Making a noise at Ambrosden!

Eight ringers from four towers came to tonight’s branch practice at Ambrosden, aiming to make a good noise on a stately ring of eight that sadly isn’t much so rung these days.

After ringing the front six up in peal and ringing some rounds and a few plain courses of Bob doubles with Anne and Sally in we felt we had to get the tenors up and try out all eight, which we did with Dinah in the band, who did very well.

Next we rang some plain courses of Grandsire doubles, and couple of plain courses of plain Bob minor, which went quite well. After some more call changes on eight we rang a couple of touches of Grandsire doubles including one with Sally trebling and finished with more call changes before ringing the back six down in peal.

We were joined at the end by Pam, Ambrosden tower correspondent (see photo).

A very enjoyable evening. Look out for an opportunity to ring there for the Christmas Tree festival later this year. Hope to see lots of you at the next practice at Piddington on 27th October!

The team with Pam

Steve Vickars

First Quarter Peal at an improved Weston on-the-Green

Big congratulations to Gerald Bushby of Weston on-the-Green for achieving his second Quarter Peal on 7th October 2021, and the first at Weston since the improvements to the ringing chamber and rope circle as well the first there by a member of the team re-formed in 2018.

In the team for this special occasion were appropriately ringers representing the Oxford Guild: Tony Crabtree, conducting and ODG Deputy Master, Lesley Belcher, Chair of ART, Susan Read, head of the ringing school at Abingdon, Jeremy Adams, joint Ringing Master Bicester Branch and Steve Vickars, Branch Training Officer.

Many thanks also to Mandy Jones for laying on some wonderful refreshments after the event and taking the team photo. Thanks also to Jeremy, Lesley and Susan for staying on afterwards for some ringing practice with the Weston Team.

The Bellboard event is at:

The new team at Weston is a real recent success story of a band reforming and there appears to be a prospect of re-starting handling practice for the Weston recruits that started early 2020 just before the Pandemic.

There have been many very favourable comments about the improved ringing facilities at Weston. I hope you get the chance to ring there soon.

2021-10-07 QP at Weston

Branch Practice at Weston, 2nd September 2021

A very creditable 13 ringers from five towers came to tonight’s branch practice at Weston-on-the-Green, kindly hosted by Gerald and Andy.

For many it was their first visit since the improvements had been completed to the ringing chamber ceiling and to the rope circle, if not their first visit altogether. It is now a very welcoming space and should be the location for many quarter peals in future.

We are very sorry that Mandy, Jeremy and Richard couldn’t join us, due to needing to self-isolate.

After ringing up we rang some rounds and call changes with Dinah, who is learning at Islip and who appreciated visiting another tower and meeting other ringers.

We rang several plain courses of Grandsire doubles, called by Charlie and Teresa, as well as plain hunt on five, with Andy showing that he hasn’t forgotten how to ring the three to it. Well done Andy.

Some more rounds and call changes for Dinah, then we managed to complete a plain course of Bob Minor at the third attempt, with James on treble and Willie rolling back the years taking two. Kathryn, despite strong reservations, also showed it could be done on four, Teresa on three and Charlie on five.

Finally, we attempted to ring the front five down in peal, where Andy kept behind the treble very nicely. I hope to see more of our Weston friends at Bletchingdon, Islip and Kirtlington in future!

Please don’t forget to put our next branch practice on 29th September at Middleton Stoney in your diaries. See you then!

Steve Vickars
2nd September 2021

Branch Striking Competition 7th September 2019

This year an impressive seven teams (considering the size of the branch) and over 40 branch members, partners and friends attended the branch striking competition on Saturday 7th, again kindly hosted by Islip and enjoyed the barbecue afterwards at Kathryn’s house. This was a strong contrast with last year’s reduced competition where only two “tower” teams and a small number of “harlequin” teams took part.

First up was a Bicester team, supplemented by Ludgershall, ringing a number of plain courses of Grandsire doubles, scoring 57 faults.

