Readers' Articles and News
Now including Branching Out
Articles which have been submitted by readers of our website reside here, plus also general information which may or may not be useful. If anyone has a story they would like to see in this section, then please send it to Andy Dunn. This page now includes our monthly news letter Branching Out. It is distributed via a mailing list and so all tower correspondents should receive it by email. Please print it out and attach it to the notice board in your tower. You can subscribe by sending an email to our news editor Paul Lucas. Alternatively, click on a link in the following table to see them. Earlier editions can be found on the Archive page.
Note: As of 19th December 2016, Branching Out is the new name for Hugh's News.
|Branching Out 2017|
Alan and Marylon Coates visit Oxford
Hugh Deam It has been a pleasure to welcome back our Australian friends Alan and Marylon Coates to Oxford this June, with extra ringing organised at Cassington and Chadlington (two new towers for them), quarter peals at Bletchingdon and Marston, over and above the City Branch practices they attended during their nine day visit. Allied to the ringing was the chance to catch up on events both here and down under courtesy of post-ringing socialising in a variety of locations throughout the week, culminating in a pre-ringing lunch at the Cafe de la Post in Chadlington. Alan Coates This report comes courtesy of some quick thinking and educated first aid from ringers at St Mary’s cathedral Sydney who successfully resuscitated me after I suffered a cardiac arrest in that tower last year. The ensuing recovery kept me from all international travel including my regular Oxford meetings last year, so this year it was a particular pleasure to resume contact with Oxford and its ringers.
St Nicholas · Chadlington
I arrived on Saturday 18th June, just in time for an interesting simulator-based 8-bell practice at Headington. My wife Marylon arrived the next day – flights from Sydney were hard to book. Sunday saw service ringing at Old Marston and Eynsham, followed by a nice quarter of mixed doubles at Bletchingdon. Weeknight practices at Kidlington, Cumnor and St Giles renewed old contacts, and on Friday we returned to Old Marston. On Saturday we enjoyed an outing to Cassington, a recently re-hung six in which I had not previously rung. Sunday again saw us at Old Marston where we rang a quarter of mixed doubles, then service ringing at Eynsham and North Hinksey. This was followed by another first when we visited Chadlington for lunch at the Café de la post, then a most enjoyable ring on the six at St Nicholas. Marylon and I would like to thank Hugh Deam and all others who have once again made us welcome and provided opportunities for such an enjoyable visit.
Cafe de la Post · Chadlington
St Peter · Cassington
Roy Henry Jones
13th October 1935 to 5th May 2014
A Service of Thanksgiving for Roy H Jones was held at St Nicholas church on Saturday 21st June 2014, with a large congregation of family, friends, colleagues from various facets of his volunteering life (Scouting, Parish Council) and of course dozens of ringers from Marston, surrounding towers, neighbouring Branches and societies with which he was associated. Born in North Oxford in 1935, the oldest of four children, Roy moved to Marston with his parents at an early age. He first rang a bell at the age of eight and quickly showed an aptitude for ringing. Although ringing was Roy’s primary focus in the church through his many years, he also served as a chorister and latterly on the Parochial Church Council. The greater part of Roy’s working life was spent in the teaching profession, firstly in Buckinghamshire, then in Staffordshire and latterly occasional forays into Wales. Having been called up for National Service, Roy’s education in chemistry saw him serve in the Army Medical Corps and then back in civilian life to become a trainee pharmacist for Timothy Whites. His change of career path was brought about by his passion for bell-ringing due to the longer holidays afforded by teaching and hence the greater scope for ringing at far flung towers. After retiring from teaching, Roy’s pharmaceutical training saw him spend the last two decades of his life working two nights a week overseeing the distribution of medicines from warehouse to retailer. Roy served two spells as tower captain at Marston and several years as Vice-Chairman of the Oxford City Branch. Widely known for his prolific quarter peal ringing, Roy notched up well over 6000 quarters and he rang at virtually every tower with five or more bells across the globe. He was elected to membership of The Ancient Society of College Youths (ASCY) in 1961. Besides his welter of ringing at Marston and beyond, he was also a leading light for recruiting and teaching new generations of ringers. Having been instrumental in the augmentation to six bells within Marston tower in 1972, Roy spearheaded the fundraising campaign for renovation of these heavily used and much appreciated bells. Immediately after the church service, his ashes were interred in the Garden of Rest, which is overlooked by the tower where he rang for seventy years. Hugh Deam
Roy in 2010
