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Last Sunday, 4th September, brought the sound of bells back to Uffculme after a silence of several months.
Much-needed work has included rotating all the (8) bells 90 degrees on their principal axes and some general machining. All clappers were rebushed and the tenor given a wooden sheathing around the shaft as well as being treated to a new set of trunnion bearings - as the photo suggests, replacement of the latter was a matter of some urgency!
It has been a long wait but the ring is now going well with the tenor's new predictability being appreciated by all. Tony Lane, when ringing at the back, was heard to mumble something about "odd on the backstroke" but where is perfection to be found? The Uffculme ring should now be set for a good many years of providing pleasure to both the ringers and listeners.
August bank holiday Monday saw again teddy bears raining from the Bampton skies. The parachuting teddies event, held as part of Bampton Open Day, raised £232.70 for the ringers, being £111.70 on the day plus £121.00 from local sponsorship of the brave teddies.
Click HERE to see a short video of tower-top events.
Those whose Servce Ringing times on Sunday, 18th September do not clash, may like to enjoy a pleasant morning in Bampton where between 10am and 11am, the Devonshire Association will be holding their 2011 six-bell competition final.
This will provide an opportunity to hear striking par excellence on what, in my view, for its weight is one of the best six-bell rings in the county. It will be a treat. Afterwards the 8-bell finals will be held at Dunster, so there will be ringing of unusual quality in the North East neck of the woods - have a listen if you can.
Cruwys Morchard has had a busy week.
The Quarterly general ring and service of the Guild’s NE Branch was held at the church of The Holy Cross, Cruwys Morchard on Saturday, July 2. The bells here provided a fine upper-body workout and tested the level of fitness – imagined and otherwise! – of many of the ringers; this ring is widely held to be unusually hard work.
Following an excellent tea in the church, people indulged in some advanced orienteering to find Nellie Croft’s version of Southfork where a barbecue had been arranged. Those who succeeded in this were rewarded with an uncharacteristically (for Devon!) grand summer’s evening and views of the local geography as well as a splendidly arranged social get-together which made such a change from the more usual venues at which we ringers tend to congregate. It was a profoundly enjoyable evening, marred only by Muffett (my usually impeccably behaved dog) deciding that she took precedence over the two much larger animals upon whose territory she was a guest. Not surprisingly, the residents took a dim view of this with the usual canine consequence but no real harm done. We were grateful for the effort put in by our hosts to provide such an evening. I complimented Nellie on the excellence of the sausages so expertly grilled by Guy Cruwys and was a little taken aback when she replied “They should be good, they were my pigs!” Suddenly, I had lost my appetite . . . .
The following Tuesday evening found many of us back in the Cruwys Morchard church, this time for a concert of 18th and 19th century settings of music which might have been performed in the church by contemporary musicians but on this occasion by the West Gallery Quire of Crediton. This was both amusing and informative – I particularly liked the “vernacular” rendition of the Psalms and was caused to wonder when these might have been abandoned in favour of the now more familiar metrical psalmody. Those gloomy Victorians again, I shouldn’t wonder.
Like last year’s ‘cello recital, the aim of the concert was to contribute to the raising of the forty-odd thousand needed for the overhaul of the Cruwys Morchard bells which have been creaking around on their plain bearings since 1905. It was with considerable self-interest that those who know these bells were particularly generous in their financial support!
Society” is promoted as a new initiative but, in fact, there is nothing new
about it at all; such has existed in various guises since man first evolved into
a social animal. Similarly, bells have played a fundamental role in the culture
of all societies succeeding the bronze age. Thus the good citizens of Stoodleigh
were following a centuries-trod path when they demonstrated a practical
manifestation of what man always has managed without the need for attendant
Having had the bells at St Margaret’s pronounced “unringable” in mid-2008, the small Stoodleigh community set about raising what for them was the enormous sum required to refurbish the ring of six and at the same time, restore some of the church’s medieval decorations. It is to the great credit of the people involved in this undertaking and with gratitude to those who donated to this effort – individuals, Uffculme Environmental Ltd., Heathcote Trust, the Central Council and particularly, the Heritage Lottery Fund and many others – that in February of this year, the work was completed and the bells were again able to ring out. These adventures have been chronicled in past issues of Ringing Round Devon by Jennifer Rowlandson.
