The Ninth Annual Meeting of the Central Council was at the Conservative Hall, Norwich, on Whit-Tuesday, May 23rd, under the presidency of Sir Arthur Heywood, Bart. The following members were present: Bedfordshire Association- Rev. W. W. C. Baker; Chester Diocesan Guild- Mr. J. Dillon and Mr. W. Walmsley; College Youths- Mr. H. R. Newton; Cumberland Youths- Mr. H. Dains; Devonshire Guild- Rev. Maitland Kelly; Durham and Newcastle Diocesan Association- Mr. R. Story; Essex Association- Rev. T. L. Papillon, Mr. N. J. Pitstow, and Mr. W. Nevard; Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan Association- Rev. H. A. Cockey. Hon. Members- Rev. J. Holme Pilkington, Rev. A. H. F. Boughey, Mr. F. W. J. Rees, and Mr. J. Carter; Kent Association- Rev. E. W. Carpenter and Mr. W. Haigh; Lancashire Association- Rev. H. J. Elsee; Midland Counties Association- Sir A. P. Heywood, Bart., Mr. Joseph Griffin, and Mr. W. Wakley; Middlesex Association- Mr. J. Waghorn; Norwich Association- Rev. H. Earle Bulwer, Mr. J. A. Trollope, Mr. W. Motts, and Mr. W. Catchpole; North Lincolnshire Association- Mr. A. Craven; Oxford Diocesan Guild- Rev. F. E. Robinson, Rev. G.F. Coleridge and Mr. A. H. Cocks; Stafford Archdeaconry Association- Mr. S. Reeves; Sussex Association- Rev. C. D. P. Davies, Mr. G. F. Attree, and Mr. G. Williams; Surrey Association- Dr. A. B. Carpenter and Mr. C. Dean; St. Martin’s Guild, Birmingham- Mr. W. H. Godden; St. James’ Society, London- Mr. E. P. O’Meara; South Lincolnshire Association- Rev. H. Law James; Worcestershire Association- R. E. Grove; Winchester Diocesan Guild- Rev. R. C. M. Harvey and Mr. H. White; Yorkshire Association- Mr. W. Snowdon.

After the minutes of the last meeting had been read and confirmed, the Hon. Secretary (Rev. H. Earle Bulwer), read letters of regret for non-attendance from various members.

The President said Mr. Tom Lockwood, of Leeds, was the only hon. member due to retire this year.

Mr. Snowdon, in proposing the re-election of Mr. Lockwood, said the latter was doing good service upon the Collection of Peals Committee, and had charge of the Treble Bob peals. Mr. Lockwood would have been present that day, but that he was engaged in his own tower.

Mr. Dains seconded the proposition, which was unanimously adopted.

The Treasurer’s statement showed that the subscriptions to the Council for the year had been £10 5s. 0d. Upon the expenditure side were expenses of Rail fare Committee, £4, Glossary Committee, £2 3s. 6d. These with other items left £1 2s. 1d. in hand to be added to the balance of the previous year, which resulted in the Council having now a balance of £60 15s. 2d. The accounts had been audited by the Standing Committee, and upon the proposition of the Rev. F. E. Robinson, seconded by Mr. Story, the balance-sheet was adopted.


The Rev. H. A. Cockey said as most of those present were aware a circular had been prepared and sent out to all Secretaries of Societies that were in union with the Council and to a few others. He trusted that all present had already signed it. The form of the petition having been published in “The Bell News” he need not refer to it, but he would call attention of Secretaries of Associations to the letter of directions sent out with the circulars. In the last paragraph they were requested, as soon as the petitions were complete, to inform him, and he would issue further directions. He had not been informed in every case. The Ely Association had refused to sign at all. It was intended to take the following procedure as to presentation of the petitions. When completed, all petitions are to be returned to him. When the greater number have been so received, a notice will be sent to the Secretaries whose petitions have not been returned, requesting them to send the petitions in by a given date. Having ascertained the date of the next meeting of the General Managers of railway companies, he would undertake to see that the petitions to each company are presented to their Managers in good time. It would materially assist toward the success of the petitions if members of the various Associations would put him, the speaker, in communication with some person of standing and influence with the several companies who would undertake to present the petitions to the Company with which he has interest. As it had been an undertaking which had involved an amount of labour and considerable expense, the sub-committee desired to impress upon all concerned the importance of obtaining every possible signature, both of ringing members, hon. members, and officers of each Association. If any additional signatures could be obtained to petitions already returned to him, if the signatures were sent him, he would be glad to affix them to the petitions, for if they failed now he did not know what else they could possibly do to obtain that for which they were and had been working. It was hoped that every effort would be made to obtain the signature of presidents of Associations, for in many cases such would have great weight. As an illustration of the amount of labour it entailed, he would just state that there were 127 petitions. These would include 20 to the Midland Railway, 19 to the London and North-Western, 14 to the Great Western, 13 to the Great Northern, 8 to the London and South-Western, 8 to the Great Eastern, and so on. Among the petitions he had already received was that of the Oxford Guild which had from 700 to 800 names upon it. If they could secure an acknowledgement of the petitions from the General Managers and the petitions that came before the Clearing House, some good result might be expected. He hoped no Secretary would hurry the matter on too fast and so miss obtaining signatures which might be obtained if held in hand a few days longer.

