Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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From the Archives (100 years ago)

The Old Minute Book records the following for the quarter 1st January to 31st March 1914. This particular year is the start of a very poignant period, as it is the year in which it was said, "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time". We know what's coming, but Guild members at the time didn't. The War started later in the year and it was to be 'over by Christmas'. If only it had have been. Here is the entry:-

March 31st  '14:

A Committee Meeting of the Guild for the purpose of arranging the programme for the Spring meeting

was held at The Rectory, Moreton-in-Marsh, on Tuesday 31st March, The Rev Spencer Jones being voted to the Chair. The first business was the question of competitions, and it was Pro. by Mr E Harris, sec by Mr H Evans that the competitions be as usual. Carried. It was also decided that the time for starting be at 1pm instead of 2pm.

Special Service to commence at 4.30pm. The selection of Preacher was left in the hands of the Rev Spencer Jones. The arrangements for the Tea was (sic) left for the Rector of Moreton and the Sec to carry out. It was also decided to leave the selection of the Large Certificates to the discretion of the Rev S Jones and the Sec. It was Pro. by Mr

Barnes sec by Mr W Harris that Mr F J Johnson of Hinton be again asked to officiate as Judge in the Competitions. Carried unanimously. It was thought the time had arrived when some Printed Rules should be formulated and adopted by the Guild and it was decided to bring the matter before the Spring meeting.

A vote of thanks to The Rev Spencer Jones for the use of room and for presiding closed the meeting.

Spencer Jones

From the Archives 40 years ago

Committee  Meeting held on Monday18th March 1974 at The Red Lion, Chipping Campden.

Present: H O Hart (Chairman), A J Brazier, C E Evans, M F Fairfax, G R Harper, S C Holden and R F Rothery.

Minutes of Previous Meeting: The minutes of the previous meeting held on 16th October were read, confirmed, and signed by the Chairman.

Guild Dinner: Arrangements for the Dinner at the Three Ways Hotel, Mickleton were discussed and agreed.

Ringing Competitions: A programme for the Ringing Competition to be held on Saturday April 27th was agreed, and the appointment of Judges was delegated to the Secretary. Proposals for a set of rules for the Competition were then discussed. With the desire to allow the maximum opportunity for all ringers to enter, the following rules were agreed:

  1. All ringers must be Ringing Members of the Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers;
  2. Each team shall consist of five or six ringers. Five-bell teams shall have the number of faults awarded by the judges increased by one-fifth;
  3. At least four ringers with each team shall be attached to, or regularly ring with, the named tower;
  4. A tower may enter more than one team;
  5. A ringer may ring with two teams, and only one team from each tower;
  6. The competition shall be divided into four categories:
    1. raising the bells in peal: time allowed, five minutes, faults will be recorded against teams exceeding this time;
    2. call changes — approximately five minutes;
    3. method ringing — 120 changes in any method, one false start will be allowed, faults recorded on the false start will be cancelled;
    4. falling the bells in peal — time allowed, five minutes. Faults will be recorded against teams exceeding this time.
  7. Where two or more categories are attempted, the two categories with the least number of faults will be considered in placing the teams in order of merit.
  8. Certificates will be awarded to each team taking part in the Competition stating the faults awarded in each category and the placings in order of merit.
  9. Teams will be allowed a maximum of two substitutes for the second part of the Competition.
  10. Faults will be awarded by the Judges and their decisions on this account will be final.
  11. On all other matters, the decisions of the Committee will be final.
  12. The team having the lowest number of faults in the categories used to assess the order of merit for both half-yearly competitions will be awarded the Spencer Jones Silver Cup, which may be held by their representatives for eleven months, after which time it will be handed back to the Guild Master. In the event of a tie, custody of the cup will be decided by the Committee.
  13. The Meeting was then closed by the Chairman.

    (Signed) H O Hart,


Members with an interest in the history of bells and bell frames will be fascinated by the new facility from John Taylor & Co. Their web-site now shows what the Company's huge archive contains. To quote from that web-site:-

The entire collection - along with the John Taylor Bellfoundry Museum - is now administered by a separate not for profit company, Bell Foundry Collections Ltd (BFCL), which exists to ensure that this incredibly rich heritage material is safeguarded for the future. All income from activities related to the collections goes to support the preservation and maintenance of the Museum and archives.

Both BFCL and John Taylor Bell Foundry (Loughborough) Limited are happy to make the archives accessible for people undertaking research. Indeed, we are keen to encourage use.

Of particular interest to the Guild are the pictures of the original works drawings of Badsey's bell frame, installed by Taylors in 1897. It's not quite the first frame of this type (that accolade goes to Dumbleton: installed 1892), but it's a very early frame nonetheless.

Information on the Taylor Archives can be found via the following link: