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

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

Bicester Branch Striking Competition 01/09/2018

Twenty five people, including ringers and non-ringers attended this year’s striking competition, hosted by Kathryn and the Islip ringers at Islip, within easy earshot of the tower. It was good to see so many current and former ringers as well as friends of the branch there.

While only two towers – Ludgershall and Islip – could bring teams composed of their own ringers, in the end five separate teams were mustered, including a “harlequin” team, a ladies’ and a gentlemen’s team.

First up were Islip, who after their one minute of rounds rang 120 changes of call changes. They scored a total of 60 points.

Next to ring were Ludgershall, last year’s winners, who rang a touch of Plain Bob Doubles for their piece, scoring  41 Points.

The Harlequin scratch team rang a touch of Plain Bob Doubles, scoring 73 points.

The ladies’ team, which included three branch officers did somewhat better, ringing three plain courses of Grandsire Doubles, scoring 64 points.

Finally, the gentlemen’s team, led by Richard and also comprising a number of Branch officers, rang a touch of Plain bob Doubles, scoring 28 points and winning the trophy.

It is interesting to note that the formation of ladies’ and gentlemen’s teams seemed to bring out a previously undetected amount of competitive, although friendly, spirit amongst some of the participants.

During and after the competition there was a fine selection of barbecued food, salads, puddings and drinks on offer in Kathryn’s garden. A big thank you to Fifi for “manning” the barbecue.

Thanks should also be made to Willie, our president, for timekeeping in the tower and of course to Philip Curtis, who expertly judged the teams’ efforts.

Detailed results are included below.

Team E (Gentlemen) 8 + 20 = 28
Team B (Ludgershall) 8 + 33 = 41
Team A (Islip) 13 + 47 = 60
Team D (Ladies) 14 + 50 = 64
Team C (Harlequin) 13 +60 = 73

Key: First number is for the rounds and 2nd number for everything after.

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

Poster – Branch 6-bell Striking Competition at Islip 2nd September 2017

When:  Saturday 2nd September 2017 Bicester Branch social – BBQ with striking competition.

Where: Islip

Details: Informal striking competition: 6pm BBQ immediately afterwards.

Ringing friends, partners and children all welcome to party at: Waverley House, Lower Street, Islip whilst ringing in progress (5 mins from garden to tower).

Sausages, burgers and salads freshly prepared.

Tickets only £3 (children under 16 free) – please bring your own drinks. Please get your ticket by Wednesday 30th August from: Sally Wale (01865 841926)/ Teresa Carter (01865 374909)/ Kathryn Grant (01865 373972)

Striking competition pieces may be call changes, plain hunt – anything you feel you can make sound nice!

Winners of Striking Competition will NOT be required to go forward to the Guild competition unless they wish to!

If you’re not part of a tower team still come along and perhaps join a “harlequin” team so you can experience what these competitions are like. Prize for winning team: A bottle of champagne! Poster attached: BBQ2017

Ding dong Christmas 2016

On Mon 19th Dec we had 16 ringers representing 6 branch towers, one Oxford City tower and the Bicester Branch Cornwall office attended the final special practice of 2016 which was held at Kirtlington, and followed by a social at Caroline’s house.

We started with ringing up on all 8 (brave.. perhaps a bit too brave) before moving on to rounds and call changes (well done to Ellie and Brenda), followed by plain hunt on 7 (well done Judith, Caroline, Louise and Rachel).

Steve suggested we try something more advanced so we “attempted” one of the chosen methods for the evening.. St Clements Minor.. we didn’t manage a course despite a few attempts. More call changes followed, then plain hunt on 7 and then 8. We were encouraged to ring something more advanced again, but this time opted for a touch of Plain Bob Minor which went much better and was applauded at the end.

We rang down on 8 (good most of the way down) and then headed across the green to Caroline’s house for the Christmas social where nibbles & mulled wine (and other beverages) were consumed and the handbells made an appearance also (see facebook for our rather failed attempts at some Christmas carols!)

It’s been a busy year and we seem to have made some great progress. Have a great Christmas and a Happy 2017 everyone. Our first practice of 2017 is on 3rd January in Islip – hopefully see you there.

Anthony Cole

BBQ and SC 2016

On Saturday 3rd Sept Bicester played host to the 2016 branch Striking Competition and BBQ.

It was a rather wet evening, but we had three teams in the competition which was judged by Richard White from Woodstock.

