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.

Branch Christmas Practice and Social 18th December 2017

There was a great turnout to Monday’s Branch Christmas special Practice. So good to see our regulars plus Ian and Helen from Bicester, Kathryn Grant and Sue from Islip, Roy, our latest group member and U.S. correspondent as well as Richard, Jan, Jeremy, Ron, Jane, Derek, Tim and Brenda. Some 20 ringers all told.

We rang call changes on 8 for Derek, Sue, Caroline, Judith and Louise, Plain Hunt on 5, 7 (for Roy, Caroline, Louise, Judith and Brenda) and 8 for Helen.
There was a nicely struck touch of Plain Bob Minor, Ian on 2 observation, called by Richard, Grandsire Triples and a touch of Grandsire Doubles, with Sue Macready on 5 observation bell.
Finally a short burst alternating between rounds and Queens, before we rang down sort of in Peal, at which point Gareth Miller, Kirtlington rector, joined us as we took some photos and headed back to Caroline‘s for a wonderful apres bell Social (big thank you to Caroline and Louise for hosting, organising and providing mulled wine, and to everyone who contributed food), later featuring hand bell ringing. Definitely improved over last year.

See the  Kirtlington and Bletchingdon Facebook group for some video clips  uploaded by our remote location editing team!

Hope to see  lots of you at Islip on 3rd January for the first Branch Practice of 2018.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Branch Practice Bletchingdon 1st November 2017

Nine ringers from seven towers came to Wednesday night’s branch practice.

After ringing up we warmed up with some plain courses of Grandsire doubles– Ernie could not be tempted to try a different bell from 3, but will try 4 or 5 next week.

We then rang a number of plain courses of Plain Bob doubles with Judith on 2, improving each time.

Next we rang an acceptably struck 120-change touch of Grandsire doubles, called by Jeremy (5), with Ann 4, Steve 3, Kathryn 2, Sue on treble.

We also rang a 120-change touch of Plain Bob doubles Kathryn 2, Jeremy 3, Ann 4, Steve 5, Judith on tenor.

For something slightly different the team attempted a 60-change touch (PBPBPB) of Plain Bob doubles, Anne on 4 making bob and Long 5ths. We had to abort the first attempt due to a bob called at the wrong point. The 2nd attempt went much better.

Finally the team rang more Grandsire plain courses before ringing down.

Next practice is on 20th November at Bicester. Hope to see lots of you there.

Special Practice at Islip 18 October 2017

Having left ex-hurricane Ophelia behind in the Lake District Tuesday morning, I headed over to Tuesday evening’s special practice at Islip. Not having rung for almost a week, I needed my fix of tower bells.

Our branch president, Willie Haynes and I were initially the only non-Islip ringers to join Teresa, Kathryn, Sally and Sue. The practice had Reverse Canterbury doubles and Plain Bob Minor on the agenda, but for Sue we kicked off with Plain hunt on 5, Sue on 3, which was getting pretty steady after a couple of courses. We later did some more Plain Hunt on 5, Sue ringing 2.

By this time we had been joined by Richard and Jan Haseldine, who formally received the branch striking competition shield from Willie, complete with engraved inscription. We then rang a couple of plain courses of Reverse Canterbury, followed by a touch.

As we were strong enough to provide a stander for Sally, we rang a touch of Plain Bob Doubles, Sally ringing 3 affected, called by RIchard, which went pretty well.

Following the agenda, we duly rang Plain Bob Minor, starting with a plain course, followed by a 120 change touch involving 2 singles at 5th and 10th lead ends, called by myself. However, two calling blemishes to report, the first being ‘bob’ corrected to single – thanks to Richard for putting right a couple confused ringers in the band- the second that I forgot to say “that’s all” immediately after the second single, so we had an extra 60 before coming round again.

Finally, we very nearly completed a 120- change touch of Grandsire doubles, Sally ringing 3 observation, supported by Jan, before we rang down in Peal. All in all a good practice.

Hope to see you at the next branch practice at Bletchingdon on 2nd November.

Report – Bicester Branch Striking Competition 2 September 2017

In contrast to last year’s washout, 2nd September was a fine late summer evening.

Three teams from different towers in the Bicester Branch assembled from 5.30 at Islip, who were hosting this year’s event.  Last year’s champions Bicester were unable to field a team, and a new team: Kirtlington/Bletchingdon  had thrown down the challenge to the two other experienced teams: Ludgershall and Islip, who had won the competition several times in the recent past. The hosts had also implemented a cunning plan to change the bell ropes a few days before the competition.

Each of the competing teams was allowed three minutes practice, then stand, followed by ringing the treble. The scored elements consisted of one minute of rounds going straight into a 120 touch of a method or set of call changes, aiming to complete the set within 5 minutes.

