“A most successful meeting and a very enjoyable time” was the frequently-expressed opinion of every one when at the Inns of Court hotel last Tuesday the social gathering of the first meeting of the fourth Central Council came to an end, and friends gathered from all over the country dispersed for another year.

Monday’s ringing at St. Michael’s, Cornhill, had not been a success. Probably the fact that, so many councillors did not arrive in town till later in the day was the cause of so poor a meeting. Mr. T. Hattersley was there from Sheffield, and Mr. Ridyard from Eccles, Mr. Borrett from Norwich, and Mr. Barber from Birmingham. Several College Youths also turned up, but no peal was attempted, and indeed of several attempted touches of Stedman Caters and Cinques, not one was blessed with rounds at both ends, some not at either.

But if the representatives were conspicuous on the Monday rather by their absence than their presence, a goodly number were in Dean’s Yard, Westminster, while Big Ben was striking 11 a.m. on Tuesday, and soon the room appropriated for the meeting was quite full. One noticed several new faces, and one or two familiar figures were absent. Perhaps those most missed were the Rev. C. D. P. Davies and Mr. John Carter. The latter’s many friends will learn with regret that the state of his health did not admit of his attendance.

The more or less formal business of the re-election of the President and Hon. Secretary was followed by the election of eight Hon. Members, including Messrs. Carter, Lockwood, and Pettit, and the appointment of the Standing Committee. The President then called on the Rev. H. A. Cockey to make a statement as to the petitions which had been sent to the various Railway Companies. As the committee of the Railway Clearing House had not met, there was nothing definite to communicate to the Council, but Mr. Cockey treated the representatives to a good many very interesting figures of the size, weight, and number of the various petitions which were to soften the implacable hearts of the railway directors. A statement by the President on the unfinished work of the Committee on Conditions of Bells, and by the Rev. H. Law James on that of legitimate methods, was followed by a motion by Mr. Attree altering the points to be assigned to Double Norwich Royal and Maximus, and fixing those to be allowed for “Bristol” Surprise. On this motion the Hon. Secretary stated what he considered should be a “Surprise” method, and as London Surprise did not comply with his conditions, he proposed to re-name it “London Marvel.” Asked what he called a “marvel” method, he elicited considerable applause and amusement by the promptness and neatness of his reply.

But now the hour of one was striking, and the wisdom of the division of the meeting into two parts was manifest, for several councillors were beginning to think of their lunch. But first a good number had the pleasure of being shown round the adjoining Abbey by the Precentor, whose interesting descriptions were greatly appreciated by his audience, some of whom were now inspecting the historic fane for the first time. Half-past two o’clock saw the meeting resumed, and the Council then tackled the most important and thorny item of its agenda - the consideration of the appointment of a Committee of appeal to deal with the cases where the truth of any peal performance is called into question. The Rev. H. J. Elsee proposed the rather lengthy motion on the agenda in a long speech which was distinguished by great tact and sound common sense. The correspondence in “The Bell News” about certain peals during the previous year had been calculated to sadden the hearts of those who believed in the honour of ringers and the brotherhood of the Exercise, and to undermine the confidence which ought to be reposed in conductors. He did not hope very much from the direct work which the committee which it was proposed to appoint could do, but he thought it would tend to raise public opinion among ringers generally, which alone could say that such things that had been lately alleged could not and should not continue to be possible. A long and interesting discussion followed in which Mr. Snowdon, Mr. Attree and others took part. A little dispute between the President and Mr. J. S. Pritchett on a nice point of the difference between a misdemeanour and an indictable offence rather tickled the Council, who were unable to follow the magistrate and the lawyer into the mazes of the law.

But perhaps the best point of the debate was made by Mr. W. Wakley, who pointed out that in nothing which involves competition is a man’s own word taken for any performance he has done, or record he has broken; that as it is in racing, and billiards and athletics, so should it be in peal-ringing. The one way to prevent disputes about record peals is to compel those attempting them to take such precautions that impartial and independent witnesses should be able either to testify to the goodness or to condemn the badness of any performance which aspires to go one better than the previous best. Let there be qualified umpires appointed by authority and let the figures of the peal be in the hands of an independent man, sealed if desired. The President summed up and pointed out that the question was one upon which as yet a good deal had to be said. One thing which the Council had already touched but very gingerly at Bristol had to be looked in the face. Before we can settle how to condemn bad peals we must settle what constitutes a good one. On the understanding that the question should be considered at the next session he advised the withdrawal of the original motion and the various amendments, which was done. A discussion on “How best to instruct beginners,” followed, upon which the Revs. W. E. Carpenter and Maitland Kelly, and Messrs. Snowdon, Groves, Storey, Attree, and others spoke. The Rev. G. F. Coleridge, in a short amusing speech gave his one cure for all troubles with beginners- the door. Does the novice look at the ceiling when he should look at the ropes and being admonished continues obdurate- “Out you go!” Does he look at the floor- “Out you go!” Does he take his rope in his wrong hand - “Out you go!” Possibly a mighty remedy in the hands of Mr. Coleridge, but hardly so effective in the hands of one who is not a modern Son of Anak. With a few pertinent remarks the President wound up the discussion, and the Council’s time being up the session came to an end having lasted just five hours.

Tuesday was Pretoria Day, and it was only appropriate that some ringing should be done. Both leading societies offered a tower and soon the twelve at St. Martin-in-the-Fields were going in Stedman Cinques and Caters and Treble Twelve. Then a move was made to St. Clement Danes, where more Caters were rung.

At nine o’clock most of the Councillors and other ringers accepted the invitation of Sir Arthur Heywood to a social gathering, where amid clouds of smoke, jingling of glasses, ringing of handbells, and singing of songs, three hours passed away pleasantly. At the conclusion the Master of the College Youths proposed the health of the President, and Mr. Coleridge seconded in his own breezy style. The toast was honoured with the greatest energy, and passers by in the streets could hardly miss the strains of “For he’s a jolly good fellow,” lustily sung by fifty voices.

