Guild of Devonshire Ringers



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NE Branch Quarter Peal Week 2012

Congratulations to all NE members who took part in Quarter Peal Week.  For the first time we scored 100%  on all 9 attempts.  29 members of the Branch took part in 9 towers ringing 7 different methods and a principle during the week.

Congratulations go especially to Sharon McCabe and Dave Farrant on scoring their 1st Quarter Peals and to Sharon Sproat who rang her 1st on an inside bell and Carla for her 1st inside to minor.

During the week we raised £155.00 (£123 of which was gift aided) for the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund.

Details are as follows:-

Stoodleigh, Devon. 27th Oct. 1260 Reverse Canterbury & PB Doubles: Jenny Jones 1, Sheila Scofield 2, Matthew Webb 3, Nellie Croft 4, Leslie Boyce 5 (C), Dermot Elworthy 6.

Tiverton, St Peter, Devon. 28 Oct. 1260 Grandsire Triples: Alan Edwards 1, Sheila Scofield 2, Leslie Boyce 3, Matthew Webb 4, Charlotte Boyce 5, Michael Hatchett 6, Matthew Weighell 7 (C), David Farrant 8.

Huntsham, Devon. 29 Oct. PB Minor. Ken Wannell 1, Carla Dawes 2, Sheila Scofield 3, David Bromwich 4, Leslie Boyce 5, Pauline Champion 6 (C).

Cullompton, Devon. 29 Oct. 1260 2 x Doubles. Sharon McCabe 1, Charlotte Boyce 2, Matthew Webb 3, Matthew Weighell 4, Richard Shere 5 (C), David Farrant 6.

Uplowman, Devon. 30 Oct. 1294 Cambridge Minor: Brian Samuels 1, Sheila Scofield 2, David Bromwich 3, Leslie Boyce 4, Richard Johnston 5, Pauline Champion 6 (C).

Bampton, Devon. 31 Oct. 1260 PB Doubles: Pat Hatchett 1, Ann Barrow 2, Charlotte Boyce 3, Matthew Weighell 4, Michael Hatchett 5 (C), Jack Ward 6.

Kentisbeare, Devon. 31 Oct. 1260 4 x Doubles & 1 principle; Martin Turner 1, John Kape 2, Richard Shere 3, Matthew Webb 4, Pauline Champion 5 (C), David Farrant 6.

Tiverton, St Paul, Devon. 31 Oct. 1260 PB Doubles: David Smith 1, Sharon Sproat 2, Terry Hargreaves 3, Wilfred Dunn 4, John Kape 5 (C), Dermot Elworthy 6.

Hemyock, Devon. 1 Nov. 1260 Grandsire & PB Doubles: Linda Holway 1, Sheila Scofield 2, Pauline Champion 3, Leslie Boyce 4, David Bromwich 5, Brain Samuels 6 (C). In memory of Tim Goodman, Hemyock ringer.

Sheila Scofield

North East Branch AGM

The 2012 Annual General Meeting of the North East Branch of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers took place in Cullompton on Saturday, 6 October. From a personal standpoint, there were two agenda items of particular relevance.

The first was my preferring not to stand for re-election as Publicity Officer. This post currently is unfilled, there being no nominations made at the AGM.

For reasons best explained by others, the Branch interests that for some time have been included on this website are to be moved elsewhere, leaving the domain for the exclusive use of the Troyte Ringing Centre. Quite unconnected with this change, understood to become effective by the end of the year, is my withdrawal from continued supervision and editorial responsibilities for the site. I should like publicly to acknowledge the assistance so freely given by Ken Smith, Webmaster and all round good egg who has been uncommonly supportive during my tenure.

My last comment here concerns the inclusion in the agenda of a proposal to have Michael Hatchett adopted as a Guild Vice-President. Mike is fully worthy of this honour, for apart from holding my hand in my first faltering steps in The Exercise, he has provided stalwart service to the Guild for a number of years. This proposal was enthusiastically seconded and I imagine he will be anointed in the fullness of time.

So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”.

Dermot Elworthy

Cruwys Morchard Concert

In searching for a single adjective to convey the essence of last night’s (27 September) concert in the Cruwys Morchard church, I settled upon “delightful”.

The Throwleigh Players, a group from the village of that name not far from Okehampton, rather in the manner of a conjurer, from various boxes produced Renaissance recorders, Baroque viols, lutes, cornett, cornamuse and a beautiful theorbo. The characters and histories of these instruments were explained by their respective players before each piece in which they featured.

This well-attended concert was one of a series continuing the organisers’ cultivation of imaginative and, perhaps to some, recondite programming; the surprisingly successful juxtaposition of a jazz trio and Bach unaccompanied ‘cello Suites being an example of this. Despite the multiplicity of instruments suggesting a larger band, there were only four performing as The Throwleigh Players and they provided a varied selection of essentially “Tafelmusik” from the Renaissance and Baroque. We were treated to a balanced selection of relatively short pieces from composers as well known as Handel and Purcell and others bordering upon the obscure; Ortiz, Patavino and Boismortier. The inclusion of “La Folia” in a programme always is popular but the inference to be drawn from the programme notes that this is an original from Michel Farinel (1649-1726) is incorrect – the melody pre-dates him by at least a century, although his variations are pleasant enough.

