Biographies  A-G              H-R    S-Z

.. in alphabetic order of surnames.  Further information for these or other biographies will be welcomed by the webmaster.

A list of ringers who died in the two World Wars is shown in the War Memorials section of the History page of this website.



Geoffrey D Armitage

1.1.1943 - 19.12.2016

See obituaries by Fr Martin Daniels and the Revd Kevin Price published in The Ringing World March 24, 2017, pages 284-5.

From The Lancashire Ringer Jan 2017, with permission of the Editor: Peter Rivet 01524 66870

We have to report with regret the death on December 20, 2016 of Geoffrey Armitage, a long standing member of the Lancashire Association though he did not live in this area.

He had been ill for some time. Geoffrey had a considerable interest in, and knowledge of, old and interesting bells; which was admirable. He was best known for his ability to put unringable bells into working order, a very useful skill, though the tactics he employed to achieve were sometimes open to criticism. He was not particularly concerned with the views of such people as architects, structural engineers and Diocesan Advisory Committees. Despite this, he operated for some years as a professional clock repairer and bellhanger, based at Husbands Bosworth in Leicestershire. To his wife and family we offer our sympathy.

Your editor particularly remembers a ringing holiday in North Wales in 1975. We had some spare time in the vicinity of Denbigh, where the tower housed – and still houses - a 14cwt ring of eight which had been unringable since the 1930s. Geoffrey and some friends persuaded a church official to give them access to the tower. He did some patching up work which included drilling eight holes in a floor which had been added since the bells went out of use. He produced eight bell ropes which he just happened to have in the back of his car, and we were able to grab them… though in fact we only rang seven of the bells. The fourth kept on trying to climb out of the frame. But the tower is ticked off in my copy of Dove’s Guide. Denbigh bells are still listed in Dove as unringable.

See quarter peals celebrating his life here.



Paul Armitage

10.6.1980 - 10.11.2009

Click here for obituary published in The Ringing World.



Eric E Billings

29.6.1938 – 18.7.2006

Eric was born in Northampton on June 29, 1938.  He learned to ring in late 1956 at St Edmund, King and Martyr, Northampton.  He rang his first peal there, Plain Bob Doubles, on May 18, 1957.  The church was demolished in 1979 and the bells were moved to Wellington NZ Cathedral in 1984. Eric transferred to Dallington, as well as ringing around the patch, including Rothwell, where he was found to be good company and fun to be with.

He joined the Northampton Branch in 1957 and was elected Branch Secretary and Treasurer following George Roome in 1959 -60. He was Guild Secretary from 1961 until 1976 and Guild Treasurer from 1961 until the post was again separated in 1974.   Eric also efficiently produced the Annual Reports and was responsible for reforming the Guild’s constitution and procedures in 1972.  

Eric was a Guild representative on the Central Council from 1961 to 1989 and an Honorary Member from 1991 to 1996. When the Central Council visited Northampton in 1965, he was responsible for organising the visit.

He served on the Bell Restoration Committee for many years from 1977.

Eric rang a total of 166 peals, of which he conducted two.  All his peals were rung on tower bells.  He circled St. Edmund’s tower to peals on April 27, 1971 and later circled Ringstead tower to peals.

He had been Assistant Works Study Officer with Phipps Brewery, Northampton and became quite a high-powered manager after Watney-Mann took over the brewery. He was a member of the British Institute of Management (AMBIM) and the Institution of Works Managers (MIWM).

Eric’s other interests included gardening, skiing and swimming.

He retired to Spain with his friend Manuel where died after a stroke on July 18, 2006.

Thanks to CCCBR Biography  and Murray Coleman


Robert G Black 

10.3.1889 – 19.6.1976

Robert (Bob) G Black was born at Nassington, son of George and Fannie Black. His father George was a bricklayer and a ringer at Nassington. Around 1905 the family moved to Geddington, where Bob started to ring.  His first peal on December 27, 1911 was called by his father with a footnote "Rung by the local band".  He started work at Ambery Builders in Geddington at the same time as Murray Coleman’s grandfather, as a bricklayer, although he preferred to be known as a stone mason.

