Quarter-pealing as a learner (Peter Murdock-Saint, Sopley)

On Sunday 9th September, I joined forces with five very kind people who had given up their Sunday afternoon, to form a band to ring a quarter-peal of Reverse Canterbury Pleasure Place Doubles.

Once I had located the correct church!…we could be found in the tower of Sturminster Marshall, on mainly medieval bells, with the tenor dating from 1400, weighing in at a healthy 18cwt.  Lovely rich bells, and smooth going, steady speed too, due to their moving weights.

This was my second attempt at Reverse Canterbury.  My first was hampered by inexperience with a long draft, lassoing ropes, and a touch of wheel slip on generally ‘difficult bells’, and in hindsight, was a great lesson in itself, even though we came away without scoring.

One of our younger members, Jack Pease, (only 19), was conducting the quarter-peal.  The band were very easy going, which leant to a relaxed atmosphere in which to ring, and focus on the 1260 changes ahead.

We started off well, and aside for a minor blunder by yours truly in the middle, when I decided to go for a ‘wander’ off the well trod method pathway, we scored the quarter-peal, and I was able to make my mark in the tower records book.  All the ringers made a great team, and could sense (probably by my glances of mercy), when I needed a word of encouragement, or affirmation of what piece of work was coming forward next.

This is now my fourth quarter-peal since taking up ringing in November 2016, and each one has been a very individual and tailored experience.  Some with people I know, and my tutors from Sopley, who are able to foretell mistakes I may not have even begun to career through yet!  Some with people I have met for the first time, and by the end, have become team players together, thinking as a unit on, musical, mathematical, and physical/technical levels.

As a good friend mentioned to me…it is like giving 88 people a key each from a piano, and going off with an instruction to coordinate a full piece of music.  We have a motto at St. Peter’s, where I ring on a weekly basis on their bell-handling course…’The strength of the team is in each individual member, the strength of each member is in the team’.

I have received support and guidance from all across our district, and further afield.  Attended ringing days out, events, education days, ringing holidays, specially tailored district practice evenings, quarter-peal days and fortnights, district practices, meetings,  plus other tower’s practice nights, bell-handling workshops, all their time given on a voluntary level.  We are very lucky in our district there is always something going on, with a very busy website, we just have to go ourselves and grab these opportunities.  I have been bitten by the bell-ringing bug, and ring about five times weekly now!

Finally I must mention briefly alongside my quarter-peal news that the District Quarter Peal Club shall be returning in a slightly revamped form in 2019, managed by Polly Osborne.  Watch this space for further details VERY SOON…

Photography by Jack Pease


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