As has become customary on these occasions, the Cruwys Morchard team provided excellent wine and nibbles to accompany this very pleasant entertainment. It was indeed a delightful evening, the proceeds from which making a useful contribution to the bell restoration fund which, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other institutions, has grown to the point where the bells are to be removed from the tower in the next fortnight and treated to their first wash and brush-up since 1905.

Whilst they are away, there are to be three interesting “Local History” evenings to be held at Cruwys Morchard. These will include the involvement of the Stokes family with the construction of the Cruwys Morchard and other local bellframes, Dr Ian Campbell’s authoritative history of bells and their ringing and a talk by Guy Cruwys (whose family has lived next to the church since the 12th century) about the other "Great Fire”, this one of 1689 when the church was destroyed and the bells melted. Dates are 18 October, 20 November and 18 February respectively.

Dermot Elworthy

Another 300 Peals at Huntsham

Thursday 13 September 2012 saw the 300th peal rung on the re-modelled and re-hung bells at Huntsham, in the tower that was renovated in 2004. Congratulations to the peal band.

Ken Smith

Diamond Wedding

To have a Quarter Peal rung in one’s honour is special; to have two so dedicated within a couple of days is an occurrence singular indeed. But earlier this month, two such Peals were rung and the reason for all this activity at St Peter’s as well as St Paul’s, Tiverton, was to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the marriage of David and Rachel Pope.

The first band to “look to” was St Paul’s on 6 September. Here there were 1260 changes made up of 60 Stedman, 360 Reverse Canterbury Pleasure Place, 480 Plain Bob and 360 Grandsire. The ringers were:

1               Alan Edwards

2               Leslie Boyce

3               Terry Hargreaves

4               John Kape

5               Matthew Weighell (C)

6               Daniel Curram

David and Rachel moved from Cornwall to Tiverton around seven years ago so as to be be nearer their children. They retired earlier from running their hotel in Falmouth and from where David was closely involved with the Gwennap Ringing Centre. On settling in Tiverton, David became a welcome asset to the St Paul’s band. He also served for a couple of years on the Committee of the North East Branch as Deputy Ringing Master. However, David’s interests are not devoted exclusively to St Paul’s, for he and Rachel worship at St Peter’s where he is Church Treasurer.

It was fitting, therefore, for the St Peter’s tower to join the celebrations on the following Saturday with another 1260 – this time of Plain Bob Triples rung by:

1               Alan Edwards

2               Sheila Scofield

3               John Kape

4               Richard Shere

5               Leslie Boyce

6               Richard Johnston

7               Matthew Weighell (C)

8               Charlotte Boyce

Sixty years of marriage is an achievement worthy to be marked in this way – David and Rachel have all our congratulations.

Dermot Elworthy

Cruwys Morchard Open Day

It could never be said of the Cruwys Morchard gang that it lacked enterprise. As part of a series of concerts and activities aimed at raising money for restoration of the church bells, Saturday, 18 August provided another event of diverting entertainment for the family.

As if to demonstrate that Bampton did not hold the monopoly on teddy bear parachuting, there was a lively programme of ursine leaping from the top of the tower, much to the delight of the children enjoying the unusually pleasant weather. The break in the seemingly never-ending rain characterising this summer allowed a barbecue at which Nellie’s sausages again were star performers.

Cruwys Morchard The Sausage Sizzle

Sharing star billing was the band who rang 1260 (7m/1p) in celebration of the Cruwys Morchard Open Day and to mark the retirement of Leslie Boyce after 31 years at the East Devon College/Petroc-Tiverton - Les can now bring some youth to us ageing mid-week Quarter Pealers! North East Branch ringers were joined by the Ians Campbell and Avery in some excellent striking on a ring which is not an easy go; it will benefit enormously from the forthcoming overhaul. Also providing fun but of a different kind, were the Exeter Morrismen who, like us tintinabulists, struggle to maintain a tradition once endemic in English culture.

Cruwys Morchard Mini-Ring in Action

The next Cruwys Morchard initiative will be a concert by The Throwleigh Players performing on period instruments in the church on Thursday, September 27. See the "Events Page". Come if you can.

Dermot Elworthy

There Are More Than Five Rings In The Olympic Logo

The enthusiasm generated by the Olympics has provided a platform for the display of all manner of undertakings, not all of which have associations with conventional sporting activities. One achievement purposely concurrent with the running of the Women’s Marathon on 5th August was a Peal of Stedman Cinques.

The Peal was rung by an all-women band engaged in a marathon of their own, for the 5007 changes took only three minutes short of four hours; a long stint by any measure. Furthermore, this was not on a lightweight 12-bell ring such as Shepton Mallett but was staged in no less a tower than St Paul’s, London, where Margaret Whiteley and our very own Pauline Champion bumped the 61cwt Tenor.