After the Great War, he returned to Geddington, but rang at the neighbouring six-bell tower of Weekley from 1921 - 7.  Under his guidance a minor band was formed and became a frequent peal ringing band.  

In 1924 Bob was District Secretary of the Kettering Branch of the old Central Northants Association and continued as Secretary of the Kettering Branch of the new Guild until July 1926.  In March, earlier that year, he was appointed as Guild Secretary to cover the resignation due to ill health of Mr David J Nichols and this was confirmed unanimously at the Guild AGM on May 24, 1926 held in The Plough Hotel, Northampton.  He remained as Guild Secretary until 1949.  He was made a life honorary member in recognition of his services. He was a Guild representative on the Central Council from 1926 to 1937, and was a regular reader of The Ringing World since the paper was first published.

Bob married Doris E York on August 1, 1931 at Kettering.  This led to a special ringing meeting of the Guild on October 10 in Northampton where a presentation was made in celebration. They had a daughter who became Mrs J Bradshaw.

Bob rang around 150 peals, being most active between the two wars. Initially they were mainly of doubles and minor, but he did call peals of Plain and Treble Bob Major, Cambridge and Superlative and rang Stedman Caters and Cambridge Royal.

He rang in the last peal by the Central Northants Association (at Twywell in December 28, 1923) and in the first peal by the Peterborough Diocesan Guild (at Desborough on Feb 9, 1924).  He rang regularly from 1937 -54 at Kettering, where he rang his last peal.  The peal of Grandsire Triples in March 1954 was rung to commemorate the 225th anniversary of the first peal on the bells.  It was Bob’s first peal in that method as conductor and 50th as conductor.

Advancing age and failing health prevented him from active ringing for his later years, but he did attend the Guild’s Golden Jubilee gatherings.

Bob died aged 87 on June 19, 1976.  The funeral service took place at Geddington on June 24, conducted by the vicar (Revd T Woolfendon), assisted by the Guild President (Revd E G Orland). Members of the Guild rang the five bells half-muffled before the service and as the cortege left the church for Kettering Crematorium. The following evening a half-muffled quarter of 1,279 Plain Bob and Grandsire, was rung at Geddington : Pamela Denney 1,  Enid Watson 2, G E Watson 3,  D Mossop (C) 4, C N Stephenson 5.  A peal attempt at Kettering was lost.

He bequeathed his bound volumes of the Annual Reports (two volumes) and a very old book called ‘A Key to the Art of Ringing’ to the Guild.

Obituary by Burley Morris RW 1976 p586 & 610; RW 1931 p576 & p627; RW1926 p175 & p342; Murray Coleman; CCCBR biography-http://bellringinghistory.org.uk/Images/Biog_jpg/BlackRG.jpg



John (Jack) H J Bluff

10.7.1906 – 2.8.1979

John Henry James Bluff was born in Stamford in 1906.  He learned to ring at All Saints in 1919.  On December 8, 1927 he conducted a quarter peal of Grandsire Doubles which was the longest recorded length on the bells, and the first quarter-peal by all the band, which included his uncle James Bluff.  It was followed on December 24 by the first peal on the bells and for all of the band.  

Jack, as he was known to all his friends, rang many six-bell peals in Rutland and north Northamptonshire with several in earlier years being the first peal on the bells or on restored bells.  He rang his first 8-bell peals in 1932. It was not until 1934 that he rang a peal for this Guild, hitherto they had been for the Lincoln Guild and the Midland Counties Association.  He rang about six a year until World War II.  After the war, he returned to peal ringing and rang 7,008 Plain Bob Major at Loughborough Bell Foundry on December 6, 1952, conducted by Ernest Morris and he conducted 7 Surprise Minor at his home tower on June 19, 1961 for a visit by the Queen to Stamford.  His last peal was of doubles at Thornaugh on July 7, 1974 for the Guild’s golden jubilee.  In total he rang 214 peals of which he conducted 119.