Culmination of this stalwart enterprise was Sunday, 26 June’s Service of Thanksgiving and Rededification of the bells by the Bishop of Crediton, the Right Reverend Robert Evens.
During Evensong, augmented by a choir made up of local singers, Bishop Bob commanded the switching on of the new church interior lights. These are of a pleasant and entirely complimentary style and for which he offered a thanksgiving. Following one of his characteristically humorous and always relevant addresses, the Bishop presented Jennifer Rowlandson with the two volumes of the “Towers and Bells of Devon”, that extraordinarily comprehensive work by Messrs Scott, Mack and Clarke. This gift was made in recognition of the pivotal part played by Jennifer – it has been around her that the success of the undertaking has hinged. Subsequently, the Bishop, Vicar, Chuchwardens and Bell Ringers moved to the west end of the nave for the Rededification of the Bells. This was the cue for the resident band under Gerald Palfrey to catch hold and let the bells peal forth. Nearly all the ringers who attended the service then took a turn – in one touch, the Presidents of both the Guild and the Association together with the Chairman of the NE Branch could be seen in deep tintinabular concentration. It was a joyous occasion and a fun evening celebrating the outcome of such a worthwhile enterprise.
I had been invited to ring at Stoodleigh not long after the bells had been recommissioned and thought at the time that they possessed a very distinctive brightness and clarity. Later, these qualities were confirmed from outside when the bells were rung for the service. It is an interesting ring with the combination of light weight (the tenor being a few ounces over 7cwt) and longish draft making for some lively ropes. Gerald Palfrey is the Tower Captain on 01398 351271.
The eleventh John Hutchings Memorial Competition, held in association with the North East Branch of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers, this year took place at St Mary's, Silverton. A healthy entry of six bands was received and when not ringing, competitors were able to mingle outside in the balmy evening of a glorious early June day. A Pimm's would have rounded things off nicely!
The judges who kindly gave their time for this event were Richard Johnston and Robert Franklin. After two hours of Plain Hunt, Bob Doubles and, I believe, six courses of Grandsire, the trophy was awarded to a deserving Broadhembury.
|Results are as follows:|
|St Paul's, Tiverton||36 faults|
|St Peter’s - Tiverton||58 faults|
|Troyte Ringing Centre||64 faults|
|Members of the Broadhembury band were:|
|Pauline Champion (Conductor)||2|
Afterwards, a buffet was laid on at the Lamb Inn where Lucy Tame is seen being presented with the trophy by Richard Johnston. Robert Franklin is seated at the back on the left of the picture. As well as to the judges, thanks must go to Martin Clough of Silverton for so efficiently masterminding an enjoyable competition..
On the evening of Saturday, 14 May, six teams drawn from the Guild’s North East Branch assembled at Burlescombe to compete for the 2011 six-bell St. Peter’s Shield.
The draw took place at 6pm and after five minutes of practice, each team provided not less than ten minutes of the best striking they could manage. As was the case last year, all the teams, with one exception, chose to ring call changes; the exception this year being St Peter’s who provided 720 changes of Plain Bob Doubles. The character of the Burlescombe ring immediately became evident and proved to be a factor in the overall quality of ringing; a point acknowledged by Ian Campbell who, with Wendy as a co-judge of the competition, later addressed the assembled company and when describing the bells, felt moved to employ the oriental adjective “interesting.” However, they are not at all unpleasant to ring and given greater familiarity with them, the performance of the entrants undoubtedly would have improved but at the time, we felt confronted with hurdles enough without needing to contend with additional odd-struck challenges.