The Rev. H. J. Elsee asked when the petitions were sent out.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey replied in March and April.

The Rev. H. J. Elsee said he had only seen one of the petitions in his own district, but upon returning home would do all he could to push them forward.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey, in reply to further questions, pointed out that the petitions were sent to the Secretaries of Associations who were asked to send the petitions to every tower connected with the Association, and all were asked to return the petitions where possible within a week. In some cases a Society might have to make use of say three railways. If so they were to have three petitions, and the name of every member should appear upon each of the petitions. In some Associations there were a number of hon. members, and some of the Secretaries had kept a sheet to send round to them. As they were rather scattered this would take some little time, but he thought all the petitions ought to be returned during June, and sent into the companies in July or August at the latest.

The Rev. W. W. C. Baker did not agree exactly with the phrase in the petition that the members had no advantage in attending the meetings. In the case of the Bedfordshire Association part of the fare of the members who attended was paid by the Association.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey thought such might be regarded more as an acknowledgment for loss of time, in attending the meeting. Many Associations paid something toward the tea or whatever was provided, but this could not be regarded as payment for attending the meeting.

The Rev. W. W. C. Baker said in his own case the Association might reap the advantage, and not the individual member. It was thought more important to get the members together, than to feed them when they were together (laughter).

The President said he was sure that all would agree that they were much indebted to Mr. Cockey and the Committee working with him, for the valuable work they had done in endeavouring to obtain such a privilege for the Exercise. He trusted that all would endeavour to carry out accurately the instructions that had been issued by Mr. Cockey, and that before long the labors of the Committee might be rewarded by the granting of tickets at a fare and a quarter.


The Rev. H. Earle Bulwer, Hon. Secretary, read the report of this Committee, which was as follows:-

The Committee charged with the drawing up of a Glossary of Technical Terms have pleasure in reporting that their labours have been practically concluded; and that the Glossary proper is ready for the printer. The Committee, however, have not felt at liberty to present the work to the Council in a printed form; because the expense of doing so would obviously have been much greater than that sanctioned at the last meeting as necessary for its satisfactory completion. The result of collecting local terms has been to enrich the original draft considerably, either in the form of additional definitions, or in supplying local synonyms of terms already dealt with. In the absence of printed advance copies it may be well to describe the general arrangement of the Glossary, and then invite the Council to accept the work on the Committee’s recommendation in order to save the expense of printing presentation copies on approval - a course which would involve considerable difficulty, because, once the work was in type, it would be impossible to lock up the formes sufficiently long to allow the Council to pronounce a decision upon it. The main portion of the Glossary is in four divisions, the first of which deals with bells and their mechanical appliances or fittings. The second division embraces definitions of a series of leading terms, preliminary to, and to clear the way for, the two divisions which follow. The third division deals with such terms as properly belong to the Science, and the fourth division with those having reference to the practical Art of change-ringing. In each division the arrangement of terms is not alphabetical, but progressive, one term leading on to another as it were. But to facilitate reference the work will be furnished with a strictly alphabetical Index of all the terms embodied in it, whether as the subjects of the main definitions, or as derivatives and synonyms. This Index has also been prepared, and merely awaits copying out to be ready for printing. In deference to a widely expressed wish, and what appears to be a widely felt want, the Committee have determined to add an Appendix which will include a classification of all methods now practised, a short description of their distinctive features and history so far as it can be ascertained, and a statement of the principles which govern their assignment to their respective classes. To have included these details in the body of the Glossary itself would have been to trespass far beyond the legitimate scope of the work in hand. And even in the Appendix itself the Committee feel that they cannot undertake to give an exhaustive list of all known methods, but must confine themselves to those in actual use for seven bells and upwards. It is hardly necessary to say, in conclusion, that the labour involved in the preparation of this work has been considerable for all concerned in it; and that no pains have been spared to make the result worthy of the Council’s acceptance. The Committee are not at present prepared to submit any estimate of the cost of publication; but they will endeavour to secure its ultimate issue at as low a price as possible.

Mr. Attree proposed, and Mr. Griffin seconded, that the report be received, and the publication left in the hands of the Committee to be issued in whatever manner they considered most desirable.

The President said he should like to call attention to the very large amount of labour that had been given to this work by the Hon. Secretary. The MS. was very bulky, and immense pains had been taken in collating the opinions that had been placed upon paper by the members of the Committee. Mr. Bulwer had done the whole of the work. He did not think that the Council should take upon themselves the credit of the work. He would therefore suggest that the Hon. Secretary’s name should appear upon the title-page as the author (applause), inserting of course the names of the Committee who had assisted. It would no doubt become a standard book of reference, and he considered that in no other way should it go forth than with Mr. Bulwer as its author. He could but express his gratitude to Mr. Bulwer for having taken up the work in the manner he had. As far back as the first meeting at Birmingham the matter was brought forward. It had been wanted for years. He trusted that when it was published that members of the Exercise would help the sale by each getting a copy. He hoped that most of the Associations would take as many copies as they thought they could sell.