Here was a performance no less Olympian than those exciting the Velodrome or the Aquatics Centre; this band too, is deserving of Gold. We congratulate them on a remarkable performance.

Dermot Elworthy

Tiverton, St Paul's Outing

Pictured below during the only bit of sunshine to grace us on 15 August, is most of the band of St Paul’s, Tiverton, augmented by a few guests invited to share the fun of this year’s annual outing. Rather younger than the other participants is Kaitlyn, granddaughter of Ken and Lynda Smith on a fact-finding visit from the Isle of Wight.

St Paul's Outing Standing: John Kape, Sharon Sproat, Jenny Jones, Nellie Croft, Lynda Smith, David Pope, Terry Hargreaves.
Sitting: Felstead Peal, Glen Morgan, David Smith.
Kneeling: Kaitlyn McFarlane

The day started at Churchstanton with the uncommonly fine ring which punches well above its (11cwt) weight. Next stop, the ground floor at Pitminster. Rather than spend time adjusting to eight bells which some of us had not rung in a while, we called “Six to Seven” and rang Doubles. The next touch would have had these two dodging to liven up the back end but there wasn’t time as lunch was calling from the pub. Corfe tower at 6cwt proved well-suited to post-luncheon exercise before we moved on to Trull. Here, with only the ropes in residence, it was “cosy”; with six ringers and a couple on the substitutes’ bench, it became decidedly “intimate”. But Trull is a satisfying ring.

Thanks go to Terry Hargreaves for organising an enjoyable day. Nice bells, shame about the weather . . . .

Dermot Elworthy

Might Is Right

The official records will show that China was awarded the first gold medal of the 2012 Games. However, posterity should be aware that it was, in fact, on the previous day that this primacy was established by the Olympic (can I say that without infringing copyrights?) team representing Lillipution Cullompton. But the team's featuring in the Olympian annals, sadly, is unlikely.

Pictured below on the podium – well, Matt’s on the Tenor box – are the stalwarts of so many Tuesday, latterly Thursday night practises culminating in the eight Golds so proudly disported and leaving the rest of us to bathe in the reflected glory. A few other bands competed in “The Big Ring” but no further medals were secured by the North East Branch, although the author modestly claimed a plastic self-adhesive sticker proclaiming him “Star of the Practice” at Bampton on the eve of the Games. Not quite the same cachet, methinks.

Quarterly Meeting The Gold Medal Band

Olympic Medal THE Olympic Medal

Dermot Elworthy

Not-So-High Expectations

Since he was very small, I have enjoyed telling bed-time stories to my younger grandson. These have been concocted, ex tempore, whilst sitting with him on the sofa before he reluctantly shuffled up the wooden hill. In the hope (rather than expectation) of his developing an interest in bell ringing, I have spun these yarns around the mysterious goings-on in an imaginary country ringing chamber with the baffling cases of “The Missing Clapper”, “The Severed Rope” and “Chewing Gum in the Sally” being investigated by a dashing fellow in blazer and cream flannels driving an open-topped 3-litre Basil Rathbone. Of course, this pre-War, Home Counties rather-good-at-tennis type of chap is long extinct but we still have sharp-elbowed wannabes strutting their stuff in Henley corporate hospitality suites.

This nonsensical pastiche of “Trumpton” and Dorothy L Sayers has been enacted in a village squired by Col. Sir Algenon Runcorn-Cheshire, Bart., late of the 3rd Dragoon Guards. The church incumbent is the sinister Rev. Grimsby Lincs and the cottage hospital run by Dr. Felstead Peal. These and several others (like local accountants Maynard Keynes and his brother Milton) are all players in a farce becoming increasingly difficult to maintain with any degree of conviction. So it was with a sense of relief that I learnt that “Tonight, Grandpa, I’m going to tell you a story.”

From the depths of the sofa an assortment of dog hairs, a few coins and a well-thumbed book were recovered. I wondered if the book concerned bell ringing. “Oh no! This is really cool stuff about Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets.

I fear that his participating in Grumpy Mole Treble Bob Major or appreciating the grim humour of Titanic Cinques may be a little further into the future than I imagined.

Dermot Elworthy

July Quarterly Meeting

Ownership of an amphibious vehicle might have proved useful in negotiating the back roads of North Devonshire last Saturday. What seemed like weeks of atrocious weather had resulted in much local flooding and at one point, I found myself driving up a 4” deep river masquerading as a track to Broadhembury; such was the degree of adventure required to attend the NE Branch quarterly meeting. Following my becoming hopelessly lost in trying to get to the Guild AGM a couple of weeks ago, I thought it might be prudent to invest in a GPS but I have learnt that “Delia”, as the device has become, is none too selective when it comes to the negotiability of Devon’s obscure byways.