Participating bands are listed together with the judges’ markings:
|St Peter’s - Tiverton||72 faults|
|St Paul’s - Tiverton||73 faults|
|Cruwys Morchard||79 faults|
A fun competition was rounded off with a buffet in the Ayshford Arms where the Shield was presented by Les Boyce, Chairman of the N E Branch. to Sheila Scofield who accepted the presentation on behalf of a justifiably proud Bampton band composed of:
Many thanks go to Ian and Wendy Campbell for judging the competition and offering sympathetic and confidence-maintaining advice and suggestions.
On Saturday 7th May 2011 my husband Chris and I, in company with our friends from Cullompton and Gordon from Uffculme, attended a first steps in method ringing course at Huntsham.
The morning was a theory session with Mike Hatchett - a brief overview of the history of bellringing and how method ringing was developed as an alternative to call changes following the development of full-circle bells in the 1600s. We looked at how many possibilities of different changes there are on 3, 4, 5 and 6 bells, until one line is repeated and the process used to create a different ringing order each time.
There are three main ‘ingredients’ to method ringing:
Plain hunting – bells changing one place at a time. We wrote this out and looked at the path of the treble and number 2 bell.
Dodging – going ‘back on yourself’ to ring over or under the same bell in order to increase the amount of changes that can be rung.
‘Making a place’ - to stay/strike in the same place more than once consecutively other than leading or ‘lying’ behind (being the last bell).
The practical afternoon session was at All Saints Church, Huntsham and we were joined by (patient) helpers so that all 8 bells could be rung. We practiced dodges until all the bells had been swapped on the first strike and back to rounds on the second strike. We then tried ‘making places’ before hunting on 3, 4 and 5 five bells (plain hunt) and finished with plain bob doubles which included practicing the dodge!
We all enjoyed this introduction to the basics of method ringing and
are now continuing to learn back in Cullompton Tower.
The Troyte Ringing Centre wanted to celebrate the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We mustered a keen, loyal band of one asthmatic, one chest infection, one lymes disease,( ? cured ) one possible migraine,two artificial hips, an artificial heart valve, and one who thought they were probably quite well. Raising the bells was rather daunting. The three fittest ringers nobly rang up first the two, four and tenor then the treble, three and five, after which we all had a rest. Having agreed to ring Queens Changes, we started well until we realised not all of us had taken off our glasses. So we stopped, sorted ourselves out and tried again. This time we got through to the end when a bottle of pink champagne magically appeared, and with a glass each, we were able to toast William and Catherine in the traditional way. After this we decided we had rung rather well and were feeling fit enough to ring down all six bells together. Eventually this was satisfactorily achieved though not quite in peal. We discovered we hadn't finished the champagne so we thought we ought to do that then the bottle wouldn't be too heavy to carry home. Bell ringing has lots of very happy moments.
Our tower captain was ringing something long and difficult elsewhere. We missed him very much, but he was spared the irritation of some moments of inadequate ringing. As I think he was with a very experienced band, I'm sure he too was able to toast William and Catherine with something. Anyway I hope so because we all want to wish them good health, long life, joy and happiness together.
For the second of this year's Quarterly Meetings, the Branch was the guest of the ringers at Hemyock and where the first ring of the day was enjoyed in the unusually squat tower of St Mary’s; a ground-floor ring without the rope draft. Wonderful!
The service which followed produced an unexpected treat; the Rev John Stone, formerly vicar at Bampton before his retirement to Hemyock and well known to many N E Branch ringers, dusted off his vestments to conduct a fun bellringers’ service. Brenda Persey, a Clayhidon ringer, provided excellent accompaniment at the organ.
A splendid Ringers’ Tea in the village hall was followed by the business of the day with a reasonably good turn-out of the membership and most of the Committee members being able to attend. Guild rules dictate that the current Chairman must stand down at the end of the year. Leslie Boyce has been a popular and effective Chairman but he has held the office for the maximum period allowed under the Guild constitution and a new Chairman must be appointed for next year. Les's shoes will not be easy to fill but consideration has to be be given to appointing his successor and it is hoped that the membership will exercise itself in the matter.
