The annual festival of the Winchester Diocesan Guild was held at Guildford on Saturday [July 2nd], and there was special interest in the event by reason of the fact that it was the last festival which the Guild will hold as at present constituted. From January 1st next the diocese of Guildford will have its separate association, although it is not unlikely that the ringers’ organisations in the new diocese of Portsmouth and the remainder of the diocese of Winchester will continue as a joint Guild. Mr. George Williams (Master) presided over the business meeting, and in opening the proceedings referred to the loss which the Guild had sustained by the death of the vice-president (the Rev. C. E. Matthews). The action of the general secretary and the districts in sending letters of condolence to Mrs. Matthews was confirmed by the members standing for a few moments in silence.

The Master added that the Rev. C. D. P. Davies had relinquished the post of hon. secretary of the Basingstoke District on his retirement from the living at Deane, and the committee that morning had elected him an honorary life member in appreciation of his services. In 1929, said Mr. Williams, the Guild would reach its jubilee, and he and others hoped it would be possible in that year to hold a joint meeting of the old and the new Guilds at some border tower to celebrate the event. In the Special Purposes Fund of the Guild, he continued, they had about £30, which was subscribed by members towards Titchfield Bell Fund, which the late vice-president, while he was Vicar there, inaugurated to restore and augment the bells. The scheme at the time was not proceeded with, and Mr. Matthews put the money into the Guild’s Special Purposes Fund. There was now a proposal to do something to Milford bells, and the committee thought it would be a good thing if the Guild should devote this money towards the cost of providing one or two more bells as a memorial to Mr. Matthews.

It was stated that the Rev. C. E. Matthews, in his will, had left to the Guild a working model of a bell, and the committee’s recommendation that it should be placed in the belfry at Winchester Cathedral was confirmed.

There was some discussion on the balance sheet, and, it having been elicited that there were bank charges on an overdraft, due to the fact that the districts’ contributions to the general fund were forwarded late in the year, and that, therefore, there had not been sufficient funds in hand to meet the expenditure, Mr. J. S. Goldsmith suggested that the districts should contribute a definite percentage of their receipts to the general fund (instead of merely remitting their balance as at present), and that the treasurer should be able to draw on the districts at the end of March or June for a payment on account.

The balance sheet was adopted. It showed receipts on the general fund of £46 15s. 11d., and a balance in hand of £27 1s. 10d., against £30 15s. 10d. at the beginning of the year. The district accounts showed receipts of £90 19s. 6d., and expenditure £42 18s. 9d., with £43 16s. 11d. remitted to the treasurer and an increased balance in hands of local secretaries of £4 3s. 10d.


The committee presented a report on the question of the division of the Guild as a result of the division of the diocese. After certain slight alterations in the wording had been agreed to, the amended report was unanimously adopted as follows: ‘The sub-committee appointed at the last annual meeting have carefully gone into the question and make the following recommendations:-

‘(1) That as meetings of both Guildford and Yorktown Districts have passed resolutions in favour of forming a separate organisation for the diocese of Guildford, as from January 1st, 1928, and subject to the approval of the Bishop of Guildford, a separate Guild be formed for the diocese of Guildford, and that part of Surrey as may be found convenient, and that the remainder of the Guild be formed into one or more diocesan organisations as the resident members may desire.

‘(2) That a reciprocal arrangement be made whereby any resident member of the present Guild on Jan. 1st, 1928, may become a compounding member of any of the associations into which the present Guild may be divided (other than that in which resident) upon payment of 1s. to each such association, if application be made during the year 1928.

‘(3) That this Guild approach the other Guilds, which may be formed out of its area, with a view to the present life members (not compounding) being elected life members of all the organisations into which the present Guild may be divided.

‘(4) That the funds of the Guild on December 31st, 1927, should be divided 25 per cent. to the new Guildford Diocesan Guild and 75 per cent. to the Guild or Guilds that may be formed for the dioceses of Winchester and Portsmouth, as this was approximately the percentage paid in from the areas concerned during the last five years.

‘The second and third recommendations are included from a genuine desire that when the old Winchester Diocesan Guild shall cease to function it shall be in the most friendly and fair way possible, and to enable old members to retain their association one with the other, having regard to the fact that two or more Guilds are to be formed out of the present Guild.’

On the motion of Mr. C. Hazelden, seconded by Mr. W. W. Thorne, the meeting confirmed the committee’s recommendation that the officers be re-elected to carry on the work of the present Guild until December 31st, 1927.

The Master reported that Mr. Pulling, Mr. Barton and himself represented the Guild at the meeting of the Central Council at Whitsun, and that the motion, which he proposed at the request of the Guild to secure the earlier publication of the Council’s agenda, was carried. Mr. Pulling said the meeting produced nothing very exciting, but the two most important matters concerning ringers as a whole related to the names of Minor methods, and the issue of diplomas to young ringers. If six-bell ringers had any suggestions to make with regard to the Minor methods, which are to be republished, they must communicate with the secretary, and with regard to diplomas, the members had to make up their minds if they thought the proposal would be of use in encouraging young ringers, and if they approved of it they must instruct their representatives to support the scheme at the next meeting, as it had been adjourned for a year to give the Guilds and associations the opportunity of considering it.

Mr. Barton, who was unable to be present owing to business, wrote that the Council were taking up more practical subjects than formerly.

Mr. J. P. Fidler (representative of Messrs. John Taylor and Co., of Loughborough) explained how the confusion of names among Minor methods had arisen, and said it was very necessary, when points used to be awarded for peals, that this confusion should be cleared up.

The Master thanked Mr. Fidler for his explanation, and welcomed him to the Guild meeting.

On the motion of Mr. W. Andrews, the representatives were thanked for attending the meeting, and for their report. ‘They get more kicks than ha’pence,’ said Mr. Andrews, ‘but we should like them to know that we do appreciate what they do.’


At the last annual meeting, the committee were instructed to consider and report how best the aims and work of the Guild can be furthered. They now presented a report in which they put forward suggestions which it was hoped would create more interest in the Guild’s work among the clergy, suggested recruiting grounds for the belfry, made proposals with regard to instruction, and advocated the redivision of the diocese into smaller districts. The committee recommended that the report be printed and circulated to every affiliated tower in the Guild, and brought up for discussion at the first available meeting in each district; that special consideration of the whole question, together with any suggestions of members, particularly as to the appointment of instructors and the rearrangement of the districts, be given at the first meeting of the committees of the new Guilds in order that a definite scheme be put before them at their first meetings.

The Master moved the adoption of the report, Mr. Whittington seconded, and the motion was carried.

There were no new members to elect, but Mr. J. S. Goldsmith, who pointed out that they were approaching the parting of the ways, proposed that Mr. George Williams should be elected an honorary life member of the Guild in recognition of his long and devoted services. From the early days of the Guild, Mr. Williams had been a member, and had done a great deal of spade work, while since his return from Sussex he had served them first as secretary and since as Master, and he had given his labours freely and enthusiastically.- Mr. Hazelden seconded, Mr. Whittington supported, and the motion was carried with applause.

Mr. Williams thanked the members for the honour they had done him. He had only done his best for the Guild, as all good ringers should do, and he had always gone to his Sunday ringing as regularly as, on weekdays, he had gone to his work. He joined the Guild in 1879 or 1880, but he did not ring his first peal until 1884. Ringers in these days would have rung 200 or 300 peals in that time. He taught a band in his own tower, and on the first anniversary of his first peal he conducted one with his own company. Afterwards, he moved away from the district, and since he returned in 1905 he had done his best for the Guild, and he hoped to do so as long as he was able (applause).

The Master welcomed the Rev. E. Jones, the new secretary of the Basingstoke District. They were particularly glad to see him as he was the only clerical member of the Church present that day. They had discussed in committee that morning the lack of interest which the clergy were showing in the Guild.- The Rev. E. Jones expressed his pleasure at being present.

In connection with the suggested Jubilee celebration, the Master hoped the Guildford Diocesan Guild would unite with the Winchester Guild. Basingstoke was suggested as a convenient place, and Mr. Hazelden said no more suitable spot could be found, for it was at Basingstoke that the first meeting was held from which the Winchester Guild sprang.

A vote of thanks was passed to the incumbents of the churches where the bells had been placed at members’ disposal, to Canon Kirwan for the service, and to Mr. E. Raddon (Guildford District secretary) for making the local arrangements.

The members then proceeded to Holy Trinity Church, the pro-Cathedral of the new diocese, where the Guild’s special service was conducted by Canon Kirwan, and the singing was led by the choir boys. The hymns were those specially applicable to ringers’ meetings, and it is pathetic to recall that some of them were written by the dead vice-president, the late Rev. C. E. Matthews.

The Bishop of Winchester was the preacher, and he took for his text ‘O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation’ (Psalm xcv. 1).


The Bishop of Winchester, in the course of his sermon, said he was glad to meet the bell-ringing representatives of the diocese, and glad to acknowledge the very valuable services which they rendered to the Church Sunday after Sunday, and even, in some cases, day by day. He wished them God-speed in the task they had undertaken, and hoped that in the days to come in all three dioceses - Winchester, Guildford and Portsmouth - the bond that united them would be drawn closer together.

Continuing, his Lordship recalled that church-bell ringing was of very ancient origin, peal and change ringing being peculiar to England. Ringers were members of a body with very ancient ancestors, and were artists of a craft which had existed in England for centuries. The church bells, said his Lordship, were often connected with great moments of life. Let them, for instance, think of the contrast between wedding bells and the toll of the funeral bell; whilst among the greatest moments was that when they were called to worship God and hear the bells of the Master. Then there were the great moments of the year - the festivals, when the bells were prominent. Thus they were reminded of the joyful and sad and solemn occasions in life when the bells were intimately associated with them in their hopes, joys, sorrows and worship. The bells summoned them to do their part in the deepening of the life of the church. They had got to ring in the Kingdom of Christ, and each ringer in his own life should be a bell in himself, ringing in the good news of Christ and His kingdom. Today, they needed to ring in the nobler modes of life. They each had an individual and a corporate responsibility. No change ringing could be done by a mere collection of individuals. It was only done by men who had learnt their art together. Change ringing was one of the most signal examples of team work which could be produced, and it was only by such team work on the part of the servants of Christ that the Kingdom would come - the Kingdom which would produce purer and nobler modes of life. Each bell ringer was like his own bell - different from everyone else - and Christ provided the Church in order that the broken tones might be blended together in one fine peal. This was the message of the bells. In conclusion, his Lordship said he could offer no more earnest prayer for that association than that everyone should have in his life a tone that was noble, pure and right.

The representatives returned to the Ward Street Hall for tea, those present including the Bishop of Winchester and Canon Kirwan. The latter expressed thanks to his lordship for having spared time to visit them that day. Although, said the Rev. E. C. Kirwan, it was the wish of the Bishop of Guildford that they should have their own Diocesan Guild of Change Ringers, many of them would like to feel that the link with Winchester would not be severed, and he hoped that in the future they at Winchester would welcome bell-ringing guests from Guildford, just as Guildford would always be pleased to welcome their friends from the other diocese. It seemed almost impossible that the division of the diocese should have been brought about so quickly, and he for one felt somewhat sorry at saying ‘Goodbye’; but, at the same time, they were still one fellowship and one brotherhood.

Seconding, Mr. J. S. Goldsmith referred to the absence of clergy from the festival, and said that while the ringers had a duty to the Church, the clergy also had a duty to the ringers.

The Bishop, in reply, expressed the belief that the clergy did not know their presence was so ardently and keenly desired and if he got the opportunity of intimating that fact to them he would be pleased to do so. He pointed out the difficulty of clergy attending on Saturday afternoons, when most of the festivals were held, as, normally, on Saturday afternoons clergy should be preparing their sermons for the Sunday (laughter), although he admitted that all sermons were not all they might be. However, he was quite sure that, whether the clergy were present or not, they did appreciate the help they received from bell ringers, and realised they owed a deep debt of thanks to those who, Sunday after Sunday, took the trouble to make their services attractive. The laity also appreciated the ringers, who, primarily, knocked at their door, and, when they rang, the laity responded and appreciated what they did.

Speaking of the division of the diocese, the Bishop said it was a sad thing, and he was grieved to think the Winchester associations would be broken up after so long. He hoped, however, that the three new dioceses would keep in close touch with one another. He hoped that the Guilds of ringers in all three dioceses would grow in energy and usefulness.

There were members present during the day from a great number of towers in this large diocese and visitors from neighbouring associations.

A party of 120 sat down to tea, and, during the day, ringing took place at the pro-Cathedral and S. Nicolas’ Church, Guildford, Godalming and Shalford. The methods ranged from Grandsire to the Surprise class, and one short touch of Spliced Surprise Major was brought round.

The Ringing World No. 850, July 8th, 1927, pages 422 to 423