The Seventh Annual Meeting of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers will be held at the Church House, Dean’s Yard, Westminster, on Whit-Tuesday, June 8th. Further details respecting the meeting will be published with the Agenda. Notices of motion, etc., & signed by two representatives, should be in the hands of the Hon. Secretary by Saturday, May 15th. The election of the following representatives has been notified to the Hon. Secretary:-

Ancient Society of College YouthsBurkin, W.
Cockerill, W. T.
Newton, H. R.
Smith, W. D.
Royal Cumberland YouthsDains, H.
Foskett, B.
Jacob, A.
Parker, Jas.
Bath and Wells Diocesan AssociationBoutflower, C. E. D.
Todd, Rev. J. U.
Bedfordshire AssociationBaker, Rev. W. W. C.
Birmingham and District SocietyHitchman, Geo.
Chester Diocesan GuildDillon, Jas.
Walmsley, W.
Devonshire GuildKelly, Rev. M.
Shepherd, Ferris.
Durham and Newcastle AssociationHudson, T.
Lees, F.
Story, R. S.
Essex AssociationNevard, W.
Newman, F. G.
Papillon, Rev. T. L.
Pitstow, N. J.
Gloucester and Bristol AssociationCockey, Rev. H. A.
James, E. B.
Phillott, G. H.
Hereford Diocesan GuildBratton, T. J.
Hertford County AssociationDebenham, E. P.
Kent County AssociationCarpenter, Rev. E. W.
Haigh, W.
Helmore, Rev. F. J. O.
Thornton, F. W.
Lancashire AssociationClements, Rev. C. A.
Eachus, J.
Elsee, Rev. H. J.
Ridyard, R.
Leeds and District SocietyBinns, R.
Lincolnshire, North, AssociationChester, G.
Linley, F. F.
Lincolnshire, South, AssociationJames, Rev. H. Law.
Liverpool Diocesan GuildBentham, W.
Middlesex AssociationBuckingham, W. H. L.
Waghorn, J.
Middlesex S. W. GuildBasden, J.
Midland Counties’ AssociationGriffin, J.
Heywood, A. P.
Taylor, J. W., jun.
Wakley, W.
Norwich Diocesan AssociationBulwer, Rev. H. E.
Catchpole, W. L.
Motts, J.
Trollope, J. A.
Oxford Diocesan GuildCocks, A. H.
Coleridge, Rev. G. F.
Robinson, Rev. F. E.
Washbrook, J. W.
Stafford Archdeaconry SocietyCartwright, R.
Reeves, S.
Surrey AssociationCarpenter, A. B.
Jones, J. J.
Sussex County AssociationAttree, G. F.
Davies, Rev. C. D. P.
Saker, S.
Williams, G.
Winchester Diocesan GuildHarvey, Rev. R. C. M.
Matthews, Rev. C. E.
White, H.
Whiting, J. W.
Worcestershire AssociationGrove, R. E.
Pritchett, J. S.

Contributions have been received from the following Societies, but at present no corresponding return of representatives: Hereford Diocesan Guild and St. Martin’s Guild, Birmingham. Neither contribution nor return from the following up to date: Salisbury Diocesan, Yorkshire.

H. Earle Bulwer, Hon. Sec. C.C.

26th April, 1897.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record, May 8, 1897, page 17


The Seventh Annual Meeting of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers was held on Whit-Tuesday at the Church House, Westminster, under the presidency of Mr. Percival Heywood. The following representatives attended:- Ancient Society of College Youths: Messrs. Burkin, Cockerill, Newton, and Smith. Royal Cumberland Society: Messrs. Dains and Parker. Norwich Association: Messrs. Catchpole, Trollope, and Rev. H. Earle Bulwer. Oxford Guild: Revs. F. E. Robinson and G. F. Coleridge, Messrs. Cocks and Washbrook. Essex Association: Rev. T. L. Papillon, Messrs. Pitstow and Newman. Devonshire Guild: Rev. Maitland Kelly. South Lincolnshire Association: Rev. H. L. James. Kent County Association: Revs. E. W. Carpenter and F. J. Helmore, Messrs. Thornton and Haigh. Middlesex Association: Mr. Waghorn, sen. Leeds and District Association: Mr. Binns. Midland Counties’ Association: Messrs. Heywood, Taylor, Wakley, and Griffin. Chester Diocesan Guild: Messrs. Walmsley and Dillon. Gloucester and Bristol Association: Rev. H. A. Cockey, and Mr. Phillott. Worcestershire Association: Mr. Grove. Surrey Association: Mr. Jones. Winchester Guild: Revs. C. Matthews and R. C. M. Harvey, and Mr. Whiting. Lancashire Association: Rev. H. J. Elsee and Mr. Ridyard. Sussex Association: Rev. C. D. P. Davies, and Messrs. Attree, Williams, and Saker. Stafford Association: Mr. S. Reeves. Yorkshire Association: Mr. Bolland. St. James’ Society: Messrs. W. Weatherstone and E. O’Meara. Durham and Newcastle Association: Messrs. Story, Lees and Hudson. Honorary Members: Messrs. Pettit, Mitchell, and Carter.

The Rev. H. Earle Bulwer having been temporarily voted to the chair, on the motion of Mr. Cockerill, seconded by Mr. Dains, Mr. Heywood was elected President.

Mr. Heywood, having taken the chair, said: I am exceedingly obliged to the proposer and seconder and the gentlemen present for the kind way in which they have elected me to this office. I am not going to waste your time in elaborating my thoughts, but I may say that I will do my best to justify the confidence which you have again placed in me.

The Rev. H. Earle Bulwer was then elected as Hon. Secretary on the motion of Mr. G. F. Attree, seconded by Mr. Catchpole.

Mr. Bulwer said in acknowledgement: I am very much obliged, gentlemen, for this mark of continued confidence which you have been pleased to give me, and I can only assure you of the very great pleasure it is to undertake the secretarial duties of your Council. I have to thank all Secretaries of Associations, as well as the other representatives of the societies, for the assistance they have accorded me in the past, and I hope will accord me in the future. Before I sit down perhaps I may mention that I have on the table printed copies of the Council rules. Those representatives who are not in possession of them, can secure them on application.

The minutes of the last meeting were then read and confirmed.

On the motion of Mr. Griffin, seconded by Mr. W. D. Smith, the following gentlemen were elected as Honorary Members of the Council: Mr. Pettit, Mr. F. E. Ward, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. F. W. Rees, Mr. Dawe, Mr. J. Carter, and the Rev. J. H. Pilkington.

The Standing Committee was elected on the motion of the Rev. Maitland Kelly, seconded by Mr. S. Reeves: Rev. F. E. Robinson, Rev. C. D. P. Davies, Rev. G. F. Coleridge, Mr. Snowdon, Mr. Dains, Mr. Rees, Mr. Dawe, Mr. Hattersley, Mr. Lockwood, Mr. Washbrook, Mr. Attree, Mr. Strange, with the President and Hon. Secretary.

The Hon. Secretary then read the Financial Statement, shewing a balance in hand of upwards of £50, which was passed on the motion of Mr. H. R. Newton, seconded by Mr. W. Walmsley.

The President said: I think we owe a debt of gratitude to our Hon. Secretary for the exceedingly economic way in which he has managed our funds. I may add that we are extremely anxious to have a sufficient balance to meet the increasing demands of our Committee work. We have no desire to become a rich body, but we think that whenever Committee-work comes before us, we should have funds to undertake it.