The resolution moved by Mr. Attree was unanimously adopted.

The Hon. Secretary said be was very thankful to the President for the remarks that had been made, He shrank from having his name upon the title-page of the work as the author. A great portion of the definitions had been altered by the Committee. The work had been the joint work of the Committee, but it was necessary for someone to collate the Committee’s remarks, as also to draft the original definitions. This fell upon his shoulders, and although he had done the bulk of the work in the first place, yet after all what he had done was merely mechanical (no, no), and he had not therefore any wish to have his name appearing as the author.

The President said many authors acknowledged in a preface the assistance they had received from friends, this course might be adopted (applause).

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies said it was in connection with this matter that he wrote what appeared in “The Bell News” the previous week. The reason why he wrote was that in the definition of the word “bob-lead” by the Glossary Committee two alternative definitions had been proposed, (1) “a lead containing a bob”; (2) “a lead introduced by a bob.” It was in order to get some light from outside, after asking Mr. Bulwer if he thought the idea a good one, that he wrote to “The Bell News.” Mr. Davies proceeded to read extracts from replies he had received, some of which caused considerable laughter, and said he should refer further to the matter in “The Bell News.”

The Rev. H. L. James remarked that one of the definitions given applied to Grandsire Triples, but not to any other method.

The President did not think it desirable to enter into a discussion on details, but he might say that the difficulty mainly arose by reason of the backstroke of the treble’s whole pull in front being taken as the lead-end in Grandsire Triples, whereas in reality the last change of the lead - that after which a call took effect - was the backstroke before the whole pull.


The Rev. T. L. Papillon desired to know if the original supply of the Council’s publication on The Preservation of Bells had been exhausted, if so was it intended to republish? It had been put into the hands of many church authorities with good result. He had himself often been asked if he could recommend any publication of this nature, and had given copies which had proved useful.

The Hon. Secretary said he only had a few copies in hand, but these were the property of the Norwich Association.

The President suggested that if the pamphlet was to be re-issued it might be well to publish it with the proposed Report on the Condition of Church Bells, as both bore upon the same subject. (Hear, hear.)

The Rev. H. A. Cockey thought it would be desirable to re-publish the pamphlet, and that in some districts a copy should be sent to every Vicar and churchwardens, by which means its object could be kept before the notice of the officials.


The Hon. Secretary read the following report:-

The Committee appointed for the formation of a Collection of Peals in the various methods, beg to report that the work in the bands of the several collectors has been progressing, and is at present in a forward state; the collection of compositions in the following methods having been practically completed up to date, and is awaiting selection:- London Surprise, Stedman Triples, Treble Bob Royal and Maximus, Treble Bob Major (of this latter a voluminous and carefully arranged collection has been sent in by Mr. Tom Lockwood) , Double Oxford Court, Double Norwich Court Maximus Royal and Major, Duffield Major, Bob Major, and Grandsire Triples. With regard to other methods of Triples, Dr. Carpenter reports that composers have been slack in sending in compositions, and that the collection can not yet be regarded as complete. The collectors of Superlative Surprise and Stedman Caters and Cinques have not yet made any report. It seems desirable before drawing up any selection from the above for publication, to adopt some means for securing a better sale than attended the last Appendix. The expense of production is necessarily considerable, and some prospect of adequate recoupment should be forthcoming before the Council is asked to sanction the printing of an additional Appendix.

Upon the proposition of Mr. S. Reeves, seconded by the Rev. F. E. Robinson, the report was adopted.

The Rev. H. Law James suggested that those who sent peals in for publication should be responsible for subscribing for a copy - one if not more.

The Hon. Secretary: One for every peal they have sent in? (Laughter.)

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record June 3, 1899, pages 15 to 17


The President said that at present this Committee had no report to make. At the Bristol meeting last year the form of circular was agreed upon. Circulars had gone out some time ago to Secretaries of Associations asking them to give the name and address of a representative ringer of every church tower containing eight bells and upwards who would give dependable information as to their condition. About one-half of these circulars had been filled in and returned. Some of them were remarkable for the care with which they had been compiled, while others had evidently hardly been at the pains to read through the circular, and had either written asking for further information, or had given the names and addresses of the representative ringer in inadequate form. If the final report was to be comprehensive and satisfactory it must be done very carefully and thoroughly, and the information must come from ringers absolutely reliable. There were some 3000 ringers to be communicated with, and unless their replies were in accordance with the requirements of the circular, which, so far as could be judged from the returns already received, was by no means generally the case, it would be impossible for the Committee to produce a report in any sense comprehensive. He trusted that those applied to would give the subject their best attention, for if the whole matter was not properly dealt with, a satisfactory result could not be expected. The work for the present was of a mechanical nature, and until the returns were all in and collated, there was nothing further to refer to the Committee, who would then have to consider the form in which the information should be published.


