Opportunity for Study before Central Council Meeting

Dear Sir,- At the last Central Council meeting we were appointed a sub-committee to complete the preparation of the Council’s Handbook. The book will incorporate the Council’s decisions, and complaints have quite legitimately been made that it is not at present possible to discover what these are. We have accordingly extracted from the Minute books all resolutions of and reports adopted by the Council since its inception, and we give below a chronological list of those which, in our opinion, are still current.

We would stress that our object in doing this is solely to give ringers an opportunity of studying these matters before the Council meeting. We make no comment at this stage on them; our recommendations will, of course, be incorporated in our report to the Standing Committee and the Council.

It should perhaps also be mentioned that any motions on the subject which it is desired to place on the Agenda for the Bristol meeting must, in accordance with Rule 13, be received by the Hon. Secretary not later than six weeks previous to the meeting, i.e., by April 19th. A formal notice to this effect will appear shortly.- Yours faithfully,


(Excluding those rescinded, superseded or on which the action required has been completed.)

1892.- That a committee be appointed to receive and classify all compositions of 5,000 changes and upwards, and to issue an annual report in which all peals composed in the previous 12 months shall be published.

1893.- That, in recording the performance of peals not previously rung, it is desirable to record at the same time the figures of such peals, unless they are already accessible in printed form, in which case the reference should be given.

That it is desirable when a band of ringers belonging to more than one Association meet to ring a peal, they shall decide beforehand to which Association such peal shall be credited, and that for the future no peal shall be published under the name of more than one Association.

1896.- That it is desirable, whenever convenient, at all important ringing meetings of church bellringers that arrangements should be made for holding a short service in church.

1897.- That the variation of Cambridge Surprise (hitherto known as the Burton Variation) be known as ‘New Cambridge Surprise.’

That the Council see no valid objection against commencing a Treble Bob composition with 1R or 2R.

1898.- That it is desirable that Thurstans’ well-known composition in Stedman Triples be designated his ‘four-part’; and his other compositions his ‘five-part’ and ‘one-part’ respectively.

1903.- That in the opinion of the Council, the publication of palpably false compositions and worthless methods reflects discredit on their composers.

1904.- That in view of the continuance of the practice of publishing peals under the title of more than one Association, it is desirable to impress upon ringers the necessity of loyally carrying out the Resolution passed by the Council in 1893.

That in the opinion of the Council it is desirable that promising ringers should be given the opportunity of learning how to conduct.

1905.- That Bob Triples and Grandsire Major, not being legitimate methods, are not worthy of being practised.

1908.- That the Council declines to recognise any method hitherto rung or published as being entitled to the designation of ‘London Surprise Royal.’

That it is desirable that the attention of Associations be called to the desirability of accurate ‘striking.’

1910.- That the Council do not consider that the Peals Analysis Committee can be held responsible for any peals not appearing in print before the end of February.

1912.- That the primary aim of all Associations should be the encouragement of ringing for Sunday services and on the Festivals and their Eves.

1915.- That reports of peals, in order to obtain recognition by the Analysis Committee, must be published .... within a period of eight weeks after performance.

1920.- That the Literature and Press Committee be instructed to prepare a copy of the Bibliography to be deposited in the Council’s library and publish it in The Ringing World, or in a pamphlet, as funds would permit.

That the Council compile and keep up-to-date an official list of the first peal and the longest peal rung in each method on each number of bells.

1921.- That the Records Committee deal, for the time being, with peals of Triples, Major, Caters, Royal, Cinques and Maximus only.

That in every Diocese there should be a recognised authority to give advice on matters concerning Church Bells, and that it is hoped that each Guild and Association will take steps to provide such authority.

(Note.- Resolutions of a similar nature were passed in 1924, 1926 and 1929, and are not reproduced.)

1922.- That the County and Diocesan Associations be asked to consider the possibility of establishing in their respective areas a Bell Restoration Fund, from which grants may be made for the restoration of any rings of bells within the area, when local funds are insufficient to meet the cost.

1923.- That the Collection of first and progressive lengths be typed and kept by the Hon. Librarian for circulation amongst ringers.

1924.- That the Memorial Book be placed in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, and deposited for inspection and on permanent loan and produced to the Council on demand.

That the Roll of Honour be placed on the table at the Annual Meeting.

1926.- That this Council, while urging on the Exercise the extreme importance of choosing suitable names for methods, declines to interfere with such rights as bands and individual ringers at present enjoy of giving names to new methods, and further is of the opinion that no alteration should be made in the names of old and historical methods except where urgently necessary.

1931.- That when any peal, practice or ringers’ meeting previously arranged happens to coincide with an occasion of public mourning, whether national or local, it should be the normal procedure to make emergency arrangements with the proper authorities for the muffling of bells before use, care being taken, unless otherwise directed, to have the muffles removed at the conclusion of the ringing.

1932.- That this Council strongly deprecates the recording as a peal on a commemorative tablet any performance which does not conform to the accepted standard of a true and complete peal, and calls upon all affiliated Societies to support the Council in this matter.

1933.- That this Council deprecates the breaking-up of church bells of proved good tone and real historic interest, urges the church authorities not to assent to their recasting except for the gravest reasons structurally or musically, and, furthermore, recommends that independent advice, qualified to advise on historic, engineering and musical grounds, be obtained in all such cases before action is taken.

1934.- That this Council views with concern the comparatively small number of ringers ringing their first peal, and suggests that all ringers, mindful of their high calling, should do all in their power to encourage their less proficient brethren.

1935.- That to ensure the accuracy of the Council’s Peal Analysis, and as a matter of general interest, those responsible for sending the reports of peals for publication in the ringing Press be urged to denote all ‘first peals’ and ‘first peals in the method’ both by any of the band and ‘as conductor.’

1939.- That (1) while there may be exceptional cases in which the case of gramophone records of church bells is justified, any general adoption of such a practice is emphatically to be deprecated, not only on the grounds that a substitute for the real thing is unworthy of the Church of God, but also because it eliminates the living service of hand, and heart, and mind which is of the very essence of bellringing and is of true spiritual value as contributory to an act of worship. (2) The installation of such a mechanical device should be severely prohibited in any tower containing or capable of containing a peal of bells, except as a temporary expedient, as, for example, when tower or bells are under repair. (3) In the case of building new churches it is obvious that the erection of a tower and bells must be often left to a future generation, or even omitted altogether, but it is a vital point of principle that no sanction should ever be given to the building or designing of a tower inadequate to its legitimate purpose, with a view to the installation of a gramophone record instead of real bells. The one practical object served by a church tower is to make provision for bells and to erect a tower to hold a gramophone record cannot be regarded otherwise than an architectural fraud, entirely unworthy of a building designed for sacred purposes.

1950.- That the method called ‘Steadfast’ is no different from Shipway’s principle of 150 years ago.

That unanimous decisions of the Methods Committee shall at once be published in The Ringing World and shall be submitted to the next meeting of the Council for confirmation.

1951.- Practical Ringing (conditions required for peals). See page 187.

1953.- That a photostat copy of the Roll of Honour be made, to be taken to Council meetings.

That the Roll be housed in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

1954.- That, in future, all peals not conforming to the Council’s decisions will not be included in the Analysis; they will, however, if sent, be published in The Ringing World.

That this Council deprecates the increasing number of installations of synthetic and recorded bells which it considers to be unworthy of Use in the house of God, and wishes to support the responsible authorities in the steps they are taking to prevent their installation.

Reports Adopted by the Council Which Are Still Current

1898.- Report on Variation and Authorship.

The conditions controlling compositions vary so greatly, according to the method treated, that it is impossible to devise a comprehensive set of rules which shall be equally applicable to all methods alike, and yet free from the imperfection of being too lax when applied to some methods, and too stringent in the case of others. Each method requires separate consideration and rules determining the limits of originality in composition, applicable to itself; and though it would, no doubt, be possible to form groups of methods, to each of which one set of rules might be applicable, the result would be both cumbrous and confusing. The following propositions are, therefore, limited to a general statement of the features distinguishing ‘Originality,’ which are more or less applicable to all methods:-

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

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

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

In the foregoing statement, the word ‘plan’ is used in a comprehensive sense, as embracing not only the divisions of a composition into a given number of parts, but also the assignment of ‘qualities’ with reference to length, the treatment of ‘fixed’ or ‘observation’ bells, or any other Distinctive Feature in Construction.

1903.- Report of the Committee on Legitimate Methods.

(A) All methods are founded on principles.

(B) A principle is a collection of rows which form a perfect round block, in which:-

    (a) Every bell does the same work;

    (b) No bell moves up or down more than one place at a time;

    (c) No bell lies more than two consecutive blows in any one place.

