Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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It may be unusual to start an Editorial with a photograph - but what a photograph! It has appeared previously, in the January 2001 Newsletter, but it was rather fuzzy, and I am indebted to a local historian for providing a high quality scan of another copy. By the time you read this Newsletter, it will be just about 80 years to the day since it was taken. Many will have seen this photo in Moreton-in-Marsh's Ringing Room. The photo is important for a number of reasons: it records the Guild members attending that meeting (there are 36 excluding the clergymen), which I presume is the 1st half of the Striking Competition; it shows the old Shield and the Spencer Jones Cup (see the article); and lastly the style of dress at the time (very smart!). Oh, and no ladies! I can positively identify two of the members, Harry (Chinny) Baker (with whom I rang when I learnt to ring) and his son from Ebrington. Perhaps the older present-day members could identify others, just so that names aren't lost forever. From the photo in the article, Spencer Jones is the clergyman sitting behind the Shield. Walter Large must surely have been there. An old photo of him in the Oct 2000 Newsletter, probably taken when in his 40's, shows he had a large moustache. He would have been almost 70 when the photo above was taken (born 8/6/1860). He may be second-to-left of the person standing immediately behind Spencer Jones.

An overview of the committee meetings that have taken place since the last Newsletter is included here, to update members on the management of the Guild and the various initiatives underway. As briefly reported in the last issue, the FSG Committee agreed at the interim meeting of 7th January to apply for affiliation to the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (the CC). The President, John Nicholls, makes a statement in this issue about the application to affiliate. See the President's statement.

The President makes it clear the committee was overwhelmingly in favour of CC affiliation and in believing its remit from the members and from within the Guild's Rules is to manage the Guild and to take the relevant decisions. The Guild operates on CC guidelines and affiliation is seen as a natural progression arising from the way the Guild has operated, operates and will continue to operate. We should become paid-up members of the team to which we purport to belong, otherwise it is like the person who regularly joins his friends in the pub for a good time and accepts their offers of drinks, but who never buys his round. In my experience, too, the Guild is looked down upon by some of the CC-affiliated societies, because it's not an officially-recognised group, ie just a little club trying to act like a grown-up one. The Guild has more than enough experience, qualifications, members, history and something to contribute to be a grown-up one, and it's high time we took our place at the ringers' forum on an equal footing with the others.

Included is a report of the Guild Annual Dinner together with photos. It was enjoyable and, as always, Steve Coleman was an amusing and informative Speaker.

Saintbury Church became redundant in September 2008, but what's its future? The Guild has an interest in the bells (as does, of course, the G&BDA). See article.

What do you know about Original, the simple principle for any number of bells? I know Original as something that gives outstanding music, but which needs loads of concentration to ring it really well. Robert Chadburn, a long-time enthusiast, introduces us to it.

This issue is the product of 12 different members, which is at least as it should be. Thanks to all of you. Keep sending in the contributions.

Chris Povey

(The views expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily the views of the Four Shires Guild or its Committee)

A Vicar decided he should visit an elderly and rather ‘rural’ lady parishioner, to discuss the Hereafter in case the ultimate struck earlier than expected. He arrived at her door and was shown inside, whereupon, after the pleasantries and over the traditional cup of tea, he thought it time to introduce the intended subject to the conversation:-

Vicar: Well Mrs Smith, the years continue to fly past for all of us. (pause) I wonder…. do you know anything of The . . .er . . . Hereafter?

Mrs Smith; cheerfully, but just a little embarrassed: Ooh yes, Vicar. Quite right I do! I knows just what you means. Many times I guzz' out in our kitchen and I stops 'n' I thinks to meself, 'What the devil be I here after..!'

(Another little gem from John Middleton. . . Keep them coming, John)