Old Bicester Branch website laid to rest February 2021

After over a decade of trying, the branch website has finally completed its migration from Anthony Cole’s server to its new home on the Oxford Diocesan Guild’s servers.

In December 2020 we worked with Anthony and the Guild Server team to re-direct internet addresses to the new home, while final checks of content have now completed and under Gus’ patient and methodical care, we have verified all content has safely migrated to the new server.

We have also now established new mailing lists for members (members@bicester.odg.org.uk), officers (officers@bicester.odg.org.uk) and tower correspondents (towers@bicester.odg.org.uk).

Farewell, old Bicester Branch site (www.bicesterbranch.org.uk), hello new Bicester Branch site (www.bicester.odg.org.uk).

Very big thanks go to Anthony for hosting the branch site and mailing lists and providing responsive and reliable support for such a long time!.

Steve Vickars and Gus Bridges

Christmas Quarter Peal 27th December 2018

Six ringers from Bicester Branch, including our Ringing Master, Deputy Ringing Master, Secretary, Jan and Ellie successfully completed a quarter peal of Plain Bob Minor, conducted by Richard on Thursday evening, at Islip, to celebrate the Christmas period. Congratulations to Kathryn for her first minor quarter inside.

For further details, see the record  on Bellboard at: https://bb.ringingworld.co.uk/view.php?id=1264282

As well as being a Christmas quarter peal, this was also dedicated to Gill and Tony Summerfield’s upcoming 53rd wedding anniversary. Congratulations to them both!

The Quarter Peal band

Bicester ringer achieves national milestone

In September, Bicester Branch’s  Ellie Seddon, from Kirtlington tower,  became the 100th ringer to achieve Level 5 in the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART) Learning the Ropes scheme, which she completed in less than two years after her first lesson. For this, Ellie needed to complete a number of theory and practical targets, including ringing inside to Quarter Peals in two Doubles methods and also Bob Minor. Congratulations, Ellie!

This has been celebrated on the ART website and Facebook page, for further details, see



A photo of Ellie receiving her certificate is below.


Ellie receiving her ART LTR Level 5 certificate

Grandsire Triples Quarter Peal at Kirtlington 6 May 2018

A very big thank you to Pat and Robert Newton, Neil Ephgrave, Michael and Alison from Witney and Woodstock Branch and Hugh from Oxford City and Kathryn ( who kept the secret that like myself, this would be her first Quarter to a Triples method) for helping ring a successful Quarter Peal at Kirtlington yesterday to commemorate  the tercentenary of our 3 oldest bells.

I had been intending to have a Quarter Peal rung with local ringers this year when I found out that the 3 oldest bells were cast in 1718. This also coincides with the first recorded Peal of Grandsire Triples rung in the same year. So when I  attended the Radley Course in April this year, the method had to be Grandsire Triples.

We completed the quarter despite a couple of “moments” where I tried to dodge off the wrong stroke,  but was guided back into the right place.

It was even appreciated by villagers and visitors to the afternoon service, such that 5 youngsters asked to see the bells after the service and to have a go.

The band for the Grandsire Triples Quarter Peal at Kirtlington

Oxford City Branch Practice 2 April 2018 at Kirtlington

St Mary's, Kirtlington

Twelve ringers from eight towers and three Branches braved the flooded roads to attend Easter Monday morning’s Branch Practice at Kirtlington. Although slightly down on strength from January’s practice at the same venue, we still benefitted from the conducting skills of Hugh, Paul and Malcolm.

We rang an extensive repertoire of methods including:

  • A couple of plain courses of Grandsire Triples
  • An attempted plain course of Plain Bob Major
  • A few courses of Plain Bob Triples for Andrew
  • Two touches of Grandsire Triples, including one for the correspondent
  • A few touches of Plain Bob Minor for Andrew
  • A couple of plain courses of Stedman Triples including a first go for yours truly.

All in all, a good practice.

Notes from ODG General Committee Meeting 25th November 2017

Our Guild representative, Ann Martin, has provided some notes from the last General Committee Meeting of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of bell ringers, held in November 2017.


  1. There is a vacancy for the General Secretary for the Finance and General purposes committee. If anyone is interested, contacts are on ODG website.
  2. Education committee: Applications for the Michaelmas and Steeple Aston courses were up this year.