The Hon. Secretary having read letters of apology from those who were unable to attend,


The President said the next question was the Report from the Railway Fares Committee.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey said: In reference to the final answer from the Railway Clearing House to our application, I may say that it was suggested to form a deputation. I wrote a letter to the authorities, and received an answer from the Secretary stating that the attendance of a deputation would not be required. At the request of the Committee, I asked that I might attend at the next meeting, and lay the matter before the Committee, and the only answer I received was a letter which I read at the last meeting. The Committee did not see their way to grant the application for a reduction of railway fares by one half. I may mention that although we asked for a single fare charge, instead of a return fare charge, what we really wanted was a reduction of some sort. We were not particular about sticking to the single fare, but would have been satisfied with a single fare and a quarter. No notice was taken of a further application, however. Such, then, was the result of the application last year. Our efforts have been a failure, and worse than a failure, because I am sorry to say that since last year some of the Societies, to whom reductions had been granted without the consent of the Clearing House Committee have had those reductions taken off again. I do not know that we can do any more in the matter, but if anybody has anything to say, or any suggestion to make, I shall be ready to do what is in my power, unless it is your wish that I should make room for a more able person.

The Rev. F. J. O. Helmore: It has been suggested to me that ringers throughout the country should be moved to introduce a monster petition, and that every individual member should be pressed to sign it, so that the railway companies may come to a better understanding than they seem to have at present of what an important body the bellringers of England are.

The President: Perhaps if Mr. Cockey is kind enough to continue his work, and the other gentlemen who form the Committee have no objection to retain office, they will bear in mind what Mr. Helmore has said. There is a desire that the matter should not lapse, and that the Committee should take active steps against the railway companies. For the present they might act as a Watch Committee. There is a little doubt that in time we shall have what we want, seeing that we are a more important body than the musicians to whom the required privilege is already granted. (laughter) Our application will certainly not be acceded to without continuous pressure.

The Rev. T. L. Papillon: I think the only course in this case is to keep pegging away, and then there will be a chance of getting what we want.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey: May I ask the gentlemen present if they think the idea of a monster petition is advisable. If it is, I shall be glad to take action.

Mr. Story: I may say that we have already put before the Clearing House the total numbers of our Associations. I suppose what is now proposed will come almost to the same thing. I do not think a few additional signatures will alter the effect of our application.

Mr. Griffin: As a member of the old Committee on Railway Fares, I would like to suggest that it should be re-elected. The only way to keep the matter before the Railway Companies is to send up some other petition. Personally I think it would be a very good idea to get signatures to the petition, and send them up. There are already individual members of Associations connected with the Council who have applied, but I think the Council should take steps as a whole.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey: If each individual Association were to take action by addressing the Companies, and if a petition were to be sent in at the same time, it might lead to a better result.

The President: I think you might very well leave the Committee to weigh the various suggestions.

The Committee, consisting of the Rev. H. A. Cockey, Mr. Story, Mr. Griffin, and Mr. Attree, were re-elected on the motion of the Rev. T. L. Papillon, seconded by Mr. Hudson.


The Hon. Secretary: I have to report to the Council that progress is being made with the preparation of the first draft of the Glossary. The work has been attended with some little difficulty. The progress made has not been very rapid, but it is going on. The Committee have had the first draft before them, but it is uncertain when we shall be able to lay anything in a definite form before the Council for approval. There is really, however, no violent hurry. It is better to take careful action than to hurry or slur the work over. I hope the Council will entrust the Committee with power to carry on the matter, and to take what steps are necessary for the publication of the Glossary. I think that by the time we have completed the Glossary it will be a valuable work, but it is a question whether the Council’s finances are sufficient to bear the strain and responsibility of publishing, or whether the Committee should try to get some firm of publishers to take the matter into their own hands. It will be a matter for future consideration, and at present I only ask that the Council will allow the work to go on.

On the motion of Mr. Story, seconded by Mr. Parker, the Committee, consisting of the President, the Hon. Secretary, Rev. C. D. P. Davies, Mr. Dains, Mr. N. J. Pitstow and Mr. Snowdon, were re-elected.


Mr. Attree said: I have no report, but I think that those who were present at the last meeting will remember that it was left to me personally to make slight alterations, and to consider certain points that were then brought forward. I have acted in accordance with my instructions, and have formed the following short report.

To the members of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.

Gentlemen,- At the last meeting of the Council held at Brighton on Easter-Tuesday, 1896, it was delegated to me to consider various suggestions made by members present concerning the schedule of values of peals upon a varying number of bells, and in all the practised methods. I have carefully weighed the proposals, and beg to report as follows:

  1. As to length of compositions rung:-

    I would suggest that the schedule should be based upon peals of 5000 changes, that lengths of between 7000 and 10,000 changes should score as two peals, 10,000 and under 12,000 as three peals, and so on in the same ratio.

  2. As to the weight of metal:-

    I feel convinced that except in a few special cases, the question of whether the tenor weighs 10, 20 or even 30 cwt., adds little or no additional value to a performance. Ringers who are in the habit of ringing heavy bells would find it difficult to strike light ones well, and would obtain less satisfaction therefrom than by obtaining a peal upon the ring of bells with a heavy tenor.

  3. As to the quality of the composition rung and the correctness of the striking throughout the performance:-

    These questions, I do not think, can be taken into consideration in fixing the schedule of values, but must be left in the first instance to the good sense of the conductor to choose only musical compositions, and otherwise to the honour of the band that only true and complete performances be allowed to be published as peals.

I now propose that for peals of 5000 changes the schedule of values be fixed as under:-


All Plain Methods.- Triples 7, Major 8, Caters 9, Royal 10, Cinques 11, Maximus 12 points.

All Double Methods.- Double Norwich, Oxford, Duffield, etc., Major, 16, Royal 18, Maximus 20 points.

In Stedman’s Principle.- Triples 24, Caters 24, Cinques 28 points.

Alliance.- Major 10, Royal 12, Maximus 14 points.

Treble Bob Methods.- Major 12, Royal 14, Maximus 16 points.

Surprise Methods.- London 50, Cambridge 40, New Cumberland and Oxford Surprise 30, Superlative 25, Champion, Forward, Birmingham and Loughborough 20 points.

Peals on Six Bells.- In one plain method 3, in two plain methods 4, in three plain methods 5, in four plain methods 6, in five plain methods 7, in six plain methods 8, in seven plain methods 9. In seven double methods 15, in seven Treble Bob methods, 15. In seven Surprise methods 25 points.

The President: I am sure we are all very much indebted to Mr. Attree for his trouble, and also to the Committee for taking so much pains in this matter. I would suggest to the Council that this report should appear in due course in our proceedings, and I would like to ask whether it would not be better to let the matter rest until the year has gone by. We could then consider the points mentioned in the report, and at the next meeting finally ratify or amend the conclusions of the Committee. We have the utmost confidence in Mr. Attree in this matter, but we can hardly venture to decide on a report with so many figures in it until it is printed.

Mr. Attree: The analysis for 1896 has been kept over for the final decision of the Council as to whether they would like the new proposal to be carried out.

The President: Yes, Mr. Attree is so well acquainted with the figures that we can trust him in the matter. At the same time we cannot very well adopt the report, so perhaps someone will propose the re-election of the Committee.

Mr. Attree: There would be no harm in the Committee being re-elected.

The Rev. H. Law James: May I ask what objection there is to Double Norwich Court Bob Caters.

