Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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From the Archives (100 yrs ago)

The Old Minute Book has unusually full records for this period. This may have been due to a change of Secretary, Mr A White having taken over from Mr F A Case at the Spring Meeting at Campden in April. The Minutes by Mr White following this period are along the same lines, so this seems to have been his style. Although Mr White writes very capably, he has a problem with spelling belfries (belfrys: see below!). Ah well, perhaps we all have our little weaknesses in this way. I do try to record everything as it appears in the Book. Do remember: pdf copies (9Mb) of the Book are available. Contact me if you want one.

Oct 2nd 1912:

A Committee Meeting was held at The Rectory, Moreton-in-Marsh, to arrange the Programme for the Autumn Meeting on October 23rd. There were present:- The Rev Spencer Jones (in the Chair), Rev J W Stoneman, and Representatives from Blockley, Moreton, Shipston and Longborough. The following resolutions were passed unanimously:-
1. That the time of the meeting be at 2-0pm.
2. That the competitions be the same as at the Spring Meeting, viz: Rising & Sinking, Round Ringing, Call Changes, & Method Ringing.
3. That Messrs T Williams & E Pardon be the Judges in the Competitions.
4. That a Special Service be held in the Parish Church at 4-30 and that the Rev W E White, Vicar of Bourton-on-the-Water, be invited to be the Preacher.
5. That owing to the lack of proper hotel accommodation in the Parish, the arrangements for the Tea be left in the hands of The Rev J W Stoneman.
6. The question of monthly meetings in different befrys, for ringing purposes & friendly intercourse was raised and it was decided to put the matter on the Agenda paper to be discussed at the Autumn Meeting It was decided that Mickleton & Ebrington be written to, with a view to persuading their Ringers to join the Guild.
A vote of thanks to the Rector for presiding and for so kindly placing the Parish Room at our disposal closed the Meeting.
(Signed) Spencer Jones, Chairman

Oct 23rd - 1912:

The (Autumn) Meeting of the Guild took place at Longborough on Wed Oct 23rd 1912, when a good attendance of members resulted in a very successful gathering, all the towers in the Guild being fully represented with the exception of Todenham. Four Belfrys took part in the four Competitions, and the Judges (Messrs T Williams & E Pardon gave their awards as follows:-
(1) Rising & Sinking:- Shipston 63 per cent, Campden 59, Moreton 57, Blockley 15.
(2) Rounds:- Campden 97, Moreton 93, Shipston 93, Blockley 90.
(3) Call Changes:- Campden 94, Shipson 92, Blockley 88, Moreton 83.
(4) Method:- Shipston 83, Moreton 81, Campden 79.
After the Competitions was (sic) decided, a special service was held in the Parish Church, the sermon being preached by the Rev Spencer Jones, Rector of Moreton-in-Marsh.
Tea was laid in the Reading Room, to which about 40 sat down.
A Business Meeting followed which in the absence of the President (Canon Houghton) was presided over by the Rev Spencer Jones.
After the Minutes had been given Letters of apology were read from H D'Est East Esq, the Revs Canon Houghton, W E White and A W F Norton. Certificates were then handed to the winners of the Competitions held at Campden the previous April, Longborough being victors in all 4 events. The Hon Secretary gave his Report, but this being his first term of office could not give much progress numerically, but it gave him much pleasure to be able to announce the addition of two Hon members (H D'Est East Esq & H Wixey Esq of Campden). He also appealed to the meeting to do all in their power during the period that intervened before the Spring meeting, to assist him in securing more Belfrys & Incumbents to join the Guild. Before sitting down, the Secretary proposed that "a hearty vote of thanks be passed & sent to the late Hon Sec (Mr F A Case) for his valuable services to the Guild during the last 5 years". This was duly seconded and carried with acclamation. A discussion took place regarding the question of holding monthly meetings of Ringers at the various Towers, when it was pro(posed) by Mr Bird , jun, sec(onded) by Mr Bird, sen, that the suggestion of holding monthly meetings be adopted, and that the first meeting be at Blockley, the last Wed in November at 7-30pm. Carried unanimously. It was further resolved that all future monthly meetings be arranged at the previous one, the Hon Sec to be notified accordingly, so as to make the necessary arrangements. Blockley was chosen as the place of meeting in April next. Mr Wixey then addressed the meeting, saying he should be pleased to become a subscriber, and promised to do all he could to induce other Gentlemen he knew in the Campden district to become members of the Guild. He also proposed a Vote of thanks to the Rev J W Stoneman & his Lady helpers for their services at the tea-tables, this was seconded and passed with acclamation. The Rev J W Stoneman duly responded.
The usual vote of thanks to the Chairman closed the meeting.
A few touches were rung on the Bells after the Meeting.
(Signed) Spencer Jones, Chairman

This record is interesting, as it indicates the level of patronage by non-ringer gentlemen at the time. Mr D'Est East and Mr H Wixey (both given the suffix 'Esq') were welcomed as Honorary members. Mr Wixey is recorded as saying that he will 'induce other Gentlemen he knew in the Campden District to join the Guild'. I wonder what the ringers - mostly of 'worker' stock, no doubt - thought of this? Perhaps they were quite used to this happening, as it must have happened in all aspects of life then (England before the First World War, with the rich men living in their castles and the poor men doffing their caps); and perhaps it was welcomed, as the Honorary Members greatly subsidised the activities of such organisations if they could be encouraged to join them.

It is worth returning to the inaugural meeting in October 1909, where it is recorded that subscriptions were set at one shilling (5p) for ringing members, but 'not less than five shillings' (25p) for Honorary Members. The internet tells me inflation since 1909 has risen by about 100%, so the one-shilling (5p) for ringing members equates to about £5.00 today (hmmm; our present sub is about right then!), whereas that for Honorary Members equates to about £25 (the least amount expected!). How many Gentlemen now would be happy to pay that amount to belong to a ringing society purely for the delight of taking no part in the action?