Mid-Devon Tower Talk - June 2020

"A Chapter of Zooms" - How the Mid-Devon Branch is keeping together during Lockdown.

Zoom Pub Quiz 21st May

This time it was our chairman, Rodney Horder with Sheila who gave us a pub quiz. One of their General Knowledge questions had us frantically doing sums for the rest of the evening. In current branch towers how many bells are there altogether? We'll let you think about that one!

Other rounds asked us to name 10 chocolate bars that had been sliced across the middle, name 10 pictured types of Pasta and identify famous buildings or landmarks from aerial views. Again, a very light-hearted evening with much head scratching during the quiz but plenty of laughter during the answers. Many thanks to Rodney and Sheila for putting it together and our Secretary, Nigel Birt for hosting again. All this is possible due to the Guild having taken out a subscription to Zoom so we are getting good value from our Guild Subs despite there being no ringing at present. Do think about joining in – it really is very easy!


Guild Zoom meeting

Guild virtual tour to Boston Massachusetts

We have mentioned the virtual ringing platform ringingroom before. This has been developed by two ringers from Old North Church in Boston. Last year Catherine Saunders of St Marychurch called in at Boston during a cruise and made contact with Leland and Bryn who are the developers of ringingroom. Having watched an earlier presentation by Ian Campbell about Italian ringing she came up with the idea of a three part presentation and after much planning this all came together on Saturday 23rd May at 8pm in the UK 3pm in Boston. The first part was a presentation and demonstration of ringingroom when we were told how they had developed their idea very quickly once lockdown started. The idea was to link up ringers in Boston for a virtual practice but this soon developed into a worldwide platform for virtual ringing. For those who have not experienced it you get a screen with a circle of bell ropes (or handbells) and down the side is a list of the ringers who have logged in. The leader then allocates each ringer a bell(s). There are a variety of ways that the ringer can make their bell sound from clicking with their mouse on one of the "ropes" to pressing one of the keys.

From the start they have made it clear that it is under development and there was much discussion about their thinking on how this will alter over the coming weeks and months. It was amazing to hear that they regularly get 1000 users a day which shows the debt owed by ringers to people like Bryn and Leland who have helped many ringers fight withdrawal symptoms during this crisis.

Next, they told us some of the long history of ringing at Old North Church, Boston. English bells were first installed in the 1700s and it is known Paul Revere, an important figure in American history, was a ringer there at that time. It would appear that the ringing done at that time was likely to be call change and there seems to have been a long gap when no ringing was done. Things changed in the early 20th century when Dr Arthur Nichols became involved. He had spent some time training in England where he had been fascinated by bells and had learned to ring. His family became involved and method ringing seems to date from this time. They were also very influential in the development of handbell tune ringing in the US. The mention that call changes had been the order of the day at Old North led neatly into the next topic.

Ian Avery then used an edited Power Point originally produced by Victoria Tucker to introduce Devon Call Change Ringing. Having given a brief history of the Devon Association he then gave several key features of Call Changes as practiced in Devon. These included
• bells are usually called "up". i.e. 4 to 5 etc.
• Many teams do not set the bells but raise, ring the "top peal" and then lower
• The speed of ringing often seems quite brisk but Ian wondered if this was because-
• The hand-strokes are closed – often called "Cartwheeling" in other parts of the country
• Bell handling styles

At the end there was a video clip of a fine rise, some "top" ringing and a lower ending in true Devon Style recorded in Cornwall by Scott Adams and facilitated by Will Carew. Scott's excellently filmed and edited videos available on YouTube, were obviously quite well known and mentioned by several participants.

Many of the over 50 "audience" then asked questions and it was evident that ringers from both sides of the "pond" had appreciated Ian's presentation and were keenly interested in the subject.

It was good to be joined by ringers from a wide area including several of the North American Guild of Ringers. They explained that striking competitions in the US were few and far between due to the long distances between towers. The President of the Central Council, Simon Linford, was also in attendance. He had been intending coming to the "Minor" final in Devon anyway, so decided that joining us remotely was the best substitute.
All involved are to be congratulated on a very enjoyable evening.

Other Branch News

News from Dawlish
Dawlish ringers have been keeping in touch with a weekly Zoom session for half an hour or so on our usual practice night (Wednesday). It's great - we have more time to talk than we used to do in the tower, and there's been a lot of talk about making bread! We've also created a WhatsApp group, an update to the ancient tower email list (though keeping this running for the zoom links), so now everyone can contact each other easily. Fiona has shared several funny memes on the WhattsApp to keep us amused! A couple of us have been attending Guild talks and qiuzzes, and I have been enjoying RingingRoom and Ringing Stadium, the latter with handbell motion controllers, starting to feel like the real thing!
Lynne Hughes, Dawlish.

Lynne's last comment is obviously true – hence - https://bb.ringingworld.co.uk/view.php?id=1366396 

St Marychurch Ringingroom progress
From early struggles we are making steady progress. It was good to be able to mark the 75th anniversary of VE day with 10 "bells" https://bb.ringingworld.co.uk/view.php?id=1358417 We were even joined by some interested parishioners.
Since then Plain Bob Minor (plain courses) have been scored and this week we have managed plain hunt on 8 with the goal of Bob Major on the horizon. There are a couple of pics from one of our sessions.

Ringingroom in the News
We were delighted to see an excellent short feature on the BBC 10 o'clock news on Saturday 30th May. Bryn and Leland who were two of our presenters last week were interviewed and demonstrated ringingroom. One of the ringers from Southwark Cathedral was also interviewed. The whole was a very respectful and well put together feature. We hear that the ringingoom Facebook pages have had an unprecedented number of hits since the programme. Perhaps this lock-down will have a silver lining and we will get more recruits once we get back into our towers!

Great to hear and also obvious that Mid Devon Branch members are at the Cutting Edge of a new approach to ringing. Not something you hear very often!!!

Handbell progress
Nigel and Debbie Birt have continued with their project to ring minimus on handbells. They eventually rang all the 11 regular plain methods and then a quarter peal featuring all 11. When asked "what next?" Debbie's answer was "a rest!!". Congratulations to them a great achievement.


Answer to Pub Quiz
There are 102 bells in the current branch – But... How would you like to change that? If your tower is not affiliated to the Guild, chat to your fellow band members about joining – you can be assured of a warm welcome.