneful and some very high standard of striking was achieved. The ringing chamber, including a view of the back of the organ and a gallery overlooking the church also provided some interest, although I was too busy writing my speech to spend much time looking around.

The outing ended slightly earlier than usual, allowing more time for people to get ready. Owing to the unavailability of last year's venue, this year the dinner was held at the Exeter Golf and Country Club. The food proved to be excellent and this was followed by speeches and handbell ringing, Pip Rossiter gave an account of the societies activities of the previous year before a band of current students rang a course of Plain Bob Minor. After the Master's speech the band that rang the ECG's first handbell peal of royal treated us to some Little Bob Royal.

Having got all of the preliminaries out of the way, the serious business of dancing started, with due attention paid to health and safety requirements. The band were, as ever, highly entertaining and everybody thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Sunday followed the usual format, with tea and coffee at the Boston Tea Party followed by lunch at the Malthouse and service ringing at the Cathedral. After ringing the current students headed to the new Wetherspoons while the older members, unable to stand the pace of another drinking session, went for tea and coffee instead.

Further details of the event, including pictures, movies and sound clips, are available by following the links from the GDR web pages at

Ringing recruitment leaflets

Wendy Campbell says she has still got a couple of boxes of recruitment leaflets hanging around. These are the colour leaflets which were produced for Ring in 2000. If anyone would like a supply of these, please let me know as they are more useful in churches and other local resources than in my loft!


Local band peal celebrates major milestones

Two big anniversaries are to be celebrated in Tavistock in 2005. The nine hundredth anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter allowing a pannier market in the town. The seven hundredth anniversary of the Royal Decree establishing Tavistock as a stannary town.

The local ringers celebrated both these events by ringing a peal of 5040 Plain Bob Royal on January 1st in 3 hours 11 minutes.

The ringers were as follows

1	Ann Smith               
2	Sheila M Williams
3	David A. Pike               
4	John G. Cook
5	Edwin C. Davis 
6	Ian V. H. Smith (cond.)
7	James P. East  
8	Geoffrey C. Hill
9	Andrew G. J. Mudge     
10	George E. Mudge

It was the first time a peal had been rung by all our own ringers. It was a great achievement for the band, particularly when realising that it was the first peal for David Pike and the first of Royal for John Cook, Edwin Davis, Jim East and Geoff Hill.

Other events will be planned during the year to celebrate these major milestones in our town's history.

News from Nicholson Engineering

Andrew Nicholson of Nicholson Engineering reports that he has not a great deal to report for work in Devon though the firm is extremely busy with work elsewhere around the country. The only major project of potential interest is the Axminster augmentation the bells for which are due to be cast on Friday 25th February. The consecration of the bells by the Lord Bishop is due to take place on June 21st. Installation by Nicholson's may take place immediately following consecration though this is dependent upon the tower work being completed, in particular the removal of the scaffolding which currently supports the ringing chamber floor and which blocks the way through to the hatchways.

Touches for Guild Eight-bell

The Guild Committee selected the methods for the Guild Eight Bell competition, due to take place in October. Once again, two methods were chosen, both relatively simple, and one very well known. As the purpose of the competition is to extend the range of methods rung by the Guild, it is to be hoped that as many branches as possible will start practising Single Court Bob Triples!

252 Single Court Bob Triples 
752346 B 
357246 B 
623574 B 
526374 B 
435267 B 
234567 B 
252 Grandsire Triples 
762453 S 
357246 S 
643725 S 
256374 B 
762543 S 
347256 S 
653724 S 
246375 B 

NE Branch: ringing centre programme

Coming events at Troyte centre

The Troyte Ringing Centre at Huntsham and Bampton has planned a number of training events for 2005, in addition to the North-East Branch events taking place at Huntsham on the re-hung bells.