Mr. Attree said the Committee had been requested to consider the question of values for peals rung with tenors of 30 cwt. and more. The Committee considered that the question was one which would cause endless trouble, and be no easy thing to carry out. There were bells of 30 cwt. that went as easy as those of 10 cwt. If the weight of tenors was to be taken into consideration in the analysis, there would be a trot round the country to see how bells go. Under the whole of the circumstances the Committee had no further report to bring up. It was after very careful consideration that the peal values were last year adopted, and these were, the Committee thought, about as fair as could well be.

Mr. W. Snowdon said that, as the mover of the proposal for the weight of tenors to be taken into consideration, he did not think that Mr. Attree had given that satisfaction that he might have done. Mr. Attree told them that some of the heavy bells would go more easily than light ones, but still he thought it would be fairer to give a few additional points to the peal rung with a heavy tenor to those that were given for what might be termed a “waistcoat pocket” peal. Take for instance the peal rung at St. Paul’s Cathedral; surely such a performance was worth more than the peals upon some of the lighter bells. He did not think that some of these waistcoat pocket peals were to be compared with peals upon such a ring as that at Norwich, and it was but fair that an extra point or two should be given for those upon a heavy ring. Big heavy bells wanted big heavy men to ring them, and there was more skill wanted for heavy bells than for the lighter ones.

The Rev. T. L. Papillon said that there was one point which appeared to have been overlooked - namely, the great uncertainty as to the weight of tenors. If one inquired as to the weight of a tenor, the ringers themselves gave one weight, while if you enquired of the makers they gave a different one.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey said that in Essex there was no tenor, so far as he knew, of over 30 cwt. Why should the Association be debarred from obtaining points through the want of a heavy tenor, for it would be no fault of the members of that Association that they could not score the same points as another Association with heavier rings.

The Rev. H. Law James said that it was a question of science versus brute strength.

Mr. W. Catchpole said he had seen some big men get down in the front, and some little men up at the heavy end turn in the big bells to a peal. He thought that it was a question of science rather than brute strength, and that peals upon heavy bells should score more points.

Mr. Attree said he did not want to argue the question farther, but he had given the matter a great deal of attention, and if everyone did the same they would see, not only the great difficulty, but that the analysis would be worth next to nothing if the suggested alterations were adopted. He thought that their friends must see that at last, although they had not done so before, they must give way upon this point.

Mr. Trollope asked if the Committee had considered a suggestion that he had made before, that there should be more points given for Double Norwich Maximus. As it now stood, the points were about equal to those given for Stedman Triples. This he did not consider was exactly fair.

Mr. Attree said no instructions had been given to the Committee, and consequently that no action had been taken.

Mr. Trollope said it was a question which really concerned the Ipswich band as the only one who rang it.

Mr. Catchpole said his band did not ring peals for the points which were allowed. When they rang a peal they gave it to the world for what it was worth.

Mr. Newton said he considered a peal of Double Norwich Maximus was worth the same points as Cambridge Surprise Major.

Mr. Trollope moved to make the number of points 32 for Double Norwich Maximus, and 28 for Royal.

The Rev. H. Law James, who seconded, remarked that he once rang a course with the Ipswich band, and found it exceedingly intricate.

Mr. Dains supported the resolution.

Dr. Carpenter asked how many points were now allowed for Double Norwich Major.

Mr. Attree replied sixteen.

Dr. Carpenter: Then you will go from sixteen for Major to twenty-eight for Royal.

The President said he would point out to Mr. Catchpole that there was a large field of ringers that took an interest in what others did. It should be borne in mind that many outsiders desired to know, when a peal was rung, what it was worth in value of points. As to Double Norwich Royal, he had conducted a peal in the method, and did not consider there was any great difficulty about it. In fact, as the bells kept a regular coursing order, if the conductor did not go to sleep he should be pretty certain of getting a peal provided there was a good treble-man. As to the points suggested, he thought it would be better to ask the Committee to consider them with a view to report at the next meeting, rather than to press the resolution as it stood.

Mr. Catchpole said there was more difference between Double Norwich Maximus and Royal than there was between Royal and Major.

The resolution amended as suggested by the President was adopted.


The President asked the Council to consider at this stage the question of next year’s meeting. Should it be for one day with two sittings, or should it extend over two days, in accordance with the provision made at the last London meeting? The Standing Committee had discussed the matter and considered it would be best to have two sittings in one day. They feared that there would be but a very small attendance if the meeting was extended to the Wednesday. At the Bristol meeting, there were two or three questions that, for want of time, were not properly discussed, while the length of the meeting caused some of their friends to leave before the whole of the subjects were disposed of. The Council were much indebted to their Norwich friends for the most kind and excellent arrangements that had been made for ringing. Nevertheless, he felt bound to point out that the meeting day should be wholly devoted to the business of the Council, and the least those sent to represent the different Associations and Guilds could do was to allow nothing to interfere with the specific duties they had been sent to perform.

The Rev. M. Kelly thought that some of the members of the Council who had a long distance to travel would find a difficulty in reaching London, say, by 10.30 in the morning. There were some of the Associations that held their own annual meeting on the Whit-Monday, and it would therefore be inconvenient to their representatives to leave before the Tuesday. He should himself prefer a two days’ meeting.

