From the Ringing Chamber
|In St Michael’s ringing
room there is a peal board on the wall. It records the peal in which
the very first woman to ring a peal in the world was rung at St
Michael’s on Wednesday, 12 February 1896. The woman was Alice White
aged 15, daughter of Henry White, the Tower Captain of St Michael’s at
the time. The peal was Grandsire Triples and Henry conducted the peal
using the challenging 1-part composition, Holt’s Original. Alice later
represented the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild on the Central Council
and was the first President of the Ladies’ Guild.
But what fascinated me was that the ringer on the 2nd bell in the peal was John (Jack) Ballard because here he was ringing with me some 53 years later. From published records Jack must have been about 20 years old at the time of the 1896 peal as he rang his first peal in 1890. I reckoned therefore that he must have been about 73.
Practice nights alternated with the famous 9 bells at All Saints where we rang Double Norwich with a cover and Grandsire Caters without.
I rang at most towers in the Basingstoke District and on Whit Monday each year we ran an grand outing of ringers and families often needing two 48-seater coaches. I remember going to Buckinghamshire, Sussex and Oxfordshire.
On 4 July 1953 I conducted a quarter-peal of Grandsire Triples at St Michael’s in memory of Jack Ballard.
|During my three undergraduate years at King’s
College, London, I joined the University of London Society of Change
Ringers. At St Olive’s, Hart Street in the City of London next to the
Guildhall, I learned to ring Surprise methods and improved my ringing
skills. At my local towers in Streatham, Emmanuel and St Leonard’s, I
met a well -known ringer, Jack Euston. He took me to many London towers
including St Margaret’s, Westminster, where I rang my first
quarter-peal of Grandsire Caters; St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, where they
set the bells at backstroke (a new experience!); St
Giles’-in-the-Fields and Southward Cathedral, where I rang the 48 cwt
tenor (the heaviest bell I’ve ever rung).
|On 26 June 1979 I attended the Centenary meeting
founding of the
Winchester Diocesan Guild in Basingstoke. The Guild was founded on 26
June 1879 also in Basingstoke. Among the congratulatory messages was
one from 98-year-old Alice White, now Alice Salvaneschi, from her home
in Canada. Sadly she died later the same year.
Somehow the wheel had turned full circle.
To celebrate two former Ranmoor Tower Captains,
a quarter peal was rung before evensong on Sunday 13 January:
"Congratulations to Robin L Story,
a former Tower Captain at St John's
on achievement of 70 years as a bellringer,
and remembering F. Bernard Ditcher,
former Tower Captain at St. John's for over 20 years,
who died on 17th January 1969."
(The article above appeared in the Feb/2019 issue of Inspire)