To view in greater detail visit the web site at

Huntsham Spring Training Programme:

Wednesday: 6th April and 20th April from 19.30 - 21.00
Saturday: 14th May from 10.00 - 16.00

This course requires a minimum of 10 persons and a maximum of 15. The fee will be £10.00 per person, payable in advance, and this includes rope fees, handouts, teas, coffees, biscuits, cakes and lunch on Saturday. The latest date for names is Wednesday 16th March.

Huntsham Summer Training Programme:

Wednesday: 29th June and 13th July from 19.30 - 21.00
Saturday: 23rd July from 10.00 - 16.00

This course requires a minimum of 8 persons and a maximum of 12. The fee will be £10.00 per person, payable in advance, and this includes rope fees, handouts, teas, coffees, biscuits, cakes and lunch on Saturday. The latest date for names is Wednesday 1st June.

Huntsham Autumn Training Programme:

(but not Grandsire):
Wednesday: 16th and 30th November from 19.30 - 21.00
Saturday: 3rd December from 10.00 - 16.00

This course requires a minimum of 10 persons and a maximum of 15. The fee will be £10.00 per person, payable in advance, and this includes rope fees, handouts, teas, coffees, biscuits, cakes and lunch on Saturday. The latest date for names is Wednesday 19th October.

To book a place(s) on the above courses contact Mike Hatchett.

East: quarterly meeting

Visitors ensure good ringing

The quarterly meeting was held at Sidmouth on the 12th February. Ringing commenced at 2:30pm and was rung at a high standard. The ringing was well supported because we welcomed many visitors who helped the ringing run smoothly. This was followed by a service, tea and a meeting. The tea was put on by a few members of the Sidmouth ringing band and we thank them for the lovely tea and taking up their time to do it for us. However, the attendance at the meeting was poor so we urge people to come along and support these meetings because we need your opinions and points of view so the decisions that we make satisfy all parties.
Publicity officer for the East Devon branch.

Points from peals

2004 was a record year for peals with a final total of 148-the previous highest being 134 in 1994. Three towers have reached milestones in the last few months, Thorverton reached the 500 mark with a peal of Grandsire Caters on 30th December 2004, and it was quite appropriate that Bill Ford was able to take part because without him it would not have been possible. The 100th peal on the bells was rung at Pinhoe on Saturday 15th January 2005, allowing local ringers Janet Coles, Janine Orchard, Rob Franklin and John Langabeare to score their first of Stedman Triples. The 100th peal on the bells was also scored at Brampford Speke on 25th January-the first six bell tower in the County to reach this total. There have been various personal landmarks reached, including Paul Pascoe's 400th peal and John Hill's 250th for the Guild. Rusty Hartley rang her first peal of Bristol-not for her birthday as originally planned. Robert Brown's name has re- appeared in the peal columns after recent health problems and he is now closing in on his 1000th peal-likely sometime in March. 2005 is looking as if it is likely to be another record year with a total of thirty six peals rung before the end of February.

Association prepares for eightieth anniversary

This year our sister society the Devon Association of Ringers celebrate its 80th anniversary. Association Secretary, Jereme Darke, intends to have some memorabilia on show for the Annual Dinner and Dance on Saturday 19 March 2005, at The Waie Inn, Zeal Monachorum. He is also proposing to put together a booklet capturing memorable events that have occurred at Association festivals and functions over the last 80 years

The Association was formed in 1925 and there are still, thankfully, many certificates, trophies and photographs going back to that time. Jereme would also like to ensure that memories, whether passed on or actual, is recorded before it is forgotten. Any materials etc should be handed to Jereme by the date of the Novice Competition (12th March) where he will be at Tedburn St Mary, all afternoon. Alternatively contact him if you have material or queries at

Bishopsteignton: mini-ring achievements

Two in hand and forty-one spliced

Three Devon ringers achieved a notable first at Bishops-Ting-Tong by ringing the Guild's first tower bell quarter rung entirely double-handed. James Grant says he lost count of the number of false starts - the first attempt lasted precisely one lead - but the band was in the tower for the best part of two hours, the quarter finally coming round at 9:45pm!

