Given current Government advice – this month’s Basingstoke District Practice at Yateley is cancelled.
Remembrance is often difficult without direct memories or those passed on through family. Men who died in war were young and so are a dead-end on their family tree diagram. Many were never fathers, grandfathers or great grandfathers with photos and prized possessions passed through the family to keep them alive in the hearts of future generations. Memories of them 100 years on are now faded in the family histories.
Taking Tommy on his travels made these brave soldiers more alive to us, as ringers we had an insight into a small aspect of their lives. We know the hard work, dedication, attention to detail and reliability needed to be part of a group of ringers; how team work is essential and that we are an extended family.
Five towers in our district lost ringers. At each tower we had open ringing on tower bells or handbells followed by a silence to remember and then tolling of the tenor for the age of the ringer.
Our tour started at Yateley where we remembered Lance Sergeant Charles Albert Butler, aged 21. Ringing included rounds, rounds and call changes Grandsire and Plain Bob triples. The Yateley Society put on a display on the village green just outside the church which encouraged the general public to come and find out about ringing and see the ringers in action.
Stratfield Saye is a lovely little church on the Stratfield Estate. No ringing is allowed on the bells as the tower is now too weak. However, the vicar took us up to see the bells and we were able to sound each individual bell with a hammer (an ‘interesting’ tuning of a ring of 5 bells).
Five ringers were lost from this church: Lance Corporal Joseph Binge (20); Private Thomas William Binge(22);Private Albert George Broadhurst (24); Sapper Charles Kersley (30) and Private John Robert Series ( age unknown so we tolled the tenor 26 times).
Standing where our lost Tommies would have stood in the ringing room looking at the same oak bracing beams, brick walls and circle of five ropes was a poignant moment. Probably this was the whole band that had perished and that these men had possibly all worked on the estate or in the village.
At the chancel crossing we rang handbells ,mainly rounds with each person having a single bell.
The vicars’ young grandson, as well as Mary Oliver who rang at St Michael’s in Basingstoke many years ago also joined in.
The churchyard has mature trees that certainly would have been growing 100 years ago giving us a further connection to the past. We all sat together between these trees and ate a picnic, then tolled the tenor handbell for each of lost from the ringing family.
Next stop was Bramley. Here the stone work of the tower window had disintegrated and so no ringing of the tower bells was allowed as masonry falling onto the ringers was a real possibility. Some Bramley ringers joined us and we rang handbells in memory of Private Alec William Symonds (21). Interestingly the plaque in the church ranked him as Corporal.
Deane is a tiny village to the west of Basingstoke. The church has structural problems so ringing is generally restricted to special occasions and individual pieces of ringing are limited to about ten minutes in duration. The order of the bells in some changes makes them a little tricky to strike at times as tower movement makes some of the bells drop.
Two ringers from the same family were lost from this band. I was given the privilege of tolling the tenor for the life of Private Alfred Kirby aged 25 (about the same age as my youngest, Greg, is now and who is also a ringer) . Also remembered was Private Frank Kirby (34)
Our last visit of the day was to Dummer to remember Rifleman Royston Bishop(24)
We had some lovely ringing on the 5 bells. We were very grateful to members of the Dummer band who provided us with much needed refreshments.
The clear statue of Tommy travelled with us those and stood amongst us at each tower and gave us an echo of our lost members.
Photos provided by Graham Sargent and Gary Marsh.
Videos provided by Gary Marsh.
Yateley’s community event, alongside Tommy’s Travels on Saturday 1st September, will be making the headlines!
Further to the earlier post here.
Peter Tipton, author of ‘Yateley in the Great War’ has contacted us saying
” Yateley Society is a charity that encourages local residents to cherish their local heritage and aims to educate the wider community, too. Interfacing with the wider community is much more difficult to achieve so we are seizing the opportunity you have given us by your ringing the bells at 10.45 a.m. So we have to thank you, Martin Barnes and the Guild for giving us this opportunity. Everyone I have contacted about the bell ringing is very enthusiastic.
The only picture the Yateley Society has (shown here) shows men in 1928; many of them had served in WW1 ten year’s earlier, including the brother of Charles Butler, for whom the Guild is ringing on Saturday. ”
Look out for the Yateley Society’s gazebo on the Green outside the Dog & Partridge. Peter will have his laptop there to find the WW1 relatives of local people.
Public Relations Officer
Please be reminded and invited to a day of marking the loss of local bellringers in the First World War across churches in the Basingstoke District of our W&P Guild. Please take the time to view the itinerary and note that some churches will be participating through handbell ringing.