Next was Islip, the local team, again choosing plain courses of Grandsire Doubles and scoring 165 faults.

Third was a scratch team from Kirtlington and Bletchingdon, ringing a set of call changes, scoring 192 faults, improving through the call changes section after a tricky set of rounds.

Fourth up was Weston on the Green, including three ringers who only started ringing for the first time in September 2018, assisted by Jeremy, Kathryn and Steve. Again, a set of call changes was rung and a very creditable 68 faults scored. Well done to Weston!

Fifth was the experienced Ludgershall team, ringing a touch of Plain Bob Doubles, scoring an impressive 38 faults and winning the competition.

Sixth was a harlequin ladies’ team, ringing Grandsire Doubles and scoring 70 faults, while the final team was a harlequin young ringers’ team, comprising Islip’s youngest recruits and Charlie from Kirtlington. This team only rang part of the allotted 5 minutes and achieved a score of 120 faults, after rounding up to the equivalent time.

A big thank you to our judges, Katie Lane, Guild Master, and David Cornwall, who undertook the scoring. Also thank you to former branch member Louise Brown, who acted as time-keeper in the tower. [Photo of Ludgershall]

Team scores in ascending order

Team Score Notes
E  Ludgershall 38
A  Bicester 57
D  Weston on the Green 68
F  Ladies’ team 70
G  Young ringers 120 Faults adjusted to full length of test piece
B  Islip 165
C  Kirtlington/ Bletchingdon 192

ART comes to Bicester Branch!

ART M1 Course at Kirtlington 16th February 2019 On Saturday 16th February, Kirtlington hosted sixteen delegates and three senior members of  the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART), led by tutor Paul Lewis, who attended the teaching of bell handling course M1. Kirtlington was chosen through its proximity to Weston-on-the-Green, where an entirely new team of ringers was trained by instructors from the Oxford Guild (of which just over half had attended ART training) over three months in 2018. The course, sponsored by Oxford Diocesan Guild for guild members, formed part of the concluding activities of the Weston training and was arranged by ODG’s Susan Read and Lesley Belcher from ART, who with Branch Secretary Kathryn Grant co-ordinated the many training sessions at Weston and neighbouring towers. The delegates came from as far afield as Newbury, Milton Keynes and Berkhamstead and also locally from Bladon and Islip, bringing varied, but also substantial ringing and teaching experience.

After a welcoming introduction by Katie Lane, ODG Master,  the course combined theory and practical sessions, including how people learn (“learning styles”), how to break down teaching complex handling skills into manageable chunks, what makes a good teacher as well as follow-on activities after the course. The practical sessions introduced teaching handling from bell down, teaching separate strokes, putting the strokes together, raising and lowering, ringing style and how to intervene when needed. The course was well received by all delegates. Tea, coffee, biscuits, cake and lunch were provided and much appreciated. Many thanks to the team who contributed to a successful event! A follow-up assessment event is due to be scheduled for the delegates and their learners in the Autumn, also at Kirtlington.

Branch Practice 8th January 2019 at Bicester

Twenty-two ringers from nine towers and three branches attended tonight’s first Branch Practice of 2019 at Bicester. Officers of Branch and Guild were well represented, with Ringing Master, Deputy Ringing Master and Secretary; we were also honoured to welcome Katie Lane our Guild Ringing Master, as well as Colin, our area Steward plus four other experienced ringers from Adderbury, who are currently having work on their tower.

We started with rounds and call changes on nine, including Gus, Sue, Fay and Chris, followed by Plain Hunt on 7, for Sue and a first for Gus.

With a very capable group of ringers we were able to practice a number of touches of Plain Bob Triples with Kathryn, Ellie, Ian and Jan, a nice touch of Stedman Triples, called by Richard, as well as plain courses of Plain Bob Major and Plain Bob Caters (nine working bells).

For Ann and Ellie we rang a touch of Plain Bob Minor and we also had time to return to Plain Hunt on 7 for Gus, Sue and Anne, before ringing down the back eight in peal.