He taught many youngsters to ring and was a very patient teacher. He was captain at All Saints, Stamford for many years and later supported St John’s Peterborough.  He travelled many miles in pursuit of ringing and rang peals in towers throughout the country.   He was elected a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths in 1962.  

He was Master of the Guild from 1966 until 1970.   He was elected a Life Honorary Member in 1971.   He represented the Guild  on the Central Council from 1965, when the Council met in Northampton, until 1972 and attended seven meetings.  He had a heart attack in 1977 but kept ringing so long as he could climb the tower stairs.

Jack died in Stamford Hospital on August 2, 1979 aged 74.  The funeral service was conducted by the vicar of All Saints and the Revd E E Orland, President of the Guild.

Sourced from obituary by JP in RW 1979 p776 and photo;  CCCBR http://bellringinghistory.org.uk/Biog_Image.aspx?RecID=93; ASCY website; RW DVDs.



Pat Chapman

30.12.1931 – 11.2.2004

Patrick Ivan Chapman was born at Kettering on December 30, 1931. Many ringers now wellknown in the Exercise began their ringing careers when bellringing resumed after the Second World War and Pat Chapman was one of these young lads. Taught at Kettering parish church in February 1945 by old hands Charlie Bird and Bob Turner, Pat rang his first peal – Bob Major at Rothwell – on December 26, 1946 whilst still 14.

For the next 40 years or so ringing was his passion and he went on to become Ringing Master of the Kettering Branch of the Peterborough Diocesan Guild, then from 1958 to 1963 Master of the Guild itself.  He was elected as a Life Honorary Member in 1966.

He was also a Central Council Representative for the Guild from 1954 to 1968. With his friend, Bryan Cope, he encouraged many young ringers in and around Kettering to advance in peal ringing and took part in several of the early Rambling Ringers’ Tours under the leadership of the indefatigable John E Cook.

Although not a ‘prolific’ peal ringer by today’s standards, Pat took part in some notable performances including ringing the heavy tenors to peals at Sherborne Abbey in 1954, Buckfast Abbey, Norwich St Peter Mancroft and Hoar Cross.

Pat was elected to the Ancient Society of College Youths in 1954 and rang 14 peals for the Society in his total of something over 400 peals. He featured in The Ringing World’s ‘Personalities of the Exercise’ in 1961, where it was observed he had rung over 94,000 changes on the 4th bell at Loughborough Bell Foundry in five, unfortunately unsuccessful, attempts for the extent of Bob Major!

On October 27, 1955, Pat married Joan Morris at Kettering. Joan was nanny to the rector’s children at Kettering and could ring a little but her main contribution became the provision of coffee, meals and accommodation to ringers, often whole peal bands, and sometimes without notice! Indeed it could be accurately said that they both kept ‘open-house’ to all ringers.

In 1956, they moved to Daventry for Pat to become a work-study engineer at British Timken. He soon became churchwarden at the parish church of the Holy Cross and, with his accustomed enthusiasm, was instrumental in having the bells rehung and augmented from 8 to 10, on which many peals followed: Peter Border, Stephen Ivin and the Alan Frost being frequent visitors.

Sadly, Joan died in 1973, leaving Pat with two teenage children, Dominic and Claire, to bring up and so started his second career. Working through the night he became one of the first graduates of the Open University and then secured a teaching post at the Abbey School, Daventry, where he taught for nearly 20 years.

His love of the Fine Arts led him to become a very keen traveller, especially in Italy and the USA, spending his summer holidays lecturing at the Uffizi, Florence and at the Pittsburgh Institute of Art.

Back in Daventry, a fast expanding town, he was anxious to see the historic streets protected and this spurred him to set up the Daventry Civic Society in the early 1980s. The old coaching street – Sheaf Street – was indeed preserved and Pat moved into a delightful Listed house there, over a bookshop which he ran for a time with his daughter, Claire.

