[Bell Historians] Early handbell ringing

Edward W Martin edwardwmartin at xwWhwKnCG864OYTPWPzbgJWa3qRM8VMXzuwBNWG23xlgAkop3WO95Mb7_JXv7TexKWqfd3JdxR8ZDVgOcw.yahoo.invalid
Mon Mar 9 08:49:19 GMT 2009

--- In bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com, "Chris Pickford" <c.j.pickford.t21 at ...> wrote:
> Note a definitive answer, but an early reference I happened to remember - from Bill Cook's history of the College Youths:
> The College Youths concluded their outing with a trip across to Calais on the Friday. They took their handbells with them, and rang" one Course of Cinques on the Hand Bells on Friday ye 2d of June 1732 at Calais in France & another when they were half Seas over". This would not, of course, have been the double-handed ringing practised on hand bells today; it was either single-handed ringing or 'lapping'. It is the earliest known mention of change ringing on handbells. 
> Half seas over doesn't mean over-indulgence in alcoholic refreshment in this instance!
> CP

18 months later, William Laughton wrote in his diary/note book, that after ringing at St. Peter's Broad Street "two Grandsires and one Old Doubles" (presumably 120's) members of the Rambling Ringers spent the rest of the evening on until 3.00 am., at The Bell Tavern, Angel Alley, Little Moorfields, for the most part ringing handbells.

Laughton was a College Youth fond of wandering, & may have been one of those who had taken the trip across the Channel, but I don't think that he mentioned that. Of the late hours at the Bell Tavern, he wrote:
"Triples & College Double,
Oxford and Court gave us no trouble;
And add to these Cambridge Surprise."

Presumably there were six men ringing 6 bells, but the mention of Triples being rung suggests that either there were more than 6 men present or possibly a plain course of Grandsire was rung perhaps with one man on 1-2 and another on 7-8 with the remaining 4 being rung singly, however I don't think that this was set down in his notes in any such detail.

Eddie Martin


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