A fine summer day favoured the annual gathering of the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild at Petersfield, and some 70 members and friends attended from Alton, Basingstoke (All Saints' and St. Michael's), Bishopstoke, Blackmoor, Buriton, Deane, Froyle, Gosport, Hawkley, Kingsworthy, North Stoneham, Newport (I.O.W.), Portsmouth (Cathedral and St. Mary's), Privett, Petersfield, Steep, Soberton, Upham, Wickham, Winchester and West Meon. There were many visiting ringers from Brighton, Guildford, London, Sandhurst, Shoreham-by-Sea and Leatherhead.
The Guild service was held in St. Peter's Church, conducted by the Vicar (the Rev. E. C. A. Kent), who also gave a very interesting and helpful address. Tea and business meeting followed in the Church Hall, the Vicar expressing his pleasure in welcoming the Guild and apologising for not being able to remain during the meeting. The latter was presided over by the Master (Mr. G. Williams), who gave a warm welcome, on behalf of the Guild, to the many visitors present.
The annual report was presented to the members.
The report of the Master and hon. general secretary said that a very useful and successful year had been enjoyed. From subscriptions paid into the districts, however, there appeared to be a slight decrease in membership - 175 honorary and 698 full, as compared with 180 and 726 respectively in 1935. This small difference might be due to the fact that some members might not have paid their subscriptions rather than lapsed membership. A definite increase in the next report was hoped for. The financial position of the Guild remained sound, upon which district secretaries and all contributors were sincerely congratulated.
Whilst no large sums appear to have been spent in instruction, continued the report, we should like to point out that this very important spadework is still being undertaken by quite a number of our members in a voluntary spirit. We should like to thank them especially for their efforts to teach beginners the art of change ringing, and trust they will bear fruit.
Perhaps not since the Armistice and peace celebrations of 1918 and 1919 have our bells been used to mark the occasion of national feelings as in 1936. To our deepest sorrows our bells rang out their muffled notes to mark the passing of our beloved King George V. Then the joyous pealing to herald the Accession of the new King, and before the close of the year to acclaim his successor, our present King, George VI.
We hope that more conductors and members will be found in the columns of the coming year's peals records. We should like to draw attention to the fact that still a number of members fail to send in their quarter-peals and 720's to the recorder of peals for publication in the report. Generally speaking, this shows a truer indication of the standard of ringing amongst the towers, as very often, for numerous reasons, peals are sometimes out of the question.
We regret to say that a few towers have for various reasons withdrawn from the Guild. Whilst deploring these losses and trusting that in the near future we may welcome them once more in our ranks, we have on the other hand to record that new towers have become affiliated during the year.
We had the opportunity to congratulate one of our presidents, formerly first Bishop of Portsmouth, on his preferment to our neighbours in the diocese of Salisbury, to which he sent a very courteous acknowledgment. We should like to express our warmest welcome and thanks to the present Bishop of Portsmouth (Dr. Frank Partridge), who so readily consented to fill the vacancy thus caused.
Numerous reports of bell restorations in the diocese show that our towers are making real efforts to restore their bells where necessary. Perhaps the crowning achievement of all is the complete restoration of the ring of 12 at Winchester Cathedral. A magnificent peal now replaces what was generally regarded as an indifferent lot, and our sincere thanks and appreciation are due to our generous benefactors, the Emma Barron Bell Trust, and also the Friends of the Cathedral. We hope that where appeals are made for restoration work our members will not be lacking in their support.
The hon. treasurer's balance sheet showed receipts of £50 5s. 10d. from the districts. The expenses were £38 4s. 11d., leaving a balance in hand of £103 18s. 6½d., compared with £91 17s. 7½d. in the previous year. In addition there is a balance of £47 14s. 6d. in the general purposes fund, from which a grant of £2 2s. was made to Longparish Bell Fund.
The districts have an aggregate balance in hand of £87 16s. 7½d., compared with £71 12s. 7d. in the previous year.
The Recorder of Peals (Mr. R. C. H. Connolly), in his report, said: One cannot belie the fact that 1936 did not prove so satisfactory a year from the point of view of peal ringing as its predecessor. The numbers are down in all departments except the number of conductors. Only 32 (45) peals were rung, in which 112 (122) ringers participated, and of these 11 (23) scored their first peal and in addition 24 (21) ascended higher the ladder of achievement by doing something in advance of their previous best. The figures in brackets denote the corresponding numbers for 1935. The upper half of the table showing the methods rung in 1936 does not show much change except for a peal of Cinques, and the falling in numbers is chiefly at the more elementary end of the list. This is probably due to the younger ringers (in the sense of years of ringing) attempting higher methods without quite the success they attained in simpler ones. There is no doubt that many attempts have failed in more advanced methods but excellent practice may be obtained though the actual peal be lost, and, as one great object of peal ringing is improvement in striking, it is hoped that Sunday service ringing has benefited in quality. There are, however, some bright spots in the gloom. The peals at Blackmoor and Hawkley must have given great satisfaction to both bands. H. P. Reed called his first peal before he was 15 years of age, and the band included one ringer of 13 (first peal) and one "first inside." We hope others will follow suit and that this is only the beginning of brilliant careers. At the other end of the scale Mr. Woodley shows that it is never too late to start. Our Ringing Master has crowned his remarkable career by calling 1,000 peals on tower bells, being forestalled only by that ringing marvel, the late William Pye. He also collected a star at Christchurch where Mr. Preston conducted a peal of Grandsire Cinques with nine "stars" in the band. The peals were rung in 24 towers and there were 16 conductors.
The Master, in the absence of the hon. treasurer, congratulated the Guild on its finances and remarked that it was the first time that the balances in the hands of the districts had reached over £200, thanks to the hard work put in by the district secretaries.
The officers, except for a change of peals recorder, necessitated by the departure of Mr. R. C. H. Connolly to Watford, were re-eleced, viz., Mr. G. Williams, Master; Mr. F. W. Rogers, hon. secretary; Rev. Evan Jones, hon. treasurer. Mr. R. A. Reed was appointed peals recorder.
It was unanimously agreed to elect as an additional vice-president the Rev. N. C. Woods (Winchester) as an appreciation of his valuable services to the Guild.
New members elected were Messrs. J. Forder, A. Swatton, E. Barrett (Privett), C. A. Snell (Blackmoor), E. Glaspool, H. Nash (Froyle) and Mr. W. J. Parker, of Sandhurst, a compounding member.
It was decided to hold the next annual meeting at Winchester on July 2nd, 1938.
After the routine business had been disposed of, Mr. G. Pullinger gave a comprehensive report of the recent Central Council meeting, emphasising many of the points under discussion which were of particular interest to the Guild. The other representatives present confirmed what had been reported to the members.
Grants of five guineas each were made towards the restoration of the bells at St. Peter's, Bournemouth, Soberton and Bishop's Waltham.
Votes of thanks were accorded, the incumbents of the various churches whose bells were placed at the disposal of the members, also to the organist and caterers.
During the afternoon and evening ringing took place at Petersfield, Privett, East Meon, Buriton and Steep, the methods ranging from Doubles to Spliced Surprise Major.
The Ringing World No. 1375, July 30th, 1937, page 502