Sunday 23rd January 2005
at Bishopsteignton (Bishops-Ting-Tong) 
1260 Plain Bob Minor in 38m 
1-2 Elaine Grant 
3-4 Matthew J Hilling (C) 
5-6 James Grant 

First double handed quarter in the tower and by all the band.

An equally impressive achievement at the same tower was a peal of forty- one spliced Surprise Minor. Given the weight of the bells, the brain has to work double-quick, and to prove it was no fluke, the band (with a different treble ringer) repeated the achievement a week later.

GUILD OF DEVONSHIRE RINGERS BISHOPSTEIGNTON, Devon (Bishops-Ting-Tong) Tuesday 14 December 2004 in 1 hour 43 minutes 5040 SPLICED S MINOR In forty-one methods: Allendale, Alnwick, Annable's London, Bacup, Bamborough, Berwick, Beverley, Bourne, Cambridge, Canterbury, Carlisle, Chester, Coldstream, Cunecastre, Durham, Hexham, Hull, Ipswich, Kelso, Lightfoot, Lincoln, London, Morpeth, Munden, Netherseale, Newcastle, Norfolk, Northumberland, Norwich, Primrose, Rossendale, Sandiacre, Stamford, Surfleet, Warkworth, Wearmouth, Wells, Westminster, Whitley, Wooler, and York Ian W Avery 1 Lester J Yeo 2 Paul J Pascoe 3 Pauline C Champion 4 James Grant 5 Michael EC Mears (c) 6

East Devon goes on the web

The East Devon branch of Devonshire ringers is proud to announce the launch of their website. It was produced to show the members of the Devon Guild events that are coming up, all of the tower information such as when they practice and the weight of the tenor bell etc. It also shows any information that is relevant.

James Harris has created this site because he was given the position of Publicity officer, which involves writing a report for the 'Ringing Round Devon' and says he took it upon himself to do this because he feels that it will be beneficial to people who are members of the Guild and have internet access.

So please visit the branch on the web at:

Also, remember to sign the guest book with your comments. There may be some difficulties at the moment but it will be active as soon as possible!

Old and new rings

A church in Plymouth is believed to be considering the installation of a ringing peal of bells. The tower in question could easily accommodate a ringing peal of twelve, but the identity of the church is not in the public domain!

Monkton Parish Church has sadly been closed and put up for sale. As a result the ring of six bells (not included in the property sale) are available. For installation elsewhere.

SW Branch: Geoff Hill has heart attack

Drastic effect of election as branch chairman

Geoff Hill of Lamerton and Tavistock suffered a heart attack the same evening that he was elected as Chairman of the S.W. branch on January 22nd. I always knew the post, as chairman in the S.W. Devon branch was a difficult one but didn't expect it to have this drastic an effect on Geoff!!! I am pleased to report that he is making good progress and is now able to do light work on the farm. I think it will be several weeks before he is able to ring with us at Tavistock. Geoff had just retired from the post of branch Ringing Master; he had worked very hard to encourage ringing throughout the branch. We wish him a speedy recovery back to full health in the not too distant future. GEM

Deaths of noted ringers

We are sorry to note the deaths this winter of three ringers who united both traditions of ringing within the county of Devon.

George Whiddon had in recent years concentrated on call-change ringing, but was in the first peal of Grandsire Triples at Newton St Cyres. His funeral was at Dean Prior in January, followed by interment at Newton.

Derek Jewell, to whom the Combe Martin ringers paid tribute in last quarter's RRD, died in January. As well as trebling for Swimbridge, he rang in a number of notable peals for the Guild, including the long length at Buckland in the Moor; he also rang in the first CY peal by Devon members. He regularly attended the College Youths dinner and at the Appleton dinner (where he sang 'Devonshire Cream and Cider'), and many ringers from London and Oxford were at his well- attended funeral. See page 12 for Jim Phillips' obituary.

