The history of the Troyte Ringing Centre may be encapsulated within four phases:
In the year 2000 the North East Branch of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers decided that insufficient attention was being given to the development of basic bell handling skills and that the development of good bell handling was hampered by insufficient guided practice opportunities within the Branch. The Branch Committee decided that funds would be raised to install a dedicated practice bell linked to a computer based simulator in a tower affiliated to the Branch. In 2001 sufficient funds had been raised to buy a redundant 6 cwt. tower bell and hang it in the Bampton bell tower. Since 2001 this bell has been available to any tower or individual wishing to develop their bell handling and basic method ringing skills. Volunteers are available to support individuals, and towers are encouraged to bring their own personnel to support and train their own learners. Bampton bell ringers have their own ringing policy and their support volunteers are CRB checked. No charge is made for the use of the Bampton Practice Bell but donations are, of course, accepted from those using this facility.
In 2002 Huntsham church joined the group of churches located around Bampton. Historically Huntsham was the tower where Charles Troyte in 1874 developed a band of ringers who rang their first peal at Huntsham in February 1875 for the newly formed Guild of Devonshire Ringers of which Charles Troyte was the first President. Thus, there seemed no better place to locate, in partnership with Bampton and its Practice Bell, a modern Ringing Centre. However, in 2002 the Huntsham tower and bells were in poor condition, two of the bells were un-ringable and the tower roof leaked badly. A small team of ringing enthusiasts approached the Huntsham PCC with a proposal to raise the funds necessary to repair the tower, remodel and re-hang the eight bells to provide an easy going light eight suited for use by ringers of all capabilities. There were two conditions attached to this offer. The first was that the PCC would not be asked to provide funds for the project and the second condition was that the bells were to be available as appropriate for a modern Ringing Centre. To minimise the likelihood of complaints a sound control system was introduced to reduce sound output from the tower on all ringing occasions except when ringing for services and events as requested by the local inhabitants.
In November 2004 the work to the tower and to the installation of the remodelled and re-hung ring of eight bells was completed and the first peal in the restored tower was rung on Saturday 4 December. Thus from this same month the Troyte Ringing Centre operated fully in both centres, with weekly sessions on basic bell handling at Bampton and open ringing on six and eight bells at Huntsham.
It had always been the intention of the Troyte Ringing Centre activists, since its inception in 2004, that the centre should be fully integrated within the North East Branch of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers. Therefore it was intended that the Branch Education and Training Officer would be actively involved in the Ringing Centre and the centre’s programme of events and activities would primarily reflect the needs and interests of the North East Branch members. In 2007 the Centre was awarded the Founders’ Company Ringing Centres prize reflecting the range and quality of the activities undertaken within the Centre. The Bampton Practice bell has been in regularly use on two or three occasions each week since 2001, and the light eight at Huntsham has been rung every week for beginners’ practices and peal attempts, monthly for advanced practices, and six times per year for one day and/or half day training and development sessions. By 2010 the Troyte Ringing Centre activists felt that the centre was reasonably well integrated within the North East Branch. The centre had received donations from users well in excess of £20,000 and this money had been used to replace the bearings of the Bampton six, to re-bush their clappers and to replace their pulley blocks. New ropes had been provided for both Bampton and Huntsham and annual donations had been made to Huntsham PCC, the Devon Bell Restoration Fund and each year donations were made to charities recommended by the local community and to those bell restoration projects which made applications to the centre for funds. In retrospect this was a level of activity which could not be sustained indefinitely.
In 2012 the North East Branch of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers decided that they would like the Troyte Ringing Centre to be managed separately from the activities of the North East Branch and thus a new era in the Centre’s activities started.
The Bampton practice bell is used each week on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
A programme of ringing, practice and training events runs each year, details of the current programme can be found HERE.