The Ancient
Society of
Est. 1637

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Saturday 7th July, 2007
Report by Chris Kippin.  Photos by the Webmaster.
(Click on pic to enlarge)

The tradition of an annual outing goes back a long way in the Society’s history. In 1732 members visited Canterbury and Dover, taking in a trip to Calais as well. The following year they walked the 55 or so miles to Oxford. This year the country meeting was held in Exeter on 7th July. Nobody walked there, not even the Master, most preferring to travel by car or train. The only travel difficulties were caused by the weather and, in one case, the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, who apprehended the Senior Steward, Mark Humphreys, for driving his car even faster than he rings Cripplegate tenor these days. However, this little difficulty was soon forgotten when on entering the pub in Exeter he found himself confronted with his own image on three big screens which were showing a repeat of last year’s ‘Trophy People’ series about the twelve-bell competition final.

The meeting day itself was preceded by two days of peal-ringing in Somerset and Devon during which peals were rung in a variety of methods from Delight Minor to Surprise Maximus. The new light twelve at Withycombe Raleigh proved an irresistible draw for some, whilst the more sedate pleasures of the famous Taylor eights at Heavitree and Broadclyst were preferred by others. Eleven peals were scored out of thirteen attempts, 45 members taking part from as far afield as Cornwall and Yorkshire.

There were no peals on Saturday so that all could enjoy ringing on the excellent new twelve at Crediton, the recently-augmented light ten at St Mark’s Exeter and, of course, the renowned heavy twelve at Exeter Cathedral. Ringing for all tastes was organised by the Stewards and Master, and ranged from rounds and call-changes to Orion Surprise Maximus.

The meeting took place in the splendour of the Cathedral Chapter House where the Master, Chris Kippin, presided from the Dean’s chair. In his welcome, Lester Yeo, Master of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers, recalled the previous visit of the Society to Exeter in 1869 when the local ringers, incensed that ringers from London had been invited to demonstrate ‘scientific’ ringing, had put grit into the bearings to make the bells impossible for the visitors to ring! The business at the meeting included tributes to the memories of four members who had recently died – Cecil Mogford of Publow, Somerset, Dennis Oakshott of Epsom, Bill Myers of Plymouth, who at 99 was probably the Society’s oldest member, and Martin Cubitt of Norwich. Three new members were elected, Lynne Hughes of Dawlish, Roger King of Exmouth and Richard Sweet of Penzance; Lynne and Peter, who were present at the meeting, were welcomed into membership by the Master. Tony Appleton presented a framed photograph of the band who rang the record (false) peal of 12675 Stedman Cinques at Southwark in 1923, which he had salvaged from Southwark Cathedral belfry while he was steeplekeeper there many years ago.

After the meeting four invited bands – from Cornwall, Devon, Bristol/Somerset and London – did battle in a Devon-style call change competition on the back six at St David’s. Anyone who has attended a genuine Devon competition will know the extremely high standard which is normally achieved; those who were new to the game soon found out that it is not as easy as it sounds. Judged by David Trist and Stephanie Ewings of St Petrock’s, the winners were, not surprisingly, Devon, although the ‘old enemy’ (Cornwall) gave them a good run for their money. The amateurs from London and Bristol/Somerset came third and fourth but didn’t disgrace themselves.

In the evening the company reassembled in the splendour of the University Great Hall for a dinner, 99 members and friends sitting down to a menu of distinctly west-country flavour. Dinners on these occasions are deliberately informal, with no speeches, but this year, in a break from tradition, the Master took wine with those members with 50 or more years’ membership: those so honoured were Anthony Appleton (1948), John Hill (1951), Richard Bowden (1952) and Jim Diserens (1956). Other less formal toasts were scattered through the meal, including one to those who had taken an exam in the Great Hall; this brought memories, happy or otherwise, from the significant number of alumni of Exeter University. Charlie Linford, aged 5 weeks, slept soundly through the entire evening in her chariot, many guests not even realising she was present. All too soon it was time to declare the proceedings over and shoo the remaining stragglers out into the night air. For those staying on campus the journey home was quite short and most were still capable of staggering up or down the hill as appropriate.

Sunday morning saw several visitors joining local members and friends for service ringing before starting the long journey eastward. Ten defied this law of geography and went westward to ring a peal at St Andrew’s Plymouth to round off the weekend.

No gathering of this sort organises itself: the success of this one was very largely due to the efforts of Matthew Hilling who arranged the dinner, obtained towers for peals and open ringing and motivated and co-ordinated local members. The Secretary, John Hughes-D’Aeth, looked after the London end of things with his usual degree of efficiency and calm, and the Junior Steward, Peter Valuks, coped admirably with the thankless task of arranging the bands for most of the peal attempts. We all had a splendid time in Exeter, and hope that next year’s gathering in Liverpool will be as enjoyable.

Holy Cross Crediton.
See a video of the ringing (Orion S Max)
Hear the bells from outside (Bristol S Max)
Listening to the bells outside..
In the ringing room at Crediton.
St Mark's, Exeter David Baverstock makes a surprise appearance outside Exeter Cathedral. Edward Hughes-D'Aeth takes the opportunity to seek absolution. A mini-ring set up outside the tower at Exeter Cathedral. These bells used to belong to the late Frank Mack who set them up in his house in Exmouth.
Ringing the tenor up at the Cathedral.  
Ringing at the Cathedral.
See a video of some ringing at the Cathedral.
The Master (Chris Kippin) with his daughter (Eleanor Linford) and his granddaughter (Charlie Linford) in front of a College Youths peal board commemorating a peal of Cambridge Maximus in which Chris' father (Charlie Kippin) rang the 8th. Two new members: Lynne Hughes and Roger King.
Lester Yeo welcomes the Society to Exeter at the business meeting.
Some views of the Great Hall at Exeter University where the dinner was held.
Rosemary Green, Jacqui Hobbs and Richard Bowden.  
  Ed Hughes D'Aeth tucks into 5 portions of summer pudding. His father (elsewhere in the room) was rumoured to have only got through 2.
Richard Allton, Paul Hunter, Len Mitchell and John Warboys. Mick Hobbs and Tim Waller (from Bristol).
The Master speaks to Laith Reynolds and John White. Paul Pascoe, Lester Yeo and Len Mitchell.
Andrew Stubbs and Howard Egglestone. Mike Rose and Ian Avery.
David Macey and Janet Carless John & Christine Clark, Margaret & Howard Egglestone
Andrew Digby and Terry Streeter David Wallace telling David Maynard where to go.
The Master takes wine... The Master thanks Matt Hilling for his wonderful and attentive organisation of the weekend.
Ian Avery receives the trophy for the ASCY Devon Call-Change Competition on behalf of the Devon team from the Master. Mark Humphreys, Michael Esbester & Lester Yeo
Exeter Colleges Guild members: (back) David Maynard, Matt Hilling, Rosemary Green, Michael Esbester
(front) David Macey, Janet Carless.
Philip Rogers, Jim Clatworthy and John Hughes-D'Aeth.
Eleanor Linford chatting to Mark Eccleston Ed Hughes-D'Aeth and Dickon Love
Charles Quartley and Jim Clatworthy Mark Humphreys' camera being the centre of attention.
Mark Humphreys and David Maynard Paul Carless, Ann and John White, and Stephanie Warboys.
Newly elected Lynne Hughes and Roger King. Steph Warboys, Simon Linford and Ann White Peter & Helen Valuks

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