Mr. Attree: I think that methods of that description ought not to be rung (laughter).

The Rev. H. Law James: May I ask why not? This Double Norwich is far better than the music that you can otherwise get on nine bells. It is a perfectly good method.

Mr. Attree: It may be so, but any rate, Double Norwich ought to be on even bells only.

Rev. H. Law James: It can be rung.

Mr. Attree: I should give the Caters the same number of points as the Major.

The President: I do not think we should enter into discussion of the details of the question now. But I have no doubt Mr. Attree will bear Mr. James’s suggestion in mind.

On the motion of the Rev. G. F. Coleridge, seconded by the Rev. C. D. P. Davies, it was then resolved that the Committee, consisting of Mr. Attree, Dr. Carpenter, Mr. Dains, Mr. Washbrook, Mr. E. B. James, Mr. Carter, and the President, be re-elected, and that Mr. Attree be asked to make use of the table now formulated for the calculation of the past year’s points.


The Hon. Secretary: I have a report from Mr. Strange on the progress of the Bibliography, but it does not contain anything bearing on the work, and therefore I do not think it is necessary to take up the time of the meeting on the subject. The Report is simply to the effect that Mr. Strange is going on with the work, and that there is a good deal of information to hand. I have great pleasure in proposing that Mr. Strange be re-elected to carry on the work.

On the motion of the Rev. E. W. Carpenter, seconded by Mr. Dains, Mr. Strange was re-elected.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record, June 19, 1897, pages 85 to 86


The Hon. Secretary presented the following report on “Original Authorship” and “Variation:”

“The Committee appointed at the last Meeting of the Council to formulate a definition of the points constituting ‘Original Authorship,’ and of those determining ‘Variation,’ having carefully considered the subject referred to them, beg to report that the conditions controlling composition vary so greatly according to the method treated that it is impossible to devise a comprehensive set of rules which shall be equally applicable to all methods alike for settling these points, and yet free from the imperfection of being too lax when applied to some methods, and too stringent in the case of others. Each method requires separate consideration and rules determining the limits of originality in composition, applicable to itself: and though it would no doubt be possible to form groups of methods, to each of which one set of rules might be applicable, the result would be both cumbrous and confusing. The Committee, therefore, think that it will be better to limit themselves, in the first instance, to a general statement of the features distinguishing ‘Originality,’ which are, more or less, applicable to all methods.

  1. The earliest ascertainable true composition on any definite plan in any method, which is not a reproduction, or colourable imitation, of the same composition in another method, is entitled to be termed ‘the original’ composition on that plan.

  2. Subsequent compositions on the same plan, which are not demonstrably reversals or transpositions (as hereinafter described) or colourable imitations of a previous composition in the same method, may be considered as ‘distinct’ compositions on the plan, and allowed the distinction of ‘originality.’

  3. Reversals, in which the calls in one position are exchanged for those in another, including direct inversions of calling: Transpositions, by which one bell is substituted for another as ‘the observation,’ or re-arrangements of the same calling: Artificial alterations, such as the employment of alternative calls, the multiplication, or subtraction, or shifting of singles, or the redistribution of ‘shunting’ calls, by which the general result is not affected, but only the form of the composition - if applied to any previous composition possessed of the distinction of ‘originality,’ - are to be considered as ‘Variations’!

In the foregoing statement the Committee use the word ‘plan’ in a comprehensive sense, as embracing not only the division of a composition into a given number of parts, but also the assignment of ‘qualities’ with reference to length, the treatment of ‘fixed,’ or ‘observation’ bells, or any other distinctive feature in construction.

The Hon. Secretary added: I think it would, perhaps, be as well before the Council take action on this report that it should be put into type, and the Committee should be re-elected.

The President: The report will appear in “The Bell News” along with the rest of our proceedings to-day. I am sure we must all appreciate the able way in which this report deals with a most difficult subject, and while, I think, we shall probably almost entirely agree with its conclusions, it would be impossible to adopt it as our united opinion until we have perused it in print as Mr. Bulwer suggests.

Mr. Griffin proposed and Mr. J. Dillon seconded and it was was carried that the Committee, consisting of the Hon. Secretary, the Rev. C. D. P. Davies, Dr. Carpenter, and Mr. Dains, be re-elected.


Mr. Thornton: I beg to move “That the practice of using visible aids to memory in the conduction of peals is detrimental to the interests of the Art; and to recommend for the adoption of Societies a rule requiring all performances to be certified as conducted without such aid.” Doubtless every member of the Council has by this time made himself conversant with what took place in a certain Kentish district last autumn. Statements have been made which have been proved to the hilt that certain conductors were not accustomed to commit their peals to memory, but had the figures by their side. I have taken exception to that practice as being most unfair, and most unjust. I look upon the practice as almost illegal. I cannot think that those gentlemen who use visible aids can rank in the same standard with those who conduct their peals from memory, and who, undismayed by failure, still continue their efforts. We have suffered very severely from this objectionable practice, which is especially prevalent in one district I could point to. I thought when I made a statement last year at Lewisham that the custom was confined to Kent, but I hear it is common elsewhere, though not to the same extent. It is now high time the Council took some action. We in Kent have done our best. My friend, Mr. Helmore, jumped into the breach, and agrees with me that the rule we have propounded would certainly be of benefit to ringers and the Exercise generally (hear, hear).

The Rev. F. J. O. Helmore: I beg to second the resolution. I think in doing so I may say that yesterday we held our Annual Meeting, and that I then moved that a resolution should be inserted in the peal book. I hope that some action will be taken to stop the illegal practice now complained of. In moving in the matter yesterday I made use of words to the effect that I found there were certain difficulties in getting conductors to abide by the decision made last December, to the effect that a certificate should be given that no visible aid to memory had been used in calling. I hope that now public attention has been called to this matter, the conductors will give up the use of visible calls.

Mr. J. W. Taylor: I would like to ask whether the resolution will prevent part-ends being hung up. My poor head would certainly not carry them. As to the calling, I must confess that I should not care to see bobs, &c., hung up. One difficulty which is likely to be felt in different parts of the country is that a young company trying to introduce change-ringing into a district where there has never been any half-pull ringing, might have difficulty in getting a peal conducted.

Mr. W. D. Smith: I think Mr. Taylor’s question might be answered with regard to the part-ends. If a man conducts a peal he should do it from memory, and I shall support the resolution on the ground that it excludes all visible aids to memory.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey: Does not the meeting think that this rule is rather hard and fast for some companies who have only one conductor? They might take the matter up and be debarred from ringing peals for a long time, because they were not able to manage without some simple aid. To use visible aids constantly is, however, most illegal.

Mr. Attree: I fail to see where the illegality comes in. When you speak of visible aids to memory as very undesirable, I can readily understand it, but if you go back far enough, I think you will find that a ringer so greatly respected as John Holt conducted the peal from manuscript. I do not think that, now the question has been ventilated in public, the evil will continue to such an extent, and, therefore, you might very well leave the point to the good sense of all conductors, without asking the Council to pass any resolution.

Rev. H. L. James: Where such things are done it should be publicly stated. I think it is noted on the peal-board that John Holt called the bobs from manuscript. I do not think there is any illegality in that. In some cases a cut and dried rule may be very hard on those who have to learn.

