27th FEBRUARY 2010


Ringing will start at 3.00 p.m. and will be followed by a church service beginning at 4.00 p.m. After the service there will be tea in the Watercress Centre and this will be followed by the Annual Meeting. If you would like a tea either e-mail  Kay at or phone Kathy on 01491 833729 by Thursday 25th February.

History of the Bells

“Ewelme Tenor” was recast by Thomas Janaway in 1782. I would guess that he got the job when he was providing Benson with their original bells in the previous year.

The 5th came from the Reading foundry of Ellis Knight I, is dated 1631 and simply says “Love God”.

The 4th was cast in 1840 by Taylor’s at the time when they had businesses at both Oxford and Loughborough, as denoted by the inscription.

The 3rd is said to be sixteenth century, but has no clues as to the maker.

The 2nd was cast by William and Robert Cor of Aldbourne in 1702. It is slightly longer in shape than the other bells. (Maybe that accounts for the frequency with which we manage to get it up wrong. Or maybe not!)

The old five were augmented and rehung as a post-War village project in 1950, and this is recorded on the new Treble. The work was done by Taylor’s who provided a new metal frame (with pits for 8 bells) and the Hastings stays in vogue at the time. They did a good job of retuning to make a six that sound as if they belong together.

I think the village must have been pleased with the result, as the newly refurbished bells were part of the Ewelme Pageant in 1951. This told the story of the history of Ewelme from the building of the church in the 1430’s up to the early part of the 1900’s and the cast apparently included about 25% of the villagers in various roles.

The last words of the Epilogue were:

“Our Bells, rehung, give out melodious chime

To all the countryside – Ring out, O Bells…..

…Ring loud and ring again, O happy Bells.”

This was followed by the Finale, which included a parade of the players to the background of “A joyful peal of the church bells”.

We don’t have such things as the Pageant today, but the latest “joyful peal” came in January 2010 as we welcomed the congregation and the Bishop of Dorchester to our United Benefice service.









Cast in 1950 by John Taylor & Co

Cast in 1702 by William & Robert Cor

Probably Sixteenth Century

Recast in 1840 by W & J Taylor Oxford & Loughborough

Cast in 1631 by Ellis Knight of Reading Love God

Recast in 1782 Thomas Janaway fecit










1. Apologies for Absence

2. Approval of the Minutes of the Autumn Meeting on 24th October 2009

3. Treasurer's Report and approval of accounts

4. Secretary's Report

5. Branch Representative's Report

6. Ringing Master’s Report

7. Branch Outings 22nd May 2010 and 9th October 2010

8. Election of Officers:

  • Chairman
  • Vice Chairman
  • Secretary/Treasurer
  • Ringing Master
  • Deputy Ringing Master
  • Training Officer
  • Branch Representative
  • Newsletter Editor
  • 100 Club
  • Holloway Shield
  • Website Manager
  • Webmaster
  • Auditor

9. Election of New Members and presentation of certificates.

10. Signatories on Bank Account – consider the proposal that two of the following four should sign cheques: Amy Herlihy, Sue Dyke, Brian Gray, Hilarie Rogers

11. Any Other Business

Treasurer’s Report

This will be circulated at the Annual General Meeting.

Secretary’s Report                            by Amy Herlihy

In February 2009 we held our AGM at Warborough.  This year all of the officers remain in post. Two First Quarter Certificates presented to Jane Willis from the

Little Milton tower and to Katrina Bromwich from the Thame tower. New Member Certificates were presented to: James Anderson-Besant, Michael Francis, Caroline Lewis, Hannah Pagan, Katherine Lusby, John Hearn and Michael Smetley. Two new members were elected: Andrew Hawkes and Hil Pennick.

The spring activities included a training day in April and the - always well attended - Spring Outing. This year the outing was to Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. Reports from the day were excellent.

This year we were able to hold three 8-Bell Practices. They were held in March, June and October.  Monthly Grandsire and Surprise practices are regular branch events. The Grandsire practices come highly recommended for those working on that method.

In Andrew Davis’ report on the 2008/9 Holloway League he notes: “The Holloway League has brought people together for more than just ringing against each other, practice nights have continued with both teams able to experience new bells and methods. It is worth noting that the results have been very close, judges have had to be very harsh to decide a winner, with only a few faults between the teams.”  In the end – with considerable rescheduling around bad winter weather – Drayton St Leonard holds the shield for the year.