They are asking for help to organise the Michaelmas, Steeple Aston and Radley courses this year, in particular, for Steeple Aston, for arranging and booking the towers.  Anyone who would like to volunteer should contact the Education committee, contacts on ODG website.

It is the 25th Radley course this year.  They would like to hear from people who attended the first Radley course (and any other of the Radley courses).

  1. The Dove database is going to be brought up to date and re-housed on the Central Council’s server.
  2. Subscriptions remain as last year, £8 per member.
  3. There was a presentation about the new Guild website. In due course, they will be nominating a person from each branch to provide updates for their area.
  4. There was discussion on the suggestions in Ringing World for ringing on 11th November 2018. The suggestion was to ring muffled in the morning for 11 am, then remove the muffles and ring open later in the day. It was considered that it would be dangerous to remove the muffles with the bells up, but it would cause confusion to ring them down and then ring them up again.

The committee will relay the discussion to Ringing World.

  1. Safeguarding: Discussions are still ongoing with the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer, in particular with reference to the difficulty in having a safeguarding officer in each tower.  This is still to be resolved.

New Branch ringers’ ringing experiences

Here is the latest update from Kirtlington and Bletchingdon ringers in Kirlington Village News, which includes experiences of ringing from the viewpoints of two members who have joined the Kirtlington and Bletchingdon band in the past 10 months:


“Many times in my life I have enjoyed the sound of church bells, and always thought, ‘I’d like to do that some day’. Finally in May I responded to an advertisement for new ringers in the Bletchingdon News and was very quickly inducted into the friendly team of ringers in the Bletchingdon and Kirtlington bell towers, with expert tuition from the Kirtlington Tower Captain.

English bellringing is an intriguing blend of art and science, involving both physical and mental exercise and, for me, a great sense of history. I’m excited to think that I’m learning an ancient skill, standing in a room in which our forebears stood ringing these same bells, some of which were cast three centuries ago in the early 1700s… Although a relative beginner I feel I’ve made good progress and joined a really friendly, supportive and encouraging group of people. I’m very much enjoying learning a stimulating and valuable new skill!”

Gus Bridges (joined May 2017)


“My motivation to take up bell ringing doesn’t sound as riveting as Gus’, however, I am so thankful that the ‘I need a hobby – why not?’ moment came to me. Over the last 10 months I have been exposed to a whole new side of British life which I have quickly become addicted to; I now regularly find myself humming tunes, guessing how many bells a church has as I drive past, downloading various bell ringing apps or competing with myself about when I can cross off another bell tower! This new found obsession is not least because of brilliant fellow ringers who generously give their time to help me learn, who share their stories, and have taken me under their wings to become part of their proud history.

My ringing experiences so far have been wonderfully varied. As well as my regular weekly practices, I have rung for 1 baptism, 5 weddings, a few evensongs and the village summer fair! I have also attended two courses: a day course in Radley, and the intense Bradfield 4 day residential – I never knew that hand bells at 1am could be such fun! All of these opportunities have allowed me to quickly progress, and also to experience some of the quirkier Church belfries, like the swaying tower of Little Milton, and the really tall ladder before the “trap door like” entrance of Mortimer, have all contributed to me beginning to feel like a real bell ringer!

My next goal is to attempt a Quarter Peal, to consolidate learning of the most recent method I’ve been learning; Plain Bob Doubles. I have no idea what to expect for my first attempt of ringing solidly for 45 minutes, but I’m tentatively ready to accept the challenge!”

Ellie Seddon (joined November 2016)

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year folks!

Late on Saturday 31st December, 6 ringers pulled themselves away from Kathryn’s New Year party (a first for the Cole kids – though Grace fell asleep about 15 mins before midnight!) to head up Islip tower. We nearly had a lock-out as the visitors earlier in the day had left the key to the ringing room in the wrong place, but thanks to Sue looking at the colonies of ladybirds we spotted the key and made it into the ringing room in time to ring up and have 2 mins rounds before midnight.

Making sure we allowed for the leap second that was added to the end of 2016 the tenor tolled the 12 strikes of midnight (something the church clock hasn’t been doing for a few months) and then rang some call changes to announce the start of 2017 to the village. We then rang down and headed back to the PARTY 😀

New Year 2017- Islip
New Year 2017- Islip

Did any other branch towers ring in the New Year? (Let me know and I’ll add details to this page).

The first branch event of 2017 is on Tuesday at Islip – ringing is a great way to exercise off all those Christmas excesses so get ringing!

Anthony Cole