The meeting begins at 4.00 p.m. and will be followed by the usual Branch Practice.



Drayton St Leonard has 13 ringers and learners, ranging in age from 9 to a bit older! We practice on Wednesdays from 7.30pm to 8.30pm, and ring for service each Sunday.

We have 6 bells. Little is known about the bells prior to 1884, as documentary evidence is scarce. Edward VI in 1547 commissioned a countrywide inventory of church goods and possessions, and the Oxfordshire section remains.

Amongst the items listed at Drayton church, on 28th day of July 1552, are “3 belles yn the steple.” The oldest bell still bears the date 1470, and was cast by William Chaimberlain of the London foundry, and was probably hung in the church at that date. It is inscribed “Sancta Katerina Ora Pro Nobis” [Saint Catherine pray for us] and was the heaviest of the three, weighing just over 7cwt. It is not known when the other two in existence in 1552 were cast.

It is likely that the church continued with three bells up to 1884, although two of these early bells must have been either replaced or re-cast in the seventeenth century. The lighter of the two is now dated 1625, weighs around 4 cwt, and is inscribed “Our hope is in the Lorde.” The remaining bell, also weighing around 4cwt, is inscribed “Benedic hereditati tuae” [Bless your inheritance] and dated 1603. These two were cast by Ellis Knight I and Henry Knight I respectively.

The Churchwardens’ Accounts for the period 1641-1682 often refer to the three bells, and money was regularly spent on maintaining them. The ropes must have been more flimsy than those in use today, because they were replaced nearly every year. The leather straps probably holding the clapper inside the bell (baldricks) were replaced regularly, and repairs to the wheels undertaken, suggesting that the bells were well used and looked after. Things had changed, however, 150 years later. In the Churchwardens’ Presentments for 1828 the entry reads

The oak frame and gear to hold this new ring of six was made by Frederick White, of Appleton, Berkshire. The total cost of the bells, with fittings and frame, was £253-11-9d, and was invoiced to H D Betteridge, churchwarden, who lived at Drayton House Farm. The frame was slightly larger than the internal size of the tower and therefore had to rest on the west wall of the church.

In many churches, the bells are lifted into the tower through a trapdoor in the ceiling. There is no such access here, nor are there any suitable windows to allow access from the outside. It is a matter of speculation how the bells found their way into the tower.

The tenor of this peal was apparently not heavy enough for it was recast again in 1885 at the expense of Mr Betteridge and the weight increased to over 7cwt.

































Mears & Stainbank

Mears & Stainbank

Mears & Stainbank

Mears & Stainbank

Mears & Stainbank

Mears & Stainbank


Treasurer’s Report - by Maureen Bosley 

The Branch has 127 members in 2010 of whom 4 are Honorary members. The number of subscriptions in 2010 was 123 plus the 4 Honorary members.

76 members supported the 100 club in 2010 and £190 each was raised for ODGCB Bell fund and the Oxford Diocesan Bell Fund.

On behalf of the branch, I extend my thanks to Sue Dyke for running the 100 Club and to Frank Norman for auditing the 2009 accounts. I hope that they will be willing to continue with this greatly valued work next year.

Branch Practices for the remainder of 2010

4th December   Chalgrove    4pm - 5.30pm

Guild Programme for 2010

27th November  10 Bell Striking Competition

27th November  General Committee Meeting

From the Ringing Master - by Hilarie Rogers

The usual practices have taken place – Grandsire, Surprise Minor, Surprise Major – and Branch Practices continue to provide more opportunities to ring. We managed to squeeze everyone into Great Haseley in January and the AGM at Ewelme attracted many of our less experienced ringers who rang extremely well. By contrast later in the year, we were few at Little Milton and at Berrick Salome, but had good practices nonetheless. Wallingford in September had 22 attendees to sample 10-bell ringing, which was very encouraging.

In May we had a second Youngsters’ Afternoon, with some new faces, and I hope to run another one before the end of the year. Recently we have given the Shabbington ringers an extra session, which they found very useful.

I hope to run some handling sessions next year, so watch this space! If there is anything that you would like, do get in touch.

Hilarie Rogers

01865 890163

25 Years Ago

25 years ago the Autumn Meeting was held on Saturday 21st September 1985 at Ewelme. It was noted that there were 97 members that year. Two items stand out – 1) Monthly practices were held at Benson and the methods rung were Stedman and Double Norwich and 2) that the October Branch Practice in 1985 was held at Shabbington.

Guild Six Bell Striking Competition

Hearty congratulations to the band representing Drayton St Leonard in the Guild Six Bell Striking Competition final at Cowley on Saturday 2nd October. Much to the delight of the churchyard pundits (and their own) they were placed first out of the ten bands competing. This is the first time a South Oxon tower has been awarded the coveted trophy since the 1960's, when Warborough were victorious.