Unfortunately, heart problems together with an increasing disaffection of the modern-style C of E liturgy caused Pat to take a back seat in bellringing for the last 20 or so years, but he always maintained contact with ringing friends far and wide.

Of indomitable spirit, after several heart attacks it was still not uncommon for friends to receive cheery postcards from China, or from Australia after Dominic’s emigration to Sydney. One of his last trips was to Poland where he fulfilled an ambition to see Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Lady with an ermine’ in Cracow. A fall just before Christmas and more heart attacks put Pat in hospital where, typically, he instructed that no DNR (do not resuscitate) notice was to be attached to his bedside! Careful nursing sustained him for another 6 weeks. 

Pat died on February 11, 2004. He had not rung for the last 20 years, one of the later occasions being a quarter peal with Chris Pickford and Chris Dalton on Everdon’s notorious treble in 1981. He was gladly greeted when he turned up without warning for the annual meeting of the Daventry Branch at Holy Cross in 2001 and 2002. 

On Friday, February 20, Holy Cross, Daventry was filled with many ringers and friends from all over the country, Bryan Patisson flying in from Geneva, paying their respects to a true ‘Stalwart of the Exercise’. Appropriately, the funeral service concluded with music from the Russian Orthodox liturgy.

With thanks to Alan J.Frost  -  RW 2004 p384  and ‘Personalities of the Exercise No 14’  RW 1961 p237


Richard Chater


Click here for obituary published in The Ringing World.

Richard died while ringing for a wedding at Daventry.



William H (Bill) Collins

1925 – 22.7.1995

Heyford bells and ringing in Heyford and Bill's name will always be mentioned at the same time. Bill was taught to ring along with Hilda, later his wife, and Ted Garrett by Fred Browning when the ban on ringing was lifted just before the end of the war. Heyford at that time had only four bells, but with money from a legacy and local fundraising two new bells were added in 1946. Fred promptly made Bill Tower Captain, a duty he resolutely carried out for fifty years, gaining his 50 year membership of the Guild along the way.

I wouldn't like to guess how many learners he taught over the years at Heyford and elsewhere. His enthusiasm and interest especially with younger learners is something that should be a lesson to us all. His last two learners Joanna Walas and James Causebrook rang in a thanksgiving quarter for his life. It was Joanna's first quarter.

Bill was a trained engineer and served his apprenticeship for six years from the age of fifteen, so maintenance on bells came quite naturally.  He gave great help when Peterborough Cathedral bells were being installed and stayed with Ernie Orland for a week.  St Benedict's, Northampton also benefitted from his experience, not of course forgetting Heyford's rehang in 1979.

Apart from his ringing activities, other great loves were his painting - a variety of subjects with his railway studies always very impressive, and clock making.  As a school teacher for nearly 30 years he passed his knowledge to future generations. His metalwork students at Spencer School in Northampton made the ornate weather vane atop Heyford tower.

Everywhere we look you will see something that Bill put a part of himself into - the visible things and a legacy at Heyford of enthusiasm, the sense of being part of a good team, his sense of commitment to his church and us all and a set of principles that I think he must have kept from an early age and never altered.  His family Hilda and daughters Janet and Alison have always given him their support in all his activities and support us still. Our memories of him on a cold winter's practice night, in the pub afterwards, of his help and kindness in our ringing and his help to anyone who requested it, are his legacy to us all.

George Toseland

From Guild Newsletter Christmas 1995. Similar in RW 1995  p1984, December 15, 1995.  Photo: Presentation of 50 year membership certificate 8/1/1994


Jude Coulter

 - 23.5.2018

Sadly Wellingborough Branch record that Jude Coulter passed away on May 23, 2018, at Northampton General Hospital, aged 58. Jude was the beloved partner of Bill, devoted mum to Thomas, Sarah and Ben.

Jude was elected a member in 2011 and was Tower Captain and contact for Ecton, a Branch Committee member and the Newsletter Correspondent.

A memorial service to commemorate Jude's life took place at St Mary Magdalene Church, Ecton on Wednesday, June 27 at 12 noon. Donations, if desired, to the Daylight Centre, Wellingborough or Wellingborough Branch Church Bell Ringers.