In common with those at Crowcombe, the bells of Broadhembury go backwards and the latter is not the easiest of rings anyway. Nevertheless, those who attended enjoyed the open ringing prior to the service kindly conducted by Jill Purser of the Uffculme ministry. An excellent tea followed in the village hall where there was little to report from the Committee. However, Les Boyce announced an important and enterprising Branch initiative to attract younger people to the calling – please see Les's article below. This programme should have considerable appeal to youngsters and deserves success.

From Broadhembury we progressed to Kentisbeare to spend the evening with the delightful ring of six; life was made easier by bells being in their usual places! The pub afterwards also was enjoyed but the crashes and bangs of the live band warming up suggested that for some of us, it was time for home and Phyllosan.

Thanks to our hosts at Broadhembury for looking after us so well.

Quarterly Meeting Just before the onslaught of the drums

Dermot Elworthy

Tiverton Young Ringers Week – have a go at bell ringing!


For details of a future course email Les Boyce

More and more youngsters are taking up bell ringing, but why? Well, it’s good exercise, a fascinating lifelong hobby and great fun. Added to this, as a ringer you get to play on some of the largest and loudest instruments in the world, get to go to some amazing places to do it and make a glorious sound!

Now young people in Tiverton have the chance to give it a try. A week long course will run at St Paul’s church from Monday 23rd to Friday 27th July. By the Friday evening you will be able to join local ringers to mark the start of the 2012 Olympics with special ringing at St Peter’s. During the week you will see how the bells work, find out about the social side of ringing, learn a bit of the theory of change ringing and be given hands-on experience of ringing a tower bell. At the end of the week you will have the chance to join a local band of ringers to continue your ringing if you want to. There are also young ringers groups in Devon you can join.

The course costs £25. The number of places is limited - so book early. Leaflets and booking forms are in the High School reception and in the town library or . . .

Download an Information Leafet - Click Here
Download an Application Form - Click Here

Les Boyce

Training for Beginners

Cruwys Morchard beginning some training of young ringers from Rackenford Primary School. Noah, Sebastian and Natasha starting on learning to handle the bells at Rackenford by Cruwys Morchard Ringers. The new teachers are being supported by Lynne Hughes (Guild Education Officer), Matt Webb (NE Branch Education Officer), Les Boyce (NE Ringing Master and ITTS for CC) and Sheila Scofield (NE Ringing master).

Training A little bit of theory from Les

Training Matt sharing the rope with Noah

Training Natasha mastering handstrokes

Training Sebastian ringing independent strokes with Les

Sheila Scofield

Apology for Absence

Aeons ago, when April Day was someone’s girlfriend, Zanussi was a washing machine, Oxford Bob made marmalade and before Percy’s Tea Strainer Treble Place Major drove me to seek the support of, I lived at sea. Determining where I was in the scheme of things depended upon a knowledge of spherical trigonometry rather than a familiarity with blue lines and coursing orders.

I was reminded of this last Saturday whilst driving from the ringing at Clyst St George to attend the Guild AGM at Withycombe Raleigh. Being unfamiliar with the local geography, I thought it would be clever to follow one of the other cars who I presumed had determined the required course and so I waited for a likely-looking vehicle and tucked in behind, sticking to its bumper to avoid being separated by lights and infanticidal mothers pushing buggies into the oncoming traffic. Things went well as the few and brief appearances of the sun showed it to be in the expected position relative to its current declination and local time of day. However, I began to suspect that all was not proceeding to plan when the obliging leader took me along the waterfront in Exmouth. Evidently, he had different plans. Perhaps he wasn’t a ringer at all.

Several changes of course later, leading me to a prominent navigational landmark, I found myself outside Holy Trinity Church. This did not look like the photo on the cover of the 2011 Guild annual report - I prepare well for these extended passages - so sought directions to St John the Evangelist. The advice received was sufficiently comprehensive to bring me back to Holy Trinity - twice! Some time and a lot of petrol later, I threw in the towel, plotted a reciprocal course and headed for home.

If anything is to be learnt from this pathetic example of pilotage, it is that one always should observe the lore of the sea. The old timers never sailed “to” as this might have proved too tempting for the Moirae; they prudently sailed “towards” somewhere. Perhaps if I had observed this simple dictate as in the past I invariably have, I might have fetched up in the haven of Withycombe Raleigh and not been lost off the lee shore of Exmouth.

There are those of little charity who might suggest that I am still at sea.

Dermot Elworthy

John Hutchings Trophy

On Friday, 8 June, Silverton were again hosts of the John Hutchings Memorial Trophy. Last year the weather for this annual event was delightful; this year it was unpleasant, keeping everyone inside the church and sheltering from the unseasonable cold of a very blustery evening. Five bands took part in the twelfth competition for the prize awarded for the best striking over 240 changes of any Doubles or Minor method.

Michael and Mary Mears were the judges, placing the contestants as follows:

1     Cullompton              25½ faults
2     St Paul’s Tiverton     32½ faults
3     Bampton               35 faults
4     St Peter’s Tiverton   78 faults
5     Silverton

Sadly, Silverton lost the plot half way through the test piece and fired out.

