The Guild of Devonshire Ringers - Ringing Round Devon Newsletter

The Guild of Devonshire Ringers


Newsletter No 63 : September 2006

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). RRD 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 .

'Interesting' sounds at young ringers' day

This new Guild event was held on the 22nd July. 14 young people aged between 9 and 20 and from various Devon towers, along with parents and helpers, met at Wolborough church for an afternoon of ringing and socialising. The simulator was in use throughout and was of interest to those who had never come across one before. Some of the sounds produced by the machine were interesting if not musical! The students were of varying levels of experience and had opportunities to achieve something new. Whilst some people were making use of the tower bells others were having a session with handbells.

The group then moved to St Paul's church in Newton Abbot for a barbecue. The weather fortunately remained dry so we were able to enjoy our food outside. All the participants were able to get to know each other to the background sound of more handbells.

This was followed by a short service in the church, conducted by Tim King after which there was another opportunity to try the handbells.

Thanks are due to Tim for organising the afternoon and to Lynne and Phil Hughes for providing the handbells and preparing the barbecue.

Helen Mansley

Tim is planning a swimming event for young ringers. Watch this space...

The pictures show some of the young people trying out the toy handbells, more handbells at the barbecue and four helpers taking a well-earned rest.

Guild Festival and AGM

George retires as president

The Guild encountered a brief state of panic two weeks before the Guild Festival, when Guild President George Mudge announced that he would have to stand down through pressure of work. At the AGM, Lester Yeo was elected to replace him, and Vice President John Scott gave George a vote of thanks for the eight years he has served in this post. Laurie Palmer was re-elected as Guild Master and promised to serve assiduously; retiring master John Langabeer commented that during his year of office, he had been so busy he hadn't even had time to shave! Lester stood down as Publicity Officer and nobody came forward to replace him. The Committee will now have to look for a successor, prepared to promote ringing in Devon and the Guild, and to produce the newsletter.

As the meeting was quorate, the revised Guild rules (as circulated to all members in the annual report) were proposed and passed. The generous offer from Huntsham to house the Guild library was gratefully received, but it was recommended that the possibility of having the collection easily available as part of the expanded Exeter Cathedral library be explored first. Central Council representatives' expenses were reviewed, and the general feeling was that if we want our reps to attend meetings, we have to support them as generously as possible.

The Child Protection document, drafted by the joint working party, was now in the hands of the Diocesan CP office, and Guild and Association were awaiting approval before circulating to all towers in the county. The Guild accepted the suggestion of holding a novice competition, and the request to support Families for Children, the joint Anglican Roman Catholic adoption agency in the South West. The Guild Festival will be held in the North East branch next June.


Ringer jumps for charity

Congratulations to John Cook, a Tavistock ringer who made a sponsored charity tandem parachute jump for the Seeway Trust, specifically to raise money for an ambulance to transport the many orphans between the orphanages, and the small number of medical facilities that exist in Ghana.

This must have been quite a nerve-wracking experience, especially after so many abortive attempts due to bad weather. Travelling at 120 mph towards earth from 10,000 feet, and looking at 2 miles of nothing between you and the distant ground, could well be described, as you say, as awesome. What is more, RRD believes that John is ready to do it again! Further information about the Seeway Trust can be found on the web site:

NE Branch: Bell-handling workshop

Students improve handling at Bampton

NE Branch held their 4th Training session for 2006 on Saturday 29th July. This was the first of 2 workshops being held at Bampton using the NE Branch Practice Bell.

Mike Hatchett led the day for 3 students beginning with coffee and introduction at 10am. This was followed by some hands-on and individual instruction on improvement of technique for each student. With a well-earned lunch provided by Pat for trainer, students and helpers, the remainder of the day included helpful sessions on ringing up and down, bell control and listening skills. The day concluded with a session using the simulator to analyse plain hunting attempts and practising improved bell handling skills.

The next workshop is being held on September 20th using the Practice bell and simulator on Listening Skills. Anyone interested should contact Pat Hatchett.

Withycombe Raleigh: augmentation complete

Bells Ring out for last time on Whitsunday.

Following the successful appeal to raise funds to augment the bells of the parish church of St John the Evangelist, Withycombe Raleigh, the bells were rung for the last time on Whitsunday. A quarter peal of 1,296 changes being rung by ringers from Exmouth in 48 minutes. In the afternoon a group of volunteers climbed the stairs to the bell chamber and began the task of dismantling the frame so that parts of it could be transported to the bell hangers for modification to take the new pieces of frame and the three new bells. Under the guidance of Reg McKenzie from Nicholson Engineering the bells were lowered from their positions in the frame onto metal bearers so that preparations could be made for them to be moved into their new homes within the modified frame in the tower.

