by R E Hardy

In response to the further query raised at this year’s CC meeting, this note sets out further information, explanatory of past and existing practice. Our recommendations were given previously.


  1. S H L Q notation. This is almost exclusively used for Triples, although occasional peals on higher numbers have used it. Each letter represents a pair of bobs and the letters refer to the position of the observation bell (conventionally the 7th) on the front. S = In slow and first whole turn; H = 1st and 2nd half turns; L = last whole turn and out Slow; Q = in and out quick. In terms of sixes in Triples counting from the beginning, so that a bob at 1 keeps 6-7 behind, S= 3,4; 11=5,6; L= 7,8 and Q = 12,13. This is clearly explained in the Ringers’ Diary (p.22). Calls are indicated by “x”. When a single is called two notations are found. In one “V” and “VI” are used to indicate 5ths and 6ths respectively, and the position of V and VI relative to the headings S H L Q indicates whether the singles are after quick or slow. The other notation uses the six numbers (as explained above) to indicate where the calls are made. In Triples 2 = S6ths after quick; 9 = S5ths after slow; 11 = S6ths after slow and 14 =S5ths after quick. The single is often indicated not by “S” but by “-”. This is usually found in older books, but the Diary (p.24) also follows this usage. A hybrid notation has developed Out of this in which calls at 3, … 8 and 12,13 stand for the slow and quick positions and 9 and 14 represent making 5ths after slow or quick respectively. Calls with the observation bell in 6-7 may then be referred to as Wrong (6-7d), Home (6-7u) or 1,2, 10 and 11. This is untidy in some ways, but has the advantage that a fixed notation represents a fixed observation position rather like M H W in ordinary methods. The touches on p.23 of the Diary are notated in this way.

  2. SIX-END notation. Two forms of this are commonly used. In one, every six-end is written and the bobs and singles indicated against each relevant six-end by “–” (or “B”) and “S”. The second form is an abbreviation of the first and is used in the Diary (p.23). In this case only the bobbed and singled six-ends are written, and the number of sixes between calls is indicated by numbers to the side. In the example, a bob at the 2nd six gives six-end A; a single three sixes later gives B; a bob three sixes later gives C; and so on. Note that the bobs are not shown. In general this notation is used for touches rather than peals.


    … &c.
  3. NUMBERING of the sixes. This is the standard notation for Caters and Cinques and is also used for non twin-bob peals of Triples. The sixes are numbered from the beginning to the end of the course, and a call to be made is indicated in the usual way. Note two things with particular reference to Caters and Cinques:

    (i) although courses are in general a standard length (18 sixes in Caters and 22 in Cinques) this will not always be so. “Opening” and “Turning” courses (see below) are particularly likely to be longer or shorter.

    (ii) a course end is defined not solely by reference to the position of a single observation bell, but by certain combinations of the larger bells in 7-8-9 or 7-8-9-0-E dodging together at a quick six (very rarely will a course end come in a slow six). A normal peal starts with an “opening” course in which these bells are manoeuvred into some desired course end position. Later there will be one or more “turning” courses in which these bells are re-arranged into other course end structure(s). Between opening and turning courses will be blocks in which only the smaller bells are affected, the course end structure remaining the same. Usually any change in course end will be obvious from the figures given; if it is not, any turning course(s) will normally be recognisable by having a marked difference in calling structure compared with the remainder. For example, in older books it is often assumed that a “half-and-half” peal is under consideration (i.e. the first half is in the “tittums” and the second in the “handstroke home”) and the figures show only the little bells. A few moments with pencil and paper will soon fill in the missing figures, viz. … 978 or … E90 for tittums and … 879 or … 8709E for handstroke home.

    (iii) although it is customary to start at the 5th change of a quick six with the treble going out quick (opening heading 231456789(0E)), it is not rare to start from other positions. The commonest of these other starts is to start with a full slow six, with rounds being the last change of a quick six with the 3rd going out. This is known as a slow start and the opening heading is 123456789(0E). Any other kind of start will normally be spelt out in full.


  1. BELLS BEFORE notation. This rather older notation tends to be confined to Triples. Holt’s Original is often presented in this form. The calling is all referred to the bells which are to make unaffected 3rds at a call, i.e. are to be called “before”. The instruction to call a bell “before with a double” (written e.g. 3D if 3 is the bell) means call the bell before and another bob at the next lead. See the Diary (p.19) for examples.