This year the Autumn Outing was a half day event on the 10th October. A large group visited 2 towers (South Stoke and Checkendon). They had to look lively to ensure that everyone had a chance to ring. Lunch was at The Four Horseshoes in Checkendon. 

One of the notable events in the branch this year was that the Benson bells, a ring of 8, were rehung. There was even BBC coverage – which you might even find on the branch website.  The bells were down most of the year, meaning the Benson band was “nomadic” during this time.  Their bells were re-hung in the autumn with a dedication service on 22nd November. The Benson tower is very resilient band – they were ready to host the branch practice in December (complete with mince pies)! The Autumn Meeting was held at Aston Rowant on the 24th October where we had good ringing and excellent cakes.  During the meeting we elected three new members Guy Cunningham, Jane Ford and Barry Spicer.

Branch Representatives Report   by John Tchighianoff

The following matters were discussed at the Guild AGM and at General Committee meetings during 2009 and have been reported in more detail to the branch during the year:


In view of the uncertainties in the financial markets the Trustees of the Bell Fund produced a policy statement to assure the Guild that they would maintain the level of outstanding provisional grants and seek to continue to offer new grants at the current rate of 10%


The benefits under the Group Personal Accident Insurance have been increased and the upper and lower age limits removed. The insurance covers Guild members whilst ringing or carrying out routine maintenance on bells in any church or bell tower in the UK and includes whilst travelling. Cover also includes members teaching bell ringing and persons under instruction within the Diocese of Oxford.


Guidelines are being adopted so that any recordings of ringing for the website are a credit to the Guild

Change of Rules: Hon Membership

It was agreed that Honorary Ringing Membership would not be awarded after the 2009 AGM. In future the rules would allow an award of Distinguished Member to a member of at least 30 years who is considered to have given meritorious service to the Guild or Branch.

Change of Rules: Subscriptions

The subscriptions are due on 1st January. In addition the rules will state that if the subscription is not paid by 31st March that person will cease to be a member of the Guild.

From the Ringing Master                    by Hilarie Rogers

Over the course of 2009, regular events have included

  • Monthly Grandsire Doubles practice
  • Monthly Surprise Major at Warborough – mainly Cambridge
  • Surprise Minor about every 6 weeks
  • Surprise Major (with help from other branches) roughly every 6 weeks

One offs have been

  • Simulator session at Shiplake
  • Ringing up and down for one tower – another two sessions are planned for 2010 in response to requests
  • Youngsters afternoon – another one is planned for 2010

We have set up periodic 8-bell practices at Dorchester on their practice night, which has boosted their numbers and given others an opportunity to ring on 8.

And of course we have held branch practices most months.

Do ask if you would like us to arrange anything.

Hilarie Rogers

01865 890163

Branch Outings 22nd May and 9th October 2010

We will once again be arranging a full day outing in May with a bit of an attraction – and a half day local one plus lunch in October.

On 22nd May we are hoping to visit the National Trust gardens at Stourhead, Wiltshire, with ringing on the way down and back, ending with an evening meal. Please put the date in your diary and look out for details.

Hilarie Rogers

01865 890163

Holloway Shield

In recent years, interest and enthusiasm for entering the Holloway Shield Striking League has waned, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for those towers who do enter to get bands together, and finding judges is always tricky. Andrew Davis, who has held the competition together for several years, does not wish to continue with the job. We are very grateful to Andrew for all his work on this.

So…… we are looking for your ideas for the way forward!!

If you have any suggestions for keeping the competition going in a different format, then please get in touch.

Alternatively, the Holloway Shield can be awarded for something different – and again, any ideas for that would be most welcome.

So that we can think about and raise any ideas at the AGM, it would be good if you could get in touch in advance. I look forward to a full inbox…..