Sir Arthur replied, and mentioning the fact that his son had that day with the Coldstream Guards followed Lord Roberts into Pretoria asked the company to sing the National Anthem. This was done with the greatest enthusiasm and amid a multitude of hand-shaking the company broke up, to meet again we trust at Derby next year.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record June 9, 1900, pages 61 to 62


The Tenth Annual Meeting of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers was held at the Church House, Dean’s Yard, Westminster, on Whit-Tuesday, June 5th. The following representatives were present: Messrs. M. A. Wood, E. P. O’Meara, W. T. Cockerill, and T. Taffender, Ancient Society of College Youths; H. Dains, A. Jacob, and R. A. Daniell, Royal Cumberland Youths; R. Cartwright, and S. Reeves, Archdeaconry of Stafford; F. T. Spencer, and W. Godden Gordon, Chester Diocesan Guild; Rev. Maitland Kelly, Devonshire Guild; R. S. Story, Durham and Newcastle Association; C. Sillitoe, Ely Diocesan Association; Rev. T. L. Papillon, N. J. Pitstow, W. J. Nevard, and B. Keeble, Essex Association; Rev. H. A. Cockey, and F. G. May, Gloucester and Bristol Association; Rev. E. W. Carpenter, Rev. F. J. O. Helmore, and F. W. Thornton, Kent County Association; Rev. H. L. James, and G. Chester, Lincolnshire Association; Rev. H. J. Elsee, R. Ridyard, and C. A. Clements, Lancashire Association; J. W. F. Holgate, Leeds and District Association; Sir Arthur Heywood, Bart., J. Griffin, S. Cooper, and W. Wakley, Midland Counties Association; Messrs. J. Waghorn and J. Basden, Middlesex Association; Rev. H. Earle Bulwer and J. Motts, Norwich Diocesan Association; Rev. F. E. Robinson, Rev. G. F. Coleridge, and F. W. Hopgood, Oxford Diocesan Guild; A. Smith, Salisbury Diocesan Association; G. F. Attree, G. Williams, and S. Saker, Sussex Association; C. Dean, Surrey Association; C. F. Winney and W. Weatherstone, St. James’ Society; W. H. Godden, St. Martin’s Guild, Birmingham; Rev. R. C. M. Harvey, and J. W. Whiting, Winchester Diocesan Guild; R. E. Grove and J. Smith, Worcestershire and Districts Association; W. Snowdon, Yorkshire Association; Rev. J. H. Pilkington, Rev. A. H. F. Boughey, Messrs. F. W. J. Rees, J. W. Taylor, J. S. Pritchett, J. A. Trollope, J. W. Mitchell, and J. Pettit, Hon. Members.


The Rev. H. Earle Bulwer having been voted to the chair pro tem, called upon the Council to proceed to the election of President, of which there had been but one nomination received, viz., Sir Arthur Heywood, Bart.

The Rev. F. E. Robinson said it gave him great pleasure to move the election of Sir Arthur. This was the tenth year of the existence of the Council. Sir Arthur had hitherto presided over the meetings of the Council in a very able manner, and the Council were much indebted to him for the manner in which he had conducted the business. The Council could not therefore do better than to re-elect him to the presidency, the duties of which he had hitherto so ably discharged. It might be said that Sir Arthur had presided over its infancy, its childhood, and its youth. He was sure the Council could not do better than to ask him to preside over its manhood (applause).

The Rev. G. F. Coleridge in seconding, said he could join most heartily in all that the proposer had said.

Sir Arthur Heywood who on taking the chair to which he was unanimously elected, said he wished to thank his old friend Mr. Robinson for the very kind words that he had used in proposing his re-election, and to express his gratitude to the Council for the manner in which those words had been received. If he might lay claim to anything that he had done, it was to endeavour to get through with all dispatch the lengthy business of the Council. In the days of its childhood it had at all times been necessary for him as President to guide the discussions, and so to somewhat exceed his duties as chairman, but he felt no cause to regret the line he had taken. As his friend Mr. Robinson had pointed out, the Council was now entering upon its manhood. It had established itself before the Exercise and the country, and it might not, he hoped, be necessary for him to take so much part in the discussions in the future as he had in the past. As one who had to attend many meetings, he was entirely alive to the importance of avoiding waste of time, and he was glad to say this had not been a fault of the Council (hear, hear). The Council had now become to be regarded as of importance, and if the same spirit of earnestness continued to pervade its work, it would become a body of great influence. It would be his aim in the future to do all he could, as he had in the past, for the welfare of the Council (hear, hear). He regretted that the large amount of business he had to attend to prevented him from travelling about as formerly and meeting friends in all parts of the country. He trusted that although he was not able now to do this, that it would be remembered that he had equally as much at heart the welfare of the Exercise, for there was not a week went by without his considering matters connected with ringers or ringing (hear, hear).


The Rev. F. E. Robinson said however efficient a chairman a body like that of the Council had - and he was one of those who considered the Council had as they all knew an efficient chairman - yet it was necessary for him to have a right hand. In their esteemed friend Mr. Bulwer, Sir Arthur had got an efficient coadjutor. He did not know anyone who could, or would be at all disposed, to devote so much time to the work as Mr. Bulwer did. Of one thing he was sure, that there were few if any who could devote so much time to the complicated work of the Council as Mr. Bulwer had done in the past, and he had therefore great pleasure in proposing his re-election as Hon. Secretary.

Mr. W. Snowdon, in seconding the resolution, said he did so with pleasure, for Mr. Bulwer had done a large amount of work for the Council in the past, for which the Council were much indebted to him.

The President said before submitting the resolution to the meeting, he should like to say how thoroughly he endorsed every word that had been spoken. Mr. Robinson had said it was necessary for the chairman of such a body to have a right hand. He had no hesitation in saying that Mr. Bulwer had proved an invaluable right hand, and a great deal of the credit for the work of the Council was due to Mr. Bulwer.

The resolution was unanimously adopted.

The Rev. H. Earle Bulwer said he desired to thank the mover and seconder and the President for the very complimentary remarks that each had made as to his work in connection with the Council. He was pleased to find that the Council gave him credit for what he had done in the past. So long as God gave him the strength, and the Council choose to elect him to the post he should be happy to discharge the duties to the best of his ability. If at any time there appeared to be any hasty action or words on his part, he trusted that they would bear in mind that it was only for the moment, and no sooner done or said it was gone. He desired to take that opportunity to thank the members of the Council for the assistance they had given him in the discharge of his duties, and also to thank the various Secretaries of the different Associations who had rendered him assistance.

