Bellringers - Newsletter

On Saturday 14 April the AGM of the Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers was held at Cricklade, near Swindon. This was preceded by two striking competitions; the Croome Trophy on 6 bells and the Penn Trophy on 8 bells.

The Wotton Branch, of which St James’ is part, was represented in the Croome by Chipping Sodbury. They came 9th out of 10 teams with St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol being place first.
Ringers in the Penn Trophy are drawn from ringers within the Branch. The Wotton Branch came 3rd out of 9 teams. Swindon were placed first. Two of St James’ ringers judged the competition and 4 were members of the team.

Historical events form part of the bellringing tradition and provide some fascinating stories. One such took place in 1902 when a young American woman from Boston USA was brought to London by her father, Dr Nichols, who was very keen to encourage English style ringing in Boston. His reason for this trip being that he thought his daughter was ‘made of ringing stuff’ and London was the place where ‘the more they ring the better they like it’. The trip was successful beyond Dr Nichols’ wildest dreams. His daughter, Margaret Homer Nichols, became, in six weeks, an incredibly accomplished ringer and who was described by a ringer writing about her 80 years later; ‘that she was, in his opinion, the most remarkable woman ever to grace the ringing scene’. Margaret was 22 years of age and in 1902 women ringers were such a novelty that most male ringers had never rung with one.
Margaret’s memoirs record this strange event, repeated here verbatim:

The United States Peal

There have been no peals rung by Americans in the United States. The record shows just one peal and that entirely rung by nine Englishmen. In 1844, while P T Barnum was touring England with General Tom Thumb, the Lancashire Bell Ringers were at the height of their popularity in the United Kingdom. Barnum immediately offered to bring them to the United States, if they would agree to certain startling conditions. They were to change their name to Swiss Bell ringers, allow their moustaches to grow and dress in Swiss costumes. They protested that they spoke only English. Barnum assured them that if they kept their Lancashire dialect unspoiled by purer accents, the American people would never know they were not talking ‘Swiss’.
The Swiss bellringers were very much liked in America. When they reached Philadelphia they found that in the tower of Christ Church was hung a ring of eight English bells. They sought and obtained permission to try for a peal. Barnum did not fail to publicise this somewhat unexpected and extraneous performance. After three hours ringing the bells came home and the ringers descended from the tower to be carried away on the shoulders of the populace. One of the ringers later wrote about this event in Bell News. He denied reports that some of the ringers were Americans and explained the mystery of the ninth ringer whose name is on the tablet in the Tower. One of the ringers had only one leg, and after standing on one leg for two hours he became overtired and another ringer took his place.
This peal is recorded as being rung in 1850 and as the first ever to be rung in the United States of America.
Ringers Outing: Saturday 23 June. Details to follow
Quarter Peals rung at St James’
On Sunday, 25 March 2018
1344 Changes of Plain Bob Triples
1 Lizzie Lindsell; 2 Judith Cotterell; 3 Anne Pope; 4 Dave Clark    
5 John Taylor; 6 Philip Pope; 7 Ian Unsworth (Conductor);
8 Andrew Ward      

1st on 8 bells: 1
Rung on Palm Sunday prior to 'come and sing' Faure Requiem
On Sunday, 1 April 2018
1250 Changes of Lincolnshire Surprise Major
1 Jane Bull; 2 Anne Pope; 3 Ian Unsworth; 4 Elizabeth Byrne
5 Frank Byrne; 6 Andrew Ward; 7 Andrew Bull; 8 Philip Pope (Conductor)       For Easter

Webpage icon Church Groups - Bellringers