Team 1 (Bicester) rang a touch of Grandsire Doubles, incuring 52 faults.

Team  2 (Caversfield – defending champions) rang 4 plain courses of Gradnsire Doubles (having only rung call changes last year, but the team has progressed), incurring 58 faults.

Team 3 (Islip) with the help from two Stratton Audley ringers rang call changes and incurred 56 faults.

All very close as you can see, but Bicester topped the standings this year.

Thanks to Helen and Rob Parkinson who opened their home to us all we had a lovely evening (despite the rain) with a BBQ, salads, puddings (rather alcoholic trifle :9) and lots of chatting. A fun evening and my thanks to all who took part and contributed to the food.

Next branch practice is on Tuesday at Launton – hopefully see you there (and hope the weather is better!)

Anthony Cole

2015 Social 14th December

On Monday 14th December 9 ringers (from 3 branch towers) came to Bicester for the last branch event of the year – the special practice and Christmas social. On the schedule was St Nicholas Doubles and St Clements Minor.

After a very shaky up we rang St Nicholas Doubles (appropriate for the time of year I thought!).. also a little shakily, but we got through a plain course eventually. We were then rewarded with a sausage roll each (freshly baked by yours truly!). Next we rang a touch of Grandsire Doubles which had a false start, but the second attempt worked ok… another sausage roll.

We rang more Grandsire Doubles – plain courses this time, followed by another attempt at St Nicholas .. and another sausage roll. Before Steve went off to work we rang a touch of Plain Bob Minor (with Bobs and Singles) and then we finished with more plain courses of Grandsire Doubles. Sadly we didn’t quite have a good enough band to try the St Clements Minor, but maybe another day.

After down we headed to the Littlebury Hotel bar for a drink and a chin wag – a nice way to end the year’s branch activities. The next branch event is the branch practice (again at Bicester) on Monday 4th January. May I take this opportunity to wish all the branch folk a lovely Christmas and a Happy and hopefully ringing filled 2016!

Anthony Cole

2015 Striking competition Trophy’s new home

On Saturday 5th September Islip hosted the 2015 Branch BBQ and Striking Competition. As in the last few years Kathryn welcomed us to her home near the church and the BBQ was started whilst people arrived and teams were formed.

The ringing got underway at 18:30 with Alison and Louise from the Witney & Woodstock Branch judging our efforts. Despite a number of the main Islip ringers being away (Happy Wedding Anniversary Teresa & Richard!), we still managed to muster three teams (two tower teams and a “harlequin” team including two ringers from outside the branch). All teams rang call changes and the first two teams both included recent recruits – Caversfield had two recruits who have been ringing for about 18 months (youngest being 11 years old), Islip had one ringer who has only been ringing a few months.

The competition piece consisted of 1 minute of “rounds” followed by 5 minutes of call changes. There were no big crashes in any of the teams competition pieces and the results were as follows:

Team 1 (Caversfield) – 91%
Team 2 (Islip) – 82%
Team 3 (Harlequin team – apparently to be called “Stratton Audley” if they won, or “Bicester” if they lost!) – 90%

So congratulations to Caversfield (as the tower captain I admit to being very pleased with my students progress and a great result for them).

We retired to Kathryn’s for the remainder of the BBQ, wine, scrumpy etc and puddings! Another lovely evening and my thanks to Alison & Louise for judging, and Kathryn for opening her home once again. Do come over to Caversfield to look at our newly acquired trophy if you get a chance 😀

The winning team – Caversfield

Trophy presentation

results being read out

Results being read out

Bicester social

On Monday 15th December Bicester hosted the branch special practice and social.  Sadly only two branch towers were represented (Stratton Audley and Bicester), but we were at least able to ring 8 bells at one point.
We started with plain courses of Grandsire Doubles and followed that with call changes on the back 8. Next we attempted one of the set methods for the evening – Single Oxford Bob Minor. We didn’t get that far through sadly! At this point Steve had to go to work so we rang a touch of Plain Bob Doubles before ringing down. Sausage rolls and mince pies were consumed during the evening, but we did not go to the pub – the Swan Inn is currently still closed.
May I take this opportunity to wish all branch members a happy Christmas and I look forward to ringing with you all in the new year.  Next practice is at Bicester on Monday 5th January. We are hoping to distribute a card with all branch events early in the new year.