The minutes of the last annual meeting were read, and having been approved were signed by the President.


On the proposition of Mr. F. W. Thornton, seconded by Mr. J. Griffin, the following were elected Hon. Members for the ensuing three years: Rev. H. J. Pilkington, Messrs. J. Carter, F. W. J. Rees, J. S. Pritchett, J. Trollope, J. W. Taylor, F. E. Ward, and J. Pettit.


On the proposition of Mr. J. Pritchett, seconded by Mr. J. Griffin, the following were appointed as a Standing Committee: Revs. F. E. Robinson, C. D. P. Davies, G. F. Coleridge, H. A. Cockey, E. W. Carpenter, H. J. Elsee, Messrs. H. Dains, W. Snowdon, F. W. J. Rees, C. H. Hattersley, T. Lockwood, G. F. Attree, and R. S. Story.


The Hon. Secretary submitted the accounts which showed that the year commenced with a balance in hand of £60 15s. 2d., Subscriptions for the year were £10 14s. 0d., the expenditure was £4 11s. 0d., leaving £66 18s. 2d. in hand.

The President said the accounts had been examined by the Standing Committee and found correct. If the Council desired it auditors could be appointed, but he did not think it necessary.

On the proposition of the Rev. F. E. Robinson, seconded by the Rev. G. F. Coleridge, the accounts were passed.


The Rev. H. A. Cockey said the Committee had carried out to the best of their ability this matter. All the petitions that had been received from the various Associations had been sent in to the respective railway companies. He had hoped to have been able to make a report as to the result that day, but he found that the Clearing House did not meet for almost another fortnight; it would be necessary, therefore, to make known the result through the columns of “The Bell News.” One satisfactory feature was that the petitions would be backed up by the manager of the Great Western, and he trusted that if there were any members of the Council who could approach the Manager or Director of any railway company that they would do so, and secure their assistance. He was sorry the petitions had not been so numerously signed as they might have been, while some had taken a long time in getting the signatures. Three companies had already replied. One - the Great Eastern - said that if the Company went on granting reduced fares the time would come when no traveller would pay his full fare (laughter) for travelling. Unfortunately the petitions had gone in at rather a bad time, for not only had coals gone up considerably, but the companies were raising some of the cheap excursion fares, and also looking after excess of luggage. If it had been possible to have sent in the petitions twelve months ago, they might have looked forward with better hopes of success than they could do now. The cost to the Council had been a little over £4, and he was one of those that would have preferred seeing the matter taken up in a better spirit among the Exercise at large. He was aware that some of the local Secretaries had experienced some difficulty in getting in the petitions from the various towers. If anything of the kind should be done again he did hope that ringers in general would take it up more keenly. The number of signatures was as follows: Bath and Wells Association, 337; Chester Diocesan Guild, 266; College Youths, 115; Cumberlands, 40; Devonshire Guild, 150; Durham and Newcastle Association, 273; Essex Association, 266; Gloucester and Bristol Association, 172; Kent County Association, 581; Lancashire Association, 514; Lincolnshire Association East, 60; North, 197; South, 20; Liverpool Diocesan Guild, 20; Middlesex Association, 236; Midland Counties Association, 378; Norwich Diocesan Association, 697; Oxford Guild, 750; St. Martin’s Guild, Birmingham, 30; Salisbury Guild, 17; Surrey Association, 178; Sussex Association, 402; Winchester Diocesan Guild, 315; Worcester and Districts Association, 212; Yorkshire Association, 624; total 6817. The petitions have been sent in- Great Western, ten with 2285 signatures; London and North Western, ten with 3057 signatures; Midland Railway, twelve with 2929 signatures; Great Northern Railway, eight with 2347 signatures; London and South Western, seven with 1761 signatures; Great Eastern five, with 1511 signatures; Great Central five, with 1949 signatures; South Eastern three, with 1161 signatures; London, Brighton and South Coast three with 747 signatures. Some of the petitions were very long, that sent in to the Great Western was about nine yards.

Mr. A. Smith said no petition had come under his notice, and asked if Mr. Cockey could say how long ago it was sent. Possibly an explanation would be that the Secretary of the Salisbury Guild had gone to South Africa.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey replied that the petitions were sent out about eighteen months ago.

Mr. R. A. Daniell said the St. James’ Society had not taken the matter up, as the members belonged to other societies, and therefore to have signed would have been in duplicate.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey said it would only be right for him to mention that the low number of signatures by the Cumberlands was no doubt due to the fact that most of the members also belonged to some other society.

On the proposition of the Rev. E. W. Carpenter, seconded by the Rev. M. Kelly, the Committee were re-appointed.

The President in submitting the same to the Council, said he was sure the very best thanks of all would be recorded to Mr. Cockey and the Committee which had worked so hard with him. He trusted that some good result would come in return for the large amount of the labor that had been given.


The President said he had taken the principal part in the work of this Committee. As soon as the Council had approved of the circular, these were sent out to forty-four Associations asking them to fill in the name of the representative ringer of each tower containing eight or more bells. There were still four returns which had not been received, which meant that the Committee had not yet been able in these cases to send out to the representative ringers the forms to fill in. This delay was of course a serious one. From the forty circulars returned there had been sent out 914 forms to representative ringers of which 663 had been received back. He hardly knew how to emphasise the importance of having these returns made as soon as possible. Mr. Cockey had called attention to the lack of interest in making returns in connection with the rail fare question. Some of the returns made were already eleven months old, consequently they might be out of date before the report could be issued, simply because of the delay of those who had not sent in the returns asked for. He would ask the Council to give the Committee the power to publish the list of the names of those who had not complied with the request in “The Bell News,” and in doing so to be permitted to use forcible language in connection therewith (hear, hear). He had drafted the form in which he proposed to recommend that the information should be published, and he thought from what he had already seen of the returns, that the information would be of great value and interest to the Exercise.

The Rev. T. L. Papillon moved the re-appointment of the Committee, and that the Committee have authority to publish in “The Bell News” the list of those who had not made their returns. The mover further suggested that the Committee should send to the secretaries of Associations the list of towers from whom no returns had been furnished in their districts, remarking that it might be possible for the secretaries of Associations to bring some pressure to bear to obtain the returns.

