Branch Practice at Bicester 23/11/2021

Fifteen ringers from six towers came to tonight’s Branch Practice at Bicester, including Sally Cross, Gerald Bushby and Dinah, ringing there for the first time.

We started with some rounds and call changes on six for Pinda and Dinah, then a few plain courses of Grandsire doubles with Sue Carter and Gerald on the hunt bells, Judith Vickars inside and Sue Macready covering.

It was good to see Sally master the six and tenor to plain hunt doubles, before we rang the back four up and did rounds and call changes on all ten, with Gerald getting his first go on that number. We then rang some nice plain courses of St Simons doubles for Kathryn Grant.

On to a touch of Grandsire doubles, with Judith inside, before more rounds and call changes for Dinah and Pinda and an attempted touch of plain Bob minor with Anne inside, getting to the final set of Bob’s before firing out.

Our final blast was to ring all ten again, with Judith and Dinah in the team, before ringing down the front six and back four, with some good striking.

Well done everyone, hope to see people at ringing for the Christmas tree festival at Ambrosden on 4th December and branch practice at Islip on 7th December.

Steve Vickar

Branch Practice at Caversfield 11/11/2021

Seven ringers from five towers and two branches came to tonight’s Branch Practice at Caversfield, including Colin Lee our Guild steward and his nine-year-old son, Simon. Simon is confidently ringing up and down in peal and trebling to doubles methods, and so was a most welcome addition to our band.

We were joined by Anne, Jeremy, Kathryn Grant and Teresa. What was also special about tonight’s practice was that Tina, the Churchwarden and local lay minister, had laid on a wonderful array of cakes with tea and coffee, so all those who didn’t make it should know what you were missing!

We went through a pretty full repertoire of plain doubles methods, including plain courses and touches of Bob doubles, Grandsire doubles, St Simons doubles (with Anne and Kathryn inside) and Reverse Canterbury, for Teresa.

Simon joined us on four for a good lower, ending in Weasels.

The next Branch Practice is on Tuesday 23rd November, at Bicester. See you then!

Steve Vickars

Quarter Peal at Middleton Stoney, 3 September 2021

I was very pleased to be part of the band that rang a Bob minor quarter peal yesterday at Middleton Stoney, most ably conducted by Alison Merryweather-Clarke, with Charlie Bates who returns to Uni this weekend and to whom the quarter is dedicated. Thank you Charlie, for your support this summer, best of luck with your studies and see you at Christmas if not before!

Thanks also to Andrew Goldthorpe, Anthony Williamson and Michael Haynes for making up the team.

The Ringing World BellBoard entry is here:

Steve Vickars
4th September 2021

the band treble to tenor, left to right

Branch Practice News

13 ringers from 6 towers came to the Branch Practice last Wednesday at Bletchingdon – some of us even remembered how to ring Grandsire Doubles! Earlier that evening Gerald Bushby rang his first quarter – Plain Bob Doubles – congratulations to him!

Our next scheduled branch practice is on Thursday 2nd September at Weston-on-the-Green at 7.30pm when we can admire the work done to make the bells, and ringing them, so much more enjoyable and then on Wednesday 29th September at Middleton Stoney at 7.30pm.

Do come to both/either if you can.

There’s a Ringing Day on Saturday 18th September organised by the Banbury Branch, and also a Tower Belfry course on 23 October which will be useful for those looking after our bells to ensure we can ring in safety.

A new look in Kirtlington Tower

Steve Vickars and his team have been hard at work continuing to renovate much of the ring at St Mary’s, Kirtlington.

After last year’s replacement of pulleys and ceiling bosses, they finally completed cleaning and re-painting the bell frame, which had previously been painted some 50 years ago and definitely needed doing.  They noticed that there had been some corrosion on one part of a supporting girder, but the expert opinion was that the frame overall is still sound.

Steve helped Isaac and Aaron (socially distanced, naturally) to remove wheels and clappers, prepare the frame for painting, then apply Red Oxide primer and top coats to the frame, headstocks, clappers and supporting girders. This took two long weekends between end February and early March 2021, with some additional work in the intervening week.

