History of the Guild
This is a history of the Guild, its formation and its predecessors.
The webmaster would be pleased to receive information to fill the many gaps.

Click on number for quick access to section

1. Brackley No.1 Deanery

2. Central Northants Association

3. Midland Counties Association

4. Higham Ferrers and District Society

5. Oundle and District

6. Peterborough and District

7. Peterborough Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers

8. Raunds, Wellingborough, and District Society of Church Bell Ringers

9. Towcester and District

10. Weedon and District

11. Inventory of records

12. War memorials

13. Church Bells of Northamptonshire (1878) and Rutland (1880) by Thomas North

14. Bagley Gravestone at Chacombe

1. Brackley No.1 Deanery
[Culworth Branch Founded October 22nd 1949]

2. Central Northants Association

Extract from  The History and Art of Change Ringing (Ernest Morris)  p. 245

On Whit-Monday, 1895, at the annual meeting, held in Kettering, it was decided to change the title [of the Raunds, Wellingborough and District Society of Church bell-ringers] to “The Central Northamptonshire Association”.

In 1905 this was split into three districts – Kettering, Wellingborough and Northampton, and later Thrapston and Guilsborough Districts were formed.

The formation of dioceses [The new Leicester Diocese was founded on 12 November 12, 1926 from the archdeaconries of Leicester, Loughborough and part of the archdeaconry of Northampton.] caused this Association, like many others, to follow the line of the church, and on January 5, 1924, the Peterborough Diocesan Guild came into being by the union of the Central Northants Association; the Peterborough and Districts Association; and the Oundle and Districts Association.

Extracts from the Ringing World June 14, 1974 p390

One rule was any member who rang 100 peals for the Central Northants Association should have a gold medal. I have not all the old reports but I would say about 20 medals were presented. This went on until the late David J. Nichols qualified for his, which he declined, and a rule was passed to stop giving the medals. Membership certificates replaced them and one was given to members for ringing his (or her) first peal. .. Robert G Black, Geddington.

3. Midland Counties Association
Founded in 1882 as the Derby and District Association and changed its name to Midland Counties at Easter 1883, it operated until the end of 1945, when it was dissolved. From January 1946 new associations were formed to cover its territory:  Derby & District Association (renamed to the Derbyshire Association in 1947 and then Derby Diocesan Guild in 1963), Leicester Diocesan Guild, Midland Counties Guild, and Southwell Diocesan Guild (changed to The Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham at the end of 2005).
A letter was received [by the meeting setting up the new Peterborough Diocesan Guild] from the Midland Counties Association stating that the matter was duly considered at their meeting on July 28th 1923; when the following resolution was unanimously passed: 'That the members of the Midland Counties Association, having carefully considered the proposal of the Bishop of Peterborough as to the formation of a Peterborough Diocesan Guild of Ringers, are unable to recommend that their members residing in the diocese of Peterborough should as a body join the proposed Guild. For forty years they have been members of the Midland Counties Association, and they have no desire to sever themselves from that body. At the same time, if individual members who live in the said diocese wish to become members of the Peterborough Guild, the committee of the Midland Association have no desire to place obstacles in their way, but they trust such members will continue to remain members of their old association.'   
[Rutland Branch Founded November 11th 1933 - see further details]

4. Higham Ferrers 2nd Deanery and District Society

Extract from Tichmarsh Parish magazine, July & August 1882 and reprinted in the PDG Newsletter August 1981.

On Monday July17th the bellringers of Islip, Stoke Doyle and Pilton met our ringers in the belfry of the Parish Church.  According to a programme, time was divided from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 a.m. so that the teams might ring in order.

At 1 o’clock dinner was served in the barn kindly lent by Mr. W. Attenborough, and at 3.30 Evensong was sung by the Rector, the special lessons being read by the Rev. D.W. Barrett, Rural Dean, and Vicar of Nassington, and the Rev. F.G. Hodgson, Rector of Pilton; the sermon afterwards being preached by the Rev. J.F. Watson, curate of Woodford. (The sermon is recorded)

At 4.30 the hour fixed for business in the Rectory Garden.  An Association for Higham Ferrers 2nd Deanery and District was formed, the Rev. F.G. Hodgson, and D.W. Barrett consenting to act as treasurer and secretary.  After discussion ten rules were passed, of which the first is “That this union be called ‘The Higham Ferrers 2nd Deanery and District Society of Church Bellringers’  and that it have for its object the cultivation of the art of change-ringing and the promotion of belfry reform”.  Honary Members subscribing 5/- annually were invited and several were at once enrolled.  An Annual Meeting in the month of May and also sectional Meetings will be held.  After tea in the Rectory Garden the teams again rang in order from 5.30 until 7.30, when they adjourned to supper in the barn, and with toasts and hand-bell ringing a very pleasant and successful day was concluded by singing “God Save the Queen”

To the Rev. G.M. Edmonds, curate of Yarwell the new society is largely indebted both for much preliminary trouble towards its formation, and also for the excellent arrangements made on its inaugural day.