A short trip from Hemyock to Clayhidon found the intrepid visitors in the tower at St Andrew’s for more fun and games. Here the A-team delighted with some first-class striking in a touch of Bob Minor. The rest of us did our best to copy our betters but in the case of the writer, with customary lack of success.
To Brian Samuels and Lin Holway (Tower Captain) as well as the behind-the-scenes helpers at Hemyock must go special thanks for hosting a thoroughly enjoyable day. And thanks too to the Ringing Masters, Sheila Scofield and Richard Johnston who kept things in order, supported the less advanced and ensured everyone managed as much rope time as was wanted.
* To see the Claude Rains reference above, click here.
At the request of the Cathedral Dean and Chapter, made through the Deanery Lay Chairs, the North East Branch of the Guild was invited to ring for Saturday's Evensong on the 26th February at Exeter Cathedral. Invitations like this are not often extended, so the band assembled was conscious of participating in a special event. Regrettably, some members who usually would be included in the band were not available, so only eight ringers could be mustered. Fortuitously, Ian and Wendy Campbell "happened to be about", so an augmentation was possible.
The ringing programme comprised a touch of Stedman Triples, Call Changes on 10 and touches and courses of Grandsire Caters. Even making allowance for the teensiest possibility of judgmental bias on the part of the writer, it has to be acknowledged that the quality of ringing was high and unquestionably to "cathedral" standard. The Stedman - that most musically balanced of methods - was taken at a spot-on speed and the striking was exemplary. Branch members involved in the ringing were Les Boyce, Charlotte Boyce, Dermot Elworthy, John Kape, Richard Johnston, Terry Hargreaves, Sheila Scofield, Richard Shere and Matthew Weighell. Grateful thanks are extended to Ian and Wendy Campbell for more than making up the numbers.
(with acknowledgments to Ringing Round Devon)
Saturday 19th March was a treat of a training day at All Saint's, Huntsham. A sparkling frosty morning, a carpet of wild daffodils and Pat already with the coffee on, got us off to a perfect start. While we drank our coffee in the pews, Michael explained the theory of "First Steps in Method Ringing", and the main difference between called changes and method, illustrated and enlivened by Hatchett ancecdotes.
Three called-change ringers, Maureen Taylor, Simon Bartlett and Barbara Ford were taking first steps in method ringing, plain hunting on 3, 4 and 5 bells and even (in Maureen's case) ringing the treble to Plain Bob Doubles - thus proving that with ringing, as with bike-riding, one never entirely forgets. Libby Ford and Eve Grosse were practising and consolidating Plain Bob Doubles.
In all this we were patiently and expertly helped by Leslie Boyce, Charlotte Boyce, Sheila Scofield, Matt Webb and Matthew Weighell. Pat warmed and refreshed us with hot soup, cold cuts, cheese and salad. What a healthy way to spend a day! Many thanks to all who helped.
Wednesday, 9 March, celebrated the first of this year's midweek outings of the North East Branch. Joint organisers John Kape and Ken Wannell were faced with unexpected logistical difficulties as one of the churches to be visited had a last-minute funeral. This dictated a hasty change of schedule and things were further compounded by a fire the previous night at the pub where the lunch had been booked.
The morning ring was on the eight at Newton St Cyres where there is excellent car parking. The landlord in Newton St Cyres village provided a magnificent response to the very short warning of the invasion by some 20 hungry ringers and gastronomic plans also had to be changed; thus I was obliged to substitute the Stilton Ploughman's ordered some weeks ago at The Beer Engine for Fish Cakes at the Crown and Sceptre - all very discomfiting but they did have an excellent beer called "Bob". I asked the pretty girl behind the bar if the brewery did one called "Single". Strangely, this remarkably witty query was met with reaction little more than the raising of an uncomprehending eyebrow. Oh well, clearly a hint for some more ringing.
This time at the quite drafty but very well behaved six at Shobrooke. I think this was my favourite ring of the day but the similarly weighted eight at Pinhoe which followed was a very close second. Unusually for a Guild assembly, there seemed as many call-changers as methodologists present, so the standard fare of Grandsire, Plain Bob and Stedman was well sprinkled with 3-1, 5-2, 5,3, 7-1 etc. Also a little unusual on this ooccasion was the midweek "wrinklies" being joined by a few who did not qualify for free bus passes. This is always refreshing.