Mr. T. Hudson: I think everybody will admit that it is undesirable that manuscripts should be used as a general rule, but there are some occasions where a few notes, such as course-ends, might be taken advantage of. I think, therefore, the resolution, so far as it asks us to condemn any form of manuscript or any aid to memory, might be fairly left to the honour of the ringers, or of the conductor, without requiring them to send up a formal certificate to the effect that such and such a thing has been done. At any rate, the word of the conductor might be fairly accepted. I feel that the resolution as it stands is much too strong, and I shall therefore vote against it.

The Rev. R. C. M. Harvey: In the first effort at conducting that I made I had the course-ends written down, certainly not more than the course-ends, and I should not have had the effrontery to ask for more.

The Rev. E. W. Carpenter moved an amendment to the effect “That the Council is of opinion that where a peal is published in the ordinary way it is to be understood that no visible aids to memory have been used.”

Mr. R. Binns: I think ringers should have some discretion in the matter.

The Rev. T. L. Papillon: I should like to propose the following variation in the form of the amendment: “That the Council is of opinion that the use of visible aids to memory in conducting peals is undesirable, and that if such aids are used the fact ought to be signified in any published report.” That expresses the general feeling of the Council that the use of visible aids is not desirable. We all feel that it is a very different thing to conduct a peal from memory, and to conduct one with the part-ends or any other figures written down. At the same time the resolution recognises the possibility of visible aids being occasionally used under circumstances which have been very well put before us in the interests of beginners. My amendment also says that if such aids are used, the fact ought to be notified, because the peal would not be so satisfactory as if the conductor had not put anything down. But whatever may be said of the conductors, I do not see why young ringers should not have the credit of their peal.

The Rev. E. W. Carpenter: May I thank Mr. Papillon for putting in better words than my own exactly what I meant to be inferred. Mr. Washbrook, my seconder, agrees with me that this amendment is exactly what we should like to see carried, and therefore I should like to withdraw my amendment.

Mr. Thornton: I may say that I had no idea of representing that the young beginners are to be blamed for what the conductor does, and I am ready to withdraw my resolution in favour of the amendment.

The Rev. C. Matthews seconded Mr. Papillon’s amendment.

The President: Then the resolution and first amendment are by leave withdrawn, and Mr. Papillon’s amendment, seconded by Mr. Matthews, becomes the substantive motion.

On being put to the meeting, the motion was carried unanimously.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record, June 26, 1897, pages 97 to 98


Mr. Thornton: Mr. President, and Gentlemen- I beg to move “That an official letter be written to the Very Rev. the Dean of Westminster, on behalf of the Council, calling attention to the condition of the ringing-chamber at Westminster Abbey, and the unringable state of the bells, and requesting him to use his influence in the direction of belfry reform in this instance.” There is no need for me to say very much on this subject. So much has been written by those who have had the pleasure of visiting the Abbey belfry, that you will be able to picture what the place is like. Some time has elapsed since my visit. Since then nothing has been done. On the occasion of that visit, the chamber was in a most disreputable condition. The floor was covered with dirt; no provision was made for any one wishing to sit; and everything it is possible to mention was out of order. I understand that the bells are only rung on a few occasions during the year, and that with the exception of a small number ringers, who are carefully counted, the only person who as a rule goes into the belfry is the clock winder. The place is a national disgrace. Its condition is shocking. It is unfit for any one to go into. I do not know whether any member of the Council will try to obtain admittance while in London. If they do they will see a sight they will not forget to the last day of their lives. Suggestions have been made as to recasting the peal, but if we ask too much we shall get nothing. The belfry might, however, be kept clean. I do not suppose the Dean would agree to a request that the bells should be recast during the present year, but if a letter was written to him, something might not only come of it, but it might be the forerunner of many reforms in the Metropolis, where reforms are very much needed.

The President: I do not think it is within the province of this Council to take up questions of this kind. If we once begin to deal with local grievances we shall get ourselves into difficulties. I am quite sure that we all of us agree with Mr. Thornton In thinking it is most desirable that something should be done to remove a very great disgrace, and I believe attention has been directed to the subject, for, if I am not mistaken, Mr. Coleridge has spoken to the authorities on the matter. I would at the same time point out that the Council could not send a letter on the strength of the resolution. If we were to undertake such a communication at all, it would have to be on the report of a specially appointed Committee. It is, however, a question much more for the Metropolitan Societies to deal with, than for this body, and I consequently feel compelled to rule the motion out of order. I may, perhaps, say that an opportunity of dealing to some extent with the matter will arise if the next motion is carried. (Applause).


The President: I should have liked to have gone more fully into this subject than is now possible, but I must refer gentlemen present to the reports which have appeared in “The Bell News” of what I have previously said thereon. I am impressed by the fact that the Exercise has now practically come to a deadlock. We ringers have made ourselves, chiefly by our own efforts, into a very respectable body, but we cannot get Church authorities and the public generally to do their part and recognise fairly us and our Art. Why may we not be treated with the same consideration as the church choir? We often hear of Choral Festivals, but who ever heard of Church authorities getting up a ringing festival, yet these instruments we use are usually the most costly possession of a church, with the value of which no organ can compare. Yet while organs are kept in good tune and repair, the same cannot be said of bells. It is simply incredible that peals like that of St. Saviour’s, Southwark, Westminster Abbey, and scores of others should be allowed to remain without proper attention. We have tried for years, and, I may say, have finally failed in obtaining a hearing before Church Congress; but we must in some way bespeak proper attention. After giving a good deal of thought to the subject, I have come to the conclusion that there might be a chance of putting an end to the deadlock, and of obtaining a proper recognition of the ringers’ position and of the value of our bells, if we could get from the Secretaries of the various Associations throughout the country a return of the condition, at the present time, of all peals of 12, 10, and 8, and in addition, of historic peals of six, in order that a tabulated statement may be drawn up and laid before the Council. This would take time and care, as the work would have to be done with great accuracy, so that we might not be liable to contradiction. If we could get the records together and then bring them before Church authorities and the public, our action might open their eyes as to the culpable carelessness which obtains in regard to a number of peals of both intrinsic and historic value. If the meeting approves of the motion, I should propose that a Committee be appointed to communicate with the Secretaries throughout the country. I am bound to say that I much doubt whether it is possible to shame the authorities into action; but if anything can effect this, it surely would be a statement showing the sad results of the present prevailing apathy. (Hear, Hear). I beg to move “For a return of the condition of all rings of 12, 10, and 8 bells, and of historic rings of 6 throughout the country, to enable a tabulated statement of existing defects to be drawn up and submitted by the Council to church authorities and the public.”

Mr. Attree: I should like very much to second the proposition, and in doing so I feel that I shall not be considered as entirely condemning the county I come from. The bells in that county are for the most part in a satisfactory condition, the defects of many of them having been remedied. I am told also that rings in many of the other counties go well. In my opinion, however, it is very hard work to ring on some peals.

The Rev. M. Kelly: I do not rise to make any objection to the motion, but I feel that there is more being done in restoring bells than is, perhaps, realised. I may mention in proof of this statement that, in the west, two of the principal bell hangers at the present moment have got more than two years work before them, and are, I need hardly say, not in the position to take any more work. It will be seen, therefore, that improvements are already being carried out. The difficulty we have to contend with is that when church authorities decide to do something they very often put the work into the hands of incompetent bell hangers. I speak for my own counties most feelingly when I say that a good deal of the money spent in hanging bells might as well have been thrown into the sea, and all the blame does not belong to the clergy and churchwardens. This incompetency accounts for the bad go of some of our bells. Calling attention then to the matter may not do any harm, though my own opinion is that advice and suggestion are not always followed (laughter).

