Welcome to the website for the Wisbech District of the Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers.

Bell ringing is a team activity that stimulates the brain and helps keep you fit ... it also makes a glorious sound! 
This website is primarily intended to keep local ringers informed of news and district events. We hope other ringers will find the details of towers, practice nights and the district ringing programme useful.
  For an introduction to bell ringing, and how to learn to ring, click the bell.

  Unofficial Facebook group run by a Wisbech District member

Ely DA Young Ringers

Dates for the District

Here are dates for the District, the Association and the Stretham REC shown in a Google Calendar. A larger calendar, showing these dates and dates for all the Districts and for the Young Ringers, with space for more entries at a time, and with options to view a whole week or month, is available on the Ely DA website here. Use of a Google Calendar is experimental - comments or suggestions to the webmaster (elyweb_at_elyda.org.uk) please. 

For more dates see the District Ringing Programme. To receive emails about Wisbech District events, please contact the District Secretary (wisbechsec_at_elyda.org.uk).

Ely DA Annual Report

The Ely DA Annual Report for 2019 (Handbook for 2020) is available as a pdf file to Ringing Members, Junior Members and Honorary Members of the Ely DA. The file is dated 21/05/2020, which corresponds to when the Annual General Meeting would have been held. Please request a file from the District Secretary (wisbechsec_at_elyda.org.uk) or the Report Editor (elyweb_at_elyda.org.uk). Paper copies are likely to be available when the AGM is actually held. Details are still to be decided, but we will probably print one copy for each active tower and copies for individual members by prior request. 

Lockdown Bellringing Activities

Dee Smith, as RATO for the Association, has provided a summary of suggested activities. The current list, dated 23/04/20, is here, and Dee will provide updates as new events arise.

Contents of the summary: Cambridge District Webinars; Drop-in and Help sessions on Saturday mornings; Ringing Room. 

Summary dated 23/04/20 is here.

CCCBR advice on Coronavirus covid-19, 16/03/2020

New updates on the Coronavirus have been issued by the UK government today, which include avoiding any “non-essential” travel and contact with others and avoiding pubs, clubs theatres and social gatherings.  If you haven’t already decided to cancel ringing activities, it seems that now is the time to do so.

Wisbech District Ring Something Simple Competition

Walsoken, 7th September 2019, 2.30 - 5 pm

Pam Wakeling writes:

The next Ring Something Simple event will be the competition, to be held at Walsoken. Those who took part last year will remember it as an enjoyable and fun competition, which was enjoyed by all who took part. Bob has devised another one and you are asked to display this poster in your towers and even more importantly, to encourage your ringers to take part. Even if you are the only ringer from your tower, your tower will benefit from your points.

It's always helpful if you let the organiser know if you are planning to take part, so that some idea of numbers can be obtained.

A larger, downloadable version of the poster on the right is available here.

The rules for the competition are here.

Wisbech District Ringers' Outing 2019


Armistice 100 in the Ely DA

A nationwide Day of Commemorative Events is planned for Sunday 11th November 2018, marking the Centenary of the end of the First World War and paying tribute to the millions killed or wounded in battle, and those on the home front who struggled amidst pain and loss to help ensure freedom survived.

To support this Day of Events, in the Ely DA, we intend to ring 100 rows (i.e. 100 blows from each bell) at as many of our towers as possible during the weekend 10-11th November.

See the Armistice 100 pages for more details of the Commemorative Events, and ringing arranged so far at Ely DA towers. Use the Comments page to indicate details of ringing which is already arranged, request for more ringers at a tower or offer to help at a general time and place.

Ring Something Simple, Watlington 3rd June 2017

From Pam Wakeling:
Well done to the organisers of 'Ring something Simple' at Watlington this afternoon, and particularly to Kirstie for running it. It was a very enjoyable occasion, with an attendance of 24, most of whom were learners and improvers. They all seemed to enjoy themselves and for some it was their first excursion to a tower other than 'home'. I hope the next session will be announced, as it seemed to be something that was wanted and will be supported.

From Bob Cox:
It was indeed a good result. The bells were always ringing with everybody knowing that they could ring pretty much everything that was called to be rung. This was a first try of something different for some time and I'm really encouraged with the support given to this initiative. There were (of course) some learning points about the organisation however these were probably not even seen by the attending ringers who were engaged in the event, the cakes, the quiz, the raffles and even the ringing!...while the sun shone we supported the local village open garden charity event - a win for all!