A peal attributed to the Higham Society was rung on March 18, 1893

Extract from The Bell News for May 28, 1898 p687.
The Higham Ferrers Second Deanery Association of Church Bellringers held their sixteenth annual meeting at Thrapston on a recent Monday. The Association was founded in 1882, and is under the presidency of Mr. S. G. Stopford Sackville. The proceedings commenced at 10 a.m., when the members rang a merry peal at the Parish Church, and the ringing was afterwards continued at the churches of Islip, Tichmarsh, Aldwinckle, and Woodford. At one o’clock a dinner was provided at The King’s Arms, a splendid repast being placed on the tables by Host Whitney. This was followed by a meeting …

Extract from The Bell News for June 24, 1899, p50
The annual meeting of the Association for Higham Ferrers Second Deanery was held at Islip on Monday, June 12th. Members to the number of about 40 were present from the following parishes :— Aldwinckle, Tichmarsh, Thrapston, Woodford, Thorpe Achurch, and Islip, and during the morning each team of ringers in succession had the use of the bells of the Parish Church for three-quarters of an hour. Some excellent change-ringing was done, and successful peals of Oxford Bob and Treble Bob rung during the day were a proof of the value of the Association’s efforts in encouraging the study and practice of this sort of change-ringing. From eight o’clock in the morning until seven in the evening the bells were scarcely silent for a moment. Mr. S. G. Stopford-Sackville, the President of the Association, presided at the dinner, which was excellently served at The Woolpack inn by Mr. Beaver. After dinner, the toast of “Church and Queen” was proposed in felicitous terms by the President, and that of “Success to the Association’’ by Mr. T. S. Agutter (Parish Churchwarden, Islip). The last-named toast was responded to by the Rev. G. M. Edmonds (Secretary), who also presented a statement of the work and finances of the Association, and in the course of his speech congratulated the ringers of Tichmarsh and Thorpe Achurch on the improvements made since the last meeting to the bells in the churches of their parishes …

Extract from The Bell News of September 27, 1902, p289
A quarterly meeting of this Association was held at Great Addington on Saturday, August 30th. …
After tea a meeting was held in the Parish Room. The Rev. E . C. Channer, Ravensthorpe, occupied the chair, supported by the Rev. R. Copeman, Stoke Albany, and the Rev. W . St. George Coldwell, of Wilbye, and Mr. T . R. Hensher, the Hon. Secretary.
The minutes of the last meeting having been read and confirmed; a discussion ensued upon the advisability of holding the next quarterly meeting at Thrapston, The secretary pointed out that Thrapston ringers were in the Higham Ferrers Second Deanery Association, but he was not quite sure whether that Association was still in existence. If not he would like to see the Higham Ferrers Second Deanery belfries embraced within their Association.
Mr. Hensher was empowered to communicate with the Rev. G. M. Edmonds, Stoke Doyle, the members deciding, on the motion of the Rev. W. St. George Coldwell, seconded by Mr. Martin (Higham Ferrers), to hold
the next meeting at Thrapston provided it was agreeable to do so, and as an alternative meeting place Mr. W. Hensher’s motion in favour of Kettering was heartily adopted….

[Besides those above, I can find no reference to this Society in Bell News, other than a list showing the number of its members (In 1887, 39 ringing members, when RW&D had 59). There are many references to Higham Ferrers ringers at Raunds, Wellingborough and District meetings during this period and ringing peals and 720s locally and in other counties.]

5. Oundle & District
Extracts from Bell News Vol 17 p14 18th June 1898
The members of the Oundle First Deanery Association held their fourth annual meeting at Elton, for although the parish is out of the deanery and diocese, the Association was glad enough to have the use of the fine bells and to welcome the ringers.
.. Seven ringers were present at Elton, four from Warmington, six from Benefield, five from Stoke Doyle, and one from Oundle and Cotterstock. ..Not much change-ringing was accomplished except by the Stoke Doyle band, who rang some 6-scores of Grandsire and Bob Doubles.

Extracts from Bell News Vol 18 p63 1st July 1899

The Oundle First Deanery Association held their sixth [?] annual meeting in this parish in glorious weather on Wednesday, June 21st. The home ringers were joined by bands from Pilton, Cotterstock, Warmington, Benefield, and Elton. .. An invitation was gladly accepted to meet at Cotterstock next year.
From Bell News Vol 33 p701 21st Aug 1915
On Sunday, August 1st, in response to an invitation from the young ringers Mr. George Fellows arranged for a band from the Oundle First Deanery Association to spend the day at King’s Cliffe. .. They rang for both morning and evening services touches of Grandsire Doubles.