The full results.









Drayton St Leonard


St Aldate's, Oxford

High Wycombe

St Mary's, Reading

All Saints, Wokingham


Great Linford

South Oxon

Vale of the White Horse

Oxford City

East Berks & South Bucks


Sonning Deanery

Old North Berks

North Bucks









Wing (Central Bucks) and Wootton (Witney & Woodstock) were unfortunately both disqualified.

Winning Drayton St Leonard Team

Winning Drayton St Leonard Team

Back row: John White, Hilarie Rogers, Chris Rogers:
Front row:  Amy Herlihy, Charlotte Rogers, Daniel Rogers


Aston Rowant - by Robert Newton

It remains the norm for six, or occasionally five, ringers to attend Sunday service ringing and our practices continue to be well supported. However, one more visitor  would enable us to ring Cambridge sometimes.

One evening in July, we had a most enjoyable party at the home of Jenny and Francis Flynn, with swimming pool, yummy food and another of Wendy's games. Many thanks to our hosts and all those involved.

Our annual outing on 11th September took us to Charlton-on-Otmoor, Islip and Bletchingdon, followed by an excellent lunch at the Blacks Head Inn. Some of our ringers were not available, but those who did attend enjoyed and benefited from the morning. Thank you, Shirley, for making the (as usual, most comprehensive) arrangements.

We are hoping that we will soon be given permission to install rope guides for Aston Rowant as the DAC has now discussed our case and the next stage is a faculty application.

Benson - by John Tchighianoff

Since the last Newsletter I am pleased to report that a branch band rang the first peal on the newly rehung bells on Easter Monday.

Following several requests the PCC have agreed to allow two peals a year and we are now booked up until 2012.

Much of my time this year has been occupied with the restoration of the clock chimes. After several months with the horologist trying to make the traditional clock hammers fit it was finally agreed that this was not going to work in the new layout of the bells, particularly because the tenor is now in the middle of the tower and is very close to the two adjacent bells. We therefore opted for electro-magnetic hammers. These are now installed but are not yet entirely satisfactory. He is still trying to work out how to provide a gap between the pairs of ‘ting tang’ at the quarters. However more significant is the fact that the hammer which strikes the hour is quieter than the quarters and cannot be heard except right outside the church. This is still being looked at. This is very frustrating bearing in mind that work on restoring the chimes started in November of last year.

On a happier note we were pleased to congratulate 12 year old James who rang the treble to Grandsire Doubles on 18th September for his first Quarter Peal. We also have three young learners who are coming on well although their attendance at practices is on hold at the moment whilst they adjust to moving up to secondary school.

Chalgrove - by Andrew Davis

On the 2nd July the last quarter was rung on the bells of St. Mary's Church Chalgrove prior to their refurbishment. This was followed by a final practice night on the 14th where we were joined by Ian our Vicar who proposed a toast to the future success of the project.

At 1pm on Friday 16th July, after nearly three years preparation, work commenced. We spent the afternoon and Saturday removing the fittings from the bells and ensuring that all of the tower trapdoors could be opened. A large opening was formed in the floor of the belfry, to allow plenty of room to squeeze the Tenor through. This will be boarded over when work is complete.

Scaffolding went in the following Tuesday morning.  A platform above the bell frame was created to enable the installation of the beams needed to lift the bells out.  In the evening we laser levelled the positions of the four holes, paint marked them using a wooden template and then cut the stonework.

Wednesday: in two sessions we knocked out the stonework ready for pad stones to be lime mortared into position on Thursday. On Friday, after measuring for what must be the 10th time, the steel beams were cut to length.

St. Mary's Church Chalgrove bells refurbishment

Saturday 24th: after an 8 am start, four beams were winched the 45' into the belfry.  Once there and after bacon butties we lifted them into place and bolted them together. The 'floating' beam was also lifted into position.  Each beam was around 15 3/4 stone. With the floating beam, we have put over 1/2 tonne (540 kg) into the Tower!

The scaffolding was removed from the Tower the following week.

On the 8th August we removed the door and panel between the nave and tower.  This allowed us to achieve the 45" needed for the Tenor to be wheeled through the Church.

The bells were lowered on Thursday 12th by the team under the supervision of Whites of Appleton Bell hangers. Thanks are due to Alan from Watlington who assisted us during a very busy day.

The bells were displayed for all to see over the weekend before being transported to Whites.

Those few weeks were hard graft but a great experience, all the planning and preparation came together perfectly.  In a few weeks time we will be doing it all again when the Bells return with new fittings ready to ring again.

On the afternoon of the 31st the bells 'rang out' for a wedding, courtesy of the final quarter peal being recorded and two very big speakers!

We will continue working in the tower as the steels that were installed under the bell frame in the early 70's need rubbing down and painting.

Our team of ringers includes 5 young people and 10 not so young all eager to have the bells back. For the time being several of us have been made very welcome at Benson and Berrick Salome.

Fund raising for the project has continued throughout the summer, having a list of parts that people can purchase has been a good idea. We have had a couple wishing to buy a "bushed clapper" to celebrate their Wedding anniversary....

We would like to thank Louise Wells from Brightwell Baldwin who along with her friends Olivia and Jack put on a wonderful evening of music at St. Mary's raising well over £600. The talent displayed by these three young people was fantastic, it is hoped that they will become a regular booking.

It is expected that the bells will be back in time for Christmas, we look forward to inviting you all to join us for their rededication in the New Year. 

Chinnor - by Moira Hollick

Our ringing continues well on Friday nights but we are still not able to ring for all Sunday services.

We are very pleased to have Beverley back with us following the birth of her third child.  However I am unable to ring at present following a recent hip replacement operation but hopefully this won’t be for too long.

Recently a local Young Farmers group came to look round the church and visited the bell tower.  This has resulted in two of the girls starting to learn ringing towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award.  They are very keen so we hope they will continue to support us.

A new family is in the process of moving to Chinnor – Mum, Dad and two daughters.  They have all recently started to learn to ring and so this is looking positive.

The tower is looking much smarter now as the awful old carpet has been replaced.  Our thanks go to Maureen for this.

We rang for the school leavers’ service in July, for a number of weddings over the summer and recently for the mid-week Harvest service.  We are grateful that friends from Aston Rowant and Little Milton continue to support us.

Dorchester - by David Parker

It is probably true that in most towers the ringing jogs along nicely from one month or year to the next with little change in members of the band or indeed the officers. So it has been with us for some time, in spite of my attempts to persuade someone to take over as tower captain since I was appointed a churchwarden last April. Aileen was also appointed a churchwarden, and nearly all our ringers are committed to other jobs in the church. The duties of tower captain and churchwarden do not sit comfortably together, but everyone has been very patient and supportive with the result that we…..jog along nicely.

However, we all have to look to the future, and in ringing circles that means that we are always on the lookout for new recruits or, if we are very lucky, for the expert who moves into the parish. We have had one of these in Henry, but because he has a time consuming consultant post at the Churchill Hospital he can only come once in a blue moon! We are delighted with the progress of our latest novice, Jane, who has been well and truly hooked and who has almost caught up with the others. She is ringing Grandsire inside and can hunt the treble for Grandsire Triples or Plain Hunt Major.

We were delighted to hear that Nick and Steph’s son Joshua, now aged twelve, was saying he wanted to learn to ring. We have waited twelve years for that! Because most of our ringers are getting on a bit (to say the least) we thought it might be tough on Josh to be one amongst many much older ringers, so we took up Steph’s offer to enquire amongst the younger parents around the village as to whether any children would like to join a group on a bell ringing course at the end of the school holidays. The response exceeded our expectations, and on the first day ten children aged twelve to sixteen turned up. Three were from one family, and two – Isabel and Joshua – have ringing parents. Fortunately we had five experienced ringers to act as tutors. We all enjoyed the experience tremendously. The children were attentive, keen and very enthusiastic. We wondered how many would turn up on subsequent days. There were six, then six then eight! We expect there to be a problem over competition with school activities, but in spite of that, six were determined to come for half an hour before our Tuesday practices for further tuition. By the end of the four day course they had learnt to ring a bell with only minimal support from their tutors. This, I feel, was a credit to the teachers’ courses run by the Guild because both John and Aileen had been on courses.

Many of you will, I believe, have been invaded by the band of Cornishmen at the beginning of September. Weren’t they fun? They stayed at The George in Dorchester and were a hot topic of conversation in the village. They joined us half way through our practice on the Tuesday and gave us a demonstration of their famed West Country ringing up and down (repeatedly) in peal. The next day people were stopping me in the street and saying our ringers had come on a lot lately! I had to be honest. On their last night they gave an after-supper concert in The George to which they had extended a general invitation. It was a fabulous evening’s entertainment. They sang folk songs, both solos and for everyone, they told hilarious yarns and they rang hand bells. I shall never forget their final piece when they rang what I think was plain hunt on ten. It was fascinating to see the bells exchanging hands as they migrated down the line and back again. And they did not make a single mistake

Drayton St Leonard - by Hilarie  Rogers

Over the summer we have minimized the movement in the tower by ringing just the back 5 – because of the way they hang, the interaction of treble and third cause the most trouble. Linda, who started learning at the end of last year, is now ringing rounds pretty well. Niall started to learn in May but as he is only 9, he is having his initial sessions at Great Haseley where the bells are easier to ring.