Congratulations go to the Cullompton band who, on the back six, rang 240 of Plain Hunt on Five:

1     Pauline Champion
2     Rachel Cozens
3     Sandie Reader
4     Richard Shere (C)
5     Reg MacKenzie
6     David Farrant

Supper afterwards at the Lamb Inn was enjoyed by all and our thanks go to Martin Clough of Silverton for hosting the competition and to Michael and Mary Mears for judging..

John Hutchings Trophy Richard Shere receives the trophy from Albert Campbell

Personal commitments conflicting with the competition left the St Paul’s band under strength, so Matthew Weighell and Sheila Scofield kindly took the empty ropes. They have the band’s gratitude.

Dermot Elworthy

Jubilee Celebrations

Phew! What a week this has been!

We had Rounds and Call Changes on Six in Lincolnshire (but only five ringers!), Plain Bob Caters from Melbourne, Australia, Diamond Jubilee Surprise Major in Scotland and other tributes from myriad places demonstrating the universality of the ringing fraternity – three of our own helped notch up 5060 of Lincolnshire Surprise Major at Bovey Tracey. Surprisingly, New Zealand did not feature in published records, perhaps as a consequence of the earthquakes. However, included in the singularly touching contributions from that hotbed of republicanism, the US, was the generous dedication to Her Majesty of a Quarter Peal of Plain Bob Triples by the ringers of Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City. Similarly, a band from Brewster, New York, kindly dedicated 1260 changes of Grandsire Doubles; this was the first Quarter scored by the 12 year old Pippa Gosden, so it was a particularly special occasion for her. The ringing world united over the weekend in its homage and since the rings in the UK coincided with the Thames pageant, it might be said (although probably better if it wasn’t!) that ringers really pushed the boat out.

The band of St Paul’s, Tiverton, certainly pulled its weight. We left the bells up after Friday night’s practise ready for a wedding on Saturday. The writer managed service rings at two towers on Sunday morning before we rang four methods and, unusually for us, some called changes, in the Central Council’s national celebration ring at three o’clock. I have often looked at the board in the St Peter’s Ringing Chamber which commemorates the 1952 peal rung in thanksgiving for the reign of King George VI and thought what a privilege it would be to participate in something of similar gravity and consequence. Tuesday provided just that opportunity when the St Paul’s band rang a Quarter Peal of Mixed Doubles in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee. As far as is known, this is the only band from the NE Branch to have rung a Quarter on this occasion. Details here..

And we haven’t finished yet – there’s the John Hutchings Trophy coming up on Friday . .

Incidentally, both Trinity, Wall Street and the gang at Brewster have told me that any of our members visiting the Big Apple will be very welcome at their towers. “That’s an ‘A’, Charlie”, as the locals say – well, they do if they hail from Noo Joyzee.

Dermot Elworthy

Morebath Flower Festival

As has become customary, the Bampton/Troyte band were invited to ring at the Morebath annual flower festival.

This year's ringers are pictured below.

St Peters Shield Mike Weight, Jack Ward, Ann Barrow, Simon Bartlett, Pat Hatchett, Sheila Scofield, Mike Hatchett and Libby Ford

St Peter's Shield

The 17th St. Peter's Shield Striking Competition was held at Bampton on Saturday, 19th May. This competition is a mixed Doubles and Call Change event open to all towers in the Tiverton and Cullompton Deaneries. The competition is sponsored by St. Peter's Society of Change Ringers (Tiverton). The results of the competition were:

1st     Tiverton St Peter (P. Bob Doubles)   26¾ faults
2nd     Bampton (P. Bob Doubles)              42½ faults
3rd     Tiverton St Paul (P. Bob Doubles)     45 faults
4th     Uffculme (Call Changes)               80½ faults
5th     Washfield (Call Changes)                92½ faults
6th     Cruwys Morchard (Call Changes)      121 faults

Judge: David Trist

Les Boyce
Tower Captain, Tiverton St. Peter

St Peters Shield The 17th competition for the Shield: Matthew Weighell has rung in them all.
Here he is receiving the trophy on behalf of the winning team from David Trist

Tiverton St Peter under Seage!

Visitors to Tiverton St Peter’s often ask about the purpose of the little bells mounted high up around the walls of the ringing room. These are the remains of the “Seage Silent Practice Apparatus” which was installed in the late 1800s and became defunct when the bells were rehung in 1923. The idea of the apparatus was that the clappers of the tower bells could be fixed with wooden ties to silence the bells, but a sound produced on the little bells by ringing normally. A system of wires and levers was linked to the tower bells and activated by the swing of the bells. A detailed article describing the apparatus was published by Roger King in the March 2008 edition of Ringing Round Devon ( or HERE.

An interesting postscript to Roger King’s article on Epaphras Seage and the silent practice apparatus occurred in Tiverton over Easter. Following up some internet family history research, our Rector received an email from Lynda Dalton, Epaphras’ Great Great Granddaughter. Lynda had stumbled on Roger’s article about the Seage Apparatus in RRD and got in touch asking if was possible to visit the tower to see what remains of the apparatus at St Peter’s.