(C) Methods are formed from principles in two ways:-

(1) A principle may be used as a method when it conforms to the following rules:-

    (a) It must be true within itself;

    (b) It must be divisible into as many divisions as there are bells, each division, together with the hunting and place-making that connect it with the next division, to contain the whole working of the method;

    (c) In the case of those methods in which the course order of the bells is altered by an alternate work (as the quick and slow in Stedman), these divisions are sub-divided;

    (d) Each division, or, in (c), each subdivision, must reverse true to itself.

(2) One or more bells in any principle (called ‘hunts’) may be allowed to retain their original paths, while the places of the others are taken by working bells, which revolve about the hunt (or hunts), subject to the following conditions:-

    (a) No bell shall move up or down more than one place at a time;

    (b) No bell shall strike more than two consecutive blows in any one place;

    (c) There shall be as many plain leads in the plain course as there are working bells, each lead containing as many rows as the principle on which it is founded;

    (d) The working bells shall be in the same coursing order at each lead head and end in the plain course;

    (e) Each lead shall reverse true to itself, and, together with the hunting and place-making that connect it with the next lead, shall contain the whole working of the method.

Note.- In 1952, (2) (b), (c) and (d) above were modified in respect of Doubles methods only, as follows:-

    (b) No bell shall strike more than four consecutive blows in any one place, such four consecutive blows to occur only when the treble is at the front or at the back.

    (c) As far as possible there shall be as many leads in the plain course as there are working bells, but this requirement to be relaxed to include single-hunt methods which have three leads in the plain course.

    (d) The working bells need not be in the same coursing order at each lead head and end in the plain course.


(A) A Plain Lead is a succession of rows so arranged that when the hunt (or hunts) has completed its work, it is in a different relative position among the working bells, but the working bells are in the same coursing order.

(B) A Bob Lead is a succession of rows so arranged that when the hunt (or hunts) has completed its work, it is in a different relative position among the working bells, and the working bells have three of their number in a different coursing order.

(C) A Single Lead is as a Bob Lead except that the working bells finally have two of their number in a different coursing order.


Principle.- This word is used in a purely technical sense.

Division.- All methods in class (C) (1) are divisible into as many divisions as there are bells. The division of Stedman comprises a quick six and a slow six; for neither by itself contains the whole method.

Reversion.- If lines be drawn at the top and bottom of any division (or sub-division), all places counted from the top line downwards must correspond with places counted from the bottom line upwards.

Methods founded on two Principles.- In some cases it is possible to found a method on two Principles, as in the case of Alliance, which is founded partly on the Plain Principle and partly on the Treble Bob Principle. (Added in 1933: An illustration of this statement is to be found in the Little and Alliance Methods, which have come into prominence in recent years. In appearance, their form places them outside the definition of Plain and Bob leads, but, properly speaking, they are in logical succession of such methods as Bob Major. Thus a Little Method is one which follows the rule except in so far as this is qualified by the restriction of the hunt to fewer places than the number of bells employed; an Alliance Method is one in which the hunt has a composite path comprising portions of more than one Principle.)

‘The bells to be in the same coursing order at each lead head and end.’- This means that all methods must have what are known as ‘Plain Bob lead-ends.’

Division between leads.- This is:-

    (a) In methods with one hunt (treble) - between the first and second blows of the whole-pull of the hunt, before or behind;

    (b) In methods with two hunts (treble and bell in the hunt) - midway between the whole-pull of the first hunt and the whole-pull of the second hunt, before or behind.


    (a) A Single Method has all its places made on one side of the hunt (or hunts) only, e.g., Single Oxford Bob Major, all places above the hunt, and College Minor, all places below the hunt.

    (b) A Reverse Method is in all respects reverse to its single variation, e.g., Reverse Grandsire Triples.

    (c) A Double Method has places made above the hunt and places made to correspond with them below the hunt, e.g., Double Norwich Court Bob Major.

    (d) A Compound Method has places made on both sides of the hunt (or hunts), which are not related to each other, e.g., Cambridge Surprise. Some Compound Methods can be reversed.

(Note.- The above is a slightly abridged and edited version of the original Report, but the alterations made are of layout and detail only.)

1906.- Report on Method Classification.

(Note.- The following tabular classification is taken from the 1907 Edition of ‘Collection of Legitimate Methods,’ Section 1):-

Plain Methods, whether having one or two hunts:-

    (a) Bob Methods, having the Grandsire Bob place, either before, or behind, or both, the place being the extreme working bell place nearest the hunt or hunts.

    (b) Imperial Methods, having Imperial places, as, for instance, those made in Kent Treble Bob.

    (c) Court Methods, having Court Places, i.e., places other than those in (a) and (b).

Treble Bob Methods.

    (a) Treble Bob Methods proper, having no places made at a cross-section.