The Rev. F. J. O. Helmore seconded, and the resolution was adopted.

The President said he desired to thank those secretaries of Associations who had given the Committee all the information they could as to representative ringers, and to the representative ringers who had sent in the returns. It was a pity that those who had not sent in the returns did not see that by their action they were increasing what was already a large amount of labour.


The Rev. H. Law James said he prepared a draft which was sent to the Hon. Secretary, and he understood that it had gone on to the other members of the Committee, but it had not come back to him; until it was returned he was not in a position to make any report.

The Hon. Secretary said he received the draft, and according to the usual practice sent it to one member of the Committee for him to pass on, but it had stuck somewhere. It might be that their friend Mr. Carter who had been ill for three weeks had it. It was a subject which required a great deal more consideration than had as yet been given to it, and he would therefore move the re-appointment of the Committee.

Mr. Story seconded, and the resolution was adopted.


The Hon. Secretary said he had obtained an estimate from “The Bell News” office for printing the Glossary, which it was estimated would make 96 pages. He had also sent out circulars asking what support he might expect, and it was gratifying to find that some 6000 copies would be purchased; this, however, was upon the condition that it was sold at one penny per copy. As he had already stated it was likely to make 96 pages, those who purchased it for a penny would find they had got a good pennyworth. He did not however see how it could be published at a penny, in fact it would be worth a little more. The definitions of Tittums he considered worth 2½d. of itself (laughter), while the appendix, which occupied thirty-four pages of MS., he thought would be considered an important part of the work, and should be worth 6d. He had estimated that by increasing the price to 2d., the purchases would diminish by one half, and upon this supposition he thought it would be best to proceed. To procure it for 2d. it would go through the Associations, but if any one sent for it privately, he thought that the price should be 4d. Whatever was done the Council should repay itself the cost of the printing. There would be a great deal of work, and he could not see how it could be done for less than the estimate he had received.

The President said even that price would be ridiculously low for the value of the work. The man who would not pay the price of a cheap drink for such a work was not fit to be a ringer (laughter).

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record June 16, 1900, pages 75 to 77, correction June 23, 1900, page 88


Mr. Attree said the question referred to the Committee last year was the points to be allowed for Double Norwich Maximus and Double Norwich Royal. No doubt those who had practised these knew more about the value of points that should be allowed than those who had not practised them. It was suggested that 32 points should be allowed for Double Norwich Maximus, and 28 for Double Norwich Royal. These it was thought would be but right. There had however appeared another method, viz., “Bristol Surprise.” In this no peal had as yet been rung, although one or two bands had practised the method, and attempts had been made to bring off a peal, but without success at present. He considered the method more difficult to ring than London Surprise.

The Hon. Secretary having stated that Bristol Surprise had not come under his notice, said in the appendix to the Glossary he had ventured to suggest that “London” should no longer be reckoned as a “Surprise” method, but be known as “London Marvel.” The reason of taking “London” out of the Surprise category was that the best test to decide what was a Surprise method was that a working bell should not exactly repeat its work in passing from the front to behind or vice versa, in any subsequent lead of the same course. “London” failed under this test, and he had therefore suggested that it should be known by a name which would still preserve its distinction as a difficult method, and he was glad to hear of another method which might possibly be classed with it as a member of the same family.

Mr. Attree moved that 32 points be allowed for Double Norwich Maximus, and twenty-eight for Royal, and added in reply to a question that the same number of points would be allowed for “Bristol” as for “London,” viz., 50.

Mr. Trollope, in seconding, expressed his satisfaction at the result which had been arrived at. His object in bringing the matter forward was because he considered the Ipswich band suffered from an injustice. He considered he was justified in bringing the subject forward, and hoped the meeting would approve of the resolution.

The resolution having been approved,

Mr. Williams asked what distinguished “London” from other methods? Was it to be removed from the Surprise world for a theoretical or practical reason? There were methods easy in theory, but very tricky when one came to ring them.

The Hon. Secretary said it was impossible to allow practical considerations to have any influence in deciding the question, which was one of construction and form, and had nothing to do with difficulty and skill in ringing. He had heard it stated that when a ringer got thoroughly accustomed to “London” it was as easy to ring as any other method. He had not the slightest intention to depreciate “London” by removing it from the Surprise methods, but on the contrary he desired rather to exalt it to a higher grade than Surprise by giving it the name of “Marvel,” and hoped that at some time other methods might appear of which “Bristol” seemed to promise to be one to constitute with “London” a family of eccentrics. In reply to a further question as to what distinguished “London” from other methods, he replied that “London” was distinguished for its eccentricities and irregularity (laughter).


The President thought it would be well to consider the place of meeting for next year. It would be remembered that the Midlands was visited first, after which came visits to north and south and then to west and east. He thought they should again go to work on the same lines; if so, the Standing Committee recommended Derby should be the place selected for next year’s meeting, which might possibly be followed by a visit to Worcester, although at present this would not be decided upon. If the same lines were followed by the next Council, possibly York might be selected as the northern town with some town in the south to follow.

On the proposition of the Rev. G. F. Coleridge, seconded by Mr. J. W. Taylor, it was agreed to hold the next Council meeting at Derby.

The President said everything that could be done to ensure a successful meeting at Derby would be done.

The Rev. F. J. O. Helmore remarked that although it might be looking far ahead, he hoped at some time a visit might be paid to Canterbury if the Standing Committee would bear it in mind.


The Rev. G. F. Coleridge said it was thought that the business of the Council would be facilitated if it had some official correspondent in each Association. It was considered that there should be some one official of each Association who could so far as desired be in constant touch with the Council. This it was thought would often enable the Council to obtain an answer in much less time than was at present sometimes the case. He was aware that there were in some Associations members willing to help the Council in every way they could. What was wanted was such men in every Association. He would move that the Council proceed to the appointment of official correspondents for each Association.

Mr. Williams seconded.

Mr. Snowdon said there were some Secretaries of Associations who had an enormous amount of work to get through, and it might so happen that just as he was engaged in the business of his Association that some matter in connection with the Council would come before him, he was bound to put something on one side, and that might be the business of the Council. He thought that if the right man could be secured for such appointments it would be a relief to the local secretary, and the result a good one. He considered it desirable that if the Hon. Secretary knew of a good man in an Association he should be selected for the purpose, if not the Standing Committee should appoint.