Sadly this was Ellie’s last Branch Practice with us before she moves up to Yorkshire. Best of luck to you, Ellie! Come back and ring with us again soon!

Next Branch Practice is on Thursday 7th February at Weston on the Green. Hope you can come and support the new band of ringers there.

Happy New Year to you all!

Steve Vickars

Branch Practice 6th December 2018 at Charlton on Otmoor

Eight ringers from six towers came to tonight’s Penultimate Branch Practice of 2018 at Charlton on Otmoor, including a warm welcome to Charles and Joyce Morrish from Old North Berks Branch as well as Jeremy our Ringing Master and Teresa. We were also joined by el Presidente Willie Haynes.

After ringing up, the team rang some plain courses of Bob Doubles, then plain courses of Bob Minor with Ann and Teresa inside.

We then rang a 100 –  change touch of Bob Doubles with Stephen on four, successfully completing it at the second attempt.

More Plain Bob Doubles, with Gareth ringing observation on 5, with Jeremy standing and then a touch of Grandsire Doubles, with Gareth on Treble, which went reasonably.

We then rang  a touch of Plain Bob Minor with Ann, Joyce and Jeremy inside, called by Charles, which also went quite well.

Finally we rang a touch of Grandsire Doubles with Gareth ringing half-hunt on 5, your correspondent standing and calling, before we rang down in peal. A pretty good practice with plenty for everyone.

Don’t forget that the final Branch Practice is on 17th December at Kirtlington, including festive food, drink and handbells at a local ringer’s house after the shortened practice. Hope to see lots of you there!

Also please note that places at the teaching handling course at Kirtlington on 16th February are filling up fast, so do get your applications in quickly!

Steve Vickars

Bicester branch outing 21st April 2018

This year’s spring outing was to 5 towers in the Old North Berks branch, where I grew up (although I only had rung at two of these before the outing).

On a fine spring morning 11 Ringers from Bicester, Oxford City and Witney & Woodstock branches gathered at St Peters, Drayton near Abingdon, a light ring of 8 bells with strong sound control, where the walls of the Ringing chamber are covered with many Peal boards, several commemorating peals rung by clergymen, as well as peal conductor John Pladdy’s 1000th Peal.
First up, we had a plain course of Grandsire Triples , followed by Andy calling changes on 8. We then rang a plain course of Plain Bob Triples, before ambitiously attempting a plain course of Plain Bob Major for Elizabeth.
We rang Plain Hunt on 7 for Sue, then attempted a touch of Grandsire Triples before ringing down.

Next tower was St Blaise, Milton, another light ring of 8, but preferred by most as we could clearly hear all the bells.
More Grandsire Triples here, including a successful touch, Ellie trebling, called by Hugh, plus Bob Triples, Plain Hunt on 7 and a touch of Plain Bob Minor for Ellie and Andy.

The ringers at Milton


We repaired for lunch at the Cherry Tree, Steventon, before our 3rd tower, St Michael Steventon (11 cwt), at the far end of the village, reached via a level crossing. We were joined by Jan and Richard Haseldine, Bicester deputy Ringing Master and by Malcolm and Clare Fairbairn.
Many of the group found the 6 bells the most challenging, due to the long draught and “flighty “ ropes. However, we rang plain courses of Cambridge and Stedman, a plain course and a touch of Bob Minor and attempted another plain course of Cambridge as well as several courses of Plain Hunt on 5.

Onto St James the Great, West Hanney, my very first tower and a “stately” ring of 6, tenor 18 cwt. We were welcomed by Michael, a local ringer, who joined us in an attempted plain course of Cambridge. Further touches of Plain Bob Minor and one of Grandsire Doubles successfully completed, we rang more Plain Hunt on 5 then my first touch of Stedman, assisted by Hugh.

Our final tower was All Saints Marcham, a fairly light ring of 6, but anti-clockwise, which caught a few out, including myself. This was compensated by the very clear ringing circle.