6. Peterborough & District

Extracts from Bell News Vol 28 p 265 24th July 1909
.. At a meeting held on July 29th, with the Dean of Peterborough presiding, it was arranged that the annual meeting should be held at Peterborough on August bank holiday, when any ringers will be welcome.
The new Association is to be called “The Peterborough and District Association of Church Bell Ringers.”The first officers will be: President, the Very Rev. the Dean of Peterborough; vice-President and Honorary Treasurer, the Rev. E. E . Law ; Honorary Secretary, William T. Johnson (80, Princes Street, Peterborough).
Extracts from Bell News Vol p319 21st Aug 1909
 The first annual meeting of the above association was held on bank holiday, August 2nd, when ringers were present from Whittlesea, Castor, Glinton, Higham Ferrers, Rushden, Finedon, Cranford, Irthlingborough, Peterborough (St. Mary’s and St. John’s), also Mr. Sentance (of London), formerly of Braintree. The bells of St. Mary’s, Peterborough (six) were kept going continuously from 10.0 a.m. to 8.30 p.m., during which time touches of Kent and Oxford Treble Bob, Oxford, Double Court, College Single, and Plain Bob were rung; also Grandsire and Bob Doubles. A tea was held at The Fitzwilliam, to which twenty-one sat down, the vicar presiding. After tea the meeting was held, when … Several new members were admitted. Afterwards in St. Mary’s schoolroom touches of Bob Major, Grandsire Triples and Treble Bob Minor were rung on the handbells.

From the Ringing World January 4, 1974 p2
The Association was formed, after preliminary discussion meetings, on June 16, 1909, and the first annual meeting was held on August Bank Holiday, 1909, at St. Mary’s, Peterborough. The meeting would have been at St. John's, but the bells there were being rehung. Ringing commenced at 10 a.m. and continued until late in the evening, ringers coming from as far away as Higham Ferrars and Irthlingborough. The first peal for the Association was also rung at St. Mary's, Oxford and Plain Bob Minor, conducted by J. B. Hallifax, on September 25, 1909.
Meetings began to be held quarterly in towers within a 20-mile radius of Peterborough, irrespective of diocese, although the Association was based in Peterborough and the Dean of the Cathedral was president, and most of the neighbouring towers were covered by their own diocesan organisations. In early years ringing often began about noon and at meetings in Peterborough, at St. John, St. Mary’s and the Cathedral, bells were rung.
The first secretary, Mr. W. Jutson, resigned in 1911 and his place was taken by Mr. F. Cooke. By 1911 the Association had members in 18 towers, mostly to the north and east of Peterborough. An early highlight in the history of the Association was the presence of Mr. William Willson of Leicester at the 1911 A.G.M. “Everyone had an opportunity to ring with one of the world's greatest ringers.”
In 1913 a meeting in Huntingdon led to complaints of poaching from the Ely Association. Also in 1913 the Association became affiliated to the Central Council, Mr. Ralph Narborough of Wisbech being elected representative. Miss E. Steele of Bedford attended the 1913 A.G.M., the first lady to ring in Peterborough.
Activities declined during the 1914-18 war. Subscriptions were not collected and only the annual meetings were held. The first lady members were elected: five from Kings Cliffe, where the bells had just been rehung, in 1917, and eleven more from various towers in 1918. At least 40 members of the Association served in the war, and four were killed in action.
Quarterly meetings restarted in 1919, and by 1920 the peal total had reached its pre-war level, although it declined again afterwards.
From its early days the Association had helped local towers which were rehanging or installing bells, and after the war it was decided to collect for a treble for the Cathedral (at this time still ringable) and with a scheme for rehanging and augmentation as a war memorial. This however, came to nothing and the bells were not rung after 1920. A regular belfry repair fund seems to have been started in 1921.
In the spring of 1923 there was correspondence with the Central Northants Association about forming a Diocesan Guild, and this was discussed by the committee on June 5. Six members attended the meeting and service at Wellingborough on June 9. The committee decided on December 11 that the Association should join the Diocesan Guild, but the final decision could not be made until the A.G.M. on September 2, 1924. The minutes of that meeting record the unanimous decision to confirm the affiliation of the Peterborough and District Association with the Diocesan Guild.

7. The Peterborough Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers
June 9, 1923 Edited extracts from Ringing World 1923 page 395-6
A federation of ringing societies in the Diocese of Peterborough, which covers the counties of Northampton, Leicester and Rutland, was suggested by the Bishop at a meeting of the 
Central Northants Association held at Wellingborough and a resolution suggesting a conference on the subject was carried.

The meeting had been arranged in order that the Bishop might meet the ringers, and one of the largest gatherings in the history of the association took place. The Kettering District was represented by 57 members; Wellingborough by 51; Northampton by 22; Thrapston by 22; Peterborough by six; Guilsborough by seven and Weedon one. The Central Association officers present included the Rev J P Frend (president), Mr W T Wilson (treasurer) and Mr D J Nichols (secretary).

The collection for the bell restoration of Peterborough Cathedral realised £3 0s. 10d. Service over, an adjournment was made to the Church Hall, where 170 sat down to tea. The Rev. Frend presided, and the Bishop also honoured the gathering with his presence.