Mr. J. S. Pritchett considered that each Association should be invited to make their own appointment, otherwise there might be some grievance by the Association’s Secretary.

The President considered that the Council should select their own representative to act for them in each Association. If necessary, the person so appointed could put himself in communication with the Secretary of his Association.

Mr. Story did not think that the Secretaries of Associations would be aggrieved if the work of the Council was taken from them.

The Rev. M. Kelly was of opinion that confusion would often result if anyone but the Secretary of an Association was selected. They had heard complaints as to the getting in of the returns, but he thought the best man to do the work of the Council in each Association - let it be what it might - returns or otherwise - was the Secretary of the Association.

The Rev. H. Law James thought the Hon. Secretary of the Council should be empowered in case of failing to obtain what he wanted from an Association Secretary, to fall back upon some representative of the Association upon the Council to look up the Association Secretary and obtain the necessary information.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey thought there must be some misunderstanding. It did not appear to him to be any intention for any one to be appointed to interfere with the work of the Secretary of any Association. To leave it to the Association to select some one to do the work would not have so good a result as might be expected if the Hon. Secretary of the Council nominated some one to act for him.

Mr. Reeves pointed out that there were some cases in which the Secretary of an Association was not the representative upon the Council. He thought it desirable that there should be some one in each Association that the Hon. Secretary could apply to if he failed to obtain the information he desired from the Association Secretary.

The Hon. Secretary said when the Council was formed it was agreed that “The Bell News” should be the medium of communication. It was not intended that he should have to occupy his time in continual letter-writing. Sometimes when he had written he did not get much by it. In taking a general view of the whole question, he did not see that to adopt the resolution would be much advantage to him in his work unless they got gentlemen who would reply when a letter was sent them. It might not be known to all that there are some Secretaries of Associations and also officials who seldom or never see “The Bell News,” and who do not take much interest in the work of the Council. It was the laxity of officials that caused the trouble when there was any. The question was how to get prompt answers.

Mr. Daniell said that generally speaking the Secretary of an Association was some one of ability. If the Hon. Secretary of the Council found however that the Secretary of an Association was slack in replying to a communication, he should communicate with some representative of the Association upon the Council. If the Council appointed some one for that purpose, they might by chance appoint some one just as slack as the Secretary. The President thought that after the line that the discussion had taken, it would be wise for the resolution to be withdrawn. At the same time it might be as well for them to understand that if the Hon. Secretary of the Council failed at any time to get a reply from the Secretary of an Association, that he should be at liberty to ask the assistance of one of that Association’s representatives upon the Council.

The suggestion of the President to withdraw the resolution was adopted.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record June 23, 1900, pages 87 to 88


The following was the next item upon the agenda- “That in the opinion of this Council any protest against the truthfulness of a peal should be made within three months of its performance; and that if not challenged within this period, the record should be allowed. If the record is challenged, it should be submitted to the Central Council or a Committee appointed by it for this purpose for decision; and the decision of the Council should be accepted as final.”

The Rev. H. J. Elsee, in moving the same, said that no excuse was necessary from him for bringing this matter under the notice of the Council. They had all read with sorrow the correspondence which had appeared in “The Bell News” since the last meeting of the Council. It was greatly to be regretted that it should be possible to raise any question as to the truthfulness or worthiness of a performance, or that correspondence on this subject should be conducted in such a tone as had been in letters in “The Bell News.” He had himself no special qualification for bringing the matter forward unless this was one, that he had no personal interest in any of the peals which had been challenged, or connection with the ringers who had been attacked. He hoped that in the discussion on the motion no reference would be made to any particular peal which had been challenged, but that they might discuss in an impartial manner the larger question whether, if unfortunately the truthfulness of a peal was called in question, it should or should not be referred to the Council for its decision. He would not indeed venture to hope too much from constituting the Council a kind of Court of Appeal, for after all these things had to be left chiefly to the honour of ringers themselves. What the Council could really do was to raise the tone of public opinion among ringers, and make it to be felt a discreditable thing that any peal should be open to suspicion. If however any doubt were expressed, then it should be brought in a proper way before some authority which was qualified to look into the facts and give a decision. He did not hope so much from the direct work of the Council or Committee which might be appointed if his resolution was adopted, but he believed that it would help to raise the tone of opinion among ringers, who alone could say that such things as had been alleged were unworthy and must not continue to exist. What was the evil actually resulting from the present state of things? Ringers had been noted for the brotherhood that had existed among them; and this feeling of brotherhood had been fostered by the work of the various Associations in bringing ringers together, and cemented by the existence of the Council, representing ringers from all parts. But the tone of the correspondence which had taken place, and the faults alleged, if correct, would do much to loosen this sense of brotherhood and mutual respect among members of the Exercise. Moreover such correspondence took away attention from the merits of any performance and fixed it exclusively upon its alleged faults. It tended to destroy the public confidence in the skill and integrity of ringers, and of ringers in the honesty of conductors. Such was the evil, and it was not hard to see how it had arisen. There were two chief causes at work. First there was the desire, almost universal in any field of athletic exercise, to break records. As in other matters, so in ringing, those who wanted to break a previous record went in for a performance which would stand at the head for some time. What he suggested that the Council might do was to hold an enquiry, if such a performance was challenged. Secondly, there was the universal spirit of competition in the present day, and among ringers this was made keener by the masterly analysis published at regular intervals by Mr. Attree. Ringers were naturally desirous to see their particular Association stand well up on the list, and with some Associations this feeling was very strong. Thus there might easily grow a tendency to record a performance which was not altogether sound if it should happen to count well in points for the Association, while on the other hand some might be equally keen to pick holes in the records of a rival Association. In these ways had been brought about the present condition of things. Then what remedy was possible? He did not greatly desire that the Council should set itself up as a legal body to decide matters of this kind, but he did think that much good might be done by a thorough discussion and expression of opinion in the Council. The true remedy must be the force of public opinion among ringers, but the Council might greatly help to form this. Much of the correspondence which had taken place shewed a very unhealthy spirit, for words had been written which would scarcely have been spoken had the writers been brought face to face. Now as to the terms of his proposal. It would at all events afford a basis for discussion. He had brought it forward at the request of the Lancashire Association, and in doing so he would point out that this Association was not concerned in any dispute which had arisen and was therefore not interested from that point of view. It simply desired to find some remedy for what at present was a discredit to the Exercise. There might be some misunderstanding as to the exact words of the resolution. The term “truthfulness of a peal” was not intended to be used in its merely technical sense, but include alike truthfulness of composition and conducting and correctness of striking, in short the worthiness of record of a peal in every way. The resolution contained two parts. A time limit of three months was suggested, after which no complaint should be admitted. The period was open to consideration. He himself thought that if no challenge was made as to the truthfulness or worthiness of a peal within three months, the record should stand. It was unfair to rake up accusations and allegations years after a performance had taken place, more especially if some of those who had taken part in it were no longer able to speak for themselves, and when it was too late to deal with the whole matter. Some, no doubt, would differ upon this point, but for himself he thought that three months was sufficient time for an expression of doubt to be given if any was to be forthcoming. If there was anything in a performance which a band made up its mind to conceal it could no doubt be concealed for three years just as well as for three months. Then the resolution suggested the Council as the body to which reference should be made in case of dispute. Some might think it more desirable that when a performance was challenged it should be referred to the Committee of the Association concerned, as it would be better able to get at the facts, and if necessary to bring pressure to bear upon its members. No doubt there was a great deal to be said upon those lines, but there was another side of the question. Generally speaking those performances which had been discussed were intended to break a record, and was therefore of interest to the Exercise as a whole. In any case of real doubt reference ought therefore to be made to some body possessing the confidence of all ringers, and he knew of no more suitable authority than the Council, or perhaps better, a Committee appointed for this purpose by the Council. As to its appointment, this might be left to the nomination of the President and be afterwards ratified by the Council. But in whatever form the Committee was constituted, it should proceed upon direct evidence and not upon mere hearsay statements. There would have to be definite testimony put before it, such as was given in a court of law, and evidence upon both sides, not on one side only. But the very existence of such a Committee, even if no other result followed, would check the evil they were complaining of to-day. Men would hesitate to claim anything unworthy if they knew that there was a body in authority by whom they might be discredited, while others would hesitate to challenge if they knew that they might be brought to book to prove their case. He trusted that there might be a wide discussion upon this important matter, that an expression of opinion might go forward from the Council that, if doubt was raised as to a performance, it should be laid before some definite authority for decision, and that the whole matter might be dealt with in an honourable spirit such as should be worthy of ringers at large.