Mr. Trollope: With reference to what Mr. Kelly says, what is wanted is not so much men to hang peals as men to keep them in order when they are once in the belfry. Some people will spend hundreds of pounds in putting peals in, but nothing in keeping them in order. In 1883 the bells at Norwich were put in order at great expense, but I doubt whether they are now kept in the best possible working condition. In some places I have heard of, they say “We hang the peals, but afterwards we do not take the trouble to get ringers.”

Mr. Bollard: I should not only like to include historic peals of six, but all.

The President: The labour of enquiry about the peals specified in the motion will be very great. We should hardly be able to cope with the immense additional number of peals of five and six. It is not, of course, that peals of five and six do not want attention. They might, if the proposed action succeeds, form the subject of a further enquiry.

The Rev. H. J. Elsee: We thought at first that peals of six should be included. Certainly in Lancashire there are a large number of peals of six. I do not think, however, that at present it would be advisable to go lower, until we have finished with peals of twelve, ten, and eight. As to what Mr. Kelly has said, certainly a very great deal has been done in the way of putting peals in order. Our cathedral peals were rehung long ago, and within the last few months peals have been re-hung in many churches. Much more care has been taken of bells lately, but more has to be done, and if we brought forward the requisite mass of evidence it might lead to help being given in cases where no doubt a great deal of help is needed.

Mr. W. D. Smith: I think that, in considering this question of repairing peals, we should not lose sight of the fact that it is Jubilee year. The occasion might therefore call forth greater enthusiasm than in previous years.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey: It might do an immense amount of good to call attention to the fact that in many cases the peals, though rehung, are left in as bad a condition as before. The only improvement is often the substitution of new frames and fittings for old ones. Some of the fittings are almost falling to pieces for want of a little screwing up and other attention. The suggested report would be most useful.

The President: The consideration of questions of detail might be left to the Committee which would be appointed if my motion is carried. Mr. Trollope and others have really struck at the root of the matter when they say that the chief trouble we have to contend with lies in keeping bells in order, more than in re-hanging them. People are somehow apt to confuse the two questions. When peals are once properly re-hung they ought to go for a long time without being again re-hung. What is really wanted is to bring before the authorities a proposal for a regular biennial or triennial outlay on the bells. If the authorities do not attend to the peals they will be doing wrong under the conditions in which they hold their office. I do not think there are half a dozen men properly acquainted with the subject who would fail to bear me out in asserting that very few church authorities ever think of providing the proper means for keeping their bells in order for weekly use. The usual order of things is that we may do it ourselves, and, as a rule, pay for it too (hear, hear).

The resolution was then put to the meeting and carried unanimously.

The President proposed, Mr. Hudson seconded, and it was carried, that the following Committee be appointed to carry the motion into effect, viz: Messrs. Cockerill, Trollope, Story, F. E. Ward, Williams, Dawe, and the President.

The President: May I ask that representatives will approach their secretaries in the matter. A good deal depends upon whether the secretaries of associations will give their earnest assistance. We must rely largely upon the work that is done in the several associations, and I trust the members present will be good enough to suggest to their secretaries the great importance of trying to make the report a really thorough and accurate one, and that they will also assist them in obtaining the information, for the collection of which the Committee will no doubt issue suitable printed queries.


The Rev. G. F. Coleridge: The motion standing in my name will not detain you long, because it has sprung up like a hardy annual, almost at every meeting, and is thoroughly understood. We cannot deny the fact that there has been a great deal of ill feeling and disagreement as to what ought to be designated a peal of Minor. I think, as was suggested after the Brighton meeting, that the pen should be drawn through the motion defining a peal of Minor. We should do better to relegate that motion to the shades of oblivion, and then we should not have it cropping up like a troublesome weed. Mr. Heywood deserves our thanks for suggesting the following resolution, which I now beg to move: “That the Council, recognising the insuperable objection taken by many six-bell ringers to the definition of a peal of Minor as carried at the meeting of 1892, and recognising also the fact that on five and six bells no actually true peal of 5,000 changes can be rung, and that, therefore, no strictly correct definition of such a peal can be logically formulated; do now decide to expunge the said definition from the standing resolutions, thus offering no opposition to the locally-varying construction of the term ‘peal’ in regard to five and six-bell performances.”

Mr. Story: I have great pleasure in seconding this motion. The question has been brought up annually, but I hope it will now disappear from our agenda. Many of our companies feel as strongly as ever on the question, and I am sure a great deal of bitterness and ill feeling will be removed if the resolution is carried.

Mr. Bolland: We consider in Yorkshire and Lancashire that six and eight-bell ringers are on an equal footing.

The Hon. Secretary then read the following letter from Mr. Snowdon:-

Dear Mr. President,- It is with regret that I find myself unable to be present at the meeting of the Council, more especially as the six-bell peal definition is to be reviewed.

Perhaps you will allow me to state that, in my opinion, a valuable addition to the Council’s past work will be made if the motion on the agenda is permitted to pass in the form given to it; provided, of course, that it is clearly understood that 5040 Minor rows - whether extents or otherwise - are allowed to score as Minor “peals.”

It is needless, surely, to point out that the Yorkshire Association has never sought to disestablish the Seven Minor Extents from the peal-scoring position agreed by the Council; in fact our Yorkshire committee understands that the present review of the question is partly to get rid of the mathematical inaccuracy of terming any possible combination of Minor rows a peal, in the strict change-ringing sense of the word; and at the same time to remove the barrier that has been raised against the scoring as “peals” (so called) of performances requiring a vast amount of extra mental ability and vigilance. The removal of this barrier will give wide-spread satisfaction, I think I may say, over the entire north.

If I may add a final word regarding the power that the Council has for present and future usefulness, I should like to bear witness that nothing, in the whole of my ringing career, has ever struck me as so forcibly showing the advance that has been made in the status of the change-ringer as that which the assembled Council presents; and I cannot but add that the whole Exercise is under a debt of gratitude to those who ably organise the work of the Council whilst seeking to advance the art of change-ringing, “both” (to quote from our Yorkshire rules) “in its scientific aspect and as a branch of church work.”

Trusting that you will have a successful meeting, believe me to remain, yours truly,

Wm. Snowdon.

The President: I should like to correct Mr. Coleridge on one small point. He was kind enough to refer to me in regard to this resolution. It is true I drafted the resolution, but the idea of the compromise originated with Mr. Bulwer.

Mr. Attree: I have always felt that it was a pity to act in opposition to the amount of consideration which the Council has given to this question, and to disturb the arrangement come to. I may not be right, but I was of opinion that the matter was settling down, and would eventually cease to trouble us at all. I should like to know how Minor peals are for the future to be regarded. If they are not peals, are they to appear on the analysis as peals, or are they to appear on a separate analysis?

The Hon. Secretary: I apprehend it would be a matter for for the individual associations to decide what peals of Minor and Doubles should be accepted. With regard to the value which is to be assigned to them, it seems to me that it is a question for Mr. Attree and the Peal Value Committee. The Council does not assume the responsibility of saying that such and such performances are not peals. What is proposed in the resolution now before us is to expunge from our standing definition as to true peals all reference to peals of Minor and Doubles on the ground that definition is impossible. As a Council we stand aloof from the question altogether.

Mr. Attree: May I add to what I have already said that it seems to me that, by carrying this resolution, we shall be making the difficulty greater than it was before. If every association is to settle what the united associations cannot settle, there will be a very difficult task before them.