In August I was interviewed for Radio Cherwell (the hospital radio) and the Talking Books for the Blind. The interviewer also spent a practice night with us recording the ringing and interviewing between touches as well! I couldn’t resist giving him a few goes at backstroke.

In between all this, we are practising for the Guild 6-bell competition at the start of October.

Great Haseley - by Hilarie Rogers

There are now no Haseley ringers, but a core of ringers from various towers practise weekly and ring for service once a month. There have been 6 weddings this summer, most unusual! John White and I have been finishing off rubbing down and painting the frame and are now turning our attention to the headstocks, wheels and some interior stonework repairs. We also plan to replace the window mesh and build and install sound control. We explained all this to the PCC recently, who were most supportive and encouraging.

Great Milton - by Pat Cox

Summer has been busy in the GM Tower. We have had weddings throughout the summer and with the regular ringing for services, practices and an increased number of visitors - it has been fairly hectic!

Our thanks for their constant support go to the Little Milton ringers - who have ridden to the rescue on a number of occasions!  BBQ2010The summer ended with our annual Barbecue, held at the Captain's house this year - a good evening, and a splendid film to complete the night!

Little Milton - by Jane Willis

We have another new recruit – Elliott Jones has joined us and is learning to ring bells as part of his bronze Duke of Edinburgh award.  He is picking up the necessary skills very quickly, and we are hopeful that he will continue after the initial thirteen weeks!

Raymond, Jennifer and Jane joined with ringers from the South Oxfordshire Branch and had a very enjoyable day out in Wiltshire.  We rang at three churches – the highlight of which was St Peters situated next to the beautiful landscape gardens at Stourhead.  And for a change we didn’t get lost!

When our mentor, the ever patient Chris Rodgers went on holiday for three weeks, we decided to branch out and organize visits of our own!  One Tuesday was spent at Dorchester Abbey where we joined in with an eight bell practice evening.  Everyone was very welcoming, and we all enjoyed ourselves.

We have had two visits to St Leonard’s at Watlington – thank you Alan for allowing us to come back after the first time!  We found the bells “interesting” and fairly scary.  We realized how spoilt we are with our easy going bells at Little Milton.  Alan was very patient and encouraging, so much so that five of us have rung for weddings at Watlington since those visits!

We have only had one bell ringing party this summer….. well Spring really, when we joined with towers throughout the country to ring for St George’s Day.  Little Milton ringers took the event very seriously with Raymond, Sarah and Hil arriving dressed as Knights – they had ridden through the village on hobby horses, dressed in chain mail, with swords and shields, and a red cross for England, and Linda sporting a dragon’s head!  After a roast beef supper, ringers gave a rendition of their favourite English poems, but the highlight was Chris’s singing of “In an English Country Garden”.   Perhaps we could ring on other saint’s days and party accordingly!

Shabbington - by Ann Mayou

The big news is that the work on transforming the vestry at the base of our tower (where we ring) is due to start on October 11th.  The work will include curing the considerable damp problem, and installing a kitchen and loo.  A new ringing floor will be inserted, reached from the vestry via a short alternate tread stairway.  The church will be much more comfortable for worshippers and all others who use it.  We are looking forward to having a dedicated ringing room.  The work is said to take about 6 to 8 weeks and we will not be able to ring again until Christmas at the earliest.

We are very grateful to Ray for inviting us to join the ringers at Little Milton and to Hilarie for also extending a welcome to us at Great Haseley while we are ‘homeless’.  Our learners are making excellent progress and benefited greatly from a special intensive practice kindly organized by Hilarie.  Although now at University, Dan Rogers has not forgotten us and we are so pleased and grateful that he likes to come to help us in his vacations.  As always our thanks go to Chris Rogers who does so much to help us learn and improve our ringing.

Warborough - by Sue Dyke

I am pleased to say that we have a couple of new recruits to bell ringing in Warborough.  Kate is ringing rounds and is progressing very well. Anne has just moved into the village and has had a couple of lessons in bell handling.

We managed to ring all 8 bells last Sunday which is a first for many months.

Our practice nights were somewhat intermittent during the summer but we generally managed to ring for the Services.

This year we have had many visiting bands either on tour, quarter peals or Course sessions.  It was very interesting to see how differently the ringers from Devon & Cornwall ring their Rounds and Call Changes.