The Chairman with the opening observation that ringers were reasonable people, went on to say that they had improved enormously. When he started to ring 31 years ago he found the members of the team attending practices more regularly than on Sundays, and discovered that, the reason for that was an enormous stone jar in the belfry (laughter). He then pointed out that the belfry was part of God's House, though it had not always been looked upon as such. As a Rural Dean he always took care to visit the belfry of churches and look at the bells.

Mr D J Nichols observed that the presence of the Bishop that day would help to stimulate all matters connected with bells and ringers. He felt sure that the suggestion of the Bishop of the formation of a Diocesan Ringers' Association was welcomed by a huge number of ringers. It was suggested that the association should be called the Peterborough Guild of Church Bell Ringers, and should embrace all the Associations. They would still have their own district organisations.

The President moved the following resolution: 'That in the opinion of this meeting it is desirable that a Peterborough Diocesan Guild of Ringers should be formed; and that the president and secretary of this association be asked to confer with representatives of other associations, in the counties of Northamptonshire. Leicestershire, and Rutland, to report to our committee, for the information of the Bishop'- This resolution was carried unanimously.

The Bishop said he used the word federation instead of amalgamation, as it left each association freedom of movement, but it linked up the ringers from all parts of the diocese. Incidentally Dr Woods observed that the bell ringers of the diocese were not limited to the male sex.
The Bishop terminated this part of the proceedings, and several touches on the bells followed.

November 5, 1923. Edited extracts from RW 1923 p761
A special general meeting of the Central Northamptonshire Association was held at Kettering, when a company, numbering about 60, sat down to tea at the Cross Keys Cafe, presided over by the president (the Rev J P Frend).

The President, in presenting the report, stated that letters were written to the following six associations: The Peterborough and District, the Oundle and District, the Towcester and District, the Weedon and District, Brackley 1 Deanery, and the Midland Counties Association, inviting them to send representatives to a meeting to consider the formation of a Guild for the diocese of Peterborough.

At the meeting held at the Hall Memorial Buildings, Bridge Street, Northampton, on Saturday, October 23rd, representatives were present (in addition to those of the Central Northants Association) from the Peterborough, Oundle, Towcester and Brackley 1 Deanery. A letter was received from the Midland Counties Association stating that the matter was duly considered at their meeting on July 28th - see resolution.  In addition to the resolution it was pointed out that certain changes will take place in the area covered by the Peterborough diocese, and that only a small portion of the territory covered by their [MCA] association may remain in the Peterborough diocese. [The new Leicester Diocese was founded on 12 November 12, 1926 from the archdeaconries of Leicester, Loughborough and part of the archdeaconry of Northampton.]

After a very lengthy discussion, the President moved the following resolution, which was carried:-
That this meeting urges the committee to go forward with the formation of a Diocesan Guild of Ringers, and to report to the Bishop in accordance with the resolution passed at Wellingborough on June 9th, 1923.
During the afternoon and evening the bells of the Parish Church were rung by mixed companies, and some very good touches of Grandsire and Stedman Caters, Treble Bob Royal, Bob Royal and Cambridge Surprise Royal were rung, which brought a pleasant meeting to a close.

Edited extracts from The Ringing World January 11th, 1924  p75
The new Guild for the Diocese of Peterborough was successfully launched at a largely attended meeting at Wellingborough on Saturday [January 5], although several clergy were at the enthronement of the Bishop of Winchester, who, while Bishop of Peterborough, instigated the formation of the new Diocesan Guild.

The proceedings on Saturday afternoon began with a service in the Parish Church, the Vicar of Wellingborough (the Rev R G W Smeaton) preaching.  He recalled that in that Parish Church at one time were three Guilds - the Guild of the Rood Loft, the Guild of the Holy Name, and the Guild of St. Katherine. If the Guild they were inaugurating that day was to be a success it must be true to the principles of some of their ancient guilds, and make for brotherhood, loving kindness, and sympathy between its members, and love for the Holy Church.
The company then adjourned to the Granville Hotel, where, after tea, the business meeting was held, the Rev J P Frend, of Collingtree, presiding.

At the commencement, the Guild would consist of seven branches, comprising the five districts of the Central Northants Association, each working as a separate branch, and the Peterborough and District and the Oundle and District Association forming the other two. At present the branches that had become attached to the Guild numbered about 620 members.
A resolution formally bringing the Guild into being was moved. The Dean of Peterborough was elected president.  For the office of Master Mr Nichols moved the name of Mr F. Wilford, which was carried with unanimity. Mr W. Wilson was chosen treasurer, Mr Nichols secretary, and Mr Millward auditor. It was also intimated that the branch associations would hold their meetings for the election of officers and representatives on the Central Committee as soon as possible.

Extracts from The Ringing World July 31, 1925
A special meeting was held at Daventry on Saturday July 18th with a view to forming a new branch of  the Guild in Daventry. It was carried that a Daventry branch of the Peterborough Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers be formed. The following ..were elected for the ensuing year: President, the Rev. W. H. Shackell; treasurer, the Rev. E. E. Law; secretary, Mr W Moore.  During the afternoon and evening several touches were rung, including a good course of London Surprise Major.