Published in Northampton Chronicle and Echo on May 31, 2018 

Brenda Dixon wrote in the September 2018 Guild Newsletter:

It is with great sadness that I am writing this as our press correspondent Jude has passed away after a brave fight with cancer. She is missed at all our branch events especially at our Saturday morning surprise practices where she was always keen to try new methods. The church at Ecton was packed with people from the village, friends old and new and many ringers with several people from her past as well as the present speaking. The bells were rung before by an invited band and after by many branch ringers before moving to the village hall for wonderful refreshments. Cake was always available when we had a meeting at Ecton and this was the case on this occasion. Several quarter peals were rung in Jude’s memory.




Philip J Curtis

16.12.1958 - 21.8.2019

Philip learnt to ring in the late 1970s at Stoke Lyne, when the three bells were restored after a long period of silence. He was soon very active in the Bicester Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers, joining local  practices on most nights of the week.

Phil (as he was always known) joined St Peter's ringing team in Brackley in the mid 1980s, when he lived in Brackley for a short time. He joined the Culworth Branch of the Guild in 1987 and became Tower Captain at Brackley.

He went on to become a long-serving Branch committee member as Branch Ringing Master, Assistant Ringing Master, Steward and was General Management Committee Representative at his death.  He was Guild Master in 2013-4. 

Phil was involved in arranging the annual Branch outings and he was one of four of us who were more than happy to visit and try out the pubs for food! He arranged the first successful ringing tour to Southern Ireland which led to the formation of the Brackley Area Ringing Tour. This ran for twenty years and he was one of only three people who went on every trip.  We travelled to locations from the Channel Islands to Scotland, Cornwall to Norfolk. 

Phil was a very experienced ringer who taught many people; young and not so young, to ring. He was much called upon to conduct quarter peals and also called several peals over the years. He was always encouraging us to learn new ringing methods and once we'd achieved one goal he'd swiftly urge us on to another!

Phil was also an experienced organist and he played regularly at his local Church in Stratton Audley. He was called on to play the organ for Branch ringing meetings and also for our annual Carol Service.

Philip passed away on 21st August 2019 having battled with severe disability following a stroke at the end of April. Sadly he was unable to recover despite very intensive rehabilitation. He was sixty years of age.

Philip will be sorely missed here in the Culworth Branch, the Diocese and the wider bell-ringing community. May he rest in peace.

Julie Blencowe, Sara and Ian Chapple and published in RW 2019 p1219.

There was a private family funeral for Phil.  A thanksgiving and memorial service was held on Thursday, September 26 at 4pm, taken by the Revd Alice Goodall.  It was attended by around 90 people with a high proportion of ringers.  There was ringing by the local district before the service and by the Culworth Branch afterwards. Refreshments in the church made it feel like a large bellringing meeting.  A retiring collection was taken and will be split equally between Stratton Audley Church and the Stroke Association

See here ringing for Phil.

GHP




Ivor J Dickin

31.3.1936 – 9.11.2018


I met Ivor at Roade in 1951. He and his half brother Ken Perkins rang in my first peal in May 1954. 

Ivor learned to ring aged 10 at Blisworth [and joined the Guild as a member of Blisworth, Northampton Branch in 1949]. He later joined the band of Roade ringers, a young team that spent their teenage years cycling around Northamptonshire visiting other towers.  Some of those friends are here today. Later they progressed onto motor cycles and then cars.  Sometimes they went on coach trips together with their families to towers further away and later still weekends then weeks away.

Ivor met Jean, also a ringer, from Earls Barton and after their marriage he taught recruits to ring at Earls Barton and, after they moved to Irchester, he built up a competent band.  He helped to teach in other towers and was always very patient with the learners there.

He did small maintenance work on the bells in Irchester tower, mending stays and splicing ropes.  He also made the rope spider in the shape of a St Katherine Wheel out of broken bell stays.