Mr. Story said he was a strong advocate for having the two sittings in one day. The Council had often hurried over important matters for the want of more time. He thought if the Council met at 11 o’clock, adjourned for an hour at 1 o’clock, and met again, say at 2 o’clock to finish the business, it would be much better than the present arrangement.

Mr. Attree supported the idea of having two sittings in one day, and expressed an opinion that such a course would be much the best, even if the Standing Committee had to meet the previous day. He thought the difficulty of travelling might be easily surmounted.

The Hon. Secretary proposed that the London meeting next year be divided into two sittings, the first to commence at 11 o’clock, and further arrangements to be left in the hands of the Standing Committee.

The Rev. F. G. Coleridge in seconding, said he should object to having to continue the sitting on the Wednesday.

The resolution was adopted.


The Hon. Secretary said that this question introduced one which had been encountered by two Committees. It would therefore seem time for it to be definitely answered, not so much because of the work of the Committee, but for the information and satisfaction of the Exercise. The Peals Committee had decided what peals they should admit, and the Glossary Committee had to decide the methods. The question of calls had already been dealt with, and he thought it wise that the matter should go further, and there should now be an answer given as to what a legitimate method was. It was a question which had been much neglected in the past, and it was the more necessary to draw attention to it now. Some Treatises contained methods with no claim from a scientific point of view to the title. No attempt had been made either individually or collectively to define what should constitute a method from a scientific point of view. That this point should be taken in hand he was sure would be to the interest of the Exercise at large. Some ringers took it for granted that it was sufficient if a method would run true, without reference to its musical qualities and to its constitution. But surely the science of change-ringing should have a voice in it. As the formation and object of the Council was to set up a standard, he did not think that they could well shrink from answering this question in a decisive way. No doubt ringers would still ring and practice what they pleased, but if the Council did this work ringers would not be able to plead ignorance as to the construction of a method. It was not his intention to make any formal motion; his object was more to open a discussion and to obtain an exchange of views. For this purpose it might be well for him to lay down two or three propositions which might be adopted as guides in estimating a legitimate method.

First: in methods for any number of bells it is essential that they should run true for the whole possible extent of the changes on numbers below eight. Eight, and above eight to such an extent as will render at least 5000 true changes possible. Some might think that the standard was too low, while many would consider that it should be stipulated that the tenors should be together. But that would be more from a musical aspect of the subject. He had thought it best, at any rate for initiating a discussion, to adopt a lower standard, and therefore had taken this view he had propounded.

Secondly: that methods should lend themselves to composition of extents without necessitating the use of other than legitimate calls, according to the decision of the Council.

Thirdly: in dealing only with Triples, Caters, and Cinques, the methods in their formation should be such that in their ordinary working they proceed by continuous triple, quadruple, or quintuple changes, which arrangement should only be capable of disturbance by the occurrence of a common single in the calling. In the case of Major, Royal, or Maximus, then their formation should enable them, in their ordinary working, to proceed by such an alternation of quadruple and triple, or quintuple and quadruple, or sextuple and quintuple changes as would cause the lead ends to be of “like nature” till a common single occurred. Infringement of these provisions, in either class of the methods, caused the lead-ends to be alternatively odd and even in the plain course, which to say the least was undesirable.

Fourth: as a corollary to the last proposition, and to prevent its infringement, no bell in the ordinary working of a method, apart from the action of calls, should strike more than two consecutive blows in any one place.

Fifth: that a method should be at least decently musical in its ordinary working and under ordinary treatment in composition, a provision which is lamentably transgressed in some methods by the undue separation of the heavy bells.

These were the features and conditions of formation which seemed to him essential to the constitution of a legitimate method, and he submitted them as the basis upon which some regulations might be reasonably founded.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies considered the ideas brought forward by the Hon. Secretary as most excellent.

Mr. Trollope drew attention to the striking more than two blows in one place by a bell at a single in Grandsire.

The Hon. Secretary pointed out that he had said “apart from the action of calls.”

The Rev. H. Law James thought that 3, 4, and 5 might be confined in one definition, and said that a method was an arrangement of place-making and dodging upon an odd number of bells, working about one or more trebles in one plain or treble bob hunt, so that at each treble lead-end the treble, or trebles, occupy a different position among the working bells; coming between each pair in turn; and provided also that the working bells are at each treble lead-end in their proper coursing order.

Mr. Pitstow asked if this would not exclude Stedman.

The Rev. H. Law James said Stedman was a principle, and was called so by Stedman himself, who never called it a method (laughter). He thought, however, that the best plan would be to appoint a Committee to deal with the whole question, and to present a report.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey proposed, and the Rev. F. E. Robinson seconded, the appointment of the following Committee:- Rev. H. Law James; Messrs. H. Dains, J. Carter, A. Craven, and J. A. Trollope, to report as to the best definition of what constitutes a method.