First to ring was the band of Ludgershall, with highly experienced and skilful ringers. The shield was theirs to lose as they chose to ring a 120 change touch of Plain Bob Doubles

Next were the newcomers, Kirtlington, three of whom had never been in a striking competition. The team rang the set of Ely call changes.

Finally it was Islip’s turn to showcase their skills. After their minute of rounds the team rang four plain courses of Grandsire Doubles.

Hugh Deam, Judy and Paulina made up the judging panel, and while marking fairly and scrupulously, very much entered into the relaxed spirit of the occasion. Our President, Willie Haynes undertook the role of steward.

After completing their striking the teams repaired to Sally Wale’s house, Sally having very kindly opened her house and gardens for the ringers and associated parties. There was a barbecue expertly managed by Peter (a specially imported Australian for the occasion), a plentiful selection of fine desserts and a well-stocked drinks table.

When everyone was suitably refreshed, the judges announced their deliberations. The winning team was Ludgershall, achieving scores of 90% and 80% for rounds and method sections, respectively. The team won a bottle of champagne, the promise of receiving the competition shield from the outgoing champions, and the opportunity to represent the branch at the Guild Striking competition.

Islip were a close second, achieving the highest score (82%) for the method section, but a lower score (84%) for rounds.

The new team, Kirtlington in the words of Branch President “did not disgrace themselves by any means” and achieved 88% in rounds, however it incurred additional penalties late on in the call changes section.


Ludgershall:  Richard Haseldine, Jan Haseldine, Anne Martin, Jill Bailey, Andy Windmill, Jeremy Adams

Islip:  Teresa Carter, Kathryn Grant, Sally Wale, Ricky Shaw, James Carter, Mike MacArthur,

Kirtlington: Steve Vickars, Judith Vickars, Caroline Cater, Ernie Cannings, Kathryn Grant, Jeremy Adams


Band A (Ludgershall)  – Rounds 90% Method / Changes 80%                  (1)

Band C (Islip) – Rounds 84% Method  / Changes 82%                             (2)

Band B (Kirtlington/Bletchingdon) – Rounds 88% Method / Changes 70% (3)


–  Band A: rounds 1 min 5 sec, rest 4 min 50 sec;
–  Band B: rounds 1 min 0 sec, rest 7 min 8 sec;
–  Band C: rounds 1 min 2 sec, rest 4 min 36 sec.

The winning team receiving their prize

Ludgershall receiving their prize
Ludgershall receiving their prize
The competition judges
The competition judges

The judging party discussing detailed rules with Kirtlington

Bicester Branch Special Practice 18 July 2017

Seven including Willie Haynes, our Branch President and Jeremy our new Ringing Master, attended Islip Tower for the special practice which originally had Kent Treble Bob Minor and Grandsire Triples on the billed agenda.  As only two or three could ring Kent Treble Bob and we were overall short on numbers we were obliged to change plans.

After ringing up we rang a number of plain courses of Reverse Canterbury Doubles, with James on treble and Sally inside. James later rang confidently inside, for the first time.

Next we rang some plain courses of Plan Bob Doubles, with James inside, well done to James. Feeling encouraged Jeremy called a 120 change touch of Grandsire Doubles with Sally ringing inside, well done Sally.

After a reasonably struck touch of Reverse Canterbury called by the correspondent (after a restart due to the first bob called late L), we wondered what we could do next. Not having quite enough for Stedman Doubles we had a go at Bob Minor but had to abandon after problems around half way.

We then retrenched with a couple of plain courses of Plain Bob Doubles with James inside before ringing down.

Next Branch Practice is on 4th August at Ludgershall, with the Branch 6-bell Striking Competition at from 6pm at Islip with a social event included. Hope to see you there.

Steve Vickars

Bicester Branch outing Sat 22 April 2017

Eleven members of Bicester Branch arrived at the first tower, Freeland, a light ring of 6 (3 cwt tenor) which proved to some of us to have a rather elusive entrance. Freeland is where Anthony Cole was Tower Captain a while ago. A recent refurb of the bells and relocation of the clock has freed up space to the ringing chamber, which, when found, is still a snug space, but with room for four non-ringers to sit.

We rang touches of Bob Doubles, Grandsire Doubles and Bob Minor, plus plain courses of Reverse Canterbury. I tried my first call unaffected of plain bob Doubles, but needed quite a lot of prompting from Anthony. Practice makes perfect…

On to our next church, North Leigh. This is a beautiful small church with some fascinating architecture, including a fan-vaulted ceiling, rarely found in a parish church. In contrast to Freeland, North Leigh’s ringing chamber is very spacious, appearing to have room for two more ropes.
This is where Anthony learned to ring. Needless to say, Anthony’s name is on a number of peal boards on the walls.
Again, we rang touches of plain bob and Grandsire Doubles including a version involving successive calls of singles. Sam trebled to a couple of touches.