Seage Family    

So it came about that on Good Friday morning four generations of the Seage family stood in St Peter’s ringing room with the bells from the Seage system above their heads. None of the family are ringers, but they were fascinated to visit the bells and the ringing room and to get an insight into how their ancestor, Epaphras, had contributed to the history of bellringing. Our picture shows (left to right) Cynthia Moseley (Great Granddaughter), Lynda Dalton, Lynda’s daughter Sarah (who has recently moved to Tiverton) and baby Mya.

Les Boyce


Les Boyce’s contribution above and the reference to Ringing Round Devon should be of particular interest to members of the North East Branch.

In this issue, in addition to that of Roger King’s account of the “Seage engine”, there is an article given to the Rev Henry Ellacombe, also a Devonian, whose more famous but quite different bell control system is to be seen and occasionally is workable in many local towers. But not all small bells are part of a Seage or similar system. Most, being more than a little reminiscent of old shop door alarms, are affixed to the walls of ringing chambers and are excited, often in two axes, by sympathetic movement of the tower masonry, their tinkling surprisingly audible above the noise of their big sisters upstairs. These alert the ringers of the need to change the pattern of the bells.

Another inclusion in this interest-filled edition of RRD is the obituary of Bill Ware. Bill was a Tivertonian who rang at St Peter’s and at St Paul’s and for many years was a member of the Cathedral band (where he always referred to the tenor as “Gran-dyson”!). He held many posts within the Guild, including those of Secretary of the NE Branch, Guild Master and Guild Vice-President. Bill rang his first peal in 1948 at Calverleigh which, curiously, is where I rang my first attempt at a Quarter and on the same bell, sixty-two years later. Thanks to the generosity of his widow, Dorothy, I have Bill’s extensive library on all things bells.

A couple of years ago, Bishop Bob hosted a Ringers’ Tea at Huntsham and a “relic” on display was the book recording the attendance of the ringers at practise and service rings, beginning in 1874. The tale of how this came to be returned to Huntsham church after many years’ absence is related in the same edition of RRD. Tangentially, 1874 is a date of additional significance in Huntsham for it was in that year that the third edition of Charles Troyte’s Change Ringing was published. Norra lotta people know that . . .

There's much interesting stuff here. Take a look.


Visitors from The Land of the Long White Cloud

I previously have written of the New Zealand earthquake which wrecked the cathedral in Christchurch; more recent accounts have appeared in the UK media. It was in connection with this that last month, your roving reporter had a journalistic assignment in the Ringing Chamber at Cullompton.

I went to meet Robbie Richards, a Christchurch resident and regular ringer of the cathedral bells before disaster struck. His account of the extent of the devastation and tentative plans for reconstruction were much as I had anticipated, although I had not considered a replacement made from cardboard tubes! However, something for which I was not prepared is the continuing trauma of those who experienced at first hand the horrors of the quake and the latent consequences thereof.

Robbie, his wife Nicky and daughter Louise, as guests of Richard Shere, joined the band for morning service on 15 April. Now, as towers go, Cullompton is a pretty stiff example but the amount of movement was more than Louise could accept and very alarmed by the degree of sway, she promptly left before the ringing had finished. For the most part, we Devonians take little heed of these wobbles for, like aircraft wings, towers need to flex if they are not to break - the ancients understood this whilst being blithely ignorant of Young’s Modulus - but for someone at school when the main earthquake struck, tower movement with associations of collapsing buildings and concomitant carnage would be a horror indeed.

I’m sure we all hope that the Richards family will be able to put the unpleasantness behind them and again be able to perform with confidence. The next time I ring at Wellington with its seismic gyrations, I shall think of young Louise.

Dermot Elworthy


A few months back, there was some mention in Ringing Round Devon of ringing style and whether it might be important. One view expressed was that provided acceptably accurate striking was maintained, it didn’t much matter how it was achieved. Being a ringer of peripatetic nature, I have had opportunities to observe all manner of ringing styles and witnessed quite a few teaching techniques in different towers. From this I have concluded that ringing style is important and for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there is the question of aesthetics. It would be invidious to identify the three ringers in the North East Branch familiar to me and who I consider to have “the style”. Everything they do possesses an elliptical fluidity and they are a joy to watch. And it is not by accident that they happen to be amongst the best ringers in the Branch, for style is a function of those techniques without which quality of ringing always will be compromised.

Related to this is bell control. A full-length pull, that is with arms fully extended from above the head to below the waist before letting go, provides an easy motion with the pulling effort uniformly distributed over the length of the stroke. This keeps the rope under tension for more of the time and inhibits snaking and rattling. Short, jerky actions as so often seen, concentrate the effort into a smaller effective length of pull (hard work!) leaving the rope to please itself as to which route it will take Heavenwards. How often does one see hands sometimes almost a foot apart*, particularly on the backstroke? It is quite impossible to share the load equally between arms if this is the case.