Whether a handbell ringer, full circle or both, your presence at any or all of the churches will be greatly valued, not least by your fellow ringers, but by all in the Guild as we continue to work towards a fitting remembrance of our fallen.
The day starts in Yateley and this below from the Yateley Society describes some hows and whys.
“Basingstoke District Bell Ringers will be ringing the bells at St Peter’s Yateley on Saturday 1st September at 10.45 to 11.30 to remember bellringer Lance Sgt Charles Albert Butler who was killed 14th Apr 1918. He was the son of the bailiff of Yateley Manor. Two other sons served in WW1 but survived.
The Guild of bellringers has a project to remember the lives of the bellringers who lost their lives in WW1. Their tour next Saturday will ring at 5 different towers where the Winchester Diocese lost bell ringers. The ringers will first visit Yateley then they will go on to Stratfield Saye, which lost 5 bell ringers, Bramley, Deane and Dummer.
Yateley Society members will join with the local branch of the British Legion and Yateley Town Council to explain to local shoppers why the bells are ringing, who they are ringing for, and where he lived.
Look out for the Society’s gazebo on the Green outside the Dog & Partridge. Peter Tipton, author of ‘Yateley in the Great War’ will have his laptop there to find the WW1 relatives of local people.
Most residents of present-day Yateley were not born here so are unlikely to have had relations living in Yateley in WW1. But by finding their own relatives and building their LifeStory on IWM’s permanent digital memorial local people will be able to remember their own family members during the bellringing remembering Charles Butler of Yateley. Relatives we might might find on #LivesOfWW1 are not restricted to the British Isles. There are 7.6 million names on the IWM memorial from all over the old Empire. The men from India and Pakistan who served in Indian Regiments are included, as are the men who served with the Chinese Labour battalions.
The Society will also have a small display about Sgt Butler and the Yateley Bellringers before and after WW1. ‘Yateley in the Great War’, recently published by Pen & Sword Books, will also be available for those who have not yet purchased a copy.”
See poster here for more details of this event.
This Saturday (19th) The Vestey Mini Ring from Suffolk will be at Crondall Village Fête.
Our friends and neighbours are promoting ringing and informing the locals to what it’s all about and we, across the divide, have been warmly invited to come and ‘have a go’.
The Fête is from 2:00 – 5:00 Hook Meadow GU10 5QG
Creation of the Guild
The Winchester Diocesan Guild was founded on June 26th 1879 thanks to the efforts of two young ringers, the Rev. Arthur du Boulay Hill and the Rev Canon F. T. Madge.
At this time the Diocese of Winchester was vast, stretching from parts of the Greater London area in the east to Bournemouth in the west and including the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands. The Islands and Bournemouth are still in the Guild today, but in 1924 the diocese was divided into 3 and the new dioceses of Guildford and Portsmouth formed. After much discussion (see The Ringing World December 23/30 1977) it was decided that Guildford should form a separate guild and Portsmouth remain with Winchester to form the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild.
Growth of the Guild
Initially there were just 7 bands in the Guild (Farnham, Godalming, Hursley, St. Michael’s Southampton, Weybridge, Winchester and Yateley) with 52 ringing members. By the end of the century the Guild was well established and it was necessary to create districts. 7 were created which remain much the same today, with Guildford and Dorking being replaced by Andover and the Isle of Wight. An 8th district, the Channel Islands, was created in 1981. Membership of the Guild reached over 1460 following a membership drive to enable the bells in every tower to be rung for the Millenium. It has decreased slightly but still stood at a healthy 1353 in 2005.
Early Peals and People (a selection)
- 1881 First Guild peal – Union triples conducted by Stephen Brooker at St. Nicolas, Guildford.
- 1888 First surprise conducted by David Jordan at Capel (Surprise minor, 7 methods)
- 1891 First peal at WInchester Cathedral (Grandsire triples – the tenor ringer gave up after 2 hours 15 minutes)
- In the 1890s Henry White of Basingstoke introduced peals of major and in 1896 his daughter, Alice, became the first woman to ring a tower peal.
- George Williams conducted firsts for the Guild in Double Norwich Court Bob Major (1891) and Superlative Surprise Major (1894)
- Alf Pulling started his career at Guildford in 1902. His achievements include a handbell peal of 19738 Stedman Caters.
See Past Officers of WP Guild for the names of the Guild officers from 1879 to the present day.
This brief history was abstracted from articles by Kenneth Croft and Roy LeMarechal in The Ringing World June 22, 1979.
The Survey Results are in pdf form – please click the link below