Don’t put away the bunting yet….

Finally we have achieved our rather ambitious project to ring a quarter peal of Stedman Triples in hand. Our aim was to mark the 200th anniversary of the first successful attempt in 1822 by 4 serious young men of the Mancroft Ringers in Norwich. We had seen a stone tablet and thought  “why not? We can try to do  that…”  In this way a goal was set and once set we could not seem to let go of the idea.

We are not a group of serious young men.  We are a group of “ladies of a certain age”, although for this endeavour one Belle was holidaying abroad so we allowed a guest ringer to join our band – one self- identifying as a lady for the occasion.  Apparently, it is all the rage these days.  Michael searched for his feminine side, and having found it was allowed to ring under the name of Michelle, although if you look beneath the pink bobble hat he is not fooling anyone. Some of us are not very experienced handbell ringers – although the “ringer” is and provided some much needed stability on the tenors. The clankers of 3-4 sneaked in a first handbell quarter peal of Stedman Triples last month with a rather elite band because she clearly was fed up with waiting for us to stop mucking about, for the 5-6 it was first in principle in hand, and even our cross-dressing friend scored a first in hand for Triples.  For me it was first in principle (I can’t even ring a plain course in the tower) and I was given the extra responsibility of conducting, because why make things easy when you can make things difficult?

It has not been easy, and it has not been quick. With a bob caller on conducting duties, the others had to be super reliable to get through it because as all Stedman ringers can testify, Stedman can collapse spectacularly quickly if a mistake is allowed to magnify. I can manage to remind people when it is a new 6 and whether it is quick or slow, but that is my limit. Any wandering from the path had to be renegotiated between all 4 of us, and remarkably, we managed to achieve this without too much kicking/glaring/bell waving under noses. 1-2  and 5-6 have a good foot shuffle thing going on and there were certainly a few times when I was enormously grateful for a second opinion as to whether quick or slow were called for.  She does not even wear post-its on her toes anymore.

We have had tremendous fun in the scoring of this quarter.  Last week we managed over 800 changes before admitting defeat. This week we had a couple of false starts -“You made the call in the wrong place” they complained. “On the contrary.  I made the call in the correct place, but I said the wrong thing…” A reviving cup of Rosie Lee and we had another bash.  Two of us should have taken off our jumpers because it gradually grew warmer and warmer, but troupers to the last we kept on clanking until I called “This is all” and felt a teensy bit smug – because you only get to call your first quarter of Stedman Triples on handbells once.

And, not meaning to boast, the calls were put in rather well.  Nary a “sob” nor a “bringle” to muddy the minds of the band. Not even a “bob??”, which roughly translated means “ I think there is a bob here, but if you find yourself heading for an unexpected position, please speak up in the next 20th of a second so that I can put it right….”


  1. Well done, especially conducting from an inside pair. In our current Stedman Triples project, we decided that conducting would be done from 7-8 (and we have all had a turn). Which composition did you use?


  2. Thank you.
    We tried a Thurston one first but found our lack of experience made it hard to call from anywhere but 7-8. In the end we were pragmatic and went for 3(bbsbbs), so the trebles could anchor the others with the 7 doing a bit of moving about, but not too much. It seemed to work. Try it and let everyone call from 1-2 – it is pleasing.


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