Extracts from the Ringing World of October 6, 1933 and November 17, 1933
A special general meeting was held at Oakham on September 23rd decided to establish a new branch for Rutlandshire. Canon E. E. Law presided and the proposition: 'That the Rutland Branch of the Peterborough Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers be formed,' and this was carried. The first meeting of the Rutland Branch was held at Empingham on Saturday, November 11th, 1933.  The officers elected were: President, Canon E. E. Law; secretary and treasurer, Mr
R. W. Daniels.  
[There were several letters to the editor of the RW on this subject, including from Percy Amos! -Worth a read]

The Ringing World  June 16, 1972  p487
The guild's A.G.M. was held on May 13 in Northampton, when the attendance was about 145. Evensong was sung in the Parish Church of St. Edmund and conducted by the vicar, Rev. F. P. Baker, who also gave the address. The lessons were read by Messrs. C. J. Groome and J. M. Tyler, and the organist was Mr. R. J. Robinson. The collection for the guild's bell restoration fund amounted to £11.05p.
Following tea, a draw took place, organised by Mr. R. Henman in aid of the bell restoration fund, the proceeds amounting to approximately £82.
Due to unavoidable circumstances the printed annual report was not available for the meeting and its adoption was deferred until the Summer Festival meeting at Welford in September.
Officers elected were: President, Rev. E. G. Orland; master, Mr. J. M. Tyler; secretary/ treasurer, Mr. E. Billings; peal secretary and auditor, Mr. E. Garrett; C.C. representative, Mr. B. R. Care. Thanks were accorded the officers for their work. Three applications for grants from the bell restoration fund were approved: Langham (rehanging costing £543) £60: Brixworth (rehanging costing £960) £100; Lyddington (rehanging and augmenting to six costing £2,689) £270.
The final proposition of the Guild Committee to reorganise the guild and revive the constitution and rules was one of the major items discussed. Work on the revision has taken nearly three years with periodic reference to members. On the chairman’s casting vote a motion to accept amendments at the meeting was lost and the committee’s proposition was then carried by 49 votes to 12. The new constitution requires some additional guild officers and these are to be elected at the Summer Festival in September.
A resolution that 3p from every subscription received by the guild be sent to The Ringing World towards its publication costs was lost. Members of the guild wholeheartedly support The Ringing World but the general consensus of opinion was that the paper should be self-supporting. It was agreed to hold the 1973 A.G.M. at Daventry in June. Members agreed to partake in the Sunday service ringing survey being organised by the Central Council Education Committee. As part of the preparations for the guild’s jubilee in 1974 the final design by Mr. Brian Austin for a 50-year membership certificate was unanimously approved. Mr. J. M. Tyler (master) congratulated the members who rang a peal of 53 Spliced Surprise Major at Moulton on May 6. A bookstall of Central Council publications organised by Mr. C. J. Groome realised approximately £8.
Mrs. Brenda Dixon of Rushden proposed the omnibus vote of thanks, and members dispersed to continue ringing in the towers available.