In 1976 he became Irchester tower captain and with this came the job of clock keeper.  This meant climbing the 37 stone steps twice weekly to the clock room taking around 30 mins each time turning the handles to raise the heavy weights.    He always checked the clock weekly making sure the time was correct.  Ivor carried out this role for over 32 years until the electrification of the winding in 2008.

Ivor was press correspondent, general management committee representative, assistant ringing master and ringing master for the Wellingborough Branch over a number of years and served on its committee until 2017.  With Kevan Chapman, Ivor established the branch website.

With his considerable engineering and mathematical abilities, he built his own ringing machine which has been very useful at branch and young learners meetings.

He rang 46 peals [The first was at Spratton on October 3, 1950 and the last at Irthlingborough on August 11, 1984. Ivor conducted 11 of these peals] and innumerable quarter peals [The first was on the treble at Pattishall on April 1, 1950 for his 14th birthday and the last recorded was at Isham on October 20, 2006].  He didn’t keep a record.

He gave up as Tower Captain at the end of 2017 owing to ill health.

He was also the PCC Secretary for about 8 years and served on the church council.

I met up with Ivor and Jean again in 2006.  I had not rung for 30 years owing to family commitments and playing sport.  They made me very welcome and I soon learned to ring again.  My thanks go to both of them for helping me feel part of our band!  We will miss you Ivor.

Edited version of the Tribute given by Harry Curtis, based on notes from Jean Dickin at Ivor’s funeral at St Katherine's church, Irchester on 27/11/18, with info from pealbase.co.uk and The Ringing World DVDs. 

The bells were rung before the funeral and Ivor's coffin was rung into church with 10 minutes of rounds ending on time in diminishing rounds.  There was general ringing after the service and during the cremation at Nene Valley Crematorium. There were refreshments afterwards across the road at the Irchester Bowls Club.

Click here for ringing to Ivor's memory.



 


Edward C Garrett (Ted) 

26.6.1927 – 6.11.2016

Ted attended Bliss School, Nether Heyford, Northamptonshire and then Daventry Grammar School. He left with good grades on his school certificate; from then he joined the railway as a clerk. Then in 1945 he was called up for national service in the Royal Navy. He was proud to have served on the battleships HMS King George V and HMS Duke of York as a telegraphist and radio mechanic. He left the navy in 1947 and returned home to the family and the railways. After a number of years, he changed employment to become a civil servant. Hed retired at the age of 65. 

His interest in the railways remained with him but his greatest interest was bell ringing. He started when he was a teenager with two friends, Hilda and Bill Collins. Ted was taught to ring by Fred Browning at St Peter & St Paul Church, Heyford, at this time an anticlockwise ring of 4 bells, before the rehanging and augmentation to 6 bells in 1946.

On June 23, 1945 at St Luke’s Cold Higham a peal of Plain Bob Minor was rung by a team of six including Ted. It was Ted’s first peal along with Nancy Lovell, Hilda (née Smith) and Bill Collins. The treble was rung by Fred Browning, who taught them to ring and conducted by Fred Vickers calling his first peal. 

Ted joined the Peterborough Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers in 1946 at the age of 18 years. He held several posts both at guild and at branch level. He was the Guild’s Peal Secretary from 1963 to 2013 and was elected as a Life Honorary Member in 2004 for outstanding service to the Guild.

In Daventry Branch Ted was a committee member from 1954; Ringing Master from 1960-1962; Chairman from 1963-1989; committee member again from 1993-2009 and Representative for the Guild 100 Club.

Ted rang a total of 103 peals, 96 peals were accredited to this guild. Ted’s total included 77 peals of Minor and also seven peals of Stedman Triples conducted by John Pladdys (renowned Stedman conductor). He rang with many notable peal ringers of the time and he rang in 19 ringers’ first peals. His last peal was at Great Brington Church on the Althorp Estate on the September 6, 1997.

Ted was a loyal member of the Nether Heyford band, as well as being church warden for more than 50 years. He participated in many striking competitions and was part of many winning bands for Heyford. He also attended Bugbrooke practices for as long as anyone can remember and supported Staverton practice for many years. It was only when he could no longer stand that he gave up this lifelong interest.  He is sadly missed by all who knew him.

