THE PROPOSED DIVISION OF THE DIOCESE.
The ancient city of Winchester was on Saturday the meeting-place of members of the Diocesan Guild for their annual festival, and the event was memorable from the fact that the Bishop took a share in the proceedings. Something like eighty ringers were present, representing many towers in this widespread diocese, Surrey and Isle of Wight belfries contributing their quota, as well as the Hampshire branches. The Cathedral, now in possession of a ring of twelve bells was the centre of attraction to the visitors as they arrived, and many of the members had their first pull on this number. The business meeting was held in the Oddfellows’ Hall, and was well attended. The Rev. C. E. Matthews (vice-president) occupied the chair and was supported by Mr. G. Williams (Master) and the Rev. N. C. Woods (hon. secretary and treasurer).
The general balance sheet showed that the receipts amounted to £61 2s. 10d., and the expenditure to £45 18s. 2d., the balance in hand having increased from £33 0s. 3d. to £48 4s. 11d. The accounts had been audited by Mr. G. Smith, and were adopted.
THE PRESERVATION OF HISTORIC BELLS.
The Rev. C. E. Matthews was re-elected vice-president, and in thanking the members, said that was the 29th year he had been connected with the Guild, and it had been a great pleasure to him, ever since he had been in the diocese, to be associated with the members of the Guild. Referring to some of the work of the past year, he said he had had the honour of dedicating the new peal at Hursley, and he thought those who had heard them would agree that the bells were a very musical lot. He had also inspected the bells at Farnborough, and was going on the morrow to Sopley to confer with the Vicar upon restoration work, a serious crack having developed in the south-west corner of the tower owing to the condition of the bell frame. Continuing, the Vice-President said he was a member of the Advisory Committee for the diocese, and was giving special attention to any application in connection with church bells. He regarded the agreement reached between the Central Council and the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings as a very important one. They had only to look at the Rev. W. E. Colchester’s record of the bells of that county to be persuaded that the ancient bells should be protected and taken care of and not recast unless it was absolutely necessary. He was quite sure most of the members would agree with that. There had been a great inclination on the part of modern bell founders to recast old bells in order to make them more tuneful. In some cases that might be absolutely necessary, but it was a very wise recommendation that really historic bells that represented a period of bell founding of which specimens were rare, should not be recast at all, but kept either in a museum, or locally as objects of ecclesiastical art, and that new bells should be supplied to take the place of the old (hear, hear). He hoped the report of the conference would be read by all incumbents and churchwardens, who in many towers did not always realise the value of the bells they had got (applause).
Earlier in the proceedings the chairman had stated that the report of the conference had appeared, in a watered down condition, in the ‘Canterbury Diocesan Chronicle,’ and would appear in the ‘Winchester Diocesan Chronicle’ next month.
The Rev. C. D. P. Davies, one of the representatives of the Central Council at the conference with the S.P.A.B. said their great desire was to come to a united statement that they could both back, because the society looked at things from rather a different point of view to that of the Central Council. The whole object was to avoid anything like friction between them. It, therefore, followed that one could not say anything very decided either on the side of wood or metal frames, and they drew up a schedule of the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of material.
JOINT SECRETARIES ELECTED.
Mr. George Williams was re-elected Master.
The Chairman said he had been unable to get the services of a parson to fill the office of general secretary, and the committee recommended that Mr. George Williams and Mr. George Pullinger be elected to act jointly for the year.- This was unanimously agreed to, and the Rev. N. C. Woods, who had temporarily carried out the duties of hon. secretary and treasurer, was re-elected hon. treasurer.- Mr. F. W. Rogers (Portsea) was appointed Recorder of Peals, in place of Mr. Pullinger, and Mr. George Smith (Twyford) was re-elected auditor, with thanks for his services in the past year.
The following were elected to represent the Guild on the Central Council: Rev. C. E. Matthews, Messrs. G. Williams, A. H. Pulling and H. Barton.