Back to Freeland for lunch at the Yeoman pub, then suitably refreshed, we went to Witney our third tower. Witney church is large and bears the hallmarks of historic wool town prosperity, one example being a gallery surrounding the ringing chamber and a fine ring of eight (16 cwt tenor). Conscious that the tower captain may be listening to us from a nearby coffee shop, we limited our ambitions to Plain Hunt on 7, a passable couple of plain courses of Grandsire Triples and call changes on 8.

Onto the fourth tower, Ducklington, which unfolds its historic charm as you progress further into the village, where the church lies next to the village duck pond and old school house. Ducks were in attendance in the churchyard, naturally, and we had to keep the church door shut to keep them out.

We seem to have embarked on a tour of the Cole family ringing roots, as Ducklington was Sarah’s first tower. The ring is light and improvements have been made to the ringing chamber, with a balcony giving space to non-ringers.

Here we rang Grandsire plain courses and touches, Sarah called a touch affected of Bob Doubles and we had some more Reverse Canterbury.

Anthony also gave Penny Wood a back stroke handling lesson.

And then to Yarnton, our final tower of 6 bells, with the heaviest ring of the day, whose tenor weighs in at 21 cwt. The bells met with approval of several of the ringers, including also fond reminiscences of ‘proper ringing’ in the days before this peal was rehung , when the bells were on plain bearings and the ringing chamber was on the ground floor with a long draught without guide holes.

Anyway, the modern day pampered ringers warmed up to Plain Hunt on 5 and 6, some plain courses of Bob Minor (giving Anthony the chance to heave the tenor about), more touches of Grandsire and plain bob doubles, including another attempt by the author to call unaffected, better but just forgot to say ‘that’s all’ at the right point.

Penny also had another back stroke handling lesson, showing commendable technique.

All in all, a very pleasant day’s ringing outing, thanks to Jeremy Adams’ excellent organisation.

At the end, before the team photo, I spoke to two German tourists outside the church. What little they knew about change ringing was that it can often have fatal consequences, based on viewing episodes of Midsomer Murders 😉

Branch outing 2017 team photo


Steve Vickars

Ring along a mini ding dong October 2016

On Saturday 15th October a small band of ringers 8 branch members (plus 1 new recruit) met at Finmere for the branch “mini tour” – mini in various ways.

Finmere bells (only 3 of them) are rung from the back of the church (ground floor) and the ropes fall in a straight line, fairly close to the wall so to ring them you have to face the wall! We rang plain hunt on 3 and Shipping Forecast Singles.

We had planned to visit Mixbury (another 3 nearby) but having inspected them about a month ago we considered them not safe (due to a large crack in the tenor’s headstock). So we headed next to Fritwell (4 bells). The ringing room is accessed from the back of the church, walking under the impressive pipe organ and up a narrow staircase. The one light wasn’t working (!) but that didn’t stop us ringing plain hunt, plain bob minimus and call changes for our newest branch recruit Grace. The bells were fairly loud, but went well.

Next was Stoke Lyne (3) where the bells are rung from a ringing room accessed from a very narrow staircase. The bells are VERY loud and the frame (whilst ok, especially following maintenance performed by Jeremy and I about 6 months ago) does move. That said, we managed plain hunt and Shipping Forecast Singles, but headed off to the next tower after not that long (or to ringing for a wedding for 2 of our members).

Chesterton (3) was our pre-lunch stop and we were given a warm welcome by Linda and Hilary. This tower is accessed from a staircase outside of the church. We rang plain hunt on 3, and Shipping Forecast Singles here. Well done Samuel for managing the treble (the bells are not light so even the treble was heavier than he is used to).

We headed to a pub for lunch before heading down the motorway for a different type of “mini” tour – before lunch was a mini number of bells (3 or 4), after lunch was 8 mini bells. Sadly we only had (including the owner) 6 ringers, but that didn’t stop us having fun trying to ring all 8 (Mark & myself ringing two bells each), Grandsire Doubles, and plain hunt on 6. Everyone had a go at ringing two bells (those on facebook will find a video of Samuel ringing two!) though we didn’t try everyone ringing two in rounds. We did get a few ropes slipping wheel and/or being let go of only to see the rope disappear upstairs (no sliders on these bells as Mark would be replacing them every time the bells were rung, but with the tenor only weighing around 25kg they’re not needed).

It proved a good fun day out and some villages in the Bicester branch heard their bells being rung (not something they’re used to!)

Next branch event is the special practice at Islip on Tuesday! Hope to see you there soon.

Anthony Cole