Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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From the Archives (100 years ago)

16th April 1915:

A Committee Meeting was held at ‘The Rectory’, Moreton-in-Marsh, on Friday 16th April, 1915, to consider what arrangements should be made for the Annual Meeting of the Guild at Campden. There were present the Rev O.J.Jacson, Rev Spencer Jones,and representatives from Blockley, Campden, Longborough, Moreton & Willersey Towers.

The Rev Spencer Jones was voted to the Chair. After the Minutes had been passed it was pro. by Mr A.Williams, sec by Mr H.Evans that the Annual Meeting be held on Thursday 20th May 15. It was resolved the arrangements be as follows; Special Service 3.30pm, in the Parish Church. Tea at 4.30pm followed by the Business meeting.

It was pro. by Mr H.Evans, sec by Mr Withers, that the Rev B.J.Littlewood be asked to give an address at the Service. The new Rules was (sic) further reviewed by the Committee, and ordered to be printed, for distribution to the members prior to the Annual Meeting, when they will be invited to sanction the same.

This concluded the Business, when the usual Vote of Thanks to the Chairman had been passed.

(not signed)

20th May 1915:

The Annual Meeting of the Guild was held at Campden on Thursday the 20th day of May, 1915. In consequence of the War, and so many members gone on Active Service there was a smaller attendance than usual. For the same reason and in accordance with the Resolution passed on 25th Sept, 14 there was no competitions (sic) held on this occasion.

A special service was held at the Parish Church, commencing at 3.30pm, when the Rev O.F.Jacson gave an instructive address. This was followed by a meat Tea, generously provided by the Vicar at the Lygon Arms Hotel, when close upon 30 members and friends sat down. After full justice had been done to a capital spread, the Business meeting commenced, the chair being occupied by the President (H. D’Este East Esq.). After the Minutes had been passed, letters of apology for absence were read from Canon Houghton & the Rev D.Lloyd.

The Secretary then presented the Balance Sheet, which showed a balance in hand of £9-10-4, the increase on the year being £1-9-5½. This shows the Financial position of the Guild remains sound. In giving his annual report for the past 12 months the Sec stated that there had been no additional increase of membership, for which he held the War was responsible. They deeply regretted that they had lost through death, one of their Honorary members, the Rev J.W.Stoneman (of Longboro). The Sec also mentioned the case of those absent members who were helping to fight the Country's Battles, and said they held a warm corner in their hearts that day, trusting they would have a speedy and safe return to their friends and families. These expressions were fully endorsed by those present.

The Sec on behalf of the meeting expressed the pleasure they felt in welcoming the President that day to take the chair for the first time. On the proposition of the President, seconded by Mr H.Evans, the Report & Balance Sheet was (sic) unanimously adopted. The President presented the Certificates to the winning Belfries at the competitions held at Moreton last year. A letter was read from Mr H.Jarrett (Todenham) resigning his Office as Hon Treasurer. He was accorded a hearty vote of thanks for his services during the past 3½ years.

On the proposition of the Rev Spencer Jones, seconded by Mr J.Harris, Mr H.Evans (Blockley) was nominated for the vacancy, and there being no other nominee, he was unanimously elected. Pro by the President, sec by Mr Withers that Mr A.White be re-elected as Secretary. Carried. The Sec accepted on the same terms as the previous year.

The new Rules were submitted to the meeting, and a discussion took place on Rules 3, 4 & 6. Eventually it was on the pro of the Sec, seconded by Mr Hinton, agreed that Rule 3, part 3, stand as printed. It was pro by the Rev O.F.Jacson and sec that Rule 4 stand as printed. Carried. On Rule 6 Mr Wixey proposed & Mr Evans seconded that Probationers pay 6d per year after the first year of membership. The Rev O.F.Jacson moved an amendment that they pay on entry. This was sec by Mr Williams, but on being put to the meeting Mr Wixey's proposition was carried. It was then pro by Mr J.Harris and sec by Mr Byrd (Shipston) that the Rules as amended be adopted. Carried unanimously.

It was proposed by the Rev Spencer Jones that the meeting pass a Vote of Condolence to the family of the late Rev J.W.Stoneman; also a Vote of thanks to the Rev O.F.Jacson for providing such a good Tea. These propositions were seconded by the President and passed. The Rev O.F.Jacson suitably responded. After Votes of thanks to the Secretary for his services during the past year, and to Mr H.D’Este East for taking the Chair had been passed, the meeting closed. Afterwards a few touches were rung on the Church Bells


Herbert D'Este East

(Most of the present members will understand the sums of money recorded, but for those who were very young prior to February 1971, or not on this earth, the following are the modern-day equivalents:

£9-10-4 = £9.52; £1-9-5½ = £1.47; and 6d = 2½p

Multiply by 100 for present day value, ie they had £952 in hand and there had been an increase over the previous 12 months of nearly £147. However, the Guild at that time is unlikely to have had more than 50 ringing members at best, probably 40 at most with men away on Active Service. It was a small group. Having nearly £1000 in hand at today's prices is remarkable. Where did the money come from? While ringing members paid today's equivalent of £5 pa (one shilling then), the honorary non-ringing members paid the equivalent of ‘not less than’ £25 pa, so it wouldn't have taken many at that rate to bump up the total. I’ve always wondered how such a small group could, in 1920, afford to buy the Challenge Shield, which must have cost in today's money a few thousand pounds. Clearly it was a well-off group.

Does anyone have, or know the location of, a copy of the Rules referred to above? It would be very interesting to see what they were.

I type the entries shown above from the facsimile copy of the Old Minute Book. It is truly very poignant to read these entries in the hand writing of the time, particularly when mentions are made of the War and the effects is was beginning to have on the Country. Also to realise the entries are a 100 year-old snapshot in time. In many ways it makes the conditions of 1915 very real. The horrors of the Somme campaign were still over year away. Should anyone wish to have a copy of this Book, I can email a pdf copy free of charge. The file size is about 10Mb. It is a remarkable book. Let me know if you want a copy. Ed)

From the Archives 40 years ago

There was no Committee meeting held between April and July 1975. The next entry is the Minutes of the 1975 Annual General Meeting, which was held in October.