Extract from Bell News Vol 12 p 436 Saturday, January 20, 1894
Thanks to the exertions of the Rev. R. S. K. Blucke, of Bradden, a meeting was held in the Mission-room, Towcester, on Saturday afternoon last, for the purpose of considering the question of establishing a Church Bell Ringers’ Society or Association, for Towcester and the district… The Rev. R. A. Kennaway was voted to the chair.. Mr. Blucke said it had been suggested that a Church Bell Ringers Association should be formed. ..He had written to about twenty parishes in the district, and had most favourable answers from some twelve or more of them, viz.: Blakesley, Bradden, Greensnorton, Ashton, Gayton, Easton Neston, Milton, Paulerspury, Stoke Bruerne, Tiffield, Towcester, Wittlebury, and although all were not represented their replies were enthusiastic. The objects of the Association were to promote belfry reform and recognition of ringers as church officials, to cultivate "the art of scientific change-ringing, and to encourage young men to take up the work. Its motto would be, “Let all be done to the glory of God.” Mr. Blucke then submitted a draft of the proposed rules.. The term ringer included the term chimer, and he wished the Society to impress upon the affiliated members to do their work well. The Chairman .. asked them if they were in favour of forming an Association, whereupon .. it was unanimously resolved, “That an association of church bellringers be formed, to be called the Towcester and District Association of Church Bell Ringers.”
The election of officers was then proceeded with, and the Rev. J. Mountain, of Towcester, was unanimously elected president. The Rev. R. A. Kennaway was selected as vice president, with power to add others ; the Rev. R. S. K. Blucke as honorary secretary, and Mr. R. T. Gudgeon as treasurer. At the close of the meeting the Gayton ringers, with the consent of the Vicar (the Rev. J. Mountain), ascended the tower of the church of St. Lawrence, and rang 360 Grandsire, Gog, and Antelope, and at the close expressed their thanks to the vicar for his kindness in allowing them the opportunity to ring.
Extracts from Bell News Vol 12 editorial Saturday, January 20, 1894.
The ancient and historical town of Towcester, in the county of Northampton, is, we are glad to say, about to become the head-quarters of a new ringers’ Association. .. There are many wide areas throughout the country which county Associations, or Diocesan Guilds, find it difficult to work upon, on account of geographical and other considerations. It may be preferred that these large bodies should embrace and absorb every tower and every ringer in their vicinity within their folds. But we cannot always satisfy our predilections, or have everything just as we want it.
Extracts from Bell News Vol 13 p37 Saturday, June 16, 1894.
THE TOWCESTER AND DISTRICT ASSOCIATION.
Although only established about six months, this Association shows signs of great life and energy. It is well officered, has a good membership, and promises to be an excellent field for good. The first festival in connection with the Association was held on Thursday, June 7th, at Greensnorton, and the proceedings in connection therewith were of a most successful and pleasant character… The following parishes were represented in the congregation :— Greensnorton, Bradden, Blisworth, Easton Nestoo, Gayton, Paulerspury, Towcester, Moreton Pinkney, Courteenhall,Writtlebury, Stoke Bruerne, and Blakesley… A business meeting was subsequently held in the Reading Room in the centre of the village, and the proceedings were presided over by the Rev. R. A. Kennaway… At half-past one o’clock the ringers and a number of friends sat down to dinner in the school. The company, over which the rector presided, numbered above 100. Dinner over ... Mr. Gudgeon proposed a vote of thanks to the Rev. F. E. Robinson for the excellent and appropriate sermon .. The Rev. F. E. Robinson, in reply, He had been a bellringer for thirty-five years, and was as keenly fond of ringing at the present time as he was when he began. He spoke of the value of such Associations, and said he would like to see all the Associations in the county affiliated to one Association for the whole of the Diocese of Peterborough. The Chairman next proposed “Prosperity to the Towcester and District Church Bellringers’ Association,” .. During the afternoon the various sets of ringers occupied the tower of the church in turns, and rang a number of changes on the five bells. In the early evening tea was kindly provided for the visitors by the Rev. R. A. Kennaway, in the rectory grounds, and altogether a very pleasant day was spent.
Extracts from The Ringing World, July 11, 1930
The Towcester and District Association has joined the Peterborough Diocesan Guild as from July 1st, 1930, and will now be known as the Towcester Branch of the Guild. The Towcester Association had roughly 100 members and nearly 20 towers, so this amalgamation should lead to a considerable increase in the Guild's activities.
A WELCOME AMALGAMATION.
A word of congratulation is due to those who have successfully negotiated the amalgamation of the Towcester and District Association with the Peterborough Diocesan Guild. The Towcester Association has been in existence for many years, operating in a portion of Northamptonshire, and in its earlier days uniting a number of towers which were, to some extent, at a loose end as far as organisation was concerned. The formation of the Peterborough Diocesan Guild out of the Central Northants Association and one or two 'fragments' within the diocese .. in 1924, .. fell short of complete achievement, by the disinclination of the Towcester Association to join hands at that time. Now, however, other counsels have prevailed ...
From the Ringing World January 4, 1974 p2
TOWCESTER AND DISTRICT ASSOCIATION
The “old toastrack” association, as it is sometimes nostalgically called, was founded by James Slarke of Easton Neston in 1894, its objects being to promote belfry reform; to promote the recognition of ringers as church officials; to cultivate the art of scientific change ringing; to encourage young men to take up the work.
The first annual festival took place on June 7, 1894, at Greens Norton. The visiting preacher was the Rev. F. E. Robinson (master of the Oxford Diocesan Guild). These annual festivals were held without a break until 1915 at various towers in the area, and the visiting preachers came from a wide area and included the Archdeacon of Leicester. The festivals began again in 1922, when the Bishop of Leicester was the preacher.
Several towers in the Association are not now in the Towcester Branch. One is Courteenhall (now in the Northampton Branch), which was a favourite meeting place. Others are Milton Malsor (Northampton), Leckhampstead (N. Bucks), Middleton Cheney and Sulgrave (Culworth).
By 1914 twenty-four peals had been rung by the Association, the first being at Wicken on November 5, 1905 (5040 Grandsire and Antelope Doubles). Between 1914 and 1922 fourteen were rung, of which six were at Wicken. Ranging from Grandsire Doubles to Cambridge Minor, and also the first on the augmented eight at that tower (Plain Bob Major).
From 1923 to 1929 twenty-five peals were rung, with eight each at Wicken and Pattishall, and during the year 1928-29 it is recorded that 33,375 changes had been rung for Sunday services at Wicken. In the master’s report of 1924 for the newlyformed Peterborough Guild he said that he hoped that the smaller districts in the Diocese would join the Guild. He had approached the Towcester and District Association but they would not join. By 1930 attitudes had changed. A discussion was held on March 22 about the advisability of joining the Peterborough Guild and an invitation sent to the Guild secretary to address the annual meeting in June. At that meeting it was proposed that the Association asked to be admitted as a Group to the Peterborough Guild. “This momentous resolution was passed unanimously and with applause.”