Sandra Batchelor (niece) [published in The Ringing World 2017 p116] and amended 29/8/17 and photo Presentation of 50 year membership certificate 8/1/1994.


George E Green

15.12.1928 – 25.7.2019

George Ernest Green was born on December 15, 1928, at Wicken, indeed he was born in the house that he bought for his family home in 1957, and in which his son Andy now lives with his family. His father Albert John was a well-known Wicken bellringer as was his grandfather who shared his name. It was only natural, therefore, that young George should be a ringer too.

He was educated at Deanshanger primary school and Towcester Grammar school where he excelled in Maths and played an impressive game of Rugby.  George sang in the choir in this church as a boy. From there he went on to London to train as a Maths teacher and was introduced to a better class of ringing with the band at St Mary Abbotts, Kensington.  He also rang regularly at St Paul's Cathedral and at other London towers that had not been damaged or lost through the efforts of the Luftwaffe.

His first peal was rung at All Saints Poplar in 1946, Stedman Caters conducted by Thomas Taffender, one of the ringing ‘greats’ of the day.  Soon after he was elected to membership of the Ancient Society of College Youths with whom he was to ring eight peals, the last being Grandsire Triples at Easton Neston in 2006, when Steph Warboys was Master trying to ring with all the Northamptonshire members. However George realised that teaching was not for him and he returned to Wicken.  He was soon on the move again, this time to Aldershot to join the catering corps, as part of his National Service. He told me he didn’t really like this part of his life, being ordered about by a bully of a Sergeant Major, doing things that he regarded as pointless, like whitewashing the coal.  He was glad to leave the army at the earliest opportunity and return once again to his beloved Wicken.

George was a very practical man, he was a good carpenter and found employment with his brother, Jack, who was forming a business making things out of wood. He married Margaret in Kingsthorpe Church and soon they had their family Pat, Andrew, Robin, Richard and John.  George got a job with the Pay Corps at Wootton Barracks, this time as a civilian.  From there he got a job with the Post Office where he worked for a few years before moving into banking at Lloyds Bank Winslow.  He would remain in the bank at Winslow and then at Stony Stratford until retirement.

George was a great raconteur, one of life’s characters.  He would love to tell the customers tales of his ringing exploits, his family of whom he was very proud, and anything else that had happened to him. He was very proud of the fact he had signed the Lord Lieutenant’s passport application.  George once had a row with the eccentric parson here, Paul Hoskin, which gained him notoriety on the front page of the Chronicle and Echo.  The parson accused George of losing Wicken first place in the tidiest village competition on account of a weed growing out of his roof. It later transpired that weeds around the lych gate were the cause of Wicken’s disappointment. Soon after, George put a new roof of green tiles on his house.

George had been a regular at the Monday night practice at Stony Stratford, where many of us benefited from his experience and conducting ability and kindness in providing lifts. Following retirement he moved from Wicken to Hardingstone to a smaller bungalow and he started ringing at Piddington, Moulton and Nether Heyford where his experience was much welcomed. Not long after retiring from the bank he was invited back as part time guard at Billing Road branch.  Here, again, he loved talking with the customers and telling his stories. If a senior manager should appear George would corner him and start talking so they always left in a hurry. 

Again when Towcester augmented the bells to twelve George rang there.  His experience on 12 helped the new band to gain experience in Stedman Cinques and Cambridge and Yorkshire Maximus. He always enjoyed an outing, and although he was only of small stature, he was a master on a heavy bell. On one outing they went to Exeter Cathedral, the second heaviest peal of bells in the world, tenor 72cwt.  George, never shy of challenge, made straight for the tenor box, a very large box, he pulled the rope  and the bell stayed still, he pulled until it came off the balance and lifted him up off the box and deposited him on the floor.  Not being one to give up George scrambled back onto the box regained control and rang the bell faultlessly.  This story was always told to new ringers who came to Wicken in the lych gate while the rest of the band beat a hasty retreat to the pub. The longest anyone has been caught by George in the lych gate was 45 minutes.  