Mr. Wm. Snowdon, who seconded, said it might appear somewhat “Irish” to do so, because he was obliged to say that he did not quite agree with the wording of the resolution. There could be no limit to the time which might be required for the truth to come to the surface, and all would agree that a lie was a lie for all time. His feeling was that a challenged peal should be officially taken up by the two Societies or Associations in question, and not left to irresponsible critics to wrangle over. If it was desired to submit the evidence to the Council he could not see how the Council could refuse to Act as a Court of Appeal, but it was very undesirable to form themselves too readily into a body for washing dirty linen, except as a final Court. If after the two Societies had sifted the evidence, for and against, and were unable to agree, it might be possible for the Council to consider the signed evidence and give their opinion upon it, which would then bind both sides. It would be quite impossible for the Council to hear and sift evidence, that must be done before it was submitted. His earnest hope was that the discussion itself would do good and clear the way for some better understanding.

Mr. G. F. Attree considered the whole question to be one of the most important yet discussed by the Council. He thought, however, that the Council was starting upon the wrong road. As to the time limit, he did not think three months should be allowed for the truth to come out. The longest time that he would allow was the next issue of “The Bell News.” Certainly it ought not to wait three months. He did not think it would be possible to judge between a band and their accusers. His opinion was that if as ringers they made an affidavit and put their names to a statement that a peal was rung true, this ought to be sufficient, just the same as it is in any Court of Justice. Such statement, however, should not wait three months before it was made, but be made at once. If this was done there ought to be sufficient faith in ringers at large to accept it as correct.

Mr. W. Wakley said the same precautions as were adopted in all kinds of athletic sports when attempts were made to break a record ought to be adopted in ringing. It was one of the delights of an Englishman to break a record. A man’s own word however was not taken either in racing, billiards or athletics of any kind, and be did not see how a man’s word could be taken in ringing. There were certain laws and declarations laid down in all kinds of athletics with which those who attempted to break a record had to comply. So should it be in ringing. If the rules and regulations that were laid down in athletics were not complied with, it was little use making any attempt; but where they were complied with there was no friction, and the performance, let it be what it might, was accepted. If it was desired to prevent disputes arising, then some rules and regulations should be laid down by which bands attempting to break a record in ringing should be compelled to take every precaution that could be taken. He thought that the Council should adopt the same line of action as all Athletic Associations adopted for performances which were to break a record. Men were found who were enthusiastic in that particular kind of sport and who saw that the laws laid down were obeyed, and thus impartial and independent witnesses were able to testify to the correctness of the performance or to condemn it, when it was desired to break a previous record. In no branch of skill was a man’s own word taken. If he said he ran a mile in less time than it had been previously accomplished or performed some record swimming feat, there must be something more than his own word before the performance could be recognised as having broken the record or before he could be said to have won a championship. He did not think that the Council would be asking too much in suggesting that record performances in ringing should take place under somewhat similar conditions. He did not think it would be very difficult to draft rules and regulations for the purpose. The figures of a peal should be placed in the hands of some official of the Council beforehand, sealed up, if necessary, and there should be two or three men appointed to go and listen to the performance; for there were plenty of men capable of taking down the course-ends for comparison with the figures that had been sealed. He could not see any reason for objecting to this being done. He believed that qualified umpires would be the means of doing away with that class of correspondence which of late had taken place.

The Rev. T. L. Papillon moved that the words “within two weeks of its publication” be inserted in the resolution in place of the words “three months.” He said he did not think that three months was necessary or that the next issue of “The Bell News” was long enough, as it might be after the publication of a performance that something might become known to the Exercise, and he therefore thought fourteen days a better time. In the last part of the resolution, he thought it would be better if the word “opinion” was inserted in place of the word “decision,” for he thought it would be impossible for the Council to act as a Court of Appeal. He agreed with Mr. Elsee that it was necessary to raise as far as possible the general tone and opinion of ringers in such cases, and he hoped the influence of the Council might have weight in doing so, which he was sure would be for the benefit of the Exercise.

