The question of forming a separate Diocesan Guild of Ringers for the diocese of Guildford, when this see is constituted on the division of the diocese of Winchester, was further considered at the annual meeting of the Yorktown District of the Winchester Guild held at Chertsey on Saturday [Nov. 20th]. This district covers the north-western corner of Surrey and takes in a few Hampshire towers, all of which will come within the area of the new diocese. The meeting was presided over by the Rev. E. H. W. Leachman (Vicar), and was attended by about twenty members. In addition, there were present Messrs. A. C. Hazelden, R. Whittington and W. Melville the deputation appointed at the Guildford District meeting the previous week, to lay before the Yorktown District the views of the Guildford District in favour of a separate diocesan Guild.
The subject was introduced by Mr. J. B. Hessey, the district secretary, who said the question had been discussed at several meetings of the district during the last three years. At the annual meeting held at Bagshot in 1923, when eight towers were represented by about 25 members, it was resolved that a division of the Guild was not desirable, but that it should be continued, on the division of the diocese under the title of ‘The Winchester, Guildford and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Change Ringers.’ They also resolved that the annual meeting of the Guild should be held in the three dioceses in rotation. These resolutions were carried unanimously, and he proposed that they be reaffirmed.- Mr. F. Nye (Bagshot) seconded.
Replying to Mr. Chaffey, the hon. secretary said a postcard vote of all the towers in the district was taken, and all were in favour of remaining as they were. Mr. Hessey added that he knew of towers who had declared that, if a division of the Guild took place, they would have nothing to do with the new organisation. The Surrey Association was working very hard to cover that area, and he was of opinion that if a Guildford Diocesan Guild were formed that district would ‘go west.’
Mr. J. S. Goldsmith explained to the meeting what had transpired at the Guildford District meeting, leading up to the resolution in favour of establishing a separate Guild. As the mover of an amendment to delay any division of the Winchester Diocesan Guild, he realised that, this having been defeated and a determination expressed for a separate Guild, it behoved all those who had the interests of the diocese and of change-ringing at heart to throw their weight into the scales to make the new Guild a success. Things had moved on since the Yorktown resolutions were passed, and to have the ringers of the new diocese divided among themselves would be a calamity. He urged the Yorktown District not to come to a definite decision that night, but to appoint a small committee to meet the committee set up in the Guildford District to discuss the question in all its bearings. If good-will were allowed to prevail, he was sure a satisfactory outcome would be reached.
Mr. Whittington said, as mover of the resolution at Guildford, his line was that, if it were desirable to split the Winchester Diocese, it was equally desirable to split the Guild for the same purpose, because it was big and unwieldy. He pointed out that the money which the districts now sent to Winchester could be spent in their own areas, and the members would reap the benefit of their own subscriptions. He had consulted several incumbents on this question, and all had expressed the opinion that they would be doing the right thing to have a Guildford Diocesan Guild. Moreover, there was a trend of movement, which would expand on the splitting of the diocese to make every organisation diocesan in character, which was not so already. The Yorktown District and the Guildford District, worked properly, would form a most efficient and compact diocesan Guild and it would be a great pity if they did not combine. He hoped a committee would be appointed to discuss the whole question.
Mr. Nye disagreed with the opinion that a severance of the diocese necessitated a division of their Guild. A multiplication of societies added to expense, and personally be thought they ought to have a combined body of men from one end of the country to the other. As they now stood, they had in that area two or three societies overlapping, and a Guildford Diocesan Guild would add another. So far as their duties as ringers were concerned, he could see no reason at all for separation.
Mr. Armstrong (District Ringing Master) said there were so many towers in the district who had resolved not to join a Guildford Diocesan Guild that he thought that area would be overwhelmed by stronger associations if they split from the Winchester Guild. The Winchester Guild was one of the leading associations in the country; he did not see how a Guildford Diocesan Guild could ever hope to be anything like as strong. With regard to expense, he did not think there would be any saving.
Mr. A. C. Hazelden said the deputation from Guildford was fully aware of the difficulties which Mr. Armstrong had in mind but some of them who were interested in this matter had had it pretty clearly from the authorities that associations which were not diocesan in character would not be acceptable in their parish churches. Whether they liked it or not, the Winchester Diocese was going to be divided. Leatherhead, and by that he meant the parishes in that rural deanery would be in the diocese of Guildford and no other. Whether the ringers there cared to join a Guildford Diocesan Guild was a matter which the future must determine. But with good-will - in fact, he would take it a little further and say brotherly love - they could go a long way. In the Guildford District they hoped for the spirit of good-will and unity among all the towers in the diocese. They were endeavouring to found something not so much for their own day but for the future, something which required courage and faith and good spirit in the same way that the founders of the Winchester Guild began in 1879.