Hilarie Rogers 01865 890163

100 Club          Sue Dyke 100 Club Co-ordinator

Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers

South Oxon Branch 100 Club 2009







1st Prizes 12x £20

2nd Prizes 12x £8

3rd Christmas Prize

Total Prizes

Transfers to

ODGCBR Restoration Fund

Oxford Diocesan Bell Fund









With 68 members this year we had slightly less in the 100 Club than last year. 25% of the income (£170) was send to the ODGCB Restoration Fund and a further 25% (£170) to the Oxford Diocesan Bell Fund.  The balance of the income was paid out in prize money as follows:














1st Prize £20

Gillian Hamilton

Robert Paterson

Great Milton Tower

Bev Connor

Liz Rhodes

Gillian Hamilton

A. & Shirley Smith

Gordon Smith

Ron Hawkins

Katrina Bromwich

David Watkin

Rosalie Gibson

2nd Prize £8

Claire Herlihy

Kathy Bainbridge

Gordon Smith

Gillian Hamilton

Charles Dickerson

Maureen Owens

Amy Herlihy

Ruth Webb

Sheila Turton

Ruth Webb


Bill Caudwell

3rd Prize £4

Warborough Twr















8 Bell Practices                            by John Tchighianoff

I am arranging a series of 8 bell practices during the rest of this year alternating between Benson and Dorchester using their normal practice nights. These will take place approx every six weeks and are designed to give anyone who wishes the opportunity to join with the local band and ring on 8 bells. All are welcome and the level of ringing will be catered for those who attend. This could include anything from rounds and call changes to triples and major.

For those who wish to make a note in their diaries the dates will be as follows:

Wednesday 10th February Benson

  • Tuesday 16th March           Dorchester
  • Wednesday 28th April         Benson
  • Tuesday 8th June                Dorchester
  • Wednesday 21st July          Benson
  • Tuesday 31st August           Dorchester
  • Wednesday 13th October    Benson
  • Tuesday 23rd November     Dorchester

New Members

New members can be nominated in advance, or at the meeting.  In either case, please let the Secretary have names in writing – including title and Christian name.

First Quarter Peals

Any members who have rung their first quarter peal, please let the Secretary have details of where, when, the method/s and with whom.

25 Years Ago

25 years ago the AGM was held in the John Hampden Hall in Chalgrove. At this meeting Cyril Woodward and Tom Hurst, who had passed away, were remembered.    The spring outing for that year was to be a cycle outing where the group would visit five towers by bicycle.  Another interesting note is that peal fees were 15p per rope.


Aston Rowant         by Robert Newton

Things have been fairly quiet at Aston over recent weeks, particularly so during the snow and ice, with some Sunday and practice sessions being cancelled and a tie in the Holloway Shield postponed.

The handbells were put to good use at Christmas. Years 5 and 6 from the local school, under Shirley’s and Robert’s guidance, played three carols at their Nativity service and we managed the same number for the Nine Lessons and Carols. Tower bell ringing for all the extra services was well supported. For the first time in as long as locals can remember, all six bells were rung at midnight to welcome the New Year.

So – a very optimistic start to 2010. Guy, our newest Guild member, is becoming more proficient at plain hunting, Wendy and Jenny are making good progress with their Bob Doubles and we are continuing to work hard (!) at our Minor ringing when we have sufficient ringers. A couple more visitors on Tuesdays to help with developing our confidence in Cambridge Minor would be useful.

Benson Tower       by John Tchighianoff

We have now returned to ringing as normal and all have quickly adjusted to the new positions of the bells and the clockwise circle. The bells now go very well and we are delighted with the results following all the hard work during the last year. We have received many comments from the congregation and people in the village who have said how pleased they are to hear the bells again.

The bells were re-dedicated by the Bishop of Dorchester at a special service of Evensong on Sunday 22nd November. The church was full and 33 ringers were able to sample the bells. This was followed by refreshments in the Canons’ Room. It was especially pleasing to see Roy Fuller and his family in the congregation. Roy now lives in Hailsham but used to ring at Benson many years ago and was for a time Chairman of our branch.

A branch band rang the first quarter on the rehung bells on Thursday 3rd December and we are now planning the first peal.

In spite of the snow and the very cold weather (minus 17.7C in Benson on Wednesday night 6th January!) we have rung every Wednesday and Sundays during the Christmas period and seven of us rang in the New Year.