The three new bells have been cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry and a small party of ringers, along with our main benefactor, plus the Rector, Father Anthony Oswin travelled to London to witness the casting. The casting process was explained in detail and we were allowed to stand on the casting floor whilst the metal was poured into the three moulds and take photographs. We were then treated to a tour of the facilities, with a demonstration on how the moulds are made, the turning shop, and finally the fabrication shop floor where they make the bell frames. After the casting floor had been made safe we were then allowed to stand close to the cooling moulds and have our pictures taken alongside the bells we had donated.

Work commenced on Monday the 3rd of July on the installation of our three new bells. With volunteer labour and Reg McKenzie from Nicholson Engineering, the framework to make a second layer arrived and was then duly manhandled through the west door and placed in the order to be raised into the tower on the church floor. The bells themselves were due to arrive on Tuesday, and when they did photographs were taken with the main benefactor present and also the donors of the flat sixth were photographed with their bell. It was also christened with some whisky that had been left to John Foster by his father, in whose name, along with the parents of Brian and Anne Horrell, the bell was given. We also had a visit from the local school to see the bells and have a look at what was happening in the church. Also several parishioners after morning communion expressed great interest in our endeavours.

Work has continued at a steady pace with all the frame and the flat sixth being raised into the bell chamber by the end of the second day, by the end of the third day all the framework was in place and the two new trebles were also in their new homes. Day four is drilling holes, attaching wheels, stays etc., and the final Friday was tidying up and measuring for brackets etc., as required.

Also a new design for the improvement to the sound control has been tried out, and once the whole 12 is in and ringing we shall be taking meter readings before and after to see how successful it is. We have also ordered an 8-bell simulator for the front 8 to help us with the teaching of our new recruits.

The try-out took place on Friday 21 July, and the first peal was rung on Monday 31. The dedication service will be on Sunday the 8th of October at 4.00, to be conducted by our very own Father Tony, who has supported us from the start, and also acted liaison with our main benefactor. We also now have one of our band as a member of the GPC and the amount of interest and enthusiasm that has resulted from our little project has brought the whole church and community alive.

So now Devon has three 12's. Do come and visit us on Friday nights, everyone will be welcome. We have now closed the fund following a donation from The Foyle Foundation, which has secured the last funding to allow this project to go forward as such a rapid pace. From start to finish we have only taken 8 months to raise all the money, have a faculty granted, the framework designed, the bells cast, and back ringing again. A massive thank you to all those who have so freely given towards this.

John Foster, Tower Captain
The picture shows Brian Horrell and John Foster with the flat sixth before it was hoisted into the tower.

Twelve bell novice practice

RRD understands that the practice at Withycombe on the fourth Friday of each month will be an open practice, especially for those wanting to learn twelve bell ringing. Tower Captain John Foster hopes that plenty of experienced twelve bell ringers will also be able to take part.

Exeter St Mark: dedication service

Bishop expected to bless new bells

Now that the work to the bells is complete, we have turned our attention to the appearance of the ringing room. The St Mark's ringers have spent time cleaning and bringing it into the 21st century with a coat of paint, improved heating for those cold winter mornings and evenings (with a 7 day timer and frost stat!), a new carpet, and some blinds for the windows which keeps out the setting sun during the summer. Added to this are the new hooks for the ropes and some new peal boards and we have a much-smartened room.

This just leaves one last thing to be done - the dedication service to bless the new bells. The Bishop of Crediton is coming to join our own Vicar, Revd Simon Croft, to take this service at St Mark's on Sunday 29 October at 4.00 pm. We very much hope that many of you will come and join us for this celebration and stay for a cup of tea and a piece of cake in the church hall afterwards. There will also be open ringing after the service for those that have not yet rung on the new ten. We hope to see you there.

Matthew Hilling

New Guild President

An interview with Lester Yeo

Congratulations on being elected Guild President. Do you feel this is a big challenge?

Absolutely. When I joined the Guild, Brian Pidgeon was president, and although he wasn't the best chairman in the world, he was an excellent ambassador for the Guild and travelled great distances to attend as many events as he possibly could. How could anyone emulate that?

You said, when you joined the Guild, rather than when you learnt to ring. Does that mean you didn't learn in Devon.

Oh no. I learnt at St Thomas in Exeter, which was at that time a call-change tower, and was taught in the tradition call-change fashion, starting with the bell down and learning gradually to rise. It meant I had plenty of blisters but have never broken a stay!

How did you learnt method ringing, then?