Mr. Hudson: I should like to mention one point which I think has been lost sight of. I have never seen peals of Minor called true peals, though they have been regarded as of equal value with peals which are really true. They have been stated as so many changes in the method or methods.

The Hon. Secretary: The Council came to the decision in 1892 that seven true 720s of Minor should be the definition of a peal. I quite agree with the contention that really the right way of regarding such performances is to mention them as 5040 changes of Minor, or 5040 changes of Doubles, a practice which I have universally adopted in connection with the Norwich Association.

The President: Pray let me make it clear that, in this resolution, the Council throw no discredit on peals of Minor and Doubles by proposing to rescind the definition, but the fact is we have run, technically, into a mistake in trying to define what it is logically impossible to define, and this mistake it will be well to correct. No one has a greater admiration than myself for the achievements of six-bell ringers, but it is hardly part of the Council’s duty to settle their differences of opinion.

The resolution was then put and carried without dissent.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record, July 3, 1897, pages 109 to 111


The President: It has been suggested that we should take Bristol for the next place of meeting. Bristol is a long way off, and it is in some ways, perhaps, difficult to get to from the south coast, but to all other parts of England it is handy enough. Our friends in the west of England will regard us as hardly considerate if we do not go their way. It has been proposed that we should take Leicester, Norwich, or Cambridge the following year. The only other choice suggested besides Bristol for next year’s meeting was Reading. It seems to be thought, however, that as we have never yet been west, we might as well go right away to Bristol for our next meeting, and do the thing handsomely while we are about it.

Mr. Attree: We in the south can all get to London in an hour, and very quickly down from London to Bristol.

Mr. Phillott: I beg to propose Cheltenham.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey: Trains are running to Bristol in two hours and a quarter, so I do not think Cheltenham is much more handy.

The President: Cheltenham is not seconded.

It was then resolved that Bristol should be the next place of meeting.


The President: The remaining questions on the Agenda paper are suggested in order that any member present may formulate motions upon them. They are not in the form of resolutions of which previous notice has been given, but they are questions that have been frequently asked, and there is no reason why we should not go into them as they have no reference to the regulations of the Council itself. In regard to this first question of longer meetings, I may say that there is a rule which provides that we may, on a motion for adjournment being put and carried, adjourn our meeting to a further meeting on the same day, or to another day.

The Hon. Secretary: Many of the lay members present agree with me that in general it would be very desirable that our London meeting should occupy, or be permitted to occupy, two days. We have never had a motion for adjournment to another day made yet in connection with any of our meetings. It very often happens in the case of a London meeting - always the first meeting of a new Council - that we have a great deal of routine business to transact, and there is very little time left for the discussions of which notice has been given. Those who have been members of the Council will bear me out in saying that very often our proceedings have been hurried, and have not been carried out with so much deliberation as the proceedings of such an august body should command (laughter). Therefore I think it would be a very great addition to the efficiency of the Council if we were to recognise that, if at the next London meeting the motion for adjournment is proposed, a sufficient number of members should remain to form a quorum to finish up the business the following day. I would therefore, like to suggest that we should contemplate very seriously the idea of having a two-days’ meeting of the Council, at all events in London.

Mr. Dains: May I ask what day the Council will meet if it is thought fit to have a two-days’ meeting? Would it be on the Monday or the Tuesday?

The President: I presume that if there was a second meeting it would be worked in this way: A large number of persons who come up stay till the next day. Would it not be possible for them to remain in town a few hours longer the next morning? It might be desirable to meet say at ten o’clock on the second morning and sit till one, after which time the members would be free to start off home. We should thus, I presume, keep to the same day.

Mr. Dains: I do not know whether Wednesday would be convenient to some of the members.

Mr. Story: Very often our business has not been properly concluded. Might not the reports of the Committees be published a week or two in advance of the Council meeting, so that the subjects should be fully before us, and then we should be in a position to discuss them without postponement?

The Hon. Secretary: If we could only get the reports in time.

Mr. Attree: It might be very inconvenient for many of us to be present on the Wednesday. It occurs to me that when we meet there is no reason why we should not adjourn until the same evening.

The Rev. E. W. Carpenter: As regards the reports of the committees we have seen to-day that it is of serious importance we should have some previous knowledge of them. It seemed to me at the same time that we were passing over some very important business and leaving it to another year. That is to say we are taking two years for what might be done in one. If those who prepare them had allowed us to have the reports before hand, we could have considered them at this meeting, though the questions they involve would have taken up more time, thus pointing to the need of a two days’ meeting. The reports might be laid before the members of the Council by sending them round.

The President: We should be most happy to do as you suggest, and it ought to be done, but the difficulty is to get the reports in. I may say that the Hon. Secretary and I have written a good many letters to this end without avail. The reports certainly ought to be published in the columns of “The Bell News” before the meetings of the Council. The President and Secretary have done what they could, but they are only mortal men. We cannot be behind every committee-man with a bradawl throughout the year (laughter).

The Rev. E. W. Carpenter: Surely it might be managed that the reports should be published in “The Bell News” before the meeting.

The President: In several cases they have been so published on this occasion.

The Hon. Secretary: I shall be very happy to move that the London meeting of a newly-elected Council shall be of two days’ duration if necessary.

Mr. Attree: I shall feel bound to move an amendment to that motion when it is brought forward, that if it is necessary to have a second session we should take it the same evening.

The President: What we want to know is whether a second session will be generally approved. We cannot tie the Council down by resolution in this matter without previous notice. Nor is this necessary, as the existing rule gives to each meeting full power.

Mr. Attree: For many of us it is very inconvenient to be away from business from the previous Saturday until the following Thursday, and that is what it would come to. There might probably be matters of an interesting character to everyone of us at a two-days’ meeting, and if we had a second meeting the same evening it would not be very hard for us to attend, and yet get home the same night.

The Hon. Secretary: You would be very unlikely to get a quorum at the evening meeting.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey: It would be only a few of the members who live within easy reach of London who would be able to get home the same night. Certainly I could not do it. I should have to stay until the next day. When once we are here it would only be a matter of a few hours in the morning, and one could get home in the afternoon.

A Member: How would it be to meet on the Monday night for the election of officers, and then have the whole of the next day for the other business?

The Hon. Secretary: You must remember that there are an hour and an half or two hours of the Standing Committee’s meeting which has to take place before the Council meeting. I am afraid the Monday is hardly possible for that reason.

The Rev. F. J. O. Helmore: Would it not be rather better to return to Easter than stick to Whitsuntide? (No, no.)

The President: Notice might be given beforehand when it was evident that the Council would require two sittings to consider all the matters that would be brought before it. Members would then be able to arrange accordingly, and at the first sitting a motion for adjournment according to the rule could be put. Perhaps I may now put the Hon. Secretary’s motion “That the Council approves the extension of the triennial meeting in London to two days when necessary.”

Mr. W. D. Smith: Do you not think we might meet earlier in the day, giving two hours in the morning to the election of the officers?

The President: That would mean that the Standing Committee would have to meet at nine o’clock. Besides members of the Council would then have to come up to London on the Monday.

The motion was then put to the meeting, and carried by a majority of twenty-two to twelve votes.

The President: It must be understood that this motion acts merely as a guide to the Standing Committee in arranging the next London meeting. We have no power to bind the next Council without making an addition to the rules.


The next question for consideration was “Whether the Council shall pronounce upon a distinctive title to be applied to Thurstans’ well-known Stedman Triples Composition.”