Mr. R. A. Daniell said he failed to see how sufficient evidence could be obtained to give a decision. If however there was sufficient evidence to give an opinion he thought there would be sufficient to give a decision, and therefore did not see that any advantage would be obtained by altering the word. As to the composition, he thought this should be placed in the bands of Mr. Attree; but as to striking how were they to decide? The Council was not a court of law that could subpœna people to attend and give evidence. At the same time he agreed that it was most desirable that something should be done to put a stop to such disputes as had arisen, but how it was to be done he could not say.

Mr. J. S. Pritchett said if it was thought desirable to establish the means of appeal he did not think there need be any difficulty. In law cases there was no limit as to time. If an appeal was to be entertained he did not see why there should be any limit as to the time if evidence could be brought forward. If it was that any action should be taken, he considered that an inquiry might be held in a somewhat similar way to that which a County Court holds an inquiry. He did not think there would be much difficulty in getting five impartial and honourable men who would go to a place and hear both sides. If the Standing Committee of the Council appointed some members to hold such an inquiry it would he thought, go a long way at establishing the truth, and he believed that their decision would be accepted by the Exercise at large. He would go to the Standing Committee in order that the members of that Committee might decide whether there was a prima facie case for holding an inquiry, and he did not see any reason why this should not be done.

The President said that Mr. Pritchett’s reference to the law must be qualified. He would not say a defect in peal-ringing was to be considered a misdemeanour or a criminal case, but in the former summonses had to be applied for within six months (laughter).

Mr. J. S. Pritchett pointed out that in criminal cases the longer the period before proceedings were taken, generally speaking, the weaker became the case. There should be no limit of time in the question of peal-ringing.

The Rev. H. Law James did not consider the question of disputes to be of much importance to the Exercise at large. Those who took part in such correspondence as had lately taken place, lowered themselves in the estimation of the Exercise.

Mr. J. W. Taylor did not think that much good would come until as suggested last year by Mr. Robinson the definition of what was a true peal had been decided. If a judge was sent to listen to a peal instructions must be given him as to what liberty he was to allow.

The Rev. F. J. O. Helmore did not think that church bells should be made use of for breaking records. If however this was to be permitted then he thought that judges should be appointed to give a decision.

Mr. G. F. Attree thought that the discussion was drifting away from the real question.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey thought that if a Committee of the Council was appointed to watch over such matters, and it was stipulated that before any objection was made in print, that it should be first brought under the notice of the Committee that then many of the objections would disappear, and but a very little would be heard of them. If such a Committee was appointed he thought that it would do much toward getting rid of those objectionable letters which sometimes appeared in “The Bell News.” If a scheme were formulated under which all such matters had to go before a Committee he thought many trumpery objections would disappear.

The President having suggested that if the resolution was to be submitted to the meeting it might be desirable to divide it into two parts, confining the first portion to the question of time limit,

Mr. W. Snowdon failed to see how a time limit could be fixed, and repeated that what was a lie remained a lie.

The Rev. H. J. Elsee suggested that it might be desirable to stop at the word performance.

Mr. G. F. Attree said so far as the figures of the peal it would make no difference if it was three months or three years.

The Hon. Secretary said if the period of three months was adopted and no notice taken of any objection made after that date, it did not follow that the performance was true, even though no action had been taken within the three months.

The President said the crux of the whole question rested on what was the proper definition of a true peal. When Mr. Robinson brought the subject forward at Bristol, he ventured to point out that it was a question which must be faced. Until this was first done he did not think that the Council could decide upon the measures to be adopted to test the truthfulness of the peals. He thought it would be but wise not to pass any definite resolution upon the question, but for them to return home and fairly think the matter out, and come prepared next year to give a definition of what should be considered a true peal. Till this was cleared he thought the question involved in the resolution was an impossible one to deal with. In the meantime there were two points which clearly should be borne in mind when a record performance was to be attempted. First, due care should be taken that public notice was given of the attempt. Secondly, the figures of the peal should be previously lodged, sealed up if thought desirable, with some independent authority. No honest man could take the slightest objection to such obvious precautions. As to umpires, ringing could not be umpired in the same way as many kinds of sports. Besides there were fewer men to-day able to put down every course-end that there were some years ago. Until the Council had laid down definite lines upon which a peal should be rung it could not enunciate any rules either for an ordinary peal or a record performance. Under all the circumstances he thought it would be best if for the present the resolution was withdrawn.

The Rev. H. J. Elsee said his object had been obtained; there had been expressed a general opinion of the Council. He was not committed to the terms of the resolution, and would therefore by leave withdraw it.

The President said the time spent in this discussion had been far from wasted. It was opened in an admirable manner with wise words, and the discussion had brought out points not generally known before.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record June 30, 1900, pages 99 to 101


This subject, which was adjourned from the last Council Meeting, was, in the absence of the Rev. C. D. P. Davies, taken by the Rev. E. W. Carpenter, who said he had attempted in a small way to instruct beginners, but as most of them had failed he might be better able to give an idea how not to do it. It was a wide subject, for there were undoubtedly many ways of going to work. He was not aware if his friend Mr. Davies intended to deal with the question of how best to instruct beginners as individuals or as a band. Two very different matters. If you had to instruct a beginner who would do a little for himself, you could make him a good ringer in a short time, but when one had to take a whole band in hand to teach it was a difficult position to be placed in, and it might be some time before the good seed sown would bring forth fruit. There were of course beginners and beginners. There were those who, for instance, would sit down and make a study of Mr. Snowdon’s admirable Rope-Sight and other books to get hold of the idea and method which they were learning. There were those beginners who outside the tower would not give one minute to any study. These were a very difficult class of beginners to deal with. There were the educated and the uneducated, and it was very difficult to lay down general rules as to the best way in which to instruct beginners in the art of ringing. He was sure he could not formulate rules himself, and he did not think anyone else could. There was another question. It was not only the beginner, but it was also a question of the Instructors. Some will work on and on at instructing but fail to make progress, for they have not the means of imparting their knowledge to others. He thought from experience that it was well to dispense with figures altogether. He would much sooner give pictures, for be believed in pictorial methods. This on the lines adopted in Mr. Snowdon’s books was of great assistance, not only to the beginner but in picking up a method when he had got a start. If the pictorial system was adopted more in the present day he did not think there would be so great a difficulty in the instructing of beginners. He had heard ringers say that having learnt a method by the pictorial system they had never forgotten it. They had no difficulty in following a method, it was fixed upon their minds, whereas figures had failed to do so. Another point was that beginners were often started at the wrong end. He thought it wrong to go in for Grandsire, for if you started a beginner at once in Stedman he would have no difficulty afterwards in learning the more easy methods (hear, hear), and with such a system of starting direct into Stedman he believed that not only would there be more ringers but more methods would be rung. If it ever fell to his lot to go to a village where change-ringing was not practised he should start with Stedman and see if it did not meet with more success than starting first with Grandsire.