A successful touch of St Clements Minor, more touches of Bob Minor and Grandsire Doubles plus a plain course of Stedman and our day was complete.

group photo at West Hanney
the team at West Hanney







Steve Vickars

ART Module 2C Teaching Course 10th February 2018

I arrived at St Peter’s Kineton, Warwickshire on a cold and wet Saturday morning. Kineton is an ART (Association of Ringing Teachers) teaching centre; in fact, it is the home tower of Graham Nabb, the Chair of ART itself.

Seven delegates attended this event, coming from as far afield as Essex and Wiltshire, several having many years’ ringing experience.

The aims of the course are to cover the teaching of key skills from Rounds through Plain Hunt (Foundation) to learning doubles and minor methods (Change Ringer).

The course, led by Graham, comprised a number of slides covering topics including:

  • Challenges facing ringers and towers today
  • How people learn
  • The importance of combining theory, handling with practicing methods and having fun.
  • Building an effective ringing team, including the importance of identifying and reviewing achievable objectives
  • Placing the team for practice and service ringing.
  • Duties of a tower captain and the importance of delegating key roles
  • Health and Safety and Safeguarding

The theory sessions were interleaved with very useful and fun practical sessions. These included:

  • Practicing rounds and leading using hand bells. Practicing whole pull and stand, then moving to next bell.
  • Foundation skills, including standing the bell at hand and back stroke (Twinkle Twinkle little star, whole pull and stand, ring for n blows and stand, ring alternate hand and back stroke), turning while at back stroke, handing over rope to neighbour at hand stroke, switching hands on sally and tail end.
  • Kaleidoscope ringing, Mexican Wave, call changes by places, dodge and change at each call
  • Plain hunt on 3 – 6 bells, starting on back as well as hand stroke
  • Techniques for those standing behind learners to encourage timely and correct striking, as well as the need to understand place and providing timely, specific and positive feedback.
  • Mini-methods such as Cloister Doubles, Bastow Little bob and Churchyard bob to develop Plain Hunt skills
  • Mini-touches of Plain Bob Doubles and Plain Bob Minor to encourage learners to treble and ring inside without the need to dodge
  • Original Minor, developing the Band’s awareness of place and reaction to bobs and singles called.
  • Touch of Grandsire Doubles with four consecutive singles, aka Reverse St Bartholemews Doubles.

All in all, this is an excellent course, which has given me many ideas to put into practice at my next ringing practices. I would thoroughly recommend the ART ringing scheme to any ringing learner or teacher as a structured, graded programme that breaks down handling and ringing techniques into smaller elements, enabling the student to progress. Learners and teachers are well supported through a comprehensive set of learning and teaching resources.

The ART teaching modules comprise Module 1 (handling), Module 2F (Foundation – Rounds to Plain Hunt) and Module 2C (Methods).

For further details, speak to me or visit the websites at: or

Steve Vickars

Special Practice 15/01/2018 at Bicester

13 ringers from six towers headed over to Bicester to join in last night’s special practice. Oxford Branch was also represented by Ron and Derek. The practice was ably led by Steve Walker and Jeremy Adams.

We rang rounds and call changes for a few times on 8 and 10 bells, giving a long overdue and welcome airing of the full Bicester ring as well as giving Gus and Derek the opportunity to develop a rhythm on unfamiliar bells. Both got well into the swing of things by the end.

For Helen, Sue, Ellie and Judith  we rang several courses of Plain Hunt on 7, improving each time and also 3 touches of Plain Bob Doubles, in preparation for the ladies’ QPA next month. In this we were helped by Steve, Jeremy, Simon (returning after a while away from ringing), Ron and Ian.

After a touch of Grandsire Doubles, Ellie trebling, we rang down the front 4 then the back 6 in Peal, finishing in Queens. A very worthwhile practice.

Hope to see lots of you at the next Branch Practice, at Kirtlington on 5th February. Perhaps a chance to see the new simulator in action?