[Bell Historians] Dove inexactitudes

LOVE, Dickon DrLove at s...
Tue Oct 1 10:26:34 BST 2002

I am surprised that there have been so few replies to John Baldwin's request
for comment on the principles behind listing tenor weights in Dove. Or have
most comments been off-list? Or are most people not bothered?


"Recently, we have been concerned that there are certain circumstances where
"local wish" over what is shown for an entry in Dove (on-line, and therefore
in the next printed edition) has actually made that entry become "less

A case in point is Abingdon S Helen, where the previously "exact" weight of
20-1-6 (as per Berks, p4, the weight when canons were still present, and as
appeared in Dove, editions 1 to 3) became shown in editions 4 to 9 as the
"approximate" value of 19½cwt consequent upon their removal. However, Tim
Pett earlier this year asked for the previous exact figure to be re-instated
on the grounds that 19½cwt was nothing more than a "guesstimate" and it
could equally well be 20cwt, 19¾cwt, or even 19¼cwt, the bell not having
been reweighed (nor the removed metal weighed) at the time of alteration -
to anyone's present knowledge.  

[I felt I could not (at that stage anyway) refuse the request even though in
my view it "decreases" the accuracy of Dove unnecessarily simply because
that is the one weight it cannot be!. It MAY have been the result of a too
rigid interpretation (by Tim) of our deference to "local wish" about what
appears in an entry - and on which petard, I felt myself to be well and
truly hoisted!

The deference to "local preference" however had been meant primarily in two
other instances, namely 

(1) whether the placename (ie, that which is used for positioning) should be
that of a major conurbation (with the suburb as a "secondary name") or that
of the suburb itself (eg, should Whitchurch appear as such, or should it
appear as "Cardiff,.... Whitchurch") or, indeed any other name (such as St
Samson becoming Golant, but Dyfrryn not becoming Bryncoch) - something
about which we had invited submission, see RW2000, p683; and 

(2) whether a ring should be shown as "unringable" when strictly that may
not be the case but requests for ringing were to be discouraged for entirely
local, good, and hopefully temporary reason. I do NOT wish, at this
juncture to be sidetracked by either of those particular issues, please!

To clarify better what we meant about "local preference", the section on
Accuracy has now been modified (and repositioned) in the on-line description
webpage which I suggest you re-visit if you haven't happened to read it in
the last day or so.]

One way of lessening the inaccuracy, and even possibly thereby "flushing
out" some real definitive knowledge, is to show such entries as the
following example:

Abingdon, Oxon, S Helen, 10, <20-1-6 in Eflat. -Tue SU497967

with the following addition to description page at the place where tenor
weight is described:

"The < symbol is used as a prefix to an exact weight where it is known that
subsequent work (eg, the removal of the canons) has reduced the weight of
the tenor. This is felt to be preferable to showing an approximate weight
(which may simply be an estimate)." 

In my opinion (and that of others I have sounded out) this presentation
(which I willingly acknowledge had been suggested to us several years ago
now) recognises that the tenor weight must be less than 20-1-6 (assuming
that that figure was right in the first place) but also that 20-1-6 is "the
best that we currently have at our disposal". In the interests of providing
the most accurate possible information within Dove, we are now thinking of
making this slight presentational change in what I guess will probably be no
more than 25 cases out of just over 6000 entries.

We would like to hear (either "on list" or privately, via
Dovemaster at c...) any opinions that there may be (please, please
restrict it to this one issue) both on that method of presentation, in the
short term within the on-line version and in the longer term within the next
printed edition, and on the associated explanation. Ron and I will then
make a decision.  

It would further help if you know personally (and without fear of
contradiction) - and will let us know full details - of other cases where
previously accurate tenor weights, whether or not now shown approximately,
would benefit from a modified presentation as indicated above. In this way,
even should we decide to make no immediate change in presentation, such
details will be recorded within the database for future reference.

In advance, thank you for any comments you feel inclined to make.

John Baldwin
(029) 2055 4457"

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