Well done to Kirstie and Alan for the work put into this – Most appreciated!

Rededication of the bells at St Mary's, Denver

The Bishop of Ely rededicated the bells of St Mary's, Denver on Sunday 27th November 2016 at a service starting at 3 pm. The local ringers rang before the service, and all ringers in the Ely DA were invited to ring afterwards.

ART Module M2F – A Review by Bob Cox: Walsoken Tower

Marsworth, Buckinghamshire – 1st October 2016

I have been interested in ART since I first heard of it. I went through the Module 1 training day over a year ago and relatively recently was able to be signed-off as completed. I had wanted to attend the Module 2 training and have pushed towards plain bob minor quarter peals with my best attempt getting to 760 changes before I lost the plot. It seemed like being a full member of ART was beyond my grasp. Apparently my situation was not by any means unique! ART split M2 into two approaches. M2F (foundation skills – teaching call changes through to plain hunt) and M2C (change ringing - teaching up to plain bob minor). More...

Wisbech District Striking Competition, September 24th 2016

This took place at Wisbech St Mary and was judged by Phillip and Sheila George. Many thanks to them and to the band at WSM for the welcome and for the delicious cakes. 

After a considerable amount of persuasion, three teams rang for the methods section and two in the novices section. Unfortunately, March (last year’s winners) were unable to defend their title as some of their band were committed elsewhere and at least one has moved on to university. However, three of the March ringers came to the meeting and formed the basis of a scratch band, which was highly commendable of them. I always hope that other towers will either enter a band of their own or come along to make up a scratch band for the fun of it.

General comments made: not all the bands made good use of their practice time. The five minute practice is there for a reason and should be used to good effect. The judges had rung on the bells before the start of the competition and felt that the tenor was slow and the treble had its own personality. Less experienced ringers had to cope with both. The developing bands were recognised and given credit for their willingness to take part. Results were given in percentages.

Novices: 1. Methwold B 88%
2. Wisbech St Mary 77%
Method ringing: 1. Shouldham 93%
2. Methwold A 88%
3. Walsoken 86%
4. Scratch band 66%

Thanks again to all who took part and appeared to be enjoying the experience. Perhaps they will spread the word and encourage more teams to take part next year. Not all the Ely DA districts are able to run a striking competition, so Wisbech District is to be congratulated.
Pam Wakeling ( District Secretary)

Wisbech District Outing, June 25th 2016

First tower, New Buckenham
  Thirteen people joined in the annual outing, including some welcome support from the Ely District. It was a pity some of the regular participants were unable to come, but we had an enjoyable day ringing at five towers which were new to most of the band. Thanks to Prue Lester and Anne Carpenter for their hard work in arranging the route and the towers. All Prue’s arrangements ran very smoothly.

The pre-lunch towers were New Buckenham and Banham, two very different towers. The lovely easy going eight at New Buckenham were much appreciated and a good course of Grandsire Triples was a pleasure to ring. There was plenty of rounds and call changes, together with Plain Bob Doubles and three cover bells. This gave everyone a chance to ring several times on eight bells. Banham was very different. When we arrived it was a hive of industry with cleaning volunteers all over the place. The entrance to the ringing chamber is tucked away behind the organ and the chamber itself is obviously used as a repository for, among other things, a netball hoop and a walking frame. The bells aren’t rung as much and were more challenging, but a good selection of rounds, call changes, Plain Bob Doubles and Grandsire Doubles, with a plain course of Bob Minor, proved perfectly possible.

More ...

Sid Drew, RIP

I am sorry to report that Sid Drew of Denver died in April 2015. Here is an item about Sid written by Tony Stacey, a fellow Denver ringer, for the Denver church newsletter, and a photo of Sid and Mildred.

  It is sad to have to say goodbye to Sid Drew. The church was his life for more years than most members of the congregation can remember and the support he gave to successive rectors cannot be measured. He has been a long term member of the PCC and served as churchwarden with distinction. So much so that the Archdeacon at the time, John Beer, appointed him Churchwarden Emeritus, a title of which Sid was rightly proud. Sid’s efforts at training bellringers and keeping the bells of St Mary’s ringing were reflected in the comments by the bellfounder who inspected them recently and declared them as neat a set of bells in a small tower as he had seen.

Sid and Mildred formed a team which was the backbone of church life with Sid’s forthright, honest comments at meetings backed by Mildred’s prodigious memory and secretarial skills. We knew we could always turn to Sid for his wealth of knowledge about the church and village. Sid loved singing and was a founder member of the Denver Singers which gave so much pleasure to many organisations in the surrounding area.

Sid was a very practical Christian and despite the fact that he has had to take more of a back seat for the past year or two as old age has crept up, he will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him.

Wisbech District Striking Competition 2015

This was held at Denver, on Saturday 26th September.

After last year, it was disappointing to see a reduction in the number of teams. Only one official team, Methwold, entered the novices section, although they were respectably challenged by the scratch team of District Ladies. In the method section, two teams battled it out and March beat Shouldham by 1½ points, thus guaranteeing a rematch next year. The judges were Alan and Marj Winter.

Tower maintenance course in the Wisbech District

  A successful tower maintenance course was held at Watlington on Saturday 19th September. Tom Ridgman went through what he would inspect on a tower inspection and demonstrated this with a trip to the bell chamber at Watlington Church. Brian Hullah gave some basic lessons in short splicing, which the participants tried with varying success. There were nearly a dozen people on the course, including the two churchwardens from Watlington, and people came from Landbeach, March, Gaywood, Shouldham and Watlington. Thanks to Tom, Brian and the churchwardens at Watlington.

The photo shows Tom and the Watlington bells - click on the photo to see a larger version.
Pam Wakeling

Stretham - one person's experience

Have you been to Stretham yet? More specifically, have you made use of the excellent Ringing Education Centre housed at Stretham church? Ringers throughout the Ely Diocesan Association are very lucky to have such a facility for their use, so I hope I can persuade you to make the Wisbech District ringers a regular feature of the visitors' book.

Instructor and pupil at the
Stretham REC
For those who haven't seen a set-up like Stretham before, the bells are linked to the computer so that they can be rung without a sound escaping from the church to disturb the neighbourhood. The sound you hear comes from the computer, so it's easier to hear your own bell. With help from Barbara Le Gallez, who runs the Centre, you are ready to go!

However, I've learnt from my own experience today that ‘instructor and pupil’ is best for ‘learners’; that more than two at a time would mean a lot of hanging around; and that it’s not really a ‘one-off’, you need to be prepared to start at the bottom and work up. Don’t go there with the idea that you can hone your Stedman Triples, or indeed, Bob Doubles, straight off. You need to get used to the computer and the steady, even pace, which may be quite unlike ringing in your own tower. (There have to be two of you, in case Barbara is unable to stay, in order to comply with insurance and health and safety requirements.)

I wanted to iron out handling faults in a calmer and less busy arena than a regular practice and I found it was in my best interests to start with rounds and plain hunt to doubles. Abel, the ringing program, provides visual clues, but it was much easier to listen to the bell without trying to follow a screen. I was really pleased to practise ringing the tenor behind to six, eight and ten bells without anything to guide me except my ears - a skill I'm always being exhorted to practise - and delighted to achieve at least partial success. I am very glad I went to see what it was all about and I hope to go again in the near future. Thanks to Barbara and to Anne, who very kindly came along to help me as well, I had a thoroughly enjoyable two hours of ringing time and hope to put the lessons to good use..

To find out more and check availability, contact the Acting Manager, Barbara Le Gallez (see http://www.elyda.org.uk/strethamrec for details). Don't leave it until everyone in the EDA is vying for time!
Pam Wakeling, 13/08/2015

Young ringers at St Wendreda's, March

On Saturday 18th April the local young ringers group joined in St Wendreda's church (with six bells) for a ringing session. Many learners new to ringing (me included) also came and despite sometimes catching the sally wrong – and sometimes missing entirely – everyone had fun and many very impressive rounds, peals and call changes were rung and even the adults struggled to keep up with some of us!

Upstairs in the bell tower it was surprisingly crowded with young ringers (I had no idea that there were so many young people involved). We started by letting the newer ringers practice on their own and some of the more experienced ones get used to the bells. Then we did simple rounds and call changes for ringers like me with a few adults filling in. Once we had finished that some of the more skilled young ringers began on more complicated method ringing.