    (b) Pas-alla-tessera Methods, having places made at all cross-sections but four.

    (c) Pas-alla-tria methods, having places made at all cross-sections but three.

    (d) Exercise Methods, having places made at all cross-sections but two.

    (e) Delight Methods, having places made at all but one cross-section.

    (f) Surprise Methods, having places made at all cross-sections.

1921.- Report of Conference with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

This Report may be obtained from the Librarian, and is therefore not reproduced here.

1929.- Legal Committee Report.

This Report on ‘The Law affecting Church Bells’ is not reproduced, as we do not think it likely to cause any controversy. It may be found on pages 393-4 of The Ringing World of June 21st, 1929.

1933.- Standing Committee Report of the Constitution of Committees.

    (a) Standing Committee.
    To consist of (i) the President, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer, Honorary Librarian and conveners of committees ex-officio, (ii) twelve elected members (chosen by ballot if more than twelve names are proposed). The twelve retiring members to be the first names to be proposed. The committee to have power in the event of any other member of the Council being considered by them desirable, to co-opt not more than two members.

    (b) Other Committees.
    The Council should appoint the convener in the first instance, but changes may be made at any time by the committees.

Note.- In 1936 it was agreed that the two auditors and former officers of the Council should be ex-officio members of the Standing Committee.

1953.- Methods Committee Report on Extension.

This Report may be obtained from the Librarian (see advertisement on the back page.)




On all numbers of bells a true peal shall in all cases start from and end with rounds.

The use of visible aids to memory in conducting or ringing peals is not permissible.

Each bell or bells shall be rung throughout by the same person or persons.

Any objection which may be taken to a peal shall be raised at the earliest date and in any case within three months after publication, unless in respect of the truth of the composition.

With the object of emphasising the foregoing rules, and at the same time of giving a complete exposition of its views on the subject of peals in general, the Council in 1902 issued the following code, applying both to ordinary peals and also to peals rung to surpass previous achievements:-

(a) That any shift or error in ringing be immediately corrected.

(b) That no call be made, or having been made, be altered or withdrawn later than during the change at which a call would properly take effect.

(c) That no person other than those ringing in the peal shall take part in the calling or in rectifying an error.

(d) That if more than one person shall ring any bell, the fact be stated in publishing and booking the peal.

(e) That every bell must, during the peal, sound at every change.

(f) That in the case of a peal rung to surpass previous peals of 6,720 changes and upwards compliance with these further conditions is necessary:-


(a) Peals of Doubles shall consist of 5,040 or more changes rung in:-

(b) Peals of Doubles may be rung with or without a covering bell.


(a) Peals of Minor shall consist of 5,040 or more changes rung in:-

(b) No covering bells are allowed.


A peal of Triples shall consist of not fewer than 5,040 changes rung without interval and shall be always rung with one covering bell only, this bell in all cases to be the tenor.


Peals of Caters and Cinques shall comprise not fewer than 5,000 changes rung without interval and with one covering bell, this bell in all cases to be the tenor.


Peals of Major, Royal and Maximus shall comprise not fewer than 5,000 changes rung without interval and without a covering bell.


Where practicable there should be an umpire to every handbell peal.

A handbell peal rung single-handed, though technically a peal, should be discountenanced.


Peals which contain more than one method shall be called ‘Spliced,’ provided that methods are so joined that the fundamental units of which they are constructed (i.e., the ‘leads’ in treble-dominated methods, the ‘divisions’ in the case of Stedman, Duffield and similar methods) remain intact. Reports of all Spliced peals shall state the number of methods rung and the number of changes from one method to another during the peal. Variations of Oxford and Kent Treble Bob, where the method is changed when the treble passes through 3-4 down, cannot be described as Spliced peals.

1953.- Three-lead course Royal methods may not be included in Spliced peals.


Calls are not part of any method, but are only means of passing from one course to another, and their form and placing can be capable of considerable variation.

A bob can affect any number of working bells, and its effect should be to alter the coursing order of three of them. A single can also affect any number of working bells, and its effect should be to alter the coursing order of two of them.

Calls may be made at any place within the lead, but the traditional practice of making them at the lead end should be adhered to, and is recommended.

Only one type of bob and single may be used in any one composition.

Singles in Treble Bob methods may be used only when a desired result cannot be obtained by bobs.

Under no circumstances may bells lie still on going off into changes or returning to rounds, unless it is a part of the method.

The Ringing World, March 25, 1955, pages 185 to 187, correction April 1, 1955, page 204