Jack Thomas of Whitestone died unexpectedly while ringing in February. Although Whitestone remained a call-change tower, Jack kept up his Guild membership, and always made method ringers most welcome.

In addition, many readers will remember Tom Wright of Down St Mary who died some years ago. His widow has now also died.


Congratulations to Peter Bill who has finally attained grandfatherhood. Isabelle Bill was born last month, and Peter organised a peal at Bishop's Ting-Tong to celebrate. It is also good to note that Carol, Peter's partner, is recovering so well after her illness.

Congratulations also to James and Elaine Grant whose fortieth birthdays are at the beginning of March.

Public Relations Workshop

The PR workshop in Northampton on Saturday 16 April is open to all interested in publicising ringing.. For full details contact

Thorverton: E William Ford

Proposed for Vice-president

At the Guild Committee meeting it was proposed by Richard Shere that Bill Ford be recommended to the Guild as a Vice-President at the Annual Festival. This was heartily endorsed by the committee, and below, Richard gives some of Bill's many achievements as a ringer and member of the Guild.

Bill learnt to ring at Thorverton when a teenager (over 50 years ago) and joined the Devon Guild at this time as a ringing member. During World War Two, a Home Guard came to his father's house because he was Church warden and told him to ring the bells because the invasion had started. Bill's father told Bill to go and ring the bells. Bill went to the Thorverton belfry with a friend who didn't know how to ring. He said they didn't quite know what to do so both got hold of a couple ropes and just swung the bells until they started to sound. Bill said it was not long before a Police Constable arrived to order them to stop because it was a false alarm!

He worked for many years in the Swindon area and was Tower Captain at Broad Blunsdon for many years. He became a non-resident member of the Devon Guild while working out of the County until early retirement in the mid 1980s brought Bill back to Thorverton to live and he resumed resident membership.

Soon after his retirement he set to with sound control in Thorverton tower enabling extended ringing on the bells and encouraging bands to make good use of the Tower with a rare refusal to a request from bands for Peals, Quarter peals or general ringing.

Bill set up a quarter peal band to ring all sorts of quarters of triples and then moving into spliced triples slowly increasing the number of methods up to 15 in 1989 & 1990. On retirement also became a regular attender at the weekly Exeter St Mark's practices until only a short while ago.

Bill was the main push to augment the Thorverton bells to 10 in 1994. Thus enabling the Devon Guild the readily available use of a 10 bell tower for practices, quarters and peals which before then was difficult to achieve in the County.

Bill regularly joins in Branch practices held at Thorverton as a helper and is still an excellent teacher. Since retirement he has also been a regular helper at Silverton's practices.

Dartmoor Changes: an overview of the project

CDs to be social history of moorland ringing

Between October 2003 and July 2004, sound recordings were made of all the thirty-two peals of five or more bells that hang within the boundaries of the Dartmoor National Park. The project was the inspiration of Andrew Stevens, ringer and the current tower captain at St Thomas Church, Exeter. In 2001/2002 Andy had been involved in 'soundscape' recordings with Dartmoor-based Aune Head Arts (AHA) and approached them with his idea for recording Dartmoor's bells.

The idea for Dartmoor Changes came to Andy through his association with a project in 2003, when fifteen towers were selected to represent the best of Devon bell-ringing, both call-change and method. The bells, including those at Exeter Cathedral, were recorded, and the CD, Glorious Devon Bells, was produced as a limited edition and sold to raise money for the Devon Bell Restoration Fund. All the recordings were produced by Andy. Three of the towers selected, Dunsford (6), South Brent (6) and Buckland-in-the-Moor (8) were within the boundaries of Dartmoor National Park and it seemed a logical progression to go on and record all the Dartmoor peals.