The Chairman said the committee had that morning discussed at length the proposed division of the Diocese, and its effect upon the Guild, and the committee came to the conclusion that the best course to pursue was to hold a special meeting when the result of the deliberation in the National Assembly, in the following week, was known. As the members were aware, the National Assembly would decide the matter one way or the other, and a Bill would then go through Parliament to make the scheme legal. The committee thought it would be premature to discuss any question of the possible division of the Guild until they knew exactly what the division of the diocese was going to be. Personally he would be very sorry to see the Guild split up, but if the diocese should be divided into three, it was for ringers in each of the new dioceses to say what they would like. If the ringers in a new Guildford diocese were to wish to have a diocesan guild of their own, there would be nothing to stop them from having it. The same would be true of a new diocese of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, but the committee felt that no decision should be arrived at until the various districts had been sounded as to their wishes, and until they knew exactly what was going to happen. When they knew how matters stood they would call a meeting of the committee to go into the whole question.
Mr. W. Andrews (Winchester) said the ringers in Hampshire would very much regret losing any part of the present membership of the Guild. The visit of Surrey men was always looked forward to, and they would feel their loss very much. He hoped, if the diocese were divided, that it would be possible to carry on the Guild as it was at present. He thought a division would not make for efficiency, but rather the reverse, and he should personally very much regret it, if old associations were broken. The Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan Association had continued, in spite of the division of the diocese with very satisfactory results, and he saw no reason why their own Guild should be divided, even if the division of the diocese took place (applause).
Mr. J. J. Jones (Guildford) said Surrey members would feel a severance as much as, and probably more than, Hampshire members, because they would miss the grand old Cathedral and the hearty welcome they met in Winchester. But if they did form a separate Guild he was sure by far the greater portion of the present Surrey members would remain as ‘compounding members’ of the Winchester Guild, and would come to their meetings whenever possible (applause).
Mr. W. T. Tucker (North Stoneham) said Portsmouth district had passed a resolution that in the event of a division of the diocese they recommended that the Guild be called the Winchester, Guildford and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild, and continue the same as before with a different name (hear, hear).
The Chairman said he thought that would be the best solution.
Mr. Whittington (Cranleigh) urged that the matter should be discussed at the district meetings, so that they might have some tangible scheme when the division did come.
The Chairman said the question was a most important one, and he hoped the members would go back to their different districts and discuss the question.
The matter then dropped.
Mr. A. H. Pulling moved that the Guild record on the minutes a vote of congratulation to Mr. George Williams upon his having rung one thousand peals. He looked upon Mr. Williams as a great ringer, not simply because he had rung a thousand peals, but because, although he could ring anything, he did not mind ringing the lowest methods to help the less advanced ringers (applause). By doing this Mr. Williams had been doing a lot of good.- Mr. R. Brown seconded, and the motion was carried by acclamation.
Mr. J. J. Jones proposed that the next annual meeting be held at Farnham, whether the diocese had been divided or not. It would perhaps be the last meeting under the present Bishop.
The Rev. W. E. Colchester seconded. He said they would be transgressing the rule which laid it down that the annual meeting be held in Winchester, but as an exception, under special circumstances, he thought they might take this course.
The Chairman said it was a most charming idea, and the motion was agreed to, the first Saturday in July, 1924, being selected.
The Rev. W. E. Colchester explained the reason for his sudden resignation of the treasurership during the year. He held it an unpleasant thing to do in the middle of the year, but the reason was that he had a letter from an official, telling him that a resolution, which had been passed by the Guild at its general meeting, had been absolutely negatived by the action of certain members of the Guild. He felt that after that he could not act as an official of the Guild any longer. He wanted to make that explanation, but hoped nothing further would be said of the matter.
This concluded the business, and the members then attended the beautiful choral evensong in the Cathedral, being provided with seats in the choir. The Bishop of Winchester was the preacher, and based his address upon words of the 150th Psalm. He enlarged upon the connection between material and spiritual things, as illustrated by the bell, and exhorted his hearers not to neglect their duty of attending worship after they had rung the bells for service.
Tea was served in the Oddfellows’ Hall, and the Bishop afterwards looked in, and expressed the great pleasure which it gave him to meet the members of the Guild, He added words of counsel and encouragement, and was interested to hear from the Rev. C. E. Matthews (who proposed a vote of thanks to his lordship), the attitude of the members relating to the division of the diocese as shown in the annual meeting.
There was further ringing in the evening at the Cathedral.
The Ringing World No. 643, July 13th, 1923, page 438