Additionally, how much easier is it to pull the rope vertically down, with convenient use of bodyweight for checking or hoisting, as opposed to doing things at an horizontal arms’ length and giving the bell all that leverage against you? This upsets the balance of both ringer and bell and usually results in throwing the rope across the chamber. Ugly, not ergonomic and not in control. Ringing is like so many other things in life; if it looks right, it probably is right.

But let a picture save me (and spare you!) a thousand words. On YouTube, there is a video of a practise of Cambridge Surprise Maximus held at St Mary-le-Bow by the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths. Watch the balance and economy of action of number four. Observe too, the thumbs correctly placed at the bottom of the strokes. This chap eloquently makes the case for looking good; in short, he has style – I wish I had just a bit of it!

*You couldn’t have this anatomic anomaly with the new-fangled metrics!

Dermot Elworthy

Exeat Saint Peter

The St Peter’s Tower outings are always fun and last Saturday’s (28 April) was no exception. What was exceptional, however, was having three rings of bells of such quality with which to play. The first and by general assent the outstanding ring of the afternoon, was the eight (15cwt) at Moretonhampstead. What a delight these are. There was no information in the ringing chamber to indicate by whom the bells were made but they had all the characteristics of those superb products typifying the best of Taylors in the 1920s.

St. Peter Outing Terry, Sheila (hiding!) and Charlotte

After cream teas, we tried the slightly heavier (18cwt) eight at St Michael’s in the pleasant Dartmoor town of Chagford; another very fine ring enjoyed in a chamber that in comparison with our usual surroundings is decidedly posh. From the Triples and Majors of Moretonhampstead and Chagford, we went to Doubles and Minors at the ground floor ring at Dunsford. Quite a long draft here but the bells went very well and to conclude an enjoyable day’s ringing, we finished with a good meal at Dunsford's Royal Oak. Thanks go to Les Boyce for organising the nosh and rather (Dart)more-ish Jail Ale. Thanks, too, to Matthew Weighell for arranging an inspired selection of towers.

St. Peter Outing Le tout ensemble in Chagford's ringing chamber "Dress Circle"

Dermot Elworthy

300 Peals at Huntsham

Thursday 26 April 2012 saw the 300th peal rung on the bells at Huntsham and some 273 since the restoration of the bells in 2004. Congratulations to the regular Huntsham peal band.

Ken Smith

Remembered (revised)

Calverleigh’s light ring of six was booked by the “Tiverton Society of Ancient Youths” to celebrate the day dedicated to our patron saint.

The occasion also was to mark the second anniversary of the death of Connie Kape, so the cold, wet evening of 23rd April was one of mixed emotions.

Glen Morgan and Matthew Weighell had hot-footed it up from St Peter’s where they had rung a touch as part of the Guild’s participation in the nationwide observance of this special day but the writer felt St George deserved something a little more substantial and so arranged a Quarter Peal attempt. The plan had been to split the ring between Reverse Canterbury Pleasure Place Doubles and St Simon’s Bob Doubles but the scheme unraveled at the splice. Fortunately, there was time available for a second attempt; now the goal was 1260 changes of Plain Bob Doubles and this was achieved in spite of determinedly lively and uncooperative ropes leading to the occasional missed sally – we didn’t have this problem when we rang here for Quarter Peal Week eighteen months ago.

1    Sharon Sproat
2    John Kape
3    Glen Morgan
4    Terry Hargreaves
5    Matthew Weighell (C)
6    Dermot Elworthy

Next year, I think we should attempt something a little more ambitious in honour of our saint and in remembrance of Connie. I’m wondering about a variation of Dragon Place with an Old Hudibras Single . . . . . "Go, Saint George of England."

Now, that really does have a ring to it!

Dermot Elworthy

Post Script
What a pleasure it is to browse the Campanophiles and see all the Quarters and Peals that were rung on the 23rd in support old Saint George - I've counted over one hundred. And, of course, to this has to be added the very many more touches and all the call-changes celebrating the unique character of Englishness and our bells.

Here's a bit more . . . .
It seems that there has been an enthusiastic response to the calls to “Ring for Saint George”. Reports of local activities are thin on the ground – I hope to receive more – but I suspect that the prize for the display of greatest enthusiasm will go to two North East Branch members, Mike Hatchett and Richard Johnston who trekked all the way to Hindon, Wiltshire. Here they participated in the ringing of 5040 changes of Surprise Minor comprising one extent each of seven methods. The event was made particularly notable by being the first peal rung at St John the Baptist in 64 years, the first peal of Surprise rung at this tower and the first peal on these bells employing more than one method.

But not content with that, Mike was back in Bampton for the 6 o’clock ring there before moving on to Huntsham for more tintinabular libations to the patron. The venerable saint should have been delighted! Below is Mike’s account.

Some of us are always looking for opportunities to ring, and others can always find good reasons to limit their ringing to Sundays and/or practice nights. For some years now we have tried to agree a programme of special events ringing. We still shy away from actually committing ourselves to a published programme. However, this year we decided to make a special effort and ring for St. George.