Roy was my big brother, and from my earliest memories, always there for me. He was the first born to Ellen & Harry Jones and brother to Mavis, Sylvia & myself, Julian. Born in 1935 in Summertown, he subsequently moved to 19 Woodview, Old Marston, when our parents decided to buy a new house there in 1938. This is now 118 Oxford Road. Soon after this move, he started bell ringing at St Nicholas Church, and this continued to his death 70 years later. During the Second World War, the air raid sirens would often sound and my family then had to take shelter under the stairs in the house - the Anderson shelter in the garden being flooded - it had been marshland! One particular time, it was pitch black due to the black out, and when the sirens sounded my father raced up to Roy’s bedroom and carried him to the under-stairs, where there was a dim light-only, to find he had carried Roy upside down all the way! I don’t know who was most shocked! Roy won a scholarship to Magdalen College School at the age of 10, where he received a high standard of Education; he was always very proud of attending there. Following school, he was called up, aged 19, for National Service and served in the Army Medical Corps for two years. He never served abroad, staying in the UK and one of his main jobs was assisting with the closing down of military hospitals. I recall there was always an ample supply of bandages, syringes and sticking plaster in the family house, albeit past their use by dates! His first job was with Morris Motors in Cowley. This was a holiday job, although he made such an impression that he was asked to stay on. However, he became a trainee pharmacist with Timothy Whites in Oxford, where he gained experience of the retail pharmaceutical trade. This job only allowed two weeks annual holiday though, and Roy really wanted more holiday in order to pursue his passion of campanology! Roy decided to go into teaching, and I do recall him telling me that one main attraction was the long holidays they had which would enable him to do even more bell ringing! He went to teacher training at Westminster College, Oxford, and Worcester University, obtained a first degree and took up a teaching career, teaching not only in Buckinghamshire, but also Cannock, in Staffordshire. To further his career he obtained an MA from Hull University in 1977, and I recall he made numerous fishing trips in a trawler into the North Sea in order to earn some money to get through that year! Not surprisingly, Roy met his wife Catherine at a bell ringer’s party, and they got married on 2nd December 1967 in Henley, and later bought a house in Buckingham. His interests were reasonably diverse though, and included social history and the natural sciences. He was a scout leader and village club organiser for young people. He was a founder member of the 43rd Oxford Scout Troop, which is still in existence in Old Marston today. Furthermore, he was a chorister, sidesman, Parish councillor, and notably, was elected to the Parochial Church Council in 1957. He was very involved with St Nicholas Church, and Captain of the Bells there for many years. In 1972 he made a significant contribution to fund raising and overseeing the engineering work when the bells at the church were augmented to a ring of six. Roy moved to Cannock in 1978, to further his teaching career as deputy head of the Fulfen School, but still undertook ringing and training of ringers in that area. He was also on the committee that founded and set up the Burntwood Citizens Advice bureau, as he realised how important that was to the ordinary people in the area. Roy retired in 1992, moving back to his Buckingham house, and did some supply teaching for a while. But mainly he now had time for his Parish council work and bell ringing in the Oxford area and elsewhere. His ringing took him all over the UK, and Ireland, and he toured parts of North America, Australia / New Zealand, and South Africa. On one occasion, whilst on a bell ringing tour of the Yorkshire Dales, Roy’s red Escort car was inadvertently filmed traversing the lanes, for the introduction clip to a series of Emmerdale Farm, and I understand that Roy gained much pleasure from seeing his car on the telly during that series! Roy was probably the politest person I have ever known, and treated others as he would like to be treated himself. He was never much of a materialistic man, and often tended to make do or repair. Such as it was with his dear mini metro, that had two engine transplants, and which he only recently retired pending it being scrapped. This was not the most reliable of cars over the years and he may have known many of the RAC breakdown mechanics personally considering how often he called them out! Sadly, we all have to pass on sometime, and on the 5th of May Roy died in his sleep in Old Marston, just metres from the Church and bells that he loved so much. Rest in peace Roy! Julian Jones
The Marston ringers in 1961
Roy at foreground right
Roy at foreground right
Russian Bells in New MarstonOn Sun 19 May, six members of Oxford City Branch of the ODG, from St Giles Oxford, Old Marston and Headington, visited the Russian Orthodox church of St Nicholas the Wonder-Worker in Ferry Road, New Marston, Oxford, where four bells newly cast in Russia were installed late in 2012. The heaviest weighs 132 lb, i.e. just over 1 cwt. The pitches of the bells resemble the top four notes of a diatonic eight, but we were told that the intervals are based on Pythagorean tuning rather than the 'equal temperament' now normally used in European music. The bells are hung in a tall narrow tower (visible from outside, but with no access by ladder), and are sounded from the ground floor by means of an Ellacombe apparatus - all installed by Whites of Appleton.