A GUILDFORD DIOCESAN GUILD CERTAIN.
Mr. Whittington pointed out that, whatever happened, a Guildford Diocesan Guild would be founded and it was for that reason they asked the Yorktown District to discuss the position with them.
Mr. Chaffey said they would never make a success of a new Guild unless they could rope in the men of the six-bell towers. The big ones could look after themselves, but it was the six-bell towers that counted. If they made things hum in that direction they might turn a Guildford Diocesan Guild into something useful.
Mr. Goldsmith pointed out that it was reported at the Guildford District meeting that during the year no fewer than twelve six-bell towers had been visited officially for the purposes of encouragement and instruction of the bands.
Mr. Cobbett (Bagshot) said he thought it would make the Yorktown District look ridiculous if they declined the invitation to meet the committee of the Guildford District. There were many clergy who did not like the division of the diocese, but the division was a fact and they as ringers must fall into line.
The Chairman, who has recently come from the Oxford Diocese said some day that diocese would be split, and he had no doubt new ringing Guilds would be established, because in Buckinghamshire, for instance, they felt themselves very much cut off from Oxford. So, too, Winchester was remote from that part of the diocese, and their interest could not be as warm as if they were close to the centre of their church’s work. Their enthusiasm would be much greater in a small, compact diocese than in a big, unwieldy one. He thought it would be wise to appoint a committee to meet the Guildford committee.
Mr. Melville pointed out that if the district appointed a committee they would be in no worse position than they were at present. If they felt they were out of sympathy with the whole scheme, they would still be able to remain with the Winchester Guild at the division of the diocese. For a year, at any rate, they would all carry on as at present, but in the meantime the committee could go into the matter. He hoped the Yorktown District did not think the Guildford District wanted to take anything from them, because they didn’t. They simply looked at the thing in this light. The bells belonged, in effect, to the clergy; the clergy and the churches were coming into the Guildford Diocese, and it was the desire of the Guildford District that the ringers should come into the Guildford Diocese, too.
Mr. Chaffey said if a new Guild was going to be for the benefit of change ringing and Sunday service ringing, then it would be all to the good, and the sooner it was formed the better. He would like to see the committee get to work to see what could be done. It was no good trying to stand out against the inevitable. They had heard that a Guildford Diocesan Guild was to be formed, therefore if they could work together so much the better.
A motion to appoint a committee was thereupon put and carried, and the following were elected to represent the district: Messrs. F. Nye, S. G. Armstrong, Crocker, J. Corbett and H. J. Chaffey.
The Guildford District Committee consists of Messrs. J. J. Jones, A. C. Hazelden, R. Whittington, W. Melville and J. S. Goldsmith.
AN INCREASED BALANCE.
At the business meeting which followed service in church (conducted by the Vicar) and tea, the hon. secretary presented his report, in which he thanked the members for their support during the past year. The old faces, he said, turned up at the meetings, but he would like to see many of the younger ringers present. They had lost an old member by death in the person of Mr. Edser, of Hersham. He congratulated the district upon an increase in the balance sheet, but regretted that 14 members had not paid their subscriptions. The balance in hand had been raised every year since he had been secretary (applause). At present they had in the district 7 hon. members, 92 full member, 11 probationary members, and three unattached members, while they had also elected three compounding members. The receipts, including the balance in hand of 6s. 3½d., had been £12 12s. 9½d. The expenses had been £4 0s. 9½d., and £8 had been remitted to the general secretary, leaving a balance in hand of 12s.
The balance sheet was adopted.
The Ringing Master (Mr. S. G. Armstrong) reported that he had visited most of the towers in the district twice in the year. Where there was a weekly practice there was much better ringing on Sundays but there were at least four towers where they never had a practice, and at least four where there was no change ringing done. It was a regrettable fact that in many cases when they held meetings and combined practices the local ringers did not attend, so there was not much chance of teaching them. If any tower wanted a quarter-peal or practice he would be only too pleased to help them in any way he could.
Mr. J. B. Hessey was re-elected district secretary, although he expressed a wish to resign, and the other officers were also re-elected, viz.: Ringing Master, Mr. Armstrong; auditor, Mr. Crocker; representatives on the Central Committee, Messrs. Nye and Armstrong.
Meetings for 1927 were decided on as follows: February, Pirbright; May, Farnborough; August, Egham; November (annual), Hawley.
It was resolved to bring forward at the next meeting of the Central Committee the advisability of allowing district secretaries’ travelling expenses to meetings.
The proceedings closed with a vote of thanks, proposed by Mrs. Crocker, to the Vicar for the service, for the use of the bells, and for presiding at the meeting.
During the afternoon touches in the standard methods were rung at the Parish Church.
The Ringing World No. 818, November 26th, 1926, pages 746 to 747