Berrick Salome     by Wendy Simon

We have now stopped ringing on Sundays as we are down to two ringers.   However, Chalgrove help us out for weddings and special services.  We had a record number of weddings (4) in 2009 for which we are eternally grateful, but so far have none planned for this year.

Chalgrove      by Andrew Davis

Since our last report Bell ringing at Chalgrove has gone from strength to strength.

Barry, Lucy and Lauren are now ringing Plain Hunt and have started ringing the Treble for Grandsire and Plain Bob.  Chrissie is doing very well with call changes and it is hoped she will start ringing Plain Hunt soon.

From a conversation with Wendy one Sunday, Margaret started learning at Chalgrove and is almost ready to start ringing with us on a Sunday.

In November Lauren and Lucy arranged a visit by the Guides, from this we now have another 3 girls learning plus one of their Dads. All are doing very well and will soon be able to ring with the team.

The biggest obstacle for all our young learners is that the bells are so difficult to ring.  We are advancing with our plans to rehang the bells, it is hoped that we will start a formal fund raising scheme in the spring. Lucy and Chrissie really enjoyed their afternoon training session with other young people from the branch in the Half Term week.  We would like to thank Hilary Rogers and her helpers for organising this. One of the exercises was to ring “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” setting the bells at Hand stroke and Back stroke. After several attempts we have been able to do this on our bells!

With so many learners we now practise every Wednesday evening from 7.00p.m. The third and fourth Wednesdays of the month are full practises when we are pleased to welcome several ringers from various other towers around the area. We are very grateful to Ray and Gordon from Little Milton who always come along.

The most important thing at practices to keep us all going are chocolates between ringing, provided the Girls haven’t eaten them all!

Chinnor                by Moyra Hollick

Ringing continued well over the summer, both on practice nights and for Sunday services, and we rang for a number of weddings.

We were joined by Ella and Charlie who were working towards their Duke of Edinburgh awards.  They made a good start and had just begun ringing rounds but sadly did not come back after the holidays.  On a number of occasions we have hosted visiting bands of ringers from other towers.

However our tower captain left without warning towards the end of September which caught us all by surprise.  Fortunately the captaincy has now been taken on by Malcolm Barker and although we have managed to continue on practice nights we have not always been able to ring for Sunday services.  Malcolm wrote several articles for the local press which has resulted in two former ringers returning and a couple of new people showing interest.

We are very grateful for the continued support we have from friends at Aston Rowant and Little Milton and we are always pleased to welcome visitors to our practices on Friday nights at 7.30 p.m.

Dorchester        by David Parker

Our ringing is going quite well at the moment. We have nine ringers who come very regularly, and three or four more that come when they can. In addition we have our friends from Benson who have continued to come after their bells have been rehung! They are most welcome, and it has been beneficial to all of us to work together on the basics. Striking has improved all round, and we are making good progress on Grandsire and Plain Bob Triples plain courses. We have learnt Stedman Doubles, and we want to extend this to Triples. We realise our friends from Benson may not be able to come for ever, as they will have lots to do in Benson, but they will always be welcome whenever they can come.

The Branch triples practices have been a mixed success. Last June nine visitors came in addition to ten of our ringers (who were keen to improve their triples and learn bobs), but in October only four visitors plus only five of our own came. It is tempting to conclude that the local ringers are put off if they get less ringing when a number of ‘experts’ come. I hope that is not so, and I think wemust run several more of these practices before we decide they are not going to work. The ‘experts’ are tremendously valuable, not only to fit in and hold the ringing together but also to stand behind and guide learners.

Whereas we seem to be quite successful in ringing our bells every Sunday without outside help, our ringers, with a few exceptions, hardly ever go and ring at other towers. This phenomenon is not confined to Dorchester, and I think it is a sign of the times. Bellringing nowadays attracts people who are energetic and active (!) in many things, and while they willingly give one night a week to ringing, other nights are taken up with other interests and commitments. That said, we are most grateful to those in the Branch who do make time to visit other towers and encourage us all.

We are always pleased to see visitors. Our practice is 7.30 to 9.00 on Tuesdays. We have to cancel a few practices a year because of events in the Abbey, so if you are planning to come, please give me (01865 340402) or Gillian (01865 340925) a ring beforehand so that you are not disappointed.

