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 ūüėÄ

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

Steeple Aston course October 2015

On Sat 24th Oct students and helpers from across the Guild headed for Steeple Aston and ringing or teaching one of 5 methods.

The students were given a briefing before heading out to towers. I was there as a helper on the Grandsire Triples course so I headed for Steeple Aston Church. After sorting out lunch menu choices we rang a variation on plain hunt on 7 (Grandsire start though) and then progressed to plain courses of Grandsire Triples.
Lunch was at the Red Lion in Steeple Aston and was a chance for learners to get to know their helpers and vice versa.

Next we headed for Islip where Teresa was cajoled into ringing with us as an extra helper. We mainly rang plain courses but a few bobs and singles were introduced to some of the learners. We also had some dodging practice to help get the Grandsire dodges right.

Finally we headed for Kirtlington which were heavier and which posed a bit of a problem for one learner but they do sound lovely. More plain courses and then  all students got to try out bobs and singles Рan  introduction for three and perfecting for two.

From my perspective as a helper I found it was a good day with progress made by our students which is always good to see. I also got to ring touches of Grandsire Triples which I’m sad to say is all too rare in the Bicester branch but a good refresher for me.

One branch member was on the Grandsire Doubles course so hoping to hear of lots of progress made and a step forward for future branch practices.

Anthony Cole

Mini fun April 2015

On Friday 25th April the Caversfield ringers and two of the Launton band trekked down the motorway to the Leigh End mini ring.

It took a bit of getting used to for some of the ringers but we had some pretty good ringing by the end of the evening.

We started with some handling tips from Mark Walker before we had goes on our own (including some double handed fun for those who had rung on mini rings before) and then had a go at rounds (one person had to ring double handed as we only had 7 ringers at the start.. I leave it to you to work out who was showing off!!). Next we rang call changes on all 8.
We then had a look at the bells as the last two ringers had arrived and then we had some more rounds on 8. That was followed by some plain hunt on 5 with tenor cover before stretching the limits and trying plain hunt on 7 which some haven’t tried anywhere before.
We progressed to Plain courses of Plain Bob Doubles with tenor cover and then Grandsire Doubles with a different tenor cover ringer. We rang rounds on the 8 at the end before the hilarity of ringing down.. though we didn’t try in peal despite Mark’s encouragement.

















Anthony Cole

President in the news

Our branch president Willy Haynes marked a huge anniversary recently when he celebrated being Tower Captain and Steeple Keeper of Charlton on Otmoor for 50 years. He was interviewed for the Bicester Advertiser, Oxford Mail and on Radio Oxford.

The article can be found at the Oxford Mail.

Anyone for snap?

On Sunday 25th January a rare event occurred – we had 9 ringers on a Sunday morning – but rarer still, the rope on the 4th bell snapped whilst our youngest trainee was ringing it to call changes on 8. Samuel ducked out of the way, but it didn’t scare him. This is just one of those things – ropes break eventually – wear and tear. However, to make the event a little rarer the bell stood itself. So.. how do you ring down a bell (to make it safe) if there isn’t a rope attached? Well, luckily for us the 4th bell is very accessible as it is by a walkway around the bells so one sure-footed ringer (yours truly) grabbed the wheel with one hand (keeping myself well out of the path of the bell) and pushed, rocking the bell on the stay before pushing it off and moving well away. Newton did the rest (well Gravity that he discovered); 3 minutes later the bell had rung itself down and we carried on ringing minus the 4th.

24 hours later and a spare rope has been attached to the bell and the broken one has a new long splice and is ready to go back next time I feel like wandering up to the bells. Usually a rope will break where it goes through the garter hole (hole in the bell wheel), but in this instance it snapped where it goes through the pulley block and (coincidentally perhaps) a nail came down with the rope into the ringing room. The nail, remains of recent work to increase the area opened by our sound control we think, must have been left on the floor when we tidied up. Whoops!

Bbq at Islip September 2014

The annual branch striking competition and bbq was held in Islip on Fri 26th Sept.
Being a Friday evening it was always going to be a slow start, but the striking competition got underway about 6.30pm.

We only had two teams but it was still worth having the competition and giving everyone a go and encouraging the new recruits who took part.

Caversfield took to the tower first and rang call changes as the band was not ready for method ringing (two of the band have been ringing less than 9 months and are only 10 and 13 years old respectively). It was a very good effort with some good ringing and was awarded 28 faults by our judges.

Islip rang second and choose plain courses of Grandsire Doubles which went well and earned only 17 faults making Islip the winning team 2 years running.. I think Caversfield will be looking to take the shield next year though! Thanks to James Champion and his wife for judging for us.

We then retired to Kathryn’s for the bbq with Richard as head bbq chef. As usual Lucy and Fred were looking for dropped food (the bbq was not dog-nose height this year), but I don’t think they got too much despite sitting patiently at the feet of anyone who was eating!
Thanks to Kathryn for opening her home once again and thanks to the team who catered for us and for the 24+ people who came along to enjoy a good evening together.

Bell cake
Bell cake

The next branch event is the branch practice at Bicester on Monday 6th October – I hope to see lots of you there.

Anthony Cole

Ringing Roadshow

Details of the programme of events (lots of handbell concerts and seminars about ringing) at the Ringing Roadshow are now online. Well worth a visit on Sat 6th Sept if you are anywhere near Newbury.

Happy Birthday Terry

Quarter peals can be rung to mark all sorts of occasions (weddings, national events, memorials etc). If you go to www.campanophile.co.uk or www.bb.ringingworld.co.uk you will find details of many peals and quarter peals rung around the country and the world.

On Wednesday 30th April the tower captain of Witney, Terry Hester (known to some of the Bicester branch folk) celebrated his 75th birthday and to mark it a quarter peal was rung and of which I was privileged to be a part of:

Witney, Oxon
Wed 30th April 2014
1250 Yorkshire Surprise Major in 48 mins
1. Michael Probert
2. Richard White
3. Roger Barnes
4. David Floyd
5. Alison Merryweather-Clarke
6. Lorna Curtis (c)
7. Brian Curtis
8. Anthony Cole

Rung to celebrate the 75th Birthday of Terry Hester.
6: first major as conductor


On Friday 21st March the University of Buckingham had the annual graduation ceremonies for those successfully completing their degrees. The ceremony is at SS Peter and Paul’s church in Buckingham and after each ceremony the bells are rung.

As I work for the University I am able to help out with graduation and this year was able to hep form the band that rang for the multiple ceremonies. The bells at Buckingham are a little on the heavy side so a strong band is required to make a good sound, and this year we had a better band than for last year. At the morning ceremony we rang a touch of Grandsire Triples and a touch of Plain Bob Triples, and the afternoon ceremony we just rang a touch of Grandsire Triples. The striking for both ceremonies was rather good and I felt pleased that I had been able to ring touches of both methods as I get little practice at this level of ringing these days..though the Bicester branch capabilities are improving so long may that trend continue.