To-morrow, when the annual meeting is held at Ryde, Isle of Wight, the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild will celebrate the diamond jubilee of its foundation.
In the late "seventies," when "belfry reform" was being much discussed and guilds and associations were being formed in various parts of the country to promote change ringing, a greater recognition of the belfry as a part of the church and the services rendered by the ringers as a contribution to church work, the Rev. Arthur Du Boulay Hill, then a master at Winchester College, took up the cause in the diocese of Winchester and, with Canon Madge, began to enlist interest in the movement. The diocese of Winchester was a vast one in those days. It covered Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and a considerable portion of Surrey, but change ringers were few and far between.
On June 26th, 1879, the Winchester Diocesan Guild was founded at a meeting held at Basingstoke, and the Rev. A. Du Boulay Hill became the first hon. secretary. He filled this office for two years, and those who have since served the Guild in this capacity have been the Rev. H. A. Spyers 1881-1890, the Rev. R. C. M. Harvey 1890-1896, the Rev. C. E. Matthews 1896-1902, the Rev. E. W. Carpenter 1902-1906, the Rev. C. W. Scott 1906-1908, the Rev. W. E. Colchester 1908-1912, Mr. G. Williams 1912-1919, the Rev. Sir John Herschel 1919-1921, the Rev. C. N. Wood 1921-1923, Mr. G. Pullinger 1925-1930, and Mr. F. W. Rogers hon. secretary since 1930.
The first peal by the Guild was not rung until December 27th, 1881. This was Grandsire Triples at S. Nicolas', Guildford, and it was more than two years later before the next was scored. This was at Soberton, on January 17th, 1884, and was the first peal by the present Master, Mr. George Williams, who is, we believe, the oldest surviving member of the Guild. He was elected on February 25th, 1880.
The founder of the Guild, the Rev. A. Du Boulay Hill, passed away only last October at the venerable age of 88 years, having lived in retirement at Dudswell. He was the eldest son of the Rev. G. Hill, who was for 25 years Vicar of St. Winnow, Cornwall. Educated at Winchester, and Magdalen College, Oxford, the Rev. A. du B. Hill was assistant master at Winchester College, and afterwards Vicar of Downton, Salisbury, from 1882 to 1898, and Rector of East Bridgford, Notts, from 1898 to 1927.
He was a man of great scholarly attainments and an historian. His keen interest in bells and ringing was maintained throughout his long life. Wherever he went he taught bands of young ringers, while his interest in antiquarian matters led him to investigate the bells of Winchester and Hampshire, and he has left an interesting notebook on the bells of the county, in which he has copied inscriptions and sketched the ancient stamps and lettering used by the old founders. This book, it is noted on the fly leaf, was begun in 1877. This note-book and another on bells and bellringing generally have been handed by his sister to the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild.
The Ringing World No. 1475, June 30th, 1939, page 419