George went on many outings, ringing in many towers and cathedrals, including a quarter peal at Wells. For those of you who like records, George rang 251 peals, conducting 58, he rang 49 of those at Wicken. His last peal was Yorkshire Surprise Major at Moulton on Trafalgar day 2007,  where there is a peal board recording the event. I am proud to say that I rang in 50 of his peals.

Part of the sermon (amended) given by Richard Yates at the funeral service on August 6, 2019 at Wicken Church.


The Ven (Cecil) John Grimes

6.1.1881 – 19.11.1976

The Venerable C John Grimes, Archdeacon of Northampton, was President of the Guild from 1943 to 1956, following the Dean of Peterborough.

John Grimes, priest, doctor and engineer, was one of those endued with wisdom from on high, and every day of his long and adventurous life was manifestly ordered by God's good governance.


He was born at Stratford on Avon on the Feast of the Epiphany, 1881.  He trained as a civil engineer, and was resident engineer in Devonport Dockyard in the early years of Edward VII; then he was engineer to Calcutta Port Commissioners; and in between he had helped build the Great Central Railway through Brackley.  The only shadow of disappointment ever seen to cross his face was when British Rail took up the track he had laid.  


From Calcutta he came to Ripon College Cuddesdon and was ordained to the priesthood  at the hands of Bishop Charles Gore.  He had a brief curacy in Reading, then he went back to Bengal as a chaplain with the Indian Ecclesiastical Establishment from 1915 to 1924, and in the Great War to Mesopotamia as assistant director of military works.  He was Vicar of St Matthew, Westminster, 1924 -1925, and then back to Calcutta as Archdeacon until 1933.  


Whatever he put his mind and hand to came to order: bridges, churches, constitutional schemes, ecclesiastical organization, and the minds of men. He was exact, lucid, incisive, and never wasted a word or an hour of his own or of anyone else's life.  Bishop Claude Blagden got him to St John’s Peterborough as Vicar until 1938, then rector of Thorpe Malsor and after an interlude, in 1941 made him Archdeacon of Northampton until 1959 and canon residentiary.  


John Grimes spent the interlude writing the thesis on the Indian Church which earned him his Lambeth DD. No one in the Canterbury Convocation during the Fisher regime can forget the upright, dapper figure of the prolocutor in his DD robe.  Those years the Convocation consumed in revising canon law, John applied his precise mind to the task, and wondered afterwards to what effect had all that labour been.  So did many of us.  


But in his archdeaconry none of his labour was in vain.  He knew every priest, every warden, and they knew they were known; and this was strength and comfort to the well-doers, and salutary to the slothful.  He and his Bentley modified many a curve in Northampton lanes, and between him and the gateposts there was little hid that was not made manifest.  


He was, I suppose, the greatest indirect benefactor Peterborough Cathedral and diocese have known for 400 years, and Northampton High School can never be unmindful of his love and care.  In his last years he would read more in a week than many a curate reads in a year.  Alert and lively up to his last hour, he died as he prayed he would, at home, in the presence of his beloved wife and a fellow priest on November 19, 1976. Yes, we rejoice and give thanks for this remarkable man, who could have done anything he set his mind to, and gave his whole heart and will to the Lord who called him to be his priest.  


He married Sophie, daughter of C A Perkin, in 1905.  She died in 1923.  In 1925 he married Blanche, daughter of Sir G B Bowen KBE who, with his three sons, survived him.


Based on the obituary in The Times 27/11/1976 written by the Bishop of Peterborough with additional information from Wikipedia.  Photo extracted from PDG 1949 AGM photo of members at Peterborough Cathedral



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Anchors added 8/11/17. Name changed from Obituaries (1/1) to Biographies (1/3) 2/6/2020.  Last updated:  24/6/2020


He followed the Dean of Peterborough as President of the Guild from 1943 to 1956.






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