St Thomas had previously been a prominent Guild tower, and so there were plenty of peal boards to look at. So when I went to university, I was determined to join the student society and to learn method ringing. And during the vacation, I started going to practice nights at St Mark's, and John Longridge encouraged me greatly.

Isn't that how you met Pat?

She came to St Thomas to ring a quarter with my brother and me. I didn't realise then we were going to get married.

And you rang a lot of quarters in those days?

John organised many quarter-peals, and that was how learners progressed so fast. This was a system I have always felt worked well. John also called my first Guild peal, back in 1976, with Mike Mears, Richard Newman, Lesley Tomlinson (now Tucker), John Hutchings, and two other St Thomas ringers, Eric Henley and Jon Cook.

The first of many?

I've rung over a thousand peals now, and about three quarters of them have been for the Guild.

What about Sunday service ringing? Since I became a Catholic nine years ago, it's difficult to ring on Sundays. So I'm very grateful for my membership of the Exeter Cathedral band, which means I can ring for evening services.

And you've held all sorts of offices within the Guild?

I've been Treasurer, Master, Secretary, Central Council Representative and Publicity officer, as well as various offices in the North North West branch and the South West Branch. This has given me good knowledge of the strengths and needs of ringers across the county. I'm also a great believer in strong co-operation with the Association.

What are your priorities as Guild President?

I've always valued my membership of the Guild; it is after all the oldest territorial ringing society. I want to encourage all ringers in Devon to feel the same way, that it's worth belonging for the Guild, for what people can get out of it as well as what they can put into it.

How will you achieve that?

I have a few ideas. The plain hunting competition which is starting this autumn, I hope, will help learners in their development. I would also like to develop the idea of graded certificates of achievements - possibly into a President's Award scheme, like the Duke of Edinburgh awards. I'm going to suggest annual membership cards for members to carry around with them, and an annual affiliation card for towers to display. We'll have to see what the Guild committee have to say about that!

Can we wish you well in your new post?

Thank you very much.

Novice Competition

A new competition for Guild members will take place on the third Saturday in October. It is intended to encourage learners and less experienced bands to develop their ringing skills and take a more active part in Guild events. So if your band has a learner capable of ringing plain hunting, or that is what the whole band feels most comfortable with, then this competition may be for you.

The competition will be in memory of John Longridge, and the Guild is delighted that this first year, his son Tom will be judging. We hope to award an annual trophy, so if friends of John's would like to contribute, please send your donations to the Guild treasurer.

Teams wishing to enter should contact the Guild Secretary and book in a time. The competition will be held in the morning of 21 October at Poltimore, and ringers should be able to ring at the other Guild competitions held nearby that same day.

The rules for this first competition are printed below.

This shall be a six bell competition between affiliated towers with the aim of encouraging inexperienced ringers to develop their striking and method ringing ability

  1. Each affiliated tower may enter one or more teams.
  2. Each team will contain at least three Guild members who ring regularly for Sunday service at the tower; other participating ringers will be drawn from Guild members within the same Branch.
  3. Each team will contain at least one novice ringing member of the Guild. Novices are understood to be either less experienced junior members of the Guild (at the discretion of their tower captain) or adult ringers who have not rung a quarter peal on an inside bell.
  4. The Exeter Colleges Guild may enter one or more teams consisting of members of the ECG.
  5. Teams wishing to enter will, before the advertised date, notify the Guild Secretary, who will allocate the order of ringing.
  6. Each team will be allowed a practice lasting no more than five minutes.
  7. The treble will sound a warning to the judges; all ringing after this will be marked until the final bell has stood.
  8. Each team will ring at one attempt a test piece of 180 changes of plain hunting on five or six. At least one of the changing bells shall be rung by a novice.
  9. The judges will mark the striking of each test piece and award the trophy to the winning team; their decision is final.

NE Branch: John Hutchings Memorial Competition

Cullompton win annual trophy

Four teams from the North East Branch of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers entered this year's John Hutchings Memorial Competition (the objective being to promote the advancement of Method Ringing at towers in the Branch), which was held at St Mary's Church, Silverton, on Friday 9th June. This year, instead of a set competition piece, teams had the option of ringing any method of their choice on six bells judged on the quality of striking over a minimum of 240 changes. Judges for the competition were Ian and Wendy Campbell.

The John Hutchings Cup was presented to the winners, Cullompton with only 5½ fault points. Runners up were Tiverton St Paul (38½ fault points) with St Peter Tiverton, third (78½ fault points). The Silverton team was disqualified for not completing their selected competition piece although a second attempt (32½ fault points) - not permitted under the rules - was subsequently completed.

