A special general meeting of members of the Winchester Diocesan Guild residing in the new dioceses of Winchester and Portsmouth was held at Southampton on Saturday, October 22nd, when about 50 members attended from the following towers: Basingstoke, Bishopstoke, Christchurch, Curdridge, Fareham, Hursley, King’s Somborne, North Stoneham, Portsea, Portsmouth, Ringwood, Romsey, Newport, Lyndhurst, Southampton, Whitchurch, Twyford and Winchester. A very welcome visitor was Mr. J. H. Shepherd, of Swindon, with his usual outfit.

The meeting was held in the Chantry Hall, presided over by Rev. N. C. Woods, who was supported by Rev. E. Jones, Messrs. G. Williams, H. Barton, G. Preston, W. Andrews, F. W. Rogers, E. J. Harding, F. Burnett, and other prominent members of the Guild. Apologies were received from the Archdeacon of Winchester, Canon Braithwaite, Rev. R. Spread and others.

In opening the meeting, the Chairman stated that it had been called to decide the future of the Guild. As most present would know, the members in the new diocese of Guildford had decided to form a separate Guild, which would come into being on January 1st next. The members in the new dioceses of Winchester and Portsmouth had passed resolutions at their district meetings in favour of forming a joint Guild for those two dioceses; the Bishops of Winchester and Portsmouth had been approached for their views, and replies received were read, which stated that both Bishops were in favour of a joint Guild, and promised to assist in every way possible.

It was unanimously decided to form a joint Guild for the dioceses of Winchester and Portsmouth. The question of title caused considerable discussion, particularly as to whether it should be a Guild or an association, also as to whether the word ‘Church’ should be included. Finally, it was resolved that the title should be ‘The Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers.’ The following officers were elected to take office as from January 1st next:-

Joint presidents: The Bishop of Winchester and the Bishop of Portsmouth.

Vice-presidents: The Bishop of Southampton and the Archdeacons of Winchester, Portsmouth, Basingstoke and the Isle of Wight.

Master: Mr. G. Williams. Treasurer: Rev. N. C. Woods. Hon. secretary: Mr. G. Pullinger. Recorder of peals: Mr. F. W. Rogers. Auditor: Mr. G. Smith. Central Council representatives: Mr. G. Williams and Mr. H. Barton.

It was decided to approach the respective Bishops to see if they would allow the Guild to nominate a member to serve and give advice regarding bells on the diocesan faculties’ advisory committees. Dr. Williamson was nominated for the diocese of Portsmouth, and Mr. W. Andrews for the diocese of Winchester, as the names to put before the Bishops.

It was decided to form the area into the following eight districts: Alton, Andover, Basingstoke, Christchurch, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester. The number of rings of bells in the two dioceses is: Twelve-bell towers 1, ten-bell towers 1, eight-bell towers 40, six-bell towers 55, five-bell towers 36; total, 133.

It was decided that all incumbents and bands should be circularised, and that an organising meeting should be held in each district early in the new year.

A sub-committee was appointed, consisting of the Master, general secretary and the district secretaries to revise the rules and report to the next annual meeting. in the meantime, the Guild will carry on under the present rules.

It was decided that the next annual meeting be held at Winchester on July 7th, 1928.

The suggested reciprocal arrangement with the Guildford Diocesan Guild, to admit resident members of one Guild as compounding members of the other, upon payment of 1s., if application is made during the year 1928, was adopted, conditionally upon it being also accepted by the Guildford Diocesan Guild.

The question of the present life and compounding members was raised, and it was pointed out that nearly 50 per cent. of the former resided in the diocese of Guildford. Mr. G. Williams thought that there should be no difficulty over this, as both the life and compounding members would become members of the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild, which was merely the same Guild under a new title.

The general secretary gave a report of the meeting held at Milford-on-Sea on the previous Saturday, in connection with a suggested memorial to the late vice-president, Rev. C. E. Matthews. Mr. Andrews also spoke on the matter (a full report of this meeting appears elsewhere), and the meeting endorsed and approved what had been done.

A splendid tea was provided in the Chantry Hall, to which full justice was done.

The bells of both St. Mary’s and St. Michael’s churches were available for ringing before and after the meeting, and good use was made of this privilege. A variety of methods was practised, ranging from Grandsire Doubles to Bristol and London Surprise Major.

The Ringing World No. 867, November 4th, 1927, page 697