Drayton St Leonard               by Hilarie Rogers

Over the past few weeks, we have been teaching Linda to ring – she is doing very well, and is keen to become a member of the band. We have continued to practice most weeks, and have welcomed Chalgrove ringers for a Holloway Shield match. Unfortunately the weather got the better of our planned visit from Aston Rowant.

We rang for all of the Christmas services, and had an enjoyable Bellringers Dinner instead of practising just before Christmas!

Great Haseley               by Hilarie Rogers

Our Monday Nighters continue to make progress with enthusiasm – having lost Daniel to university, we were joined by John from Aylesbury who rings with us each week on his way home from work!

We haven’t had any visitors, but did ring a quarter over the Christmas period. Some of us have started work in the tower and intend to resume frame painting and general tidying up when the weather warms up a bit.

Little Milton                                    by Jane Willis

The snow and ice has caused us to miss a few practice evenings – however, following our annual meeting in the pub, we are all full or renewed vigour, determined to progress and improve our ringing in the next twelve months!  Perhaps we could even aspire to a couple of rounds of Plain Hunt with decent striking!

The bells at St James rang regularly over the festive season.  Our youngest ringer, Katie, rang the treble to welcome everyone to the Christingle Service – and raced down the steps to be in place to be a reader for the evening.   The bells called the faithful to church for the Lessons and Carols Service – with everyone enjoying mince pies and mulled wine afterwards. 

The highlight was Christmas Eve – what quality ringing!  Helped no doubt the five visiting ringers……..  And hangovers and headaches even permitted a short ring on New Years Day!

As ever, thanks to Chris Rogers for his continuing patience with us – we will try to do better in 2010!

Great Milton                                                by Pat Cox

We have had another busy Autumn/Winter in the Tower.  Long Crendon rang our 2009 Full Peal, we rang for weddings and services (last wedding December 18th, last service Christmas Eve - and we hosted the Guild Annual General Committee meeting here in November.

Our two learners gained their Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh awards respectively, and as many of you know, our Rector has been very ill, and was unable to come back to work until the New Year. However, Victor is fit and well now, so we are all getting back to normal.

There are a number of weddings and other functions booked for the Spring, so we all look forward to a happy and successful 2010!

Shabbington                                                           by Ann Mayou

Now that transformational changes have happened at Benson, we are distinguished as the only tower in the branch that rings anti-clockwise.  Do visit us if you’d like a different sort of challenge!  Also our bells are comparatively light and easy going, so ideal for younger and smaller ringers.

We were very pleased to host a Young Ringers afternoon in the Autumn.  Kay brought a band to ring a peal on November 19th.  I was approached afterwards by many Shabbingtonians who said how much they had enjoyed the ringing and how much they admired the skills and stamina of the band.

We have attracted some new recruits.  Sheila and Carol from Worminghall are keen beginners and already can manage both strokes.  Brian from Ickford is returning to ringing after quite a long gap but is rapidly regaining his confidence.  We look forward to making further progress in 2010.  Our thanks again to Chris Rogers for his inexhaustible kindness and patience in teaching and encouraging us.

Warborough                                                               by Sue Dyke

We continue to practice Call Changes, Grandsire and Plain Bob Doubles on Thursday evenings and have sometimes managed to ring all eight bells on a Sunday.We are fortunate to have welcomed Geoff, a ringer, who has moved into the village from Devon (he hasn’t yet demonstrated Devon Call Changes!!) which has swelled our numbers and expertise.

A band attempted a peal in November which unfortunately failed in the last 10 minutes.

The ringers had a ‘get together’ for drinks and nibbles prior to Christmas which turned out to be a very nice social occasion.

Autumn Outing 2009   by Raymond Fergusson

The Autumn outing in 2009 was held on Saturday 10th October. It was very well attended and included a large number of the Branch members who had not previously experienced the joys of these occasions. It was a very encouraging turnout. There was ringing at St Andrew’s South Stoke and SS Peter and Paul at Checkendon. The day concluded with a superb pub lunch at The Four Horse Shoes, Checkendon.

Hopefully these pictures will jog the memory of those who came and encourage everyone to support the Branch outings in 2010.

St Andrew’s South Stoke
Four Horse Shoes, Checkendon