[Culworth Branch Founded October 22nd 1949]

Extract from PDG Annual Report for 1949 - Guild Secretary's Report p6:

I [Ronald C Noon] had the pleasure of accompanying the Master, Mr E E Whitmore, to a special meeting held at Culworth on Saturday, 22nd October, 1949, of the Brackley District Association.  It was proposed and passed at this meeting to form another branch of the Diocesan Guild.  This necessitates an alteration to Rule 1.


Following the recent finding of two minute books of the Brackley No. 1 Deanery Association, Sara Chapple has put togther the following history of the period 1923, when the idea of a Diocesan Guild was first mooted, and 1949 when the Culworth branch joined the Guild


Before we Belonged

Two old minute books have recently been unearthed and passed to Martin Rowling, our chairman [They have now been deposited in the Northamptonshire Records Office for safe keeping]. They date back to 1923 when the Brackley Deanery Bell Ringing Association held an annual festival at Woodford Halse. At this meeting accounts showing a balance of £10-3-8 were presented and it was proposed that a minute book be purchased. This implies that the Association predates 1923. Seven tower teams took part in ringing from 2.0 till 4.30pm when ringers adjourned for tea, after which the rural dean presided at a meeting. Not much changes!  It was proposed that a challenge cup should be purchased for a competition at the annual festival.  “This was defeated by a large majority”.  Funds appear to have been used to help ringers who were ill.

In November 1923 there was a specially convened meeting to consider the rules of the proposed Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers, and whether the Brackley Association should join.  “After reading the proposed rules, and after a full discussion” a resolution was passed which stated “The Brackley and Deanery Bell Ringers Association, although recognising the high ideals of the Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers, feel that they are so isolated and remote from any large town in the diocese, that they are unable to join the proposed Guild”..

In 1924 in the meeting at the end of May it was proposed that in future the annual festival should always be held on the first Saturday in May “so that it might not interfere with the cricket”.  However successive meetings appear to have been at the end of April.

In 1926 the chairman noted how glad he was to see so many old faces, and doubly glad to see so many new and young faces amongst them. He asked the older members to be “always ready to encourage and help any young men who were anxious to take up bell ringing”.

The secretary had received a letter from their president, Sir Arthur Dryden, who regretted that he was not well and unable to attend. The secretary noted that unfortunately Sir A Dryden had not sent his usual subscription.

In 1928 a grant of £5 was made towards the rehanging and recasting of the Sulgrave bells. Culworth didn’t do so well in 1931. There was a proposal for a grant of £1 for the rehanging of their bells. This was amended to two guineas.

  1. The chairman reminded the gathering that the enthusiasm of the late Rev R H Woodcock had resulted in the formation of the association and said it had been one of his desires that there might one day be a team of lady ringers. This desire had not yet been realised. There was more discussion about joining the PDGCBR. After several people had expressed opinions it was decided that “we cannot see our way to joining”.
  2. The secretary regretted the absence of ringers from Woodford [Halse] and Eydon. He had received a postcard that morning from the latter tower regretting that they could not be present. They could not afford the cost of a conveyance. The secretary said that it made things very difficult especially for the caterers when people failed to let him know whether or not they would be attending. It was decided to write to the Eydon and Woodford teams on the subject of attendance. There was discussion on the possibility of grants towards repairs to the Wappenham tower, and towards the expenses of a conveyance, but those at the meeting felt that neither was possible.

“The festival for 1933 to be held at Boddington if the Woodford bells are still unfit to ring”. This proved to be the case. It was agreed to liaise with the secretary of the South Northants Cricket Club to make sure future festivals would not clash with the opening of the cricket season. It was noted that the bells at Thorpe [Mandeville] had been rehung, and dedicated the previous week. They had rung on the previous Sunday after a silence of 20 years.