  2. NATURAL CALLING POSITIONS. This is another mainly Triples notation, usually confined to older peals, such as Holt’s ten-part. Home is 6-7up, Wrong 6-7down, Middle 4-5 up, Before is 3rds, In/Out are into/out of the hunt. The calling is expressed relative to an observation bell; see the Diary (p.19) for examples.

  3. NUMBERS. This is mainly a Caters and Cinques notation, but peals of Triples based on the three lead course plan (e.g. Vicars’) also use it. The leads are numbered from the beginning to the end of the course, and an indication given as to which leads are to be singled or bobbed. Note that the course end is, like Stedman and as explained above, defined by certain combinations of the larger bells at the back and these may vary during a touch or peal. Note also that the number of leads in a course depends on how many bobs are called, since each bob in general cuts out one lead.

  4. “TRADITIONAL” notation. This is another Caters/Cinques notation which is not used greatly nowadays. It is a hybrid of several kinds of notation and for this reason is not very satisfactory. Opening and turning courses (see under Stedman for an explanation of these terms) are usually set out in Number notation, and the remainder either by reference to the bell called into the hunt and the number of calls to follow that, or to the bells-which are called to dodge in the last position (8-9 in Caters or 0-E in Cinques). Explanations of examples of this notation will serve to explain most clearly:

    Slight variations in this notation may occasionally be encountered. For example, “9 in and 2” has the same meaning as “9 in 3” and “9 in and out at 2 with a double” means the calling B P B B where the first bob puts 9 into the hunt. In any case of doubt, the only sure solution is to write out in full the leads of the course in question.

  5. LEAD ENDS. For short touches it is often most convenient to write out the lead ends. These may be set out in full as the Diary (p.20 - touches of 97 and 111); alternatively only those lead ends produced by the bobs or singles are written, as for the other touches on that page. In the latter case the figures to one side indicate how many leads there are between calls (See also under Six-end notation for Stedman, above).


There are several well-defined variations of Kent/Oxford. In these the change of method comes when the treble is in 3-4 down so that all the places rung at any lead end are either Kent or Oxford. Advantages over “real” splicing include no bobs needed, less falseness and 7-8 kept off the slow. All the notations are based on indicating where Oxford is to be rung, it being assumed that Kent is rung elsewhere. The indication is usually made by writing “O” or “Ox” in a column headed either with the lead Number or the natural calling position. A bobbed Oxford lead maybe written “x”. This will be best understood by considering the variations themselves.

  1. Hudson’s New Light on Treble Bob. Here the places at every third lead of the course are rung as Oxford, giving a 5-lead course and preventing 7, 8 from ever going in slow. Some of the Oxford leads are bobbed and extra 6ths place bobs are added at Home. This variation is of historical rather than practical significance, since the basic course is used in the modern Ilkeston and Worcester variations.

  2. Worcester. The fixed course is that of Hudson’s, i.e. Oxford at every lead 3, but there are no bobs. Instead extra Oxfords are rung at some leads 1 and 5 (the natural M and H) as may be indicated.

  3. Ilkeston. This is also based on the Hudson course, but conventional Kent bobs are also used at M, W and H.

  4. Liversedge. The basic course here is different, having Oxford bobbed leads at the 3rd and 5th leads of every course, which is 7 leads long. Kent bobs are used at M, W and H.


  1. Double hunt Triples/Caters/Cinques. In general the same notations as used in Grandsire will be found.

  2. Erin. Number notation is usual, but six-ends may be used for short lengths.

  3. Duffield. Usually follows Number notation, but there are three recognised Observation positions which in Major come at the 3rd, 4th and 5th six-ends and are known respectively as In, Before and Out. Six-end notation may also be used.

  4. Other T.B. Variations. Three of these are commonly met, based on Kent T.B. spliced with a Little method. An explanation of the splices should clarify whatever notation may be met. In each case those leads where 7, 8 would go in slow in Kent, a Little method is rung; these all have 8ths place lead ends and a full lead place notation as given:

    1. Gonvilleuses Little T.B.34x34.12.34x34
    2. Grantauses Bastow L.Ct.x12x
    3. Camuses Kent L.Ct.34.12.34

The Ringing World, October 5, 1979, page 898

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