The result is quite striking! Below are some before and after photos. Seve hopes that the frame should not require re-painting for another 40 years or so. This will be aided by the installation of a weather-proof membrane in front of the louvres, to keep moisture and dust out of the bell chamber.

Steve said, “While we intend to chime and toll for a few occasions over the next two months, we hope to return to socially-distanced ringing from May, all being well.”

News from the Branch – September 2020

Returning to Ringing – Advice and Guidance from the Guild Secretary

The current round of Harvest Festivals has triggered the resumption of services at more churches and we have heard of more towers that have rung again. This will remind people that the church is there and remind them that the silence was only temporary! Some have rung handbells where the tower bells cannot be used.

The year is moving on, and the Ringing World shop at has seasonal items in stock, hopefully including diaries by the time you read this. The Central Council guidance is updated every Friday at The key metrics haven’t changed this week, but the Central Council has recently got extra skilled resource looking at the detail of the ringing environment in the hope of identifying and justifying further relaxations that the CofE will accept.  We must be grateful for CCCBR’s efforts on our behalf. You can play your part in this effort by keeping in touch with your local clergy and spreading the word about the benefits of ringing and the importance of restoring ringing to both ringers and the church as a whole.

Some are uncertain as to what can be rung that is safe, musical and hopefully enjoyable. This depends on the individual tower as well as the ringers. For instance 2, 4, 6 of a six sounds nice and bright whereas 1, 3, 5 of a six is mournful and may be suitable if you have an All Souls Service around 1st or 2nd November. If you are lucky to have a family group of three, you could try 1, 3, 4, 5 of an eight (think of Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto) or 2, 4, 5, 6 of a six. The mournful equivalent for an All Souls or Remembrance service is 1, 3, 4, 5 of a six. Any towers looking for advice on safe chiming, musical combinations or refresher sessions for safe ringing may contact

The three overriding requirements remain, namely:

  1. The local church wardens and clergy must have agreed
  2. Ringing in Church of England churches is on the condition that it is in accordance with the guidance at, and
  3. The tower must be well ventilated and must be inspected and risk assessed if the bells haven’t rung for a considerable time). Email   for more details

It would be good to hear back from towers with their experiences and how they are returning to ringing. Please send any stories to

Katie, Ken, Stuart & Tony – Guild Officers

News from the Branch – August 2020

Here’s a summary of what’s been going on in the Bicester Branch in August.

Ringing Events

Saturday, 15 August 2020 Islip (St Nicholas), Oxfordshire Tolling
Saturday, 15 August 2020 Kirtlington (St Mary the Virgin), Oxfordshire 75 Tolling
Saturday, 15 August 2020 Weston on the Green (Blessed Virgin Mary), Oxfordshire Tolling


The improvement works at Weston on the Green are nearly complete; the new ropes are in and the new carpet is down.

In Stratton Audley they are hoping to ring three bells at each of two weddings coming up in September.

Ringing Room

Several groups of local ringers have been making good use of the online platform for virtual change ringing called Ringing Room, which is the ‘go-to’ application used by a huge number of ringing teams in the UK and across the world. It’s very enjoyable, is free to use and can be accessed at

Jon Mills of the Oxford Guild has written an interesting account of his journey to find and use Ringing Room – click here to read it.

Kirtlington, Bletchingdon and Weston-on-the-Green Ringing Room practices

Shortly after lockdown began, the ringers from Kirtlington, Bletchingdon and Weston towers transferred their practices to the Ringing Room website, creating a shared virtual tower for weekly practices and for virtual quarter peal attempts.

Our virtual practices are been well attended and we have seen great progress in the learning of methods by all regular attendees, many of whom have only started ringing in the past 2 – 3 years, with all having rung inside to plain courses of Grandsire and Plain Bob Doubles, and a number ringing observation to touches of Bob Doubles. The team has also been able to practice variations on Plain Hunt including Treble Bob Hunt.

With the temporary removal of the challenge of handling together with learning the  methods, our ringers have achieved a number of successful virtual quarter peals including first on covering tenor and first on treble. More virtual QPAs are planned.