The Rev. M. Kelly said he was well aware of the difficulties which one had to experience in instructing beginners. Of all things that were required one must have patience. If an instructor had not got patience it was not much good his attempting to teach. He was afraid that some instructors went on talking away under the impression that they were making everything appear perfectly clear, but that at the end of the lesson but very little, if anything, of what they had said had been understood. In this respect he knew that he had been pretty well criticised by his daughter, who had told him that those he was teaching had not understood a word he said (laughter). It was to be hoped that the forthcoming Glossary would make many things more clear, for the great difficulty was to make the language clear. He could not agree with Mr. Carpenter that it was best to start with Stedman. This appeared to him to be wrong. There was place-making and dodging in Stedman, but the beginner did not learn hunting his bell up and down, therefore he did not see how he was to get on so well with Stedman as with Grandsire. He had heard the system of teaching beginners to follow the bell that follows them very much criticised. He thought that a beginner should be taught to see the ropes clear from the commencement (hear, hear). A good practice was that of tying the clappers, for it prevented much of what might otherwise be annoyance to outsiders. The instructor who had patience was a source of encouragement, however ignorant those might be that he had to teach, and would assist them in getting hold of change-ringing. Especially would this be the case when he had to teach a whole band.

Mr. R. A. Daniell said it was not exactly right to say that you were not ringing a hunting bell if ringing Stedman.

Mr. J. S. Pritchett thought every new band of ringers should have a competent instructor. Every ringer should have an apprenticeship.

Mr. G. F. Attree thought many mistakes were made by losing sight of the fact that a ringer was born a ringer. His experience was that you might start a band of twelve, and if you got one of them through so as to become a good ringer you might consider yourself very fortunate. As to teaching by figures some of the old ringers preferred it, but he wished diagrams were more in use, for there would then be many more methods rung. Diagrams were of great advantage, not only to a beginner, but to a man who wanted to ring a method new to him. Give him a diagram and be could ring it the next day. Half an hours’ study would enable him to obtain more knowledge than a host of figures which he might look at for a month without being the wiser.

Mr. R. S. Story said he had had considerable experience in teaching, and thought he had been fairly successful. He had commenced at the bottom of the ladder. He thought the reason why so many did not follow up the practice and become good ringers, was because they did not get properly used to handling a bell at first. To hand a beginner over to a junior member of the band was a wrong step to take. Things would often go wrong, and the beginner too became over-worried. A beginner should be started from the very commencement in a good style (hear, hear) then there might be a chance of keeping him at it. A great point was to make him learn to manage his bell neatly from the very beginning.

The Rev. G. F. Coleridge supported the idea of starting beginners direct with Stedman Doubles, and would go on to Stedman Minor, letting them comeback to Grandsire after Stedman had been well grasped. The very moment that a young beginner came into the tower he should be taken in hand by some one competent to teach. It was a mistake to attempt to teach a method before rounds could be rung. A beginner should also be taught to raise and fall his bell. Beginners often persisted in doing that which you told them not to do. If a beginner looked up at the ceiling, took his rope in the wrong hand, or looked at the floor, and continued to do so when requested not, there was but one remedy and that was to show him the door.

Mr. R. Cartwright said as one who had at times been fairly successful, he had adopted the rules as laid down by the late Mr. Snowdon in his Rope Sight. He had made use of diagrams and considered figures to be a great mistake. He considered that if the science of change-ringing was not made to appear so difficult, many more would take an interest in it, and there would be more that would become ringers. He considered that the more simple methods should be taken first.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey considered it a mistake to start beginners too soon to learn a method. No doubt many were desirous to get through their first 120, but they should be taught to keep their bell up first.

The Rev. H. J. Elsee advocated that beginners should be taught first upon handbells. He had a few simple rules prepared upon one side of a sheet of paper, with diagram upon the other. Handbell practice, when adopted, was of great help to the beginner upon the tower bells.

Mr. W. Snowdon said it was through so many inquiries as to teaching that his brother brought out Rope-Sight containing the rules that he himself had adopted with success. He advocated that the beginner should be first started upon four bells, and should be first taught upon handbells which would enable him to get hold of ringing much quicker. Patience was of great importance in teaching, for it was necessary to get the beginner thoroughly to understand what you told him. Men could be made successful ringers, although if born ringers they picked it much more easily.

The President said a very interesting discussion had taken place. His own experience led him to think that an important factor in the difficulties of teaching young hands was their disinclination in the present day to listen to what they were told. He would like to know from such men as Mr. Pettit and Mr. Wood, when they looked back to the days when they were beginners, whether they dared to treat those that taught their with the disrespect and inattention shown by most young men of the present day to their instructors. It was very difficult to have seven beginners, but if the instructor had only one beginner and seven others who could ring, he could get on all right. A man’s patience was fairly tried when he had two or three learners who attempted to ring a method before they could strike their bells. There were many ways of learning to ring, and he did not think there could be too many, for each learner would pick out that which suited him best.

Consideration of the following subjects was postponed for want of time:- “The desirability of appointing a Committee to draw up a model code of rules for (a) an Association, (b) a company of ringers,” and “To draw attention to the large number of insufficiently proved compositions and of worthless methods sent to “The Bell News” for insertion.”

A vote of thanks to the chairman concluded the meeting. In response to the invitation of the President, a large number of members and friends spent a social evening at the Inns of Court hotel, after doing a little ringing at St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, and at St. Clement Danes.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record July 7, 1900, pages 112 to 113

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