So at Bampton at 6.00 p.m. the following rang call changes, Plain Bob Doubles and Rev. Canterbury Place Doubles: Ann Barrow, Libby Ford, Mike Hatchett, Sheila Scofield, Tony Trigg, Jack Ward and Mike Weight.

Then at 7.30 p.m. the following rang call changes at Huntsham: Chris Bolt, Libby Ford, Mike Hatchett, John Ridd and Mike Weight.

Many Happy Returns!

At his home tower of St Paul’s, Tiverton and two days after his 87th birthday on 17 April, Wilfrid Dunn scored his 2,611th quarter peal. After wartime service with the RAF, Wilf started ringing in 1951, beginning at Nutfield, Surrey before moving on to Reigate. Apart from about a year off somewhere in between, he has been ringing ever since, during which time he has logged a total of 1,091 towers, conducted Quarters on 883 occasions and in 611 towers. Quite an achievement to which whole peals must be added.

1987 saw Wilf’s move to Tiverton and his joining the St Peter’s band, there to become a promoter of the St Peter’s Shield and maker of the trophy for which several bands will be competing in a few weeks’ time. Subsequently, Wilf like more than a few before him, became victim of the St Peter’s tower steps and transferred to the ground floor ring at St Paul’s where he has been resident since 2004.

Wilfrid Dunn Wilf Dunn

The celebrations last Thursday comprised 1260 changes of Stedman (60), Reverse Canterbury (240) and Plain Bob (960) at a speed of 43 minutes after which Wilf declared himself ready to do it all again! Members of the backing group were;

1    Terry Hargreaves
2    Glen Morgan
3    Wilf Dunn
4    John Kape
5    Matthew Weighell (C)
6    Dermot Elworthy

Here’s to another quarter next year, Wilf!

Dermot Elworthy

North East Branch Quarterly Meeting

On Saturday, 14 April, the Committee of the North East Branch of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers met for the second time this year, on this occasion at the Lamb Inn, Silverton.

The collective consciousness of the committee has been much exercised of late in seeking a use and repository for “the bell”. Thanks to the offer extended by the ringers at Hemyock and subject to obtaining the necessary insurances, a home, at least for the next twelve months, has been found for the demonstration bell for which the North East Branch has responsibility. The next committee meeting should see this protracted matter finally put to bed.

Other subjects of discussion proved routine but it is clear that Matt Webb is getting his teeth into the subject of training. Advancing the abilities of existing ringers and the ab initio instruction of new recruits are of paramount importance to the continued health of The Exercise and Matt and his “staff” have made an excellent start with three towers currently under instruction. Of course, the success of this scheme is very much a function of the level of enthusiasm and commitment of those participating; ringing is a team activity and the band as a whole must be involved. Nothing will progress if only one or two actively seek advancement but do not enjoy the support of the rest of the team. So many enthusiasms and good intentions have foundered on the rocks of conservatism and apathy; the “Go Plain Hunt on Five” to which they initially aspired sadly remains “Two to Three”. However, Matt is to be commended for his commitment and the adoption of the Kaleidoscope system which is proving popular with the relevance of the exercises being easily understood by those raised in the call-change tradition.

General ringing was enjoyed on St Mary’s excellent 8-bell ring. This was followed by the customary service and thanks are due to David Bromwich for accompanying us on the organ. A splendid Ringers’ Tea followed in the village hall where three new members were welcomed to the Guild. They are pictured below.

branch meeting L to R:   Mike Weight, Sheila Davies and Paul Webster

branch meeting The Chairman distances herself from the John Kape/Les Boyce debate: "Does the banana dodge 3-4 up or down?"

It was an evening of DIY entertainment at Rewe where several of us repaired for more fun and games, this time on the drafty but well-behaved six. And so was concluded a pleasant day, always in pleasant company. Our Silverton hosts are to be thanked for providing great hospitality, a fine ring of bells and for so stoically suffering the ribbings about ASBOs, ankle monitors and other instruments of civil restraint!

branch meeting “When the cat’s away . . .”    Richard Shere demonstrates what ropes do when you take time off to crack a joke.

Dermot Elworthy

Bell Advisor

The branch has a Bell Advisor, Jack Ward who is ready, willing an able to help any tower regarding inspections (incuding Quinquennial inspections). Advise PCCs how to approach and work with commercial bell hangers. Jack is also available to give advice and help with project management and maintenance training.

Jack Ward Jack Ward

Click Here - for a full list of services available



Pencils 50p
Bookmarks £1.00
Drink Bottles £3.50
1/2pt Glasses £3.00
Mugs £4.00


A collection of brand-marked items are for sale to support the Troyte Ringing Centre. The souvenir goods are available at both Huntsham and Bampton churches, you can also find them at training or social events, or order them when you book your training or ringing sessions. If you are really keen then e-mail Sheila Scofield on .


The Ringing Round Devon quarterly Newsletter of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers can be found here.