As part of developing a successful application for Local Heritage Initiative grant, the idea had to be developed to include specific links with the community. Accordingly, the project developed its terms of reference to include some study of the relationship between bell-ringers and the communities they serve. So, as well as recording the bells, many interviews with the ringers and local residents were also collected. In addition, a program of six 'Listening Walks', led by Andy, took all-comers around chosen parishes, while the local ringers were recorded ringing the bells. The six walks explored Chagford (8), Belstone (6) and Gidleigh (5) to Throwleigh (6) in the north and Shaugh Prior (6), Walkhampton (6) and Cornwood (6) to the south.

All the digital recordings and associated photographs collected have now to be edited and produced as a three-set CD collection and booklet. The 'launch' day is to be at Widecombe-in-the-Moor (8) on 6th August 2005, to co-inside with the annual invitation, 6-bell striking competition. This would seem to be an appropriate occasion since several of the Dartmoor teams will be represented, each ringing a peal of '60 on thirds'- a distinctly local tradition. On the day, several of the local towers will be available for visitors to 'grab', and there will be opportunities to view a specially commissioned video by Marcus Vergette and Jonnie Williams. This contains sequences recorded inside the Whitechapel bell foundry and some unusual footage of the Hosanna bell in Buckfast Abbey. The video is called Ring of Bells and has already been shown in the Spacex Gallery.

Recording the thirty-two towers has been a wonderful exercise in co- operation between the production team and the local ringers, although there were occasions when some expertise had to be imported! At Buckfast Abbey, Peter Bill had to obtain special permission to ring the bourdon bell, 'Hosanna' that is normally only rung at times of great significance to the resident monks. A recording was made of the seven-and-a-half ton bell being raised to its maximum 180 degrees and then being joined by the regular peal of twelve for a touch of Grandsire Cinques. The twelve, plus the two accidentals, were all lowered in peal at the end of the session. The chromatics in that scale were quite interesting to hear!

There had been some doubt about whether the six bells at Bridford could be rung, since they had been declared un-ringable in the past. However, the ban was waived to enable an assorted group of ringers, mainly from Exeter, to ring for the recording. The situation at Sampford Spiney was even more doubtful with the present 'five' awaiting both restoration and also the addition of a sixth bell to the existing frame. Nevertheless, under the supervision of the area safety officer, it was possible to record the bells being chimed in 'rounds'.

Only the bells at Buckfast Abbey, Buckfastleigh and Bridford were rung in method by visiting bands. All the other towers rang Devon call-changes and, in several, the tradition of raising and lowering the bells for each ring was maintained. In all these towers, virtually all the calling was done from the treble.

The decision to include only those churches that stand within the boundary of the national park was a difficult one to make because there are parishes that have strong Dartmoor connections, but where the church itself is physically outside the boundary. Two examples are Okehampton where the ringers were keen to be included - and there is an active 'method' ringing band at Tavistock, although they had already been recorded for the Glorious Devon Bells project mentioned above.

One question that needed addressing from the start was whether bell-ringing is alive and well within the Dartmoor parishes. During the recording days, we only met one or two youngsters and they were the children of regular ringers. The importance of family and friends was self evident in maintaining the tradition and, apart from in-comers who were already established ringers, recruitment seems to be entirely achieved through word of mouth. But this is how things have been for a long time. In the 1922 publication English Country Life and Work (© 1976 by B T Batsford Ltd. London), Ernest C Pulbrook wrote, "England used to be known as the Ringing Isle, but in too many places, old ringers lament that, in spite of more leisure, young recruits seldom appear in the belfry."

Where numbers are thin on the ground, the modern way of servicing the needs of all the Parishes is to establish a pool of ringers who, between them ensure that there is ringing for the Sunday service at least. The band at Chagford led by Julia Endacott also cover the needs of Drewsteignton, Gidleigh and Throwleigh. The 'Moorland Ringers' look after Lustleigh, Manaton, North Bovey and Moretonhampstead! And so on! Quite rightly, the car gets its fair share of bad press, but, these days, it has a vital role in providing mobility for ringers whose dedication is applied to more than one tower.