The President: This question was put forward some two years ago. It was then often the custom to designate the peal as Thurstans’ “Original.” Since attention has been drawn to the incorrectness of the term the peal has been more commonly termed merely “Thurstans’ Composition,” which is at all events not a wrong title for it. My paper published in “The Bell News” has dealt with the matter, and I have there shown that Thurstans’ Five-part, not the Four-part, was the first bona fide peal of Stedman Triples. The question now is, does any gentleman desire to move that Thurstans’ Four-part peal, which the late Mr. Snowdon has justly termed his “Masterpiece,” shall be known by some distinctive name. At any rate I should suggest that it be moved that the five-part peal is the original peal, and that the more usual four-part peal has no claim to be called by that name. It is important that when a peal is called by a particular title we should know what peal is indicated.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies: I believe Thurstans’ one-part has occasionally borne the name of his “Original.” Why should not the five-part be called the five-part, the one-part the one-part, and more usually rung four-part the “Masterpiece.”

Mr. W. Wakley: My opinion is that the peal usually rung should be described always as Thurstans’ Composition. I think if is now almost invariably so described. If it was always entered as “Thurstans’ Composition,” everyone would understand what was meant.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies: I cannot accept that because they are all Thurstans’ Compositions. It is attaching a special meaning to the word “composition” that it does not bear.

The Hon. Secretary: I am in favour of the term “Masterpiece.”

Mr. S. Reeves: I think the construction of Thurstans’ five-part composition is quite as good as the four-part. There is just as much credit to be attached to the one as to the other.

Mr. Dains: I shall vote for any title which is distinctive, so that when we see it on paper we shall know which peal has been rung.

Mr. Attree: I think that the four-part is generally known as the one “composition”- as Thurstans’ peal- so you see it on a great many peal boards, it is a pity we should alter the name. If we do make an alteration, it will become a doubt what the peals actually were which are recorded in various belfries.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies: I think there is a doubt now.

Mr. Washbrook: We call the one the one-part, the other the four-part, and the other the five-part. I do not think we need do more than that. No more credit is due to one composition than to the others.

Mr. Attree: It is rather hard to have names altered after they have been recognised for so many years, in five minutes to sweep them all away.

The President: That is not suggested, it is only proposed that the Council should express the opinion that for the future Thurstans’ compositions should be known by titles which will individualise them.

Mr. Attree: But might we connect the records of the past with the new title?

The Hon. Secretary: With regard to existing tablets in towers, I do not think you have any clear idea which was the peal rung. There is no doubt that very often the one-part has been rung, and called “Thurstans’ composition.” The mere words “Thurstans’ composition” in the tablet do not guide you as to what was rung. I do not think that what we are proposing to do now can affect the wording of those tablets.

Mr. Attree: I think this is a matter of some importance, and that it should be left over until our next meeting, when it might be brought forward as a regular motion. I move the question be adjourned.

Mr. G. H. Phillott seconded Mr. Attree’s motion which was carried.

The President: I hope before the next meeting someone will come forward with a definite motion on this point.


The next question was “Whether the Council should pronounce upon the suggestion that the now well-known variation of Cambridge Surprise Major should be accepted as the recognised method.”

The President: I have again to trespass on your patience. You are all well aware that in the original method only one peal can be rung, and Mr. Jasper Snowdon, in some of his later writings, was sorry he had allowed this method to be placed in his book amongst the standard ones. The variation, which was undoubtedly rung in Yorkshire many years ago, is the same that we have known as the “Burton Variation.” The Variation is the best method of the two because in it you can ring a large variety of peals. I think it was Mr. N. J. Pitstow who first suggested that the old method should be relinquished as there was only one peal to be had in it, and he thought the Variation ought to be the standard method instead. The title “Burton” is clearly out of court altogether. Mr. Lindoff, I think, brought it forward that it had long ago been rung in Yorkshire. Thackrah’s book contains a clear statement to that effect. The question now is what titles we should adopt respectively for the old and for the new Cambridge Surprise.

Mr. Attree: If you wish for a motion on this point, I should propose that the variation be called “New Cambridge Surprise.” I have up to the present not had the pleasure of ringing the new.

Mr. Parker: I have rung the new method, and I will second Mr. Attree, that it should be called New Cambridge Surprise.

Mr. Dains: I really think that in this matter we ought to go back to where the thing first came from. It was evidently worked out by Thackrah in the first instance. I think it should bear his name; otherwise that of “Yorkshire.” I think the variation deserves to be so named. As to new or old, it is not very much younger than the original method.

Mr. Bolland seconded Mr. Dains’ proposal.

Mr. Trollope: The question is whether there is any occasion to change the name of the method at all. The Variation has never been rung since Thackrah’s time under any other name than that of the “Burton Variation.”

The President: This would not be fair to Yorkshire.

Mr. Trollope: It is hardly an injustice to them at the present time.

Mr. Wakley: I cannot say that I am satisfied with the propositions that have been made. I have always felt that we should still call this method by its recognised title of Burton Variation. I hardly fancy that in time to come companies will be found to ring a method with one peal only like the original, when they can ring one with such wide capabilities as the variation.

The President: It has been proposed that the variation should be called “New Cambridge Surprise,” and there is an amendment in favour of calling it “Thackrah’s Variation.” I will put the amendment first, but I am bound to say it should be the object of the Council rather to simplify than complicate the title. I think myself it would be best to distinguish the Variation as “Cambridge Surprise” and call the old method “Original Cambridge.” But I quite see that there is a strong party who are very conservative, and to whom it would be painful to part with an old friend in this sort of way, and I am not averse to the suggestion that the Variation should be called “New Cambridge Surprise.” The title is quite short and distinctive, and no one can take much exception to that name. It is very desirable that we should, if we can, decide unanimously. I put the amendment first that the method be called “Thackrah’s Variation.”

The amendment was accordingly put, but lost by a very large majority.

The President: Is there any further amendment?

The Hon. Secretary: I think that if the old peal is rung it should be known as “Cambridge Surprise, old form.” I am not a ringer of Cambridge, but it strikes me that you are simply proposing to transpose one name for another. Mistakes might be prevented by keeping to the old name, and simply adding new to the variation.

Mr. Attree: I feel rather strongly upon this point, as I did upon the Stedman question. We in Sussex have now seven or eight peals of Cambridge in the original method, all entered as “Cambridge,” and if you call the old method by out of the way names you will impair our records.

The President: We cannot pass a “forcing” resolution. What is required is a clear title, doing away with any unfairness to Yorkshire. I now put the original motion “that what has hitherto been known as the ‘Burton Variation’ be in future known as ‘New Cambridge Surprise.’”

It was resolved without dissent that the title “New Cambridge Surprise” should be adopted.


The next question was “Whether it is an offence against the laws governing Treble Bob Composition to commence the calling with 1R or 2R.”

The Hon. Secretary: I have had the question submitted to me, and I have really been unable to satisfy myself that there was any valid reason against the calling of such peals as proposed, therefore I have brought the matter forward. I should like to have the views of composers in the room, and the opinion of the Council generally as to beginning with the 1R or 2R in Treble Bob Major compositions, and I beg to move that there is no valid reason why we should not do so.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies seconded.

Mr. Dains: All Treble Bob peals that I have had to do with have commenced in the usual way. Some definite rule should be laid down.

Mr. Pitstow: I wish to support the view expressed by Mr. Dains. I think it is illegitimate for a composer to publish a composition with one or two bobs at the start.

