[Bell Historians] Early Change Ringing.

Edward W Martin edwardwmartin at MCdhFQCLglrpwV-vAgjTgYouR2M2NkcvRihssHy05pyGLbkJWSZWkQmwoEvJMK3yhkGHKHnpAs3-oyLOOw.yahoo.invalid
Tue Jul 14 18:03:31 BST 2009

--- In bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com, Richard Smith <richard at ...> wrote:
> By 1623, Plain Changes on four were certainly being 
> practiced in some parts of the country, and there is 
> certainly one (possibly two) manuscript containing Plain 
> Changes on four dating to the 1610s or 20s.  (I know of the 
> Halesworth MS; I have an idea that a second was discussed in 
> the RW sometime in the last 10 years, but have not managed 
> to located the RW reference.)

Neither have I..I'd appreciate it if anyone who may come across  this would let me know.
It would seem that something had been going on for a while prior to 1614 when Thomas Adams, cleric of Wilmington Beds.,published his sermon which included the phrase "some ring the changes of opinion",
which apparantly is the first published use of the term 'ring the changes'. Presumably this would have had meaning to his parishioners, possibly to an even wider audience beyond Wilmington, Bedfordshire.

> It's possible that some of the more obscure single-change 
> methods on five bells given at the start of Tintinnalogia, 
> such as "Twenty All Over" or "Cambridge Eight and Fourty", 
> might be this old.  They're both evolutionary dead ends, and 
> I would suggest significantly pre-date Grandsire (composed 
> c.1650).
> In a similar way, it seems very possibly that other, shorter 
> pieces of four-bell ringing were in use that have not 
> survived.  Even by Duckworth's time (c.1631-1706), four-bell 
> ringing seemed to be out of favour compared to five and six 
> bell ringing.

However, "Then were invented the sixes" implies to me that both forward & backward hunting on three bells had been known and practiced from earliest times. It was always a trouble to me to consider that Stedman's Principle should have been practiced so readily...this is a method which even today, only fairly advanced Doubles ringers will attempt, yet back then, the idea must have been common for the whole thing to fly the way that it apparently did.

> The methods may not have been used in a modern way, changing 
> row every handstroke and backstroke. Whole-pull ringing 
> (i.e. changing row every handstroke only) was the norm for a 
> time.  For example, Duckworth states (p54) "this Whole-pulls 
> was altogether practised in former time, but of late there 
> is a more quick and ready way practiced, called Half-pulls".
> I can also believe that before whole-pull ringing, changes 
> were rung call-change-style.  Again, Duckworth gives a clue 
> (p53-4) "All changes are to Rang either by walking them (as 
> the term is) or else Whole-pulls, or Half-pulls.  By walking 
> them, is meant, that the bells go round, four, six, eight 
> times, or more, in one change..."  I'm inclined to interpret 
> that to mean call-change-style with a conductor telling the 
> band when to progress to the next row; though it could mean 
> that the band decided in advance to ring each row a 
> particular number of times.

I agree that this was in 'call change style' but I have found no evidence to suggest that the changes were actually called. Stedman echoes this on p.44 of his book.."which way is very proper for young Practioners, to introduce them into a more ready way of Practice; for whilst the bells go round divers times in one change, they have in the mean time leisure to consider which two bells are to make the next following change, and also what bell each of them is  to follow in the making of it" ie they're not waiting to be told whom to follow but, knowing the principle of the method they are ringing, they have time to figure this out.
He goes on to add that " Whole pulls was the general practice in former times; and indeed, considering the manner of the hanging of the bells in those days, they could not well be rung at half-pulls, but since the improvement of the Art of Bell-hanging, that is, with round Wheels, trussing them up in the Stock, and placing the Roll at right Angles with the Sole of the Wheel; the bells go much better, and are managed with more ease at a Sett-pull than formerly: therefore the changes are now generally rung at half-pulls, that is, at the fore-stroker one change, at the back-stroke another, and so throughout."
As Ann has pointed out, with this 'dead rope' ringing, there was no handstroke to sally; ie you pulled from each backstroke, the rope fell on the floor with no sally stroke. The only way to ring changes was at every backstroke pull!

Eddie Martin
ps good job Richard


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