From the local paper in 1939

The Exeter Express and Echo on 28 February 1939 carried the following article about the recasting of Alphington bells. It should be noted that the old tenor (cast by Thomas Bilbie) did not have the inscription "The Bible cast us all"!

Richard Bowden investigates the brief history of the Eddystone Lighthouse bells

Two lost bells each over two tons

In 1882 some of the earliest copies of 'The Bell News' carried an interesting advertisement by Messrs Gillett, Bland & Co. of Croydon showing two large flanged-top bells, each weighing over two tons, which they had cast in 1881 for the new Eddystone Lighthouse.

When my twelve year old son came across this advertisement in 1979 he was intrigued and wrote off to 'The Ringing World' asking if these bells still existed as they were not in the list of bells over two tons in his well-thumbed copy of Dove's Guide. There was no reply—but the matter was raised again in November 1988 by Alan Blair, who pointed out that there were no bells visible in a photograph of the lighthouse which was taken in 1959. I followed this up by suggesting that the most likely way of finding some precise information on the fate of the bells would be to make a direct approach to Trinity House. This was eventually done in 2002 by Alan Buswell but the brief disappointing reply he received was as follows — "It is correct that the present Eddystone tower had two bells as a fog signal when it was built. These were removed later but we have no knowledge where they went."

The quest for information continued and Chris Pickford was able to gain access to the Croydon foundry records which gave the actual weights of the two bells as 40-3-11 and 41-3-14. Later in 2004, Chris turned up some more positive information concerning the bells, in an article on the centenary of Gillett & Johnston, which was published in 'The Ringing World' of 21 January 1944. It stated quite simply that "Croydon's Town Hall clock and bells were made by G & J in 1894 but it is not generally know that some of the metal used came from the melted down bells of the Eddystone Lighthouse."

Therefore after only thirteen years at the lighthouse the bells appear to have been superseded by foghorns, but it is pleasing to learn that the bell metal was re-used to good effect. Jim Phillips quoted from an old book in his possession which said that "in foggy weather the bells were rung automatically o as to give two sounds (possibly C# and C) every half minute. This was presumably done by some sort of clockwork mechanism which used a rotating barrel driven by suspended weights to operate the two large chiming hammers.

Outline diagram of the lantern gallery platform showing the relative positions of the cantilevered brackets, the bells and external chiming hammers.

R.J.B. Feb 2005

Exeter: Heavitree

Third largest bell is ringing again

The single bell at the Blessed Sacrament Church, Heavitree, the third heaviest bell in Devon, is ringing again, following an inspection by Guild towers and belfries advisors.

Preb. John Scott and James Clarke visited the tower in December, and were pleased to reassure Fr John Deeny VF, the parish priest and Catholic Dean of Exeter, that in spite of rumours to the contrary the 77 cwt bell could safely be sounded.

As a result, Fr John quickly recruited a team of ringers, who with instruction from Heavitree tower captain Ian Campbell, are taking turns to swing the magnificent bell before mass on Sundays. The large bell, which rings easily because of a well counter-balanced clapper, has the note of A flat. This was carefully chosen when the bell was cast to be in tune with the tenor of the Taylor's eight at St Michael's just across the road. The church was consecrated by Bishop Barrett in 1932, and follows the form of a Roman basilica, with a brick tower at the west end.

Doings in Devonshire

From the Bell News of October 1895

A chance meeting between the vicars of Ottery, Devon and Crowthorne, Berks, in the High Street of Exeter, in the early days of May, brought up the subject of ringing; it soon transpired that the fertile brain of the Rev. M. Kelly had produced a programme for a tour in South Devon on similar lines to that which took place in North Devon three years ago. A further meeting in Oxford was arranged later on, when all preliminaries were settled and a programme, which was strictly adhered to, drawn up. Monday, September 30th, saw the brothers Pitstow start at 9a.m from Paddington; these were joined at Reading by the Rev. G.F. Coleridge, the three being reinforced at Didcot by Mr Washbrook, and at Swindon by the Rev F.E. Robinson.


