Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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The FSG Centenary Peal

Four Shires Guild Delight Major

Comp generated by Sabre

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As the front page shows, a peal of Four Shires Guild Delight Major was rung at Moreton-in-Marsh on November 14th, to celebrate the centenary of the Guild. It was the culmination of a few attempts in 2009 to ring a peal for the Centenary.

The first attempt was on 7th February at Moreton, when common-or-garden Grandsire Triples was to be rung, but the event was frustrated by heavy snow, which prevented one member of the band getting there.

The idea of ringing a completely new method and calling it Four Shires Guild surfaced in June. This seemed like an exciting idea, as bands that peal an unrung method have the privilege of naming it. A line was circulated. It didn't seem one that flowed particularly well, mainly on account of some place-making, and some of that 'cack-handed', but it was an opportunity. Most if not all the 'classically-elegant' treble-bob Major methods have already been rung, of course. The peal attempt for this was set at Monday 24th August at Wellesbourne in the evening. It was lost after a fairly short time, and a quarter of Cambridge was rung before transferring to the pub next door to lick our wounds and discuss the next stage. The conclusions reached were that a centenary peal should really be rung at Moreton, as it is adjacent to the historical 'heart' of the Guild, and that ideally another unrung method should be chosen, to avoid the inelegant place-making.

A new method was circulated to the proposed band and the attempt was set for November 14th. This method was actually almost identical to the previous one, but with the places replaced by dodges (and the 'cack-handed' places replaced by 'cack-handed' dodges!). At this stage of the 'new methods' game, the choice is very limited, so this was the method! Oh well. . . . Another decision from the Wellesbourne pub meeting was that a quarter of the method prior to the peal was sensible, and such was arranged for Sunday November 8th for Evensong. Sadly there was a communication problem somewhere along the way and we met only seven. Luckily, Keith Murphy was available at short notice and a quarter of Cambridge Major was rung (see Around the towers).

This peal band met on Saturday Nov 14th. All turned up, which was a good start. Bells were risen and the band was placed. Chris Mew shouted 'go' and the peal was scored 2hrs 41mins later. There was no false start, so the new method was genuinely rung at the first attempt and without practice. There were one or two trips, and two fairly minor 'moments', each for a short time (one near the end, which is off-putting!), but all-in-all it was an extremely worthy peal - and on such oh-so-delightful bells, too.

The method itself (shown below) was very surprising. While not 'classically-elegant', it most certainly isn't 'inelegant' and actually rings quite well. It deserves to carry the Guild name. Secondly, it produces some good music, with the plain course giving a series of 5678s at the back with the double-dodges, the 'near-miss' 13245678, and some 8765s off the front. The composition Chris Mew chose was musical, too. For the record, the composition is included here (might be needed for 2109).

The peal was also significant in that the band contained three re-founding members (membership from 1974), John Nicholls, Graham Clifton and Chris Povey; three Committee members, John Nicholls (President), Peter Quinn (Guild Master) and Chris Povey (Elected member); and representatives from each of the four constituent Shires.

Finally, two pleas:
First plea: it would be a shame for 'our' method to pass into near-oblivion as many new methods do, appearing only on very rare occasions when somebody wants to unearth a long-unrung method to give it a try. Four Shires Guild Delight Major is sufficiently straightforward enough for a course to be attempted at Guild practices occasionally - and it would be nice if it were to be. Second plea: could you provide a quarter peal comp, or comps, please, Chris, so that such can be attempted at some time?