8. Raunds, Wellingborough & District Society 
Bell News and RIngers' Record Saturday , November 3, 1883. p370
In July last [1883], through the efforts of the Rev. Hugh Bryan, M.A., Vicar of Raunds— a thorough lover of bells and bell music— a meeting was held at Raunds, and a Society formed for Raunds, Wellingborough, and district. The Ven. R. P. Lightfoot, M. A., Archdeacon of Oakham and Vicar of Wellingborough, willingly accepted the office of President of the Association; the Rev. J. P. Goodman, Rector of Keystone, was elected Treasurer; and the Rev. Hugh Bryan undertook the duties of Honorary Secretary. The attendance being but small at the opening meeting, it was determined to hold another in October. This took place on Tuesday, the 23rd ult., at the parish church of Wellingborough, by the kind permission of the Ven. Archdeacon Lightfoot, who is himself a ringer, and takes great interest in the Society. Ringing commenced at 9.30 a.m., and was continued at intervals till 7.30 p.m. Ringers attended in force from Raunds, Higham Ferrers, Burton Latimer, Rushden, Irthlingborough, Finedon, Kettering, Earl’s Barton, and Doddington; representatives from each place managing to get a pull at some time or other during the day.
Considering that the visitors were none of them accustomed to bells of such weight, the striking was, on the whole, very good. All seemed pleased with the “go” of the bells. There was some little complaint regarding the difficulty in hearing the treble and second bells, they being up in the spire above the back four. The grand old tenor (a good specimen of the work of Watts, of Leicester, “the foremost in his art”) is accounted the heaviest bell in the county, and its full, mellow sound was generally admired. On the other hand, the harsh, discordant tone of the third bell was equally condemned. The general opinion of ringers regarding these bells is that the addition of two trebles would make a fine ring of eight. Besides adding to the music, this would render it much easier work for the tenor-man. At one o'clock a capital luncheon was provided in a room at Freeman's schools (kindly lent by the Archdeacon), to which clergy, honorary members, and ringers sat down, to the number of fifty. This was followed at 2.30 by Evensong at the parish church. As customary at Wellingborough, the bells were “failed" and chimed for the service. The sermon was preached by the Ven. Archdeacon Lightfoot. In a brief but practical and pithy discourse, the Archdeacon pointed out the true uses of the bells, and the true position of the ringers as church officials on a par with the choir ; desiring those present to remember their honourable office, and live upright consistent lives, worthy of churchmen and
churchworkers ; and requesting them to bear in mind at all times that the belfry was apart of the house of God. therefore not the place for lightness and levity. The offertory was in aid of the funds of the Association. Next came the business meeting, the Archdeacon presiding.
The Rev. H. Bryan, the energetic Honorary Secretary, gave an account of the formation and origin of the society, explained its objects, read the rules, and made some practical remarks on the subject of the reform of belfries, alluding to the evils that formerly arose and in some cases still arise, from ringing-lofts. The thanks of the Society were given to the Archdeacon for the use of the Church and bells. It was decided that the next meeting be held at Rushden, early in May next. At the conclusion of the meeting new members were
admitted. The Society now numbers over twenty honorary and fortytwo ringing members. The following were present during the day :the Revs. Canon Barker (Rushden), R, S. Baker (Hargrave), F. B. Newman (Burton Latimer), J. P. Goodman (Keystone), F. Ball (Wollaston), G. M. Edmonds (Stoke Doyle), and the local clergy. Also W. W. Baillie, Esq. (Oundle), Mr. Henson (churchwarden, Finedon), G. H. Burnham, Esq. (churchwarden), and Dr. W. W. Clarke, T. Cook, Esq., Mr. John Askham, and Mr. E. J, Dennes (sidesmen of the parish church, Wellingborough). There has not been such a gathering of ringers in Wellingborough for many years. The Irthlingborough men brought their handbells, which were kept going during the evening. All seemed to spend a most enjoyable day ; and, what may be considered the inaugural meeting of this newly formed Society was generally acknowledged to be a complete success.

Extracts from  The History and Art of Change Ringing (Ernest Morris)  p. 245 & meetings table compiled by Bryan Williams
The Raunds, Wellingborough and District Society of Church bell-ringers was formed by the Rev. Hugh Bryan, Vicar of Raunds, and the opening meeting is dated July 5, 1883.

1883 05-Jul Raunds
23-Oct Wellingborough
1884 19-May Rushden
1885 11-May Finedon
1886 17-May Raunds
1887 16-May Ringstead
01-Aug Rushden
1888 01-May Kettering
1889 Whit Monday Wellingborough
1890 Whit Monday Denford
30-Aug delegates at Priory Room Wellingborough
06-Sep delegates at Boys School Finedon
25-Oct Keystone
1891 07-Feb (?)
Whit Monday Earl’s Barton
 (?) Kettering
24-Oct Raunds
1892 13-Feb Warkton
Whit Monday Rushden
1893 Whit Monday Higham Ferrers
1894 Whit Monday Irthlingborough
1895 Whit Monday Kettering

On Whit-Monday, 1895, at the annual meeting, held in Kettering, it was decided to change the title to “The Central Northamptonshire Association”.
[A transcript of the Society’s minutes were compiled by Bryan Williams from the records and are available from the webmaster]

9. Towcester & District 

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.  
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 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
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.”

10. Weedon and District

A printed leaflet was collected by the late Peter Wenham at Braunston from which this text has been transcribed:


To be brought before the First General Meeting of
Members on October 9th. 1890, at DAVENTRY, with
regard to the proposed Society of Church Bell Ringers

for Daventry, Weedon and District.

1. – That this Union be called “THE DAVENTRY, WEEDON AND
It have for its object the promotion of the reverent use of the
Belfry, and the cultivation of the art of change-ringing.

2. – That it consist of Honorary and Ringing Members.

3. – That any person subscribing not less than Three Shillings
Annually shall be an Honorary Member.  That Ringing
Members shall contribute the sum of One Shilling annually,
but that no one shall be admitted as a Ringing Member
until he be certified by the leader of his Parochial Society
to be capable of ringing rounds.

4. – That any duly certified ringers shall be admitted at any
Annual Meeting of the Society, if proposed by two members
and elected by a majority of members present.

5. – That there shall be an Annual Meeting, at which there shall
be a Special Service held, Change-ringing performed, and
business of the Society transacted.

6. – That Meetings shall be held with the consent of the Incum-
bent at those Churches only which possess rings of five or
more bells, but that ringers shall be admitted from any
parish with a less number if proposed and duly qualified.

7. – That plain meals be provided at the Annual Meetings, the
Ringing Members paying half price, the Honorary Members
full price, the rest being paid by the Funds of the Society.

8. – That the operations of this Society shall not in any way
interfere with the Rules or Funds of Parochial Societies.

9. – That any alteration in, or addition to, the above Rules, shall
only be made at the Annual Meeting.

10. – That while this Society has for one of its objects the cultiva-
tion of the art of Change-ringing, it aims at the greater Glory
of God; and that, therefore, any member bringing dishonour
upon the Church by his misconduct shall be dismissed the

The original leaflet carries many pencilled amendments and comments indicating amongst other things that it should be an Association and that meetings for ringing and business should be quarterly. It contains on the reverse pencilled / scribbled names which I can best transcribe as: Mr Sheppard, Rev Waters, Mr Gibbons, Mr Harrison, Rev Colville and Mr Brewers.  It looks as if these were notes made at the time of the meeting.  The next record that we have follows below.

Edited extract from the Bell News 7 February 1891
It has been said that Northamptonshire is not a good county for change-ringing. Some years ago much was done to remove this unpleasant stigma by the foundation of the Wellingborough and Raunds Association. As this organisation, however, could not reach the district on the other-side of Northampton, an Association has been formed for the Rural Deaneries of Daventry and Weedon and their neighbourhood, having the double object of promoting a right and proper use belfries, and the art of change-ringing.

After some preliminary meetings for the discussion of the scheme, and the drawing up of rules etc, the new Association held its first annual gathering at Daventry on Monday, January 26th. Proceedings commenced with a dinner at 2 pm, to which about forty-five sat down, the company including ringers from Braunston, Bugbrooke, Daventry, Dodford, Everdon, Newnham, and Staverton. The Rev Canon Collyns, rector of Daventry, presided and there were also present the Revs F Churchill (rector of Everdon and Secretary of the Association, to whose Indefatigable efforts its foundation is due), H Waters, A W Durham, G M Edmunds, H W Johnson, and H B Woolley. After dinner there was a service at the parish church, at which the Rev G M Edmunds, rector of Stoke Doyle, near Oundle, preached an excellent sermon, containing many, forcible illustrations from bells and change-ringing. Then came a business meeting, and after a vote of thanks to the preacher, the ringers adjourned to the tower. Daventry church has the only ring of eight in the neighbourhood. The tenor weighs 16 ¾ cwt, and they are musical bells, but their “go" is very indifferent, and it would not be the easiest task in the world to ring a 5040 on them.

Change-ringing is however in its infancy in this part of the county, and the best that could be done in this line was a 6-score of Grandsire Doubles by the Bugbrooke band. The
Daventry ringers finished the day s work by ringing “Home Sweet Home " on the tower bells, which they did very cleverly. A successful start has been made, the Association already numbering fifty-three members, many of whom are being initiated into the mysteries of Plain Bob, so that at the next meeting doubtless some more change-ringing will be accomplished.

The following information has been gleaned from extant annual festival certificates in ringing chambers. From 1908 -1926, each certificate records the names of the ringers of the winning team and each bears the name of Rev W Harry Shackel, Secretary (Vicar of Brockhall, who, in 1925, became the president of the new Daventry Branch of the
PDG). In 1927 the Rev J W Strong (Vicar of Dodford and Rural Dean) was the secretary.
It is interesting to note the variations in the title of the association!

Year, date Title used Festival location Winner
1891, Jan 26 Daventry No competition
1899, Jun 6 Weedon 1. Bugbrooke
2. Harpole
3. Welton
1908 Weedon and District Bell Ringers' Association Weedon? Weedon
1909 Weedon and District Bell Ringers' Association
1910 Weedon and District Bell Ringers' Association Weedon? Weedon
1911 Daventry, Weedon and District Bellringers’ Association Whilton Harpole
1912, Jun 8 Daventry and Weedon Bell Ringers’ Association Litchborough Welton
1914, Jun 20 Daventry & Weedon Bell Ringing Association Newnham Welton
1920, Jun 5 Daventry & Weedon Bell-Ringers’ Association Welton Welton
1921, Jun 25  Weedon and District Bell Ringers' Association Weedon Weedon
1922, Jun 10 Weedon and District Bell Ringers' Association Welton
1923, Jun 26 Weedon and District Bell Ringers' Association Everdon Everdon
1924, May 25 Dodford Dodford
1925, May 23 Weedon and District Bell Ringers' Association West Haddon Welton
1926, Jun 5 Weedon and District Bell Ringers' Association Litchborough Litchborough
1927, Jun 26 Weedon and District Bell Ringers' Association Norton Everdon
Last revised: 13/3/2013

11. Inventory of Records
deposited on loan to the Northamptonshire Records Office, Mereway, Northampton NN4 8BQ
These records can be seen when the office is open but removal of these records is permitted only on the written authority of the Guild Secretary.