Arriving at Collumpton, the Rev W. Saltren Willett, Mr. W.W. Gifford, and Mr. Ferris Shepherd, were found in waiting, Mr. T. Blackbourn joining the party in the evening. Mr. J. W. Taylor and Mr. C. Hounslow hoped to have been of the party, but to the great regret of all, found it impossible to come. The bells having been rehung in quite recent years, it was hoped all would be in good order, but alas! quite the reverse, the tenor going so badly that it was impossible to proceed to any length. Disappointment number one! many more were to follow ere the week was out. These bells should be thoroughly overhauled, and ropes somewhat smaller than cables be substituted. This might easily be done, as the inhabitants of this large parish are not so poor as in another Devonshire village, where it is recorded that the funds not being available for new ropes, the ringers had recourse of haybands, till an unexpected ringing of the bells in the dead of night revealed the fact that some semi-starved bullocks had effected an entrance, and were making merry over the old hay within reach.

Ottery St Mary

Having inspected the church, with its noble screen, the ringers adjourned to the vicarage, where the Rev G. Forrester kindly entertained them at tea. here a message from the sexton of Crediton was received, inviting the band to that glorious old fane, with its ring of bells, in his judgment, "second to none in the country". Arrangements not admitting a visit, according to the programme, Ottery was duly reached, the ringers reading on the way in the chief Western paper a notice of their arrival, which to their astonishment spoke of them as "the greatest exponents of the scientific Art the world has ever seen." The Rev. M. Kelly was at the station to welcome the band, and from that hour top accompany them during the tour, his genial presence greatly conducing to their happiness… On the following morning an excellent peal of Double Norwich was rung, the first major on the bells.

Withecombe Raleigh

Withecombe Raleigh, the mother church of apportion of Exmouth, was next on the card. This involved a drive of ten miles over Woodbury Common, where a glorious prospect over land and sea enchanted the eyes of the visitors. The searching wind made them glad to put on their overcoats; Mr. Blackbourn however was found minus, but quickly made up for the deficiency by wearing two hats, a practice he kept up during the week – and excellent idea for South Devon, where, to be "overhatted like a Totnes man" has long since passed into a proverb. On the way a visit was paid to old parish church of St John in the Wilderness, where tower and north aisle alone survive, the walls of nave and chancel having been pulled down to a height of about four feet. This church is only used for burials, the population being some two miles distant. The Rev. G.P. de Putron entertained us at tea, and later on presided at the supper in company with several leading gentlemen, and the local band, who thus met to do honour to the visitors. With a perfect ring of bells in perfect order, it was hoped that a peal would be easily accomplished, but after 2¼ hours it came unexpectedly to grief. Superlative Surprise was the method, a local Editor with too facile a pen interpreting it thus – "the ringing here proved a very great surprise." Certainly the ringing of the local band proved a great surprise to the visitors, for they rang a plain course of Grandsire and lowered the bells in a masterly manner. This band, under the tuition of Mr. Ferris Shepherd, has a great future before it, if only the members will persevere. The lusty cheers with which they sped the parting guest did much to tone down the disappointment arising from the loss of the peal. Friends in Exeter gave beds and provided hospitality for the visitors.

