Cup handbells

George Dawson George at d...
Thu May 29 19:35:32 BST 2003

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The story of the Nottingham cup handbells fits, I believe, in a longer st=
ory of a challenge issued to the Nottingham and Leicester ringers in the 17=
70s by Squire Fortrey of Kings Norton (Leics). He offered a set of handbell=
s to the first band to ring a peal of 10,000 Grandsire Caters. The Sherwoo=
d Youths (Nottingham) rang a peal of 6012 changes on 1 January 1775, and on=
1 January 1776 raised the stakes with a peal of 8046 changes.=20

The Leicester Scholars rang 6012 (composed by W.D. Crofts of Nottingham, =
interestingly) at St.Margaret's, Leicester, in August 1776, and scored the =
10,080 in 7h.12 on 25 February 1777 - having lost the peal after ringing ov=
er 5000 changes that morning! There was much celebration in Leicester afte=
r the peal, but there is no mention of the handbells in any of the records =
of the peal. However, a set of cup handbells formerly belonging to the Leic=
ester ringers still exists and these bells are believed to have been presen=
ted by Fortrey in honour of the 1777 peal.

The Leicester handbells are now in the Museum, but we borrowed them for a=
ringers' dinner in the early 1970s - 1974, I think - and made quite a lot =
of use of them over that weekend.
These handbells are now (I understand) in the ringing chamber at St Marga=
rets, Leicester.
Both sets were reputably made by the Eayres, but given the dates of the p=
eals, are much more likely to be by Edward Arnold.

To complete the story, the Sherwood Youths rang 10,260 Grandsire Caters a=
t St.Mary's, Nottingham, in February 1778. The handbells there were appare=
ntly given by Fortrey in recognition that the Nottingham ringers both met h=
is challenge and rung a longer peal.

Additions by GAD
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