We were met by the church's bellringer, Sergey Tochlin, and his wife. He explained that Orthodox tradition prescribed in great detail how bells should be used - one pattern for a Liturgy service (Communion), another for other daily services, another for saints' days, etc - and when two or more of these categories coincided, then the different patterns would be combined. One of the patterns which was demonstrated was 12131214 repeated. The basic unit of timing was strictly based on how long it took for the resonance of the heaviest bell to die away, and was therefore faster on lighter bells such as these. Mr Tochlin had previously rung heavier bells elsewhere, and got into trouble when he first rang these bells, because he rang too slowly and was told that they sounded as though they were being rung to signify a funeral.
Each of us was allowed to sound the bells for only 15 or 20 seconds, but even that was enough to bring one of the neighbours round to complain. These are the only bells of any kind normally audible in New Marston, but Mr Tochlin was able to point out that it was a Sunday, and before 6 pm, so that they were within the limits set by the City Council.
The building in Ferry Road was built as a temporary Anglican church 100 years ago, but had almost become derelict, until the Russian congregation took it over three years ago. It has now been very thoroughly and attractively restored, and Mr Tochlin claimed that it was the only Russian church in Britain which had all three basic features required - icons, frescoes, and bells. A Russian tradition for bellringers to be formally trained and 'ordained' has almost died out, but Mr Tochlin hopes to go back to his birthplace south of Moscow to obtain further training and to become the sixth living ordained bellringer in the Russian church. John Pusey
Clive Holloway 1939 - 2012Clive Holloway spent his early life in Old Marston before moving to Oxford where his parents managed pubs. He lived in Chalgrove and rang there before moving to Garsington. As a baby Clive had an eye problem which gave him monocular vision, which did not prevent him from being involved in many activities. He was a Scout, rising to be a patrol leader, a member of the Youth Club, a keen cyclist and swimmer. He was a member of St Nicholas choir before being enticed into the ringing chamber. He was taught to ring by Alec Gammon and Roy Jones, and became a member of a call change band. After visits to Wolvercote and tuition in Bob Doubles from Tom Bowles, Mike Harding and Horace Mair, Clive became part of the band which rang the first recorded QP on St Nicholas bells. Having been exposed to Alan Pink's Doubles Collection, he developed a talent for conducting and a thirst for Method ringing, which led to Clive conducting the record Doubles Peal at Marston.
He rang at St Ebbe's with the Charlie Coles group before being invited by Walt Judge to ring at the Cathedral to which he could walk or cycle and then go to other Oxford towers. Long sequences which kept bells in a certain order on higher numbers than six bells helped Clive to ring Methods well and hastened his move to eight, ten and twelve bell ringing. I don't remember Clive teaching anyone to ring but he was an understanding and supportive tutor to those who handled a bell well in learning to ring Method. He did ring at a few three and four bell towers when helping the Marston band to restore towers or resurrect a defunct band. Clive was a glowing example for disabled ringers to persevere in the Art. He did much to encourage City ringing and he will be greatly missed. Prequel to the Christ Church Cathedral Eulogy, at 2pm on Friday October 12th 2012, by RH Jones.