St Marychurch

A glorious day after the rainy night showed up the South Devon coast in all its beauty as the band sped for Torquay along the sea wall between Starcross and Teignmouth. Arriving at St. Marychurch the ringers found that service was being held, so they strolled down to Babbacombe, where the lovely bay, second only to that of Naples, lay at their feet, the clearness of the atmosphere showing Portland Bill clearly on the horizon. All Saints' church, with its magnificent specimens of Devonian marbles, most quarried hard by, greatly delighted them. We might here state for the honour of the Exercise at large, that in the account of the first long run of the "Cornishman" express from London to Bristol on the previous day, furnished by the local press, the name of Mr. Sellers, of Penzance, one of the few change-ringers in Cornwall, was duly recorded as the guard of that noted train. And now good ringers all, let us turn our steps to St. Marychurch tower, for "a very great surprise" is indeed in store for us; to be brief, no strange band of ringers is admitted into the belfry unless a tax of 2s. 6d. is first paid. This tax, as we learnt from the local ringers, is greatly objected to by them, and is only levied by order of the vicar. To whom does it go? We ask. If to the sexton, well and good, but we imagine no band of ringers would overlook this functionary, a voluntary donation to cover loss of time would in all cases be forthcoming, but a compulsory tax is odious in the extreme, and is calculated to spoil the harmony and good fellowship which should be so conspicuous among members of the Exercise.
To be continued...

Newbury 2005

Ringing Roadshow

Listed are some of the organisations or individuals which hope to be exhibiting at the Newbury Roadshow this autumn. In addition the foundries and bell hangers, and various Central Council committees will all be represented, and many more. See for further details.

Ellis Ropes Ltd
Gay's Stays
Chris McKay - Turret clocks
Outhwaite - Rope makers
Sound Solutions - Sound control
Tower Time - Church clocks
Wilf Grove - Velcro muffles

Beltower - Software
David Bagley - Electronic aids
Fortran Friends - Teaching
Chris Hughes - Abel simulator
Edward Lupton - Peal composing
Douglas Nichols
Ringing Master Software
TowerBase - Towers data base
WinRK - The Ringers' Database

Aardvark Music - Sheet music
Aune Head Arts - Dartmoor ringing
Mary Bone - Annual Reports
CSL Recordings - Compact discs
Cantate Recordings
Church Green Books
Steve & Sue Coleman - Books
David Hilling - Water colours
Mainframe Video Production
Chris Pickford - Publications
The Whiting Society - Booklets

Aitch - Ringing chuckles
Bell Jewellery
Berks and South Bucks Bat Group
Tom Blyth - maintenance
Alan A J Buswell - Quarter peals
Fire Ring Courses
Clare Stagg (Knitwear)
Sherbourne Teaching Aids


Derek Jewell

Derek Jewell, who died in January, was taught to handle a rope at Combe Martin by the then tower captain Miss Boyle who was an 'old fashioned' school mistress and a strong disciplinarian. Derek learned method ringing at Combe Martin.

In 1967 he joined the ringers at Swimbridge (famous for a former vicar Jack Russell who started the terrier breed, originally for hunting rabbits). Swimbridge were a crack Devon Association band at that time and Derek took over the second bell for competition ringing following the death of Charlie Milton. It was at Newton St Cyres, following a competition, that he was formally initiated in the Swimbridge band in the local Inn by the Captain pouring beer into Derek's trousers! In 1973 Swimbridge won the Devon final at Plymtree with Derek ringing the second. Derek took over ringing the treble for Swimbridge and led the team in many a perfect competition rise, sixty on thirds and an excellent fall in peal. He was to lead the Swimbridge band for twenty years during which they took home many a competition trophy. Derek also had a fine singing voice singing with the local operatic society.

Derek joined the local Freemasons in 1977 becoming Master of Concord Lodge, Ilfracombe in 1988. Derek was proud of his membership of the College Youths and celebrated 50 years membership last year (2004)

Derek enjoyed the very best in Devon call change ringing and also method ringing. I well remember ringing a peal of Stedman Cinques with Derek at High Wycombe. It was a College Youths peal conducted by David Hilling and I recall that Derek rang faultlessly throughout the peal, another fine indication of his ability on the end of a rope.
Jim Phillips.

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Updated 20/03/2005