Mr. Trollope: I suppose there are not two Treble Bob composers in the room as able as Mr. Pitstow and Mr. Dains, but I do not think their arguments are quite as good as their compositions. I do not think that the fact that certain peals have not been started in the customary way should alter their validity.

Mr. Pitstow: I do not think Mr. Trollope has quite understood the matter. It is quite fair for a conductor to start as he likes. When a peal is published, then I say that it should be put in its proper form in the old way.

The Hon. Secretary: Why?

Mr. Pitstow: Custom.

The Hon. Secretary: Custom! that is not good enough for me.

Mr. Dains; I will endeavour to answer why. If you take a composition of each kind side by side, they each appear to possess the same qualities, but one commences with a bob at home and the other does not.

The Hon. Secretary: I do not see exactly your meaning. The question is whether there is any reason why a composition should be rejected because it commences with 1R or 2R, and I say there is no valid reason.

Mr. Pitstow: Mr. Secretary - I agree with you there, but in publishing a composition I should transpose it to the old form.

The President: This discussion is becoming a little irregular (laughter), and I think the time has come when we may pronounce on the question.

The meeting then decided without a dissentient in favour of the Hon. Secretary’s resolution that the Council see no valid reason against commencing a Treble Bob composition with 1R or 2R.


The Chairman: I do not see how, without a definite resolution, we can consider the next question: “How far and under what conditions any departure from the true and clear ringing of every change is permissible in the performance of a peal.” It is one that certainly needs very careful attention. I think that we ought to come to it fresher, and with something before us in the shape of a definite motion. There is still a little time left. I do not know whether it will meet with your approval that the last subject should be postponed, or whether you would desire, during the next 25 minutes that remain, to proceed to consider it.

The question was adjourned.


Mr. Hudson: I think this last question might be left to the various parishes to settle. It is hardly one to trouble the Council with.

The President: You cannot say that it is not a matter to trouble the Council with, for it is one upon which a good many people’s minds have been exercised, and upon which it is desirable to have the opinion of a thoughtful and representative body.

A Member: What is the question?

The Chairman: We have no motion on the Agenda. We are considering whether we should discuss the advisability of the Council making some attempt to regulate the practice of Lent and Sunday peal-ring. It is open to any member to propose a resolution on the subject; but there are two entirely different questions placed together, and we had better take Lent and Sunday peal-ringing separately.

Mr. Cockerill: Does not the peal-ringing in question depend on the theological opinions of the incumbent?

The President: I should think it is wholly a matter for the incumbent.

The Rev. H. J. Elsee: I have a few words to say as to the Sunday ringing.

The President: Perhaps we had better confine ourselves at present to the ringing in Lent.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey: I am prepared myself to move a resolution on peal-ringing during Lent as a whole, from Ash Wednesday to Easter, including Good Friday and Holy Week. Peal-ringing during Lent is much to be deprecated. I think we all of us ought to remember that we are Churchmen as well as ringers. The teaching of the Church undoubtedly is that Lent is a solemn time, a time of fasting and not of rejoicing. I am humbly of opinion that peal-ringing is a special sign of rejoicing, and I think most of you will agree with me in this. The practice of ringing during Lent is at any rate one that we as Churchmen ought not to encourage. The Church teaches us to look upon Lent as a distinct time of humiliation, and peal-ringing does not seem to me like humiliation. We are told not only to fast from eating and drinking, but to deny ourselves in every way, and if we deny ourselves peal-ringing, I do not think we shall do any harm at any rate. There will be all the greater message of rejoicing when, the bells ring out at Easter after being silent in Lent. I shall have great pleasure in moving the necessary resolution, if it will be of any service.

Mr. W. D. Smith: If it is not right to ring peals during Lent, why should the choirs practice?

The Rev. H. A. Cockey: No one would think of stopping choirs from practising during Lent. I was not speaking of practising, but of peal-ringing. I beg to move that the Council is of opinion that peal-ringing in Lent is highly to be deprecated.

The Rev. G. F. Coleridge seconded.

Mr. Attree: There are several degrees of churchmen. Some are high and some are low. I am one of those churchmen who feel that if peal-ringing is good at any time it is good at all times, with the exception perhaps of holy week. I cannot help thinking it would be narrow-minded on the part of members of the Council to pass a resolution which would brand those who carry on peal-ringing in Lent as more or less heathen. I hope the members present will be broad enough churchmen to reject this resolution.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey: There is one point I should like to correct. Mr. Attree has scarcely understood me. I do not intend to tie anyone to my notions. What I wished to explain was that it is a question for the church, not for any individual party in the church.

Mr. Attree: I said we failed to see it from our point of view.

The Rev. F. J. O. Helmore: I rather fancy Mr. Attree has somewhat mistaken what is intended. It is not ringing in Lent, but peal-ringing that is objected to. Peal-ringing is, I believe, generally a matter of more pleasure to those who are inside the tower than to those who are outside (laughter).

The President: Then you would suggest peal-ringing as a suitable penance for Lent? (laughter.)

The Rev. F. J. O. Helmore: I merely wish to point out that the objection is not against ringing, but against peal-ringing in Lent.

Mr. Wakley: As an old member of the St. Paul’s company at Burton-on-Trent, I may say that our incumbent has decided that there shall be no peal-ringing in Lent, and no one has felt that there is any injustice in this decision. I believe in some places they ring more in Lent than at any other time of the year.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey: I am quite prepared to withdraw, and to substitute a mere expression of opinion that peal-ringing is not to be encouraged during Lent.

A Member: Is undesirable.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey: Very well then, we will put “undesirable.” “Highly to be deprecated,” Mr. Attree thinks, is a strong term. At the same time I should like everyone here to understand that I do not say that because peal-ringing in Lent is wrong therefore everyone who does not agree with me is wrong. I never have, and I hope never shall put my opinion forward as indisputable (hear, hear). I hold my own opinion, but at the same time I do not condemn that of others. I hope you all understand that (applause).

The resolution was then put “that peal-ringing in Lent is undesirable.” Only 23 voting for it, the necessary majority of two-thirds was not obtained, and the motion was therefore lost.

The President: It is now six o’clock. I do not know whether Mr. Elsee has anything to move as to Sunday peal-ringing.

The Rev. H. J. Elsee: I do not know whether it would be best to move a resolution now or at the next meeting of the Council. I wish to say, however, that I should have moved a resolution expressing disapproval of peal-ringing on Sunday on two grounds, first: the character of Sunday as a day of rest for us; second: the character of Sunday as a day of rest for our neighbours. I think that when we ring peals we do so in most cases for gratification and enjoyment, and we cannot honestly say that we do so on Sunday for the glory of God. We like to associate Sunday with quietness and rest, and so, in the case of sick persons living near a church, peal-ringing interferes a very great deal with the quietness and rest they would like. It is perhaps now too late to bring the question forward, but I will move with reference to it another year.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies: Mr. Mitchell has been unable to remain but he has asked me to say that he desires to appeal to the Hon. Secretary to arrange for a service at meetings of the Council.

The President: Mr. Mitchell should move to discuss the matter at the next meeting; but I am bound to say it might be found an impossibility with the limited time at our disposal.

A vote of thanks to the President concluded the meeting.

On the invitation of the President many of the members and their ringing friends attended a social gathering at the “Inns of Court Hotel,” after ringing at the towers of St. Saviour, Southwark; St. Margaret, Westminster; and St. Stephen’s, Rochester Row, where the bells were kindly placed at the disposal of the visitors.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record, July 10, 1897, pages 121 to 124

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional