The annual report of the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild refers to peals rung for one association in the area of another, and suggests that where ringers ring peals they should do so for the association in whose area the tower is situated.
The report was presented to the annual general meeting, held at Southampton on Saturday, July 4th. The following towers were represented: Alresford, Bishopstoke, Christchurch, Curdridge, Eling, Fareham, North Stoneham, Overton, Portsea, Ringwood, Soberton, Southampton (St. Mary's and Holy Rood), Twyford, Upham, Wickham and Winchester. A welcome was extended to Mr. S. E. Armstrong (hon. secretary, Sussex County Association) and Messrs. Frank Bennett (Brighton) and visitors from Christow, Poole and Walsall. During the afternoon the towers of St. Mary's and St. Michael's Churches were open for ringing, after which the business meeting was held in the Chantry Hall.
The Master (Mr. G. Williams) presided, supported by the general secretary (Mr. F. W. Rogers) and hon. treasurer (the Rev. Evan Jones). The last named presented the accounts, which showed that the balance on the treasurer's account had increased to £91 17s. 7d. from £79 8s. 2d. in the previous year, the receipts from the districts having amounted to £51 6s. 8d. Grants from the General Purposes Fund amounting to £7 7s. had been made, and the balance in this fund was £48 12s. 6d. In addition the districts had in hand an aggregate of £73 16s. 7d.
The Master said he thought this showed the Guild was in a strong financial position.
The accounts were adopted and the treasurer and district secretaries thanked for their contribution to this satisfactory state of affairs.
The report, which was also adopted, said subscriptions from members showed a further increase, and there were now 756 ringing members and 179 honorary members, almost half of the latter being in the Winchester District. There was not much to report in the way of restoration work, although it was hoped during the coming year to have the peals at Alresford and Soberton put in hand. Forty-five peals were recorded in 1935, against 37 in 1934, in 29 different towers, with 14 conductors. It was regretted that only six peals were rung in the Andover, Basingstoke, Christchurch and Winchester districts. Of these, three were rung by bands chiefly resident outside these districts. It was hoped that a little more keenness would be displayed during the present year. Regret was expressed that three peals had been rung for the Guild outside the two dioceses and also that adjoining guilds had rung and claimed peals within its territory. The report continued "Some ringers are notoriously mean, but it is, to put it mildly, discourteous to ring a peal for one society in another's area unless it be rung for a non-territorial society. If ringers must go into adjoining lands for peals, they might at least pay the small fee necessary to join the appropriate society."
The officers were re-elected en bloc. It was decided to send a letter of congratulation to one of the past presidents (formerly Bishop of Portsmouth) on his preferment to the See of Salisbury.
The representatives on the Central Council gave a varied report of the proceedings at the recent session in London. It was generally agreed by them that the most important committee at the present seemed to be the Literature, Press and Broadcasting Committee, seeing that it affected the relationship between the Exercise and the public. It was unanimously agreed that the joint efforts of that committee and the B.B.C. should be directed towards ensuring that only the very best of ringing should be broadcast. It was also very pleasing to note that in the report of this committee the recent broadcast from St. Mary's, Portsea, had come in for special mention and commendation.
It was unanimously decided to hold the next annual meeting at Petersfield, on the first Saturday in July, 1937.
Mr. G. Pullinger threw out the suggestion that the Guild should approach the Salisbury Diocesan Guild with a view to issuing a joint invitation to the Central Council to hold its next meeting in the south, at Bournemouth.- This was agreed to.
The question of promoting the circulation of "The Ringing World" among ringers was introduced for discussion, and it was agreed that the Exercise without a ringing journal would, in time, be almost at stalemate Several suggestions were put forward, among which it was suggested that associations might copy their example and insert a free advertisement in their annual reports, urging members to purchase the paper. It was agreed to ask districts to bring to the notice of the members at each quarterly meeting the necessity of maintain-ringing paper.
After a varied discussion it was proposed by Mr. W. Andrews and seconded by Mr. G. Pullinger that the following suggestion be adopted with a view to increasing support for a larger and cheaper journal:-
"To reprint, with the Editor's permission, the leading article, 'Maintaining a Ringers' Journal,' in 'The Ringing World' of July 3rd, and to circulate to all towers in the Guild, together with a circular inviting them to state how many of their ringers would undertake to become regular purchasers of that journal if reduced to 2d. per copy."
This was unanimously agreed to, and the secretary hoped to be able to report the result of this effort at the Central Committee's next meeting.
Before the meeting closed, the members stood in silence as an expression of sympathy with the relatives of old members who had died during the year.
At the conclusion of the business votes of thanks were accorded the Rector of St. Mary's and the Vicar of St. Michael's and Holy Rood for granting the use of the bells, and to Mr. J. W. Faithfull in making the necessary arrangements.
Afterwards the members attended service in St. Mary's Church, the Guild office being conducted by the Rev. Evan Jones (Vicar of Hedge End and hon. treasurer). The preacher was the Rector (the Rev. Canon R. B. Jolly), whose text was "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, holiness unto the Lord" (Zachariah xiv., 20). Referring to present-day noises, he spoke of the public worship of the noises of aeroplanes, wireless and, to them in Southampton, had come the latest, the deep boom of the "Queen Mary." He asked the question, on what ground had we, as ringers, to add to all this, by the ringing of our church bells? The people in close proximity to the church wanted to know, more so than those who lived next door to the blatant sounds emerging from a wireless shop. He resented the suggestion of classing our dear old bells with all these modern upstarts. From the earliest days they had been associated with the message of our Lord. First with the early Christians and then, when the ringing of church bells was prohibited, the Cursor went from house to house announcing when and where the services would be held. By the seventh century bells were in common use. The great bell at Whitby Abbey was tolled, bidding the faithful to pray for the passing soul of the Abbess, Hilda. To-day our bells played their part in times of national rejoicing or sorrow, apart from their religious purpose. What could have been more impressive than listening to the boom of Big Ben in the broadcast of the passing of our beloved George V. The message of the bells speaks from youth to age. It had become part of the life of English folk, so dreadfully missed when one was called to distant lands. "Why do we refer to some of our bells as Big Ben, Great Paul, Big Tom of Lincoln, Great Peter of Exeter, etc.?" asked the speaker. "Why do we give them these nicknames? We only give people nicknames because they have a personality and are affectionately regarded by us. It is for this reason and this reason only that we give our bells these names. They are part and parcel of our very life. They are entirely different to all the other voices of the world. We, as ringers, should consider it a religious duty and a privilege to ring our bells." It is a religious act, he continued, associated with the work of God in this land, and he urged them to do as the parson, was often told, "practice what you preach." Referring again to his opening remarks, he said that the modern world worshipped sound like the deep boom of the "Queen Mary"; it stood for something which represented our national craft and workmanship, but one could not help noticing the unnecessary publicity and hero worship of our modern day. What a difference there was in the tremendous send-off given this huge ship to that given to one that left the shores of Southampton in 1620 with 102 souls on board, with poor machinery and a helmsman to steer them to a land they had never seen before, which took four and a half months and not 4½ days to cross the Atlantic. He referred to the "Mayflower," with the Pilgrim Fathers on board, who carried a cargo of ideals with them. In conclusion, he bade his hearers rejoice in the fact that they were called to high service in the Church, to make their voice sound above all noises, and employ their fullest powers in the service of God for the good of His Church here, and for the glory of His Name.
After service the members sat down to tea in the Chantry Hall, after which the Rector expressed his delight at meeting the members and hoped they had had a pleasant time.
Mr. W. Andrews, in reply, thanked Canon Jolly for his wishes and also announced to the gathering the fact that Messrs. Taylor and Co., of Loughborough, had been entrusted with the work of recasting the very indifferent ring of twelve at Winchester Cathedral, so that they soon hoped to have one of the finest rings of twelve in the country (tenor 35 cwt.). This had been made possible by the generosity of the Friends of the Cathedral and a munificent grant from the Barron Bell Trust, to whom they tendered their warmest appreciation and thanks.
During the evening the towers of St. Mary's, St. Michael's and Holy Rood were opened for ringing, and touches in methods up to Cambridge Royal were brought round.
The Ringing World No. 1321, July 17th, 1936, page 471