Grateful thanks to John and Ken for organising a very enjoyable day out. Some had to miss the Pinhoe ring due to other imperatives but those who stayed the course are pictured below:
It is with considerable regret that the death of Chris Shere is recorded here. Chris, who suffered a heart attack some eleven years ago, succumbed to the consequences of a further and much more recent attack and died at his home in Huntsham on 18 February last. He was fifty six.
He was both respected and liked as a member of the Huntsham community and a keen participant in the activities of the Troyte Centre where he had been ringing for some four years; in this he followed his father who rang at Huntsham in the 'forties and early 'fifties and with his sister Ann and cousin Richard, shared an enthusiasm for the bells. He will be sadly missed by those who knew and rang with him.
The funeral will be held at Huntsham church, 2 pm on Tuesday, 1 March. After the service, a farewell touch will be provided by fellow ringers.
Those who know the fine ring at the cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, will be greatly saddened by the extent of the damage suffered as a consequence of the latest earthquake, pictures of which have been seen in the English news media. The photos show the absence of the once lofty spire but what is not immediately obvious is that the bells and frames have gone too. This is a dreadful devastation, particularly as this was, perhaps, the finest ring in a country not over-endowed with full circle towers. Sadly, there will be no calls of "Go Yorkshire Surprise Maximus" here for some years to come.
Sympathy is extended to the ringing brotherhood in New Zealand.
After a year's interregnum, Bampton once again has a resident vicar. The Rev Lynne Burgon was greeted by some splended ringing as recorded by these two "Peal Boards"; she is welcomed by the local and very active ringing community of the North East Branch.
The first course in Raising and Lowering was held at Huntsham on 23 October last year and proved such a success that popular demand dictated a second seminar on 22 January last. This proved no less successful as Sharon McCabe's account testifies. Consequently, a "consolidation" day is being planned as a successor to these two training days. Watch this space . . .
Having started my new hobby of bell ringing nearly a year ago, I was asked if I would be interested in attending a day’s training course at Huntsham on raising and lowering the bells. Of course I jumped at the chance.
We arrived at 10.00 to a lovely warm welcome of hot coffee and biscuits and we all got to know where everyone on the course had come from (there were 5 of us) and, of course, asked the usual questions of “how long have you been bell ringing?” and “how did you get into it?”
Mike (our instructor) gave us a run down on what the day would hold for us, and then we made our way to the ringing chamber. Six of the eight bells were already “up” and we took it in turns to lower the bell on a one-to-one basis so Mike could observe our “technique”. He then gave us feed back on how we could improve. This was all put across in a very friendly manner so none of us was left feeling intimidated.
The rest of the morning was taken up by practicing raising the bell and lowering while following an experienced ringer (our thanks go to Richard for being so patient in repeating the same thing over and over). Mike continued to encourage us all and answered every question we put to him.
At 1.00 we stopped for lunch which included warming soup, rolls, salad, cold cuts, cheese and a wonderful banana trifle (I don’t think I will ever forget that trifle, it was so good). Again we were very grateful to Pat for all her hard work in keeping us fed and watered.
During lunch we were joined by more helpers for the afternoon session. We spent the afternoon putting into practice what we had learned in the morning by taking turns to lower in peal, firstly as one of 6 bells and then one of 8. These were incredibly helpful and although we were not always keeping in time it was really useful to learn the reasons why and how to get back into time with the other ringers.
At the end of the course we all enjoyed a chat over a cup of tea and slice of Victoria sandwich.
I am sure I am not alone in saying how helpful and enjoyable this course was. I certainly intend to take part in more in the future.
All I need to do now is put everything I have learned into practice (and plenty of it) so that I, too, will be able to raise and lower in peal with confidence.
I cannot thank everyone enough (especially Mike) for their time and kindness.
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.
|SOUVENIR GOODS - PRICES|
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 email@example.com .