About 120 members of the Winchester Diocesan Guild attended the annual meeting at Portsmouth on Saturday, all the districts from the Isle of Wight to Surrey being represented. In the absence of the vice-president (the Rev. C. E. Matthews), who everyone regretted to hear was ill, the Master (Mr. G. Williams) presided over the business meeting held in St. Thomas’ parish room.

Arising out of the minutes, the question of the suggested free issue of certificates to member was referred to. The honorary secretary (Mr. G. Pullinger) said the committee had considered the matter, and had decided that the price should be sixpence as hitherto. To issue them free might cause confusion as to who was entitled to them and who was not.

In writing to the honorary secretary from Lyndhurst Hospital, regretting his absence from the meeting, the vice-president said, with regard to one item on the agenda inviting suggestions as to how the work and aims of the Guild might be furthered, he firmly believed that the work and aims of the Guild would never be fully realised until the clergy whose churches possessed ring of bells took a more active and deeper interest in the welfare of their ringers. The members would remember he had appealed in the ‘Diocesan Chronicle’ for more interest in their work, but without success. He knew the members welcomed the clergy in the belfry, and he thought many a young curate could find time to learn to ring if he would only realise what an interesting art it was, and what a fine bit of service for Christ’s Church. Thirty years ago he remembered at least a dozen clergy who rang, some more, some less, and although he would not exaggerate their office or position unduly, he did honestly feel that incumbents had a great influence at their disposal which their very position gave them, to use for the best advantage of the men who ring and call the faithful to worship. As to the future of the Guild, when the new dioceses were created, he saw no need for hurry, and they would do well to act with mature judgment. There was no reason why a committee (ad hoc) should not be elected consisting of members from the three areas. This committee might be empowered to collect information and ascertain the wishes of the members and report of the next annual meeting. The vice-president concluded with an expression of sorrow for his absence from the meeting, and best wishes to his many old friends and for the Guild’s continued prosperity.

On the motion of the Master it was resolved to write a letter of sympathy to the vice-president, expressing deep regret for his illness, and the hope that he might have a speedy restoration to health.

The balance sheet and report were adopted, and the officers were re-elected en bloc as follows:-President, the Bishop of Winchester; vice-president, Rev. C. E. Matthews; master, Mr. George Williams; honorary secretary, Mr. George Pullinger; honorary treasurer, Rev. N. C. Woods; recorder of peals, Mr. F. W. Rogers; auditor, Mr. G. Smith.


The representatives on the Central Council were re-elected as follows:- The vice-president, the master, Mr. A. H. Pulling, and Mr. H. Barton.

Mr. Williams gave a lengthy report of the proceedings at the Council meeting at Ipswich, and Mr. Pulling said he did not think the Council would be a real success until they could get the Exercise as a whole to take more interest in it. At present the representatives went to the meetings without any idea of what their own members really wanted. He thought it would be an advantage if the agenda of Council could be talked over at the meetings throughout the Guild, so that the representatives could get to know the wishes of the members. At present the Council had not got the weight of the Exercise behind them, and that was where the weakness lay.

Thanks were accorded to Mr. Williams and Mr. Pulling for attending the Ipswich meeting, and the Rev. C. D. P. Davies added a few comments on the Council’s proceedings. The debates, he considered, were on a high level all through. Although he had not the honour of representing that Guild, but was a member of the Council in another capacity, he was perfectly sure the Guild had done right in re-electing their representatives, as they could not find better men to serve them than those who now represented them.

The honorary secretary, returning to Mr. Pulling’s point, said the difficulty of getting Central Council matters discussed at the annual district meetings was that these meetings were held six months before the Council meeting. If the Central Council agenda could be out earlier, the associations would have more opportunity of discussing it. He suggested that if ringers or bands objected to any matters which appeared in the agenda, they should communicate either with him or the representatives.

Mr. J. S. Goldsmith said the difficulty the associations were up against was the Standing Orders of the Council itself, which required only one month’s notice to be given of any proposal for the consideration of the Council. It would, he considered, create more interest in the Council’s proceedings if associations had the opportunity of considering questions which were to come before the Council; but this opportunity could only be obtained by an alteration of the Standing Orders. To enable the matter to be proceeded with, he proposed that the Guild’s representatives place on the agenda for the next Council meeting a motion to amend the Standing Orders in order that the Council’s agenda may be published at least three months before the meeting, to give Guilds and associations the opportunity of discussing it. He pointed out that within the three months prior to the Council meeting many associations held their annual meetings, and where they were divided into districts the districts themselves would hold at least one meeting.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies said a similar suggestion had occurred to him. He had thought the publication should be before Easter in each year, as many associations held their annual meeting on Easter Monday.

Mr. W. Andrews (Winchester) thought three months was the better period, and the motion, on being put, was carried unanimously.

Messrs. V. Godwin and A. Walters were elected probationary members of Bishopstoke tower.