The President regretted that so few had taken part in the discussion. The aim of bringing the various questions forward was to draw out the views of the representatives. There were many gentlemen present who did not give the Council the benefit of their opinions. They were sent to the Council for the purpose of expressing their views so that there might be an exchange of ideas. The broad principles that the Hon. Secretary had brought forward as to this particular question, would, he thought, prove very useful to the Committee as a basis to work upon. He might say that for Mr. James to pretend that an arrangement of changes which would not run to 5040 was a method, was about as logical as to call a jug a beer jug when it had a hole in the bottom (laughter). The resolution to appoint the Committee was adopted.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record June 10, 1899, pages 28 to 29


Mr. Attree said that by request of the Hon. Secretary he had consented to bring this question forward. Had he not replied by return of post but given the question consideration, he should have hesitated to take the matter in hand. He was placed in a somewhat difficult position, for he could not see any advantages in a paid system, and would therefore leave its explanation to those who believed in it. As to its disadvantages he held strong views, for he considered the paid system to be detrimental to the good of the cause. What benefit was it to the ringer to get threepence or even sixpence a time for his services? Was it this that made men good ringers? He thought not. The ringer who rang for what he could get was not a ringer of the right sort. Payment for ringing often created an ill-feeling among bands in country places, and prevented ringers from being drawn from a better class. There were bands which, had it not been for payment, would long since have made good change-ringers, while in some cases good bands, from the same cause and through no fault of their own, had been broken up. Dissatisfaction often arose through the paid system by one ringer leaving, followed by another, and so a band of eight decreased to six, and finally broke up. It was said that one volunteer was worth so many pressed men, and he was one of those who considered that one volunteer ringer was worth a number of paid ringers. He had had some personal experience, and was himself much in favour of the voluntary system. At St. Paul’s, Brighton, they had a band that took no pay for any ringing.

Mr. H. Dains asked what about weddings? Did the clergyman do his part free? If not, why should the ringers do theirs free?

Mr. Attree said not even for weddings did they take any pay. The members of the band gave up their work and time, and had done so for seventeen years. If a ringer took a real interest in the science, he would ring without wanting any money return. This had been the case with his own company for seventeen years, not one penny having been received by any of the band. Members of a choir were not as a rule paid for their services, but gave them voluntarily, and he looked forward to the day when bands would ring not for money, but for the good of the cause. He had looked in vain for the advantages of the paid system, and could not find any. It was a system he should not have anything to do with. It was said that money was “the root of all evil,” and this he thought was true with respect to the ringing of church bells.

Mr. Story said the matter was not an urgent one, and he thought it required careful consideration. His own experience was that the paid ringer was the one to be most relied upon. Another point was that unless you had an over-strong band some of the members were drawn from that class of men who were not in a position at any time to give up their work and attend for ringing purposes without some payment. If no payment was made bands often met short, and, one falling out, another got tired of going, and at last the band did not prove a success, while on the other hand when payment was made, bands were kept more together and they became a success. He would advise that no vote should be taken upon the question.

Mr. Rees said he was for some years connected with a band that were not paid officially, but at Christmas time the hat was sent round with the result that a liberal collection was made. This was some recognition that the ringers had regularly performed their duties by ringing and chiming for the services of the church, for the greater festivals of the church, and generally conducted themselves to the satisfaction of the rector. There was one practice a week, and the amount collected was divided according to the attendances that had been made, and was thus regarded as a small remuneration for the practices they had attended. As to weddings, he considered that those who wanted bells rung when they were married should pay.

Mr. W. Snowdon said he agreed with the remarks that had been made by Mr. Story. He did not wish to draw comparisons, and would rather look upon himself as an amateur ringer than otherwise; but he did not think it possible to depend upon the amateur ringer. Out of pocket expenses were often required and in this respect difficulties would arise in all directions. The amateur ringer went off to a neighbouring tower, the paid man did not do so, at least there was not that temptation for him to do so, for he knew, if absent from his post, what would be the result. Therefore the paid man was the most to be depended upon. All honour, nevertheless, to the ringer who took such an interest in his ringing, and of his goodness gave the time without any payment. Most of those who knew the condition of a large majority of the working classes knew that many of them had a struggle to make both ends meet; such men should be paid, if not for their actual ringing for services, at least for their attendance at practice. Probably a great deal depended upon the custom of the district. In Yorkshire it was the custom to pay, while the amateur band was an exception. He thought it much more satisfactory to pay ringers than to let the hat go round, but if it did go round it should be undertaken by the churchwardens.

Mr. Rees said that was the custom in the place to which he had referred.

Mr. Snowdon said that made it so much the better. He did not know, however, where they would stop. There were no doubt two sides to the question. There were many temptations for a ringer to visit a neighbouring tower. There could be no doubt but that where ringers were paid they legitimately earned all they got. He was an admirer of an amateur band of ringers when they could be got.

Mr. W. Wakley said that as the leader of a band for twenty-five years - a band which had been successful - his experience was different to that of Mr. Attree’s. His opinion was that in order to have a successful band of ringers they must be paid something. He had only known of one amateur band that was in any way a success. There should be something in the way of recognition for those who Sunday after Sunday turned up at their proper time. If they were not paid there was nothing to keep them together. Every ringer should take his proper share of what was paid. In his own company it was thought desirable to have fines, and at first a small fine was adopted, but at last it was necessary to make the fines larger, and so a shilling fine was adopted, and the result was that the company had been kept together for so many years. The members attended regularly, and nothing but continued success had been the result. To ensure success he thought it almost absolutely necessary that ringers should be paid. As to ringing for weddings it appeared to him most extraordinary that men who had to depend upon their work for their living should be expected to give up their time to ring for people when they were married, without any payment for their services. Surely this should be recognised as honest labour, and as such should be paid for.