In 1934 the Sulgrave ringers were unable to attend as one of the band was getting married that day so they were ringing in his honour. There was some talk of holding the next festival in a tower with bells but no ringers. The Rector of Byfield had expressed his willingness for the festival to be held there, and this was agreed. There was discussion about a paid instructor to go to various belfries, but the general opinion was that those who might need instruction would prefer to have it from one or more of their own senior, (and capable) members. It was noted that there was “an excellent little manual of instruction” available and it was agreed to purchase two of these for each belfry.

  1. The meeting welcomed the vicar of Staverton, especially as he was also a ringer. He spoke of the importance of all the Associations in the Diocese belonging to the Diocesan Guild, but the secretary explained that the matter had already been debated and decided against, owing to our villages being so far away from the diocesan centre. A warm welcome was given to Mrs Powell who had that afternoon helped to ring a peal, the first time the Association had been honoured by a lady taking part [obviously not 5040 changes].

The following year it was noted that several belfries were not represented and all present were urged to do all they could to ensure better representation at future festivals. The chairman said that he hoped a parish would be bold enough to start a team of lady ringers.

In 1937 the Association was congratulated on its healthy position - £4.8.6, but again the chairman was despondent about the gradual falling-off of membership.  However, it was noted that Moreton Pinkney had some young ringers learning.

By the following year the accounts stood at £6.19.3 and a grant of two guineas was made towards the cost of repair to one of the Chipping Warden bells. In 1939 it was agreed to purchase handbooks on the art of change ringing, these were to be distributed to any member who applied for a copy. There is a note of “Handbook for Bell Ringers, Standard Methods” Miss Margaret Snowdon, Cartmel, Lancs.

Ringing then ceased for the duration of the Second World War.

Brackley area ringing after the war.

The bell ringers’ festival took place on April 27th 1946, with Byfield, Boddington, Eydon, Moreton Pinkney, Culworth, Sulgrave, Woodford, Lois Weedon and Helmdon taking part. The financial statement said there was a balance of between £8 and £9 – not too precise! The secretary said it had been the custom to make grants to any of the members stricken with illness or infirmity. He understood that friends in Sulgrave had made a collection of £2.17.0 to present to Mr Marshall who had been a ringer for many years. He proposed that a grant of £2.3.0 should be made to bring the total up to £5. This was unanimously agreed. A further grant of two guineas was made to a Boddington man who had been a ringer for at least 30 years. He had been ill for nearly 12 months and was unlikely to work again. It was noted that several members of the clergy with belfries in the deanery were absent. It was hoped that they would do their utmost to support the Association.

Only four parishes had teams for the 1947 festival, with four priests present. The secretary had long been trying to retire, having done 28 years, but was then persuaded to continue. However, he said that he had completed the final year to which he had agreed and said that he thought it was time for a layman to take over. Mr Walker of Eydon was elected unanimously. [This means that the Association went back to at least 1919].

Fred Hutt of Byfield appeared for the first time in the minutes of 1948, the first mention of someone I remember!

In 1949 the festival was attended by Mr Whitmore, the ringing master of the Guild, plus two members of the Daventry Branch and Mr Yates of Towcester (another known name). Mr Whitmore addressed the meeting on the benefits to be gained by the Association linking with the PDG. It was agreed to hold a meeting in the autumn to decide how this could be done. There is a separate minute for the Culworth Branch PDG, starting in this year, but the Brackley Deanery Association appears to have continued in parallel.

In 1952 Mr Fred Parsons was congratulated on reaching 50 years as a bell ringer. 1953 saw the agreement to pay 25 shillings towards the cost of a coach for ringers to attend the meeting, and in 1955 it was noted that the Brackley Deanery had become the Culworth Deanery. It is interesting to note that at no time did anyone from Brackley (or any of the southern towers) attend the festival. In 1956 a collection was taken for the Bow Bells appeal, which totalled £1.9.0.

In 1957 the renovation of the Bagley Memorial Stone was discussed. It was agreed that the Culworth branch of the Guild should deal with it. (Not much changes!)

There were no minutes for the 1959 meeting, but in 1960 it was agreed that a meeting should be held to decide the future of the association. This is the last entry in the book.