[Bell Historians] Early handbell ringing

Richard Smith richard at Gozgc-VmL6plFY_VWZST7KqsmFFu58ZBR3OY7ICafwMxiDGXEtn0ntbZXCOO7uz5KV_U1Bi40n7bcS6Z8xY.yahoo.invalid
Thu Mar 12 01:13:06 GMT 2009

Chris Pickford wrote:

> 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.

Now that you mention this, I do recall reading this, though 
the date clearly never stuck in my mind.

After a thorough search, none of the Cambridge Youths' 
entries of that era make any any mention of what they do 
with the handbells.  To my mind it's highly likely that it 
was change ringing, most likely including Grandsire Triples 
given that is what the 1725 peal was of, but nowhere is this 
spelt out.  So I think the 1732 College Youths reference can 
keep the record as the earliest known mention of change 
ringing in hand.

Eddie Martin quoted:

> "Triples & College Double,
> Oxford and Court gave us no trouble;
> And add to these Cambridge Surprise."

Well, "Triples & Doubles" was a term used for Minor at 
around that time.  See for example, pg 109 of Tintinnalogia 
(1668).  It's possible that "Triples & College Double" 
refers to a single method on six bells.  It's true that the 
terminology is no longer in use by the time of Monk's 
Campanalogia Improved (1766), but this is later than the 
time we're talking about.

Eddie Martin again:

> 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.

Do we have any actual evidence that people only (typically) 
rang one handbell each in the 18th century?  Or are we 
simply assuming that because there is no evidence of ringing 
two bells each it didn't happen?  I agree that it's logical 
to assume only one bell in the absense of evidence to 



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