The Rev. R. C. M. Harvey said he agreed with the remarks of the last speaker. As to ringing for weddings without payment, that was extraordinary. In some places it might be found necessary to pay for ringing on Sundays, while in others, as appeared the case with Mr. Attree’s, it was not necessary. He had not found any difficulty in getting a band to turn up for ringing on Sundays without payment.

The Rev. H. Law James thought the question rested in a nutshell. It must depend upon circumstances. It would not be well for the Council to pass any resolution, neither should the Council be down upon the ringer who only rings because he is paid.

Mr. H. Dains said as one of those who came from London he could not help expressing his surprise that men could be found to give up their work and lose time without payment, and only for the sake of ringing, when people were married.

Mr. Attree said there appeared to be a mistake upon the matter. It was correct that his band did not receive any payment for ringing for weddings, but they always made a charge of two guineas for ringing at a wedding, but the men did not take the money, it was put in a box (laughter), and when they wanted an outing they had it (much laughter). He thought it best to make this statement to stop what appeared to be a misunderstanding. He anticipated that after he had consented to bring the question forward he should bring a hornet’s nest about him (laughter).

Mr. Dains said in London they had to turn up and ring when the Lord Mayor came along, or it might be even Her Majesty. If so, every one wanted the bells rung, and to do this men had to give up their work. Could it be expected that working men, as many of them were, could do this without any payment, let them ring what they might, even if it was only stony. If a man had to give up his work for a public service, which he considered ringing for such events as he had referred to was, then he for one considered that the man should be paid.

The Rev. H. J. Elsee said that the members of many bands lived considerable distances apart, in some cases as much as from one to twelve miles. For such men to ring three times upon the Sunday was rather a heavy tax upon the resources of a working man unless he was paid for his services , and would prevent some bands from meeting at all regularly.

The Rev. T. L. Papillon said there were two sides to the question. He had had some thirteen to fourteen years’ experience in a country place, and considered it desirable that the bells should be rung for the services on the Sunday. He had not had much difficulty in keeping a band together without any fixed payment for their Sunday ringing, but had found it very desirable that there should be some recognition for the services that were rendered. The plan he had adopted was a kind of sending round the hat at Christmas, and it had hitherto answered very well. His practice was to head a sheet of paper or small memo. book, stating that the ringers had, during the year, discharged their duties to his satisfaction. During the year, this was taken round to the principal inhabitants and a sum of money was collected which was given as a recognition for work the ringers had done. This had acted well in keeping the band together; as to ringing for weddings, he considered that a band should be paid a sufficient sum to recompense them for their loss of time, and according to the circumstances of each place.

The President said he was sure that all had been interested in the discussion that had taken place, for many of them had listened to experiences which had not come under their notice previously. If there was one important thing in life it was to note both sides of every question. Those that did so were those whose opinions would have most weight. He looked with admiration upon what Mr. Attree had effected, and wished it could be done all over the country, but knew that it could not be so. It was not intended to take a vote of the Council upon the question, or that the Council should venture a decision either one way or the other. The object of the discussion was to get an exchange of opinions so as to enable members of the Council to acquire a wider knowledge and broader views on the question. There were occasions when it was necessary for the working man to lose time for ringing purposes, and it would be hard if he was not able to take home at least the same amount to his wife as he would have done had he remained at his daily work. Various speakers had given their experiences. There could be no doubt that local circumstances, as Mr. Papillon had said, must have a great deal to do with the system adopted.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record June 17, 1899, pages 38 to 39


Mr. W. Snowdon said that this was not a subject of his own seeking, for he quite agreed in his deceased brother Jasper’s view, viz., that the whole thing was dying a natural death and should be treated as beneath contempt. His brother further held that it was no use blaming the ringers when those in authority were the real culprits for lending the churches’ bells for the purpose. Having however been asked to open the subject, he had much pleasure in doing so, trusting that he might prove an honest enemy, and even a generous one. Generous, since we had much to thank our predecessors for, and it was quite possible that the good striking which is generally heard in the north, might be claimed as resulting from past prize-ringing. Its present-day advocates would probably say that there were degrees of prize-ringing. This was true, and churchmen might be thankful for it. Quoting from memory he gave the following from amongst some MSS. of his brother. “The ringers of such and such a church challenge any tower within a radius of twenty miles to ring for £10 or £20 a side, articles of agreement to be signed at such-and-such a public-house.” Probably this advertisement would appear in Bell’s Life early in the century. But to be quite fair to the modern prize-ringer, he would exert himself almost for the love of it, and in some cases even an innocent copper kettle would content him. He recalled an amusing speech by a Yorkshire Rector who was describing the old-world sports that were formerly held in his village, and who recounted the fact that papers were in existence that went to prove that the parson’s dog had - ex-officio -the right of the first bite at the bear. It was unnecessary to say, added Mr. Snowdon, that roars of laughter followed this story, the difference between the pictured parson of old times and that of the present day being only too apparent to those who were listening to the Yorkshire clergyman. From this it might surely be argued that we were all advancing, both parson and people, not forgetting the ringer. On careful analysis it was difficult to say that there was any real harm in competition, taken by itself, for we had competition in almost everything, and perhaps his London friends would forgive him - knowing they were not prize-ringers - if he took an example of an imaginary prize-meeting in the Metropolis. Undesirable as such a thing would be, there would be nothing really harmful in a prize-meeting on the bells at the Imperial Institute, but what a loud outcry there would be if you changed the venue and advertised the contest to take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral! The real objection to the system was in the desecration of sacred bells, and churchmen of to-day would not tolerate it. The modern ringer has learned to prize the scientific side of change-ringing, and to take an interest in the achievements of his brothers in various parts of the country, and such should prove the true stimulus to the true man.