Clive in 2008
A peal board at Marston
Many thanks to the ringers of Wheatley for the use of their bells on a sunny but frosty December morning. Unfortunately, we only met five, so were unable to make full use of the six bells available, but still managed to ring some Stedman Doubles on the back five before retiring gracefully to the Queen's Head in Horspath for lunch and to sample the excellent Shotover Porter. Please do remember that Branch Practices are open to ringers of all standards - even those that are just learning to handle a bell - and that support at all levels is always appreciated. It is a great opportunity for all branch members to ring together and to make progress with things that may be difficult in your own tower. Jonathan Cresshull
Ringers at Wheatley
The OCB striking competition at HorspathAnyone who has ever rung on the 6 bells at Horspath (6cwt) will know that even novice ringers can quickly feel at ease on this fluent set, and this combined with a delicious tea provided by the Horspath ringers, made for a fine afternoon. Our thanks also must go to the judges, Simon Bond and Bob Wallis, both former Ringing Masters of the Oxford University Society. The results were as follows: 1st Marston-Headington 85%, 2nd St Giles 80%, 3rd St Aldates 74% [we do not have a picture of the St Aldates team] and 4th Iffley 49%. The half yearly meeting clarified that the format used this year, namely General Ringing, the Striking Competition, Tea, then the Half Yearly Meeting, will be repeated next year in May 2013. Hugh Deam
1st Marston-Headington 85%
2nd St Giles 80%
4th Iffley 49%
The jolly judges
A regular visitor to Oxford towers, Paul died suddenly on Tuesday 11th October 2011 in Bexhill, Sussex. He was born in Woodford, Essex and was introduced to ringing by his brother, learning at Horsmonden in Kent. Although employed in various jobs over the years, his main focus was in horticulture. Paul rang over 100 peals and around 1000 quarters. He was unable to fulfil his last objective, which was to join us on the City Branch outing to London in October this year, where he intended to ring with John Adams and Roy Jones, with whom he rang his first quarter peal of Lincolnshire in 1980. Hugh Deam
Outing to Essex
Ringing course reimbursementsAs several Branch ringers are intending to / or are considering to apply for places on ringing courses and bell maintenance courses this autumn, this would seem a prescient time to send out a reminder that the cost of attending these courses can, in most instances, be offset by the Branch. If you do attend a forthcoming course, simply inform your tower captain / secretary / correspondent and they will contact the Branch Secretary and the cost of attendance will be reimbursed after the event. As things stand virtually every ringer in the Branch is within the monetary limit set for subsidising any single ringer during the lifetime of their membership within the Branch for these courses. Since the demise of the Easthampstead Course, the subsidy was lowered to reflect the fact that replacement courses were one-day non residential and much cheaper. The subsidy should cover roughly three one-day courses. It is not too late for any Branch ringer already accepted for attendance of the Michaelmas Course to still claim their subsidy through the aforementioned channels. Hugh Deam
Striking competition at Kidlington St MaryIt was heartening that the number of OCB towers taking part has increased again this year, as this demonstrates the fact that several long dormant towers have slowly but surely revived thanks to some diligent work by inspiring teachers and boundless enthusiasm of these local bands. Our thanks must go to the judges, Graham Clifton (former ODG Ringing Master) and Mark Bell (former OUS Ringing Master), for giving up their time and delivering most intutive and constructive verdicts. Also we are indebted to Kidlington and its ringers for providing an excellent tea. Hugh Deam
1st place St Aldates
28 faults ringing Grandsire Doubles
28 faults ringing Grandsire Doubles
2nd place St Giles
37 faults ringing Stedman Doubles
37 faults ringing Stedman Doubles
3rd place Kidlington
47 faults ringing Grandsire Doubles
47 faults ringing Grandsire Doubles
4th place Wheatley
90 faults ringing Plain Hunt Doubles
90 faults ringing Plain Hunt Doubles
5th place Iffley
100 faults ringing Plain Bob Doubles
100 faults ringing Plain Bob Doubles
6th place Cowley
110 faults ringing rounds
110 faults ringing rounds
It is with much sadness that I have to inform you that David (N David Lane) died on the 15th March 2011, at home with us by his side. He was 76. He had been suffering from cancer for many months which he bore with great dignity and stoicism. The details of the funeral are as follows and everyone is welcome to attend: Tuesday 29th March at mid-day, St John's Chapel, Oxford Crematorium, Bayswater Road, Headington, OX3 9RZ. There will be family flowers only, but donations to Marie Curie Cancer Care and Cancer Research would be appreciated. Kind regards Katie Lane
Marston HYM 2010
Paul Foote 1926 - 2011
It is with sadness (although he stipulated that there should be no mourning at his funeral) that we report the death of Paul Foote, aged 84. He was for some time in charge of the bellringing at St Andrew's in the 1980's and 90's, but as he did not wish to be the Tower Captain, he would only agree to be Vice Captain, and during this period there was no Captain. This was typical of his low key style. He originally learned to ring in Swanage at the age of 15, during the Second World War, when church bells were rung silently (they were only to be rung audibly in the case of invasion). How difficult that must have been: to learn to ring without the benefit of sound! He was a ringer in Old Headington from the early 1970's, until December 2008, when ill health forced him to give up. Paul taught many people to ring, and continued to assist with the ringing when others succeeded him in running the tower. He was always interested in helping learners to improve, and his dry sense of humour made the ringing enjoyable for all. He was a fellow of the Queen's College, Oxford, and a prominent Russian translator. Paul retained his links with Swanage, and had many friends there, in Oxford and in Russia. He had a great love of the countryside, especially of coastal walks. He was also an excellent cook and generous host. Paul is survived by his son and two daughters, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Paul in 2010
The Quarter Peal Ringers
|On Sunday 13th March 2011 was rung 1260 changes of|
celebrating the life of Paul Foote
David G Andrews
Richard J Verrall ©
The OCB striking competetionThe 6 bell striking competition was held at 6pm on Saturday 8th May 2010. Congratulations to Cowley, who are our newest band, for being brave enough to take part, and also to St Aldates for a very fine performance with such an excellent score. Bernard Masterman did a brilliant job as the judge, and he was ably assisted by Charles Smith, who helped him tot up the scores. It was good to see so many teams taking part; let's have even more next year!
Oxford Mail article RINGING THE CHANGES
The Oxford Mail 24th February 2010
Christian Burrel marries Alice Myerson
Christian and Alice were married on the 30th May 2009 at St Michael & All Angels, Berwick, East Sussex (a small village a few miles outside Eastbourne). The church contains many 20th Century murals painted by three of the Bloomsbury Group of artists during the Second World War. Alas, there was no ring of bells, just a couple hung for chiming. The reception was held at Michelham Priory (just down the road), with the wedding breakfast in the Great Barn (built around 1600), followed by a ceilidh in the early evening. To celebrate the occasion, on this day a peal was rung at Kirtlington, with quarters also rung at Iffley, Marston, Chilton, Headington and Letcombe Regis.
The happy couple
The OCB half-yearly meetingWho missed out on Jan's famous chocolate brownies and a coffee break on the manor croquet lawn, where Cromwell and Fairfax discussed the terms for Oxford's surrender? The City Branch has gradually increased the number of members attending events by holding them on the first two weekends of the month, after a ballot.
It was decided to hold the half-yearly meeting on a Saturday morning with a coffee break between the ringing and the meeting. Bryony, the mother of a ringer, agreed to host the break and provide refreshment which, weather permitting, could be taken on the old croquet lawn at the manor house. Jan, one of the ringers, provided a large number of her famous brownies, similar to the ones which appear on practice nights at Marston from time to time! Ringing started promptly at 10.00am under the guidance of Roy Jones, which enabled those attending their first meeting to enjoy ringing before the more experienced ringers joined in after a session of social chit-chat with the Ringing Master, Hugh Deam in charge. After an enjoyable break, when the sun shone for a while, the meeting took place in the new St Nicholas vestry, under the chairmanship of Canon Antony Ellis. The main points considered were: the presentation of certificates; the attendance of prospective members at meetings; attraction of members from towers rarely represented; notification of events and the striking competition. The next AGM was confirmed for the weekend of 12th November, and the annual outing for 10th October in Bedfordshire. Items for the AGM should be sent in writing to the Secretary, before the beginning of November.
Just before the meeting
Wanted: Bell RingersAre you a bell ringer, or would you like to learn?
Now that the tower of St Mary's in Garsington has been restored, it would be great for the village to have a local band to ring for weddings and other special occasions. I know that Basil Townsend has served for many years as Tower Captain, but now he has very little free time to spare. I would be happy to teach beginners (supported by the Oxford City Branch of the ODG) and to organise a local band for:
- A practice evening (possibly on a Monday) several times a month (usually followed by the pub, as is the tradition!);
- Ringing from 8.45 - 9.30am before a service (probably the Family Service) once a month; more frequently if there is enough enthusiasm;
- Occasional weddings, funerals and other special occasions.
Thank you, Richard Jeffery, 01865 368262 (see contacts for Richard's email address).
The 2008 branch striking competition
The competition was held at St Margaret's church in Hinton Waldrist on the 14th June. It was fortunate to be held on a balmy evening that was ideal for the judge and the participants from Headington, Kidlington and Marston to all make the most of the pastoral setting.
Kathryn's first quarter peal
Monthly quarter peal at HeadingtonRichard Verrall has organised a regular quarter peal event to take place at Headington at 17:30 on the second Sunday of each month. So far, we have rung Grandsire Triples on Sunday 16th December, which was actually the third Sunday, but Richard would like to keep the second Sunday as a regular event. Should you be interested, his email address can be found on the contacts page. Assuming enough people are willing to join in, he hopes to ring Triples or [surprise] Major if possible. Note: Richard has now left the OCB, so these events no longer take place.
The marriage of Hilary and IanHilary Blake and Ian Miller were married at the Wesley Memorial Church in New Inn Hall Street on Saturday 15th December. Hilary, who comes from Godshill on the Isle of Wight, is now an enthusiastic member of the St Andrew's band of ringers in Old Headington. She made her own dress as well as all the cakes at the reception. A motif depicting a church bell, at the bottom of the dress, can be seen in the picture below. Paul, Clare, Wendy and John and Emma Kentish were all present at the wedding. A quarter peal of Grandsire Triples, at Headington on Sunday 16th December at 6pm, was rung in dedication.
The City Branch reigns supremeThe City Branch won the Guild 8-bell striking competition at St Mary Kidlington on Monday 7th May 2007. In order of bell number, the Bob Triples band was, except where specified, from St Aldates: David Lane (treble), Katie Lane, Richard Youdale, Simon Edwards (St Giles), Jonathan Cresshull, Leon Thompson, Robin Hall © and David Barrington (tenor). Hear this band practising at the end of April.
Katie receiving the 8-bell trophy
Both trophies on display at St Aldates
Headington St Andrew's latest recruitTen year-old Stephen Nichols is currently learning to ring at St Andrew's in Headington. Stephen comes from a ringing family. His father, Graham, rings at Headington and his grand-parents, Nora and Bernard, were ringers some years ago. In 1945, a certain St Aldates' church-goer, 22 year old Nora Honey, decided to respond to a plea for new bellringers to join the band. Although she had never touched a bell rope before, she took to it straight away. A peal in which she rang is recorded by a stone peal board at Marston St Nicholas. From 1948, it reads This is the greatest number of Doubles methods yet rung to a peal. Whilst ringing at St Nicholas, Abingdon in 1948, Nora met Burford ringer Bernard Nichols.
Stephen and Graham Nichols
Nora Honey in 1946
In memory of Terry GibsonTower Captain of St Mary the Virgin at Thame, 8th December 1936 - 27th November 2006. A Quarter Peal (3m) was rung in memory of Terry on Friday 15th December 2006 at Chinnor, St.Andrew (6). 1. Caroline Kinchin-Smith, 2. Susan King, 3. Roy Jones (c), 4. Hugh Deam (c), 5. Gordon Smith, 6. Raymond Fergusson. Requiescat in pace.
Ringers wantedRoy Jones keeps a list of ringers, within the Oxford area, who may be available on weekdays for weddings, funerals and services. This list is now out of date. If you would like to be included, then please email Roy as soon as possible.
The Ringing WorldMarston tower has a complete set of The Ringing World magazine, from about 1998, which is surplus to requirements. If anyone would like to take them away, then please come along to the Marston practice on a Friday evening. A donation to tower funds would be appreciated, but is not essential. Contact Hugh Deam if you would like to confirm collection in advance.
Fund RaisingKatie Lane would like to encourage the Branch to increase our contribution to the Restoration and Bell Funds. Graham Nicholls has volunteered to take good items to be sold at Car Boot Sales to raise funds for this purpose. His address is 20 Wick Farm, Headington, Oxford OX3 9SE 01865 765594. He would like books, as long as they are in decent condition - as well as good quality vinyl records, and toys - especially model railway bits and pieces. Almost anything will do - but no 'rubbish'! Please can we make use of this kind gesture to make a bigger contribution to the Guild; we all enjoy the bells so let us be a little more generous in our support!