Contents From-to NRO ref.
Raunds, Wellingborough and District Society
Minutes of Quarterly and Annual Meetings 1883 - 1895 ZA 1967
Minutes of Quarterly Meetings 1894 - 1898 ZA 1968
Central Northamptonshire Association
Minutes of Annual and Special Meetings 1896 - 1923 ZA 1969
Minutes of Committee Meetings 1914 - 1924 ZA 1969
Minutes of Quarterly Meetings 1898 - 1906 ZA 1970
Peal Book 1897 - 1918 ML 782
Annual Reports  (2  volumes) 1893 - 1923 ZB 1108 / 1-2
Northampton Branch Minute Book 1905 - 1923 ZB 1108 / 20
The Peterborough Diocesan Guild
Minutes of Inaugural, Annual and Special Meetings 1924 - 1933 ZA 9003
Minutes of Committee Meetings 1924 - 1934 ZA 9003
Minutes of General, Special and Summer Festival Meetings 1934 - 1974 ZA 9004
Minutes of Committee Meetings 1934 - 1967 ZA 9005
Minutes of Committee Meetings 1968 - 1972 ZA 9006
Annual Reports (2 bound volumes of 10 years each) 1924 - 1943 ZA 9007- 8
Annual Reports (7 bound volumes of 10 years each) 1924 - 1993 ZB 1108 / 3-9
Silver Jubilee Photograph - Name list attached 1949 ZA 9009
Golden Jubilee Photograph - Name list attached 1974 ZA 9010
Sample Peal Certificate ZA 9011
Sample of 50 year Membership Certificate ZA 9012
Press and Ringing World Cuttings 1974 ZA 9013
Secretary’s File - correspondence received and sent 1977 - 1988 ZB 1108 / 10
Various papers on constitution 1971, St Edmund’s, 
      Northampton peal boards, form of service et al. 1969 - 1982 ZB 1108 / 11
Newsletters - Guild Newsletters from No. 1, not complete 1969 - 1983 ZB 1108 / 19
Northampton Branch General Meetings Minute Books (6) 1924 - 1980 ZB 1108 / 21-26
Northampton Branch Committee Meetings Minute Book 1924 - 1937 ZB 1108 / 27
Northampton Branch Committee Meetings Minute Book 1969 - 1989 ZB 1108 / 28
Cathedral Bells 
Project Minute Book 1983 - 1986 ZB 1108 / 12
Cathedral Bells - correspondence 1981 - 1985 ZB 1108 / 13 
Cathedral Bells - correspondence 1985 - 1989 ZB 1108 / 14
Bellfounder’s Drawings 1984 ZB 1108 / 15
Other notes, report and circular letter  1984 ZB 1108 / 16 -18
History and Art of Change Ringing by Ernest Morris, 
       published by Chapman & Hall,  1931 ZA 9014
A Key to the Art of Ringing by William Jones (donated by
       R.G.Black), published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown ZA 9015
The Five Bell Peals of Mr Richard Valentine (handwritten book) ZA 9016
Book held by the Guild Steward
Church Bells of Northamptonshire by Thomas North
Last revision: 2011 report

12. War Memorials

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has produced, through tremendous effort by Alan Regin, fine Rolls of Honour  listing the names of all bellringers who died as a result of the Great War (1914-18).  The listing of names showing home tower and association is available here.  A similar list for World War II (1939-45) is available here

There are two memorial plaques mounted side by side over the tower spiral stair doorway behind the north doorway of the west portico of All Saints Church, Northampton.  They have been transcribed below and a click on an underlined name will go direct to the CCCBR Rolls of Honour individual entry.














Additionally the Rolls of Honour identify these members of our constituent predecessors:

Central Northants: W H SNART

Daventry & District:  W E BAILEY


Towcester & District: J B HORNSBY

13. Church Bells of Northamptonshire (1878) and Rutland (1880)
Thomas North published these books after arranging for the collection of details about the bells and local traditions of bellringing in the counties. There are copies in county libraries and in private hands. There are  digitalised copies on the internet, the Northamptonshire book with the better search facility is available by clicking here. 
The companion book for Rutland is available here.

The current listing of towers and bells for the diocese is shown on the 'Towers' page.  

We are presently in the process of creating a new page "Inventory" to show bell installation details from the edition published in 1989 by the Guild and brought up to date and cast-on inscriptions additionally listed.

14. Bagley Gravestone at Chacombe

There is a gravestone in Chacombe churchyard for Henry Bagley, 1608 -1683, an active bellfounder of that village from 1630. The Bagley family cast bells from 1631 until 1785. The gravestone is inscribed:


and on the back 

"RESTORED A.D. 1892 / A.D. 1958 / A.D. 2016

The restoration in 1791 was undertaken for John Briant, bellfounder of Hertford, who found it badly eroded. He also added the comment about an ingenious bell-founder, according to this reference

The Culworth Branch instigated the restorations in 1958 and 2016 (see page 9 of this Newsletter). 

A full history of the Bagley family and foundry by Betty D. Cameron can be found on pp111-125 of the Banbury Historical Society magazine 'Cake and Cockhorse' Volume 13, number 4 issued in 1995 and available here.

Page last revised 30/5/2019. Church Bells of Rutland and link added.

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