The next item on the agenda was: ‘Suggestions (if any) as to how the work and aims of the Guild can be furthered.’ The honorary secretary said he had put this on the agenda, because, as he moved about the Guild, he sometimes heard grumbles and received inquiries as to why this, that or the other was not done. He had, he said received a letter from Mr. E. C. Elliott, of Lymington, with regard to his (the secretary’s) report which had been printed in ‘The Ringing World.’ Mr. Elliott said: ’One suggestion made is “that a conductor for a peal can be provided on application.” What benefit will this be to the band? What is most wanted is instructors to get the band up to the peal-ringing stage; by that time the conductor will usually have developed with the band.

‘Do the officers of the Guild know what is going on in all the towers of the diocese? If not, they should know, and until they know this their knowledge of the ringing ability of the diocese is valueless. I maintain that the officers of the Guild should so arrange matters that they should see that all towers where progress is not being made should be assisted, but the knowledge referred to above is first essential.

‘In Lymington (and probably this is true of many other towers) it would make one’s head ache to think of the last visit (if any) of any officer of the Guild, and one is forced to the conclusion that the only towers visited by officers of the Guild are those where a good band exists, so that the officers can enjoy themselves and ring peals for their own glorification. This sort of thing will not advance change-ringing. What is wanted is to give help to those towers who are handicapped, either by numbers or lack of teaching.’

Mr. Elliott went on to acknowledge the assistance received at Lymington from Christchurch and Mr. G. Preston particularly, and to suggest that the officers of the Guild do something more practical than make suggestions in the annual report. He made the following suggestions:-

  1. That every tower in the diocese should be periodically visited on their practice nights to see what work is being done, if any help is needed, what sort of a conductor is in charge, the number of ringers and (or) learners on the roll.

  2. That a record of these visits should be made and passed on to the Council and comparisons made yearly as to progress or otherwise.

  3. That such visiting officers should have a book in which to make a report, and which should be signed by the officer and ringer in charge of the tower.

  4. That some effort should be made to train ringers to become conductors and qualification certificates given.

  5. That, in addition to the secretary’s report, the master should also make a report on the ringing of the diocese.

  6. That the president should be informed as to the amount of help (or otherwise) given by the clergy, where there are towers, to their ringers.

Mr. H. J. Chaffey suggested that the letter be allowed to lie on the table. He said they could take a horse to the water, but they could not make him drink. Their officials might go round to the towers, but generally, if it were known that a good change-ringer was coming, some of the band stopped away. There were ringers who went round to towers every week to try and help, but when it came to a district meeting or combined practice, where members of those bands could learn something, they did not trouble to attend. It was all very well to put blame on to the Guild’s officials. The gentleman who wrote the letter should have come to that meeting and said what he had got to say.

The Master concurred with Mr. Chaffey that if it were known that a visit was to be paid to a tower, some of the band usually stopped away, so that they were short of enough ringers to do any good. The committee had considered this letter, and had decided that he and the secretary should reply to it.

The question of a report that had been made on the condition of Shanklin bells was raised by Mr. J. Bruce Williamson, but after some discussion it was considered advisable that, as the report was made by the Rev. C. E. Matthews as a member of the Diocesan Advisory Committee and not as an official of the Guild, and as the incumbent was against anything being done, no steps could advantageously be taken at present.

There was some discussion with regard to the rules governing district meetings, and Mr. Whittington made the suggestion that greater interest could be created by splitting the districts into smaller areas. He said he was very much in favour of forming an independent Guild for the Guildford diocese when it was divided from the Winchester diocese. This was not because he wanted to part with the Winchester Diocesan Guild, but he thought if they had smaller diocesan Guilds and smaller districts, they could work more intensively.

The Master said that the carving out of more districts from existing districts was proposed in 1914 by the committee, but it fell through owing to the war.

After some further general discussion, a motion was passed that the committee should consider the question as to how the work and aims of the Guild can be furthered, and should present a report to the next annual meeting.


The Master said that at the committee meeting that morning it was resolved to form a special committee, consisting of the district secretaries, with the vice-president, the master and the honorary secretary, to consider the position of the Guild in connection with the division of the diocese.

The Master, on behalf of the committee, then presented a framed photograph of the officers of the Guild to the honorary secretary as a slight appreciation of his services, and, Mr. Pullinger having acknowledged the gift, the business terminated with a vote of thanks to the master for presiding and to the incumbents of the various churches for the use of the respective peals of bells.

The members afterwards attended service at St. Thomas’ Church, where the Rev. C. D. P. Davies preached an inspiring sermon, as a ringer to ringers, his text being, ‘Whether one member suffer all the members suffer with it, or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it’ (I. Cor. xii., 26).

Subsequently a large party sat down to tea together at St. Thomas’ Parish Room. During the day there was ringing at St. Thomas’ Church (which is to be the pro-cathedral of the new Portsmouth diocese), St. Mary’s, Portsea, and Alverstoke. The methods ranged from Grandsire Triples to London and Bristol Surprise.

The Ringing World No. 798, July 9th, 1926, pages 426 to 427