The Rev. F. E. Robinson said that he found from a tour in Cornwall that there were good motives in prize-ringing. Prize-ringing in that county was in some places under the management of the clergy and churchwardens, thereby an interest in ringing was kept up, and great perfection in the Art was produced. He did not think it wise that any strong pressure should be put upon it, for on the whole it was doing good.

The Rev. Maitland Kelly said that his opinion formed through a tour was that prize-ringing did undoubtedly create considerable interest in ringing, and produced most excellent striking, even if it was but rounds. One feature was the perfect manner of raising and falling. As to the advantages of prize-ringing his opinion was not altered. So long as the bells remained in our churches he could not see how prize-ringing could be encouraged, and it was a custom which in Devonshire was dying out, and he believed that ultimately the whole system would come to an end.

The Rev. G. F. Coleridge said that he was one of those who had heard some bitter things said against prize-ringing. He had been present at such gatherings and well remembered the lessons he was taught when a young ringer. One of the great objects was to raise and fall, ringing rounds so many times in an hour. There was great skill in the performance, and he would defy 90 ringers out of a 100 to go and do it as it was done in a west country tower. He had himself taken part in such an event, and had done it fifty times in the hour. The whole skill lay in the raising and falling. As a young ringer he spent some amount of time with an old man, who used to compare his notes with his own and point out to him how he had failed in not noting nearly all of the faults, and from whom he learnt many a lesson. There was another point not to be forgotten. He remembered in one village with a population of 500, or at the most 600, that there were seventy ringers. This was accounted for because the parson got them together in bands, and they had a day’s ringing with the result that the band which had the least number of faults had the credit of standing at the top of the tree in that village as ringers for the next twelve months. After all they must admit that the bells were rung in a masterly manner, and it was a system that required great skill.

The Rev. W. W. C. Baker considered that change-ringers might well take a lesson from prize-ringers by paying more attention to the raising and falling of bells.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey said that it was a mistake that was generally made to put young ringers into changes before they had attempted to raise and fall a bell. More attention should be given to the raising and falling in peal than is the case at the present time. If this was done many men would prove far better ringers than they did now. If a man could not handle a bell he was no use as a change-ringer.

The President said that he had hoped that the discussion would have covered wider ground and that they might have heard something, for instance, as to the competitive ringing in Sussex. Competition was productive of improved ringing, but the reward should be nothing of substantial value, and should in any case advantage the band as a whole and not the individual members of it. Beyond this he did not think it wise that prize-ringing should be permitted to go.


The Rev. F. E. Robinson said that this was a question which in the interest of the Exercise it was desirable should receive careful consideration. There were conductors who would not tell a young hand anything that he might desire to know, but would leave him to find it out for himself. This was however happily not the case in many places, and he thought that some of the Associations might have had something to do in bringing about the change, for there was now less exclusiveness than formerly. There should be in each band two or three fairly good conductors, and jealousy and exclusiveness, where it still remained, should be swept away.

Mr. Attree said that he would like to go a little farther. His ambition was to see every member of the band capable of conducting.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies said that conducting was too often done by one man in the tower who was reverenced as knowing everything about what was almost regarded as one of the great mysteries. What was wanted was a more liberal and generous action toward those who endeavoured to do something in conducting. There was, however, now a large amount of literature which did not exist in the past. In too many towers a real difficulty arose because the power of conducting was confined to one man.

The President said that there were some towers with one conductor in which none of the other ringers would take the trouble to learn how to conduct.


The President moved that the best thanks of the Council be given to their Norwich friends for the very excellent arrangements that had been made, and for the kind reception the visitors had received. When it was considered that, in a town by no means generally convenient of access, over forty members of the Council had attended, it would no doubt be admitted that the meeting, which it was foretold would fail because Norwich was out of the way, had been a success.

Mr. Story seconded the motion, which was unanimously adopted.

On the proposition of the Rev. F. E. Robinson, seconded by Mr. Snowdon, a vote of thanks was accorded to the President and the Hon. Secretary.

The meeting then terminated.

In the evening a social gathering of ringers was held at the Royal hotel, when the Norwich contingent gave an excellent selection of music.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record June 24, 1899, pages 52 to 53

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