Exeter Branch: training quarters

First for Maff and Jonathan

At the AGM of the Exeter branch in 2005 a decision was taken to organise regular quarter peals, aimed at those who want to progress in particular methods. To date a number of quarters have been rung, enabling several firsts to be scored. The latest of these quarters are detailed below, with congratulations to Maff and Jonathan on scoring their first of Grandsire and first inside respectively.

If you would like to ring a quarter, whatever the method, do not hesitate to contact a branch officer.

Exeter, Devon
St Michael, Heavitree
Sunday, 30 July 2006 in 50 mins (25-3-2)
1260 Grandsire Triples
1 Clive Temperton
2 Sue Sawyer
3 Maff Glover
4 Wendy Campbell
5 Michael Cannon
6 Andrew Digby
7 Ian Campbell (C)
8 Tony Osborne
Rung for Evensong.
First in method: 3

Pinhoe, Devon
S. Michael & All Angels
Thursday, 10 August 2006 in 42 mins (10-0-19)
1260 Plain Bob Doubles
1 John H T Langabeer
2 Jonathan R Hole
3 Sue Sturdy
4 Robert E Franklin
5 James Kirkcaldy (C)
6 Colin R Vincent
First quarter inside: 2

Mid Devon Branch: striking competition

No marks given at Lustleigh

This took place at Lustleigh on Saturday 10th June. Three bands entered and were placed by the judge (Chris Barnes) as follows:
1st St.Marychurch
2nd Kingskerswell
3rd Dawlish

Individual marks were not given, which is probably just as well, as we, the Dawlish band, got in rather a muddle, and lacked a credible conductor! However, we struggled through, and were rather proud to at least have all our own ringers! It was a lovely Summer's evening, most enjoyable, and the coloured 'toy' handbells had their first outing.

Lynne Hughes

Note for SW Branch Diaries:

  1. SW Branch Autumn Outing Saturday 30th September will be in the Dartmouth Area - more details later. All Welcome!
  2. SW Branch Christmas Skittles Evening will be at The Holland Inn, Hatt, on Saturday December 9th - starting at 7.o'clock. We hope to be able to have some ringing before, towers to be arranged; please e-mail Zonnie Freestone on for further details.

New date for Mid Devon outing

At the Mid-Devon Meeting last Saturday it was decided to change the date of the branch outing to Sat 30 Sept from the first Sat in Oct. We apologise for this change but it was generally felt that more members would be able to attend on that date.

Martin Mansley

Doreen Mudge

We would like to wish Doreen Mudge (wife of Tavistock Tower Captain and Vice President of the Guild, George Mudge) a speedy recovery after her recent stay in hospital, with the wish that she returns to full health very soon.

Zonnie Freestone

Rehangings by Nicholson's

East Worlington bells are to be completely rehung with the work beginning in September with completion scheduled for late November. At Zeal Monachorum, Nicholson Engineering is also due to rehang the bells with new fittings commencing work in March 2007.

Towers and Bells of Devon

John Scott reports that all goes well with the long-awaited publication of the new history and gazetteer of bells in Devon, but no date for the launch has been fixed. He is starting on the index, which threatens to be huge, but it can't be completed until he has received the paged-up proofs from the printer.

Publicity Officer and future of RRD

Without a Publicity officer in post, the Guild committee is continuing to produce Ringing Round Devon, although it may not appear quite so regularly. Thanks are due to John Foster and Brightsea press for taking on some of the work of production.

Guild supports local agency

Families for Children

Guild members have been asked to support the work of Families for Children, a joint Anglican-Roman Catholic adoption agency in the South West. Marychurch ringer Paul Latham is one of the board members of the agency, and has told the Guild about the cash-flow problems they face, due to a change in government funding for adoption work. As a result, the Guild is asking its members to look for ways of supporting the charity, perhaps through a sponsored peal or quarter peal. The Devon Ringers Council has agreed to give the collection at the carol service to Families for Children, and director Caroline Davis is being invited to speak at the service.

A towers open day is in the early planning stages, and a Guild peal in June at a private ring resulted in the peal fees being given to Families for Children. Guild members will wish to know more about the charity:

Families for Children is the only Voluntary Adoption Agency in the South West. It places children from all over the UK who have experienced loss and upheaval, within stable, loving families in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

Families for Children is special because they have a 'forever' policy of support and this means that they offer support to the child and new family for as long as they need it.

Families for Children is a Christian charity and this underpins everything they do. The highly specialised and committed staff team work tirelessly to ensure that every child placed receives the best possible new start and is able to reconcile their past to realise a positive future.

For more information see Please send donations or money raised to Families for Children, Southgate Court, Buckfast, Buckfastleigh, Devon TQ11 0EE.

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Updated 05/09/2006