Whilst people a lot more skilled than me were ringing, some of the newer ringers and I went to see how a bell worked, by playing with a contraption that looked suspiciously like a bike wheel on some pipes (mainly because that's what it was). It was attached to a tiny sally and rope so that as you 'rang' it you could see the 'bell' on the wheel swing and learn how it all worked on a much smaller scale.

After all the ringing on the large bells was done, we had a go on some of the handbells, which were nowhere near as simple as you might think: you had to swing them quite sharply to make any sound at all, and once you got going and could make a noise, you had to do it with a bell in each hand and four other bells in the same pattern that the large bells do. I really enjoyed playing on them and it was a skill I never thought I'd try to learn.
Emily Adams
There is a photo of the group at St Wendreda's on the Young Ringers website, here.

June 27th 2015 – the Wisbech District outing day

It was a good day, with good weather. Eighteen people came and it was good both to have Geoff Grayton and Simon Smith from the Ely District to swell the numbers and to see ringers from two of the more far flung towers, Wisbech St Mary and March. Two of the WSM ringers came for the morning  only and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It was brave of them to come on their own, so full credit and we hope to see them at future meetings. More ...

How to run a successful tower - seminar report

The Ely DA seminar 'How to Run a Successful Tower' was held at Swaffham Bulbeck on 30th May 2015.

This is a personal perspective by participant Bob Cox, Walsoken, Wisbech

Successful towers are needed for bell ringing to have a sustainable future.  We need to consider “what does ‘Successful’ mean?” for a tower.  ‘Successful’ means different things to different people in differing situations which is a serious hurdle to overcome.  Ringing institutions such as ITTS, ART, CCCBR and The Ringing World all try to embrace this issue by regularising their approaches towards their standards which many people baulk at for a variety of reasons.  The rationale I use in this brief report will, of course, be my own as taken from my understanding of our group discussions kindly led by Mark Regan.  Mark is the ringing master at Worcester Cathedral and the DAC advisor for Worcester.  I would also like to thank Phil Bailey, Lesley Boyle and their support teams for providing a well run training event. Read the full report here.

Ringing for the 70th Anniversary of VE Day, Friday 8th and Saturday 9th May

Four towers from the Wisbech District rang to celebrate the anniversary: Fincham rang on Friday afternoon, around the two minute silence. Shouldham (in the video ), Walsoken, Emneth and Methwold rang on Saturday and Wisbech were rung by a non-local band.

Ringing at Walsoken and Terrington St Clement for St George's Day

  Walsoken ringers rang at All Saints to celebrate St. George's Day, 23rd April, by ringing ‘Tittums’ and ‘Walsoken Surprise.’

From left to right we have - Christine Newman, Lee Newman, David Poore, Janice Dyke, Jeanette Cox and Barry Woodhouse.
The ringers at Terrington St Clement featured in the autumn issue of the quarterly magazine 'This England'. The article to accompany the photo said:
'The ringing of church bells is the very essence of Englishness, and right across England on St. George's Day, in the most majestic city cathedral and the most humble village church, dedicated volunteers were making sure that peals of joy greeted our national day. One such group could be found at Terrington St. Clement in Norfolk. (Left to Right) Barry Mallet, Anne Waddelow, Peter Bird (Captain), Julie Lister, Paul Scase and Jane Mallet. Thanks go to Mike Lister for the information and the photograph.'

ITTS Bell Handling Training – At Over Church, 18th April 2015

A personal perspective by an ITTS bell handling training participant (M1).

ITTS have been promoting their Association of Ringing Teacher (ART) training courses by various means for the past few years.  I have read some of their, seemingly, all-pervading communications about becoming a Ringing Teacher and, increasingly, took more interest.  When the opportunity to attend Over Church materialised the reality of our local ringing world seemed to hold me back. More ...

Bell Handling Training at Walsoken Church, 14th February 2015

A personal perspective by a bell handling training participant. 

The presentation given by the Recruitment and Training Subcommittee (RATS) at the recent Wisbech District ADM gave rise to the subject of basic bell handling skills. My feeling was that some towers may pretty much dread a new recruit, of any age, turning up unannounced to try bell-ringing as many towers did not have ringers trained or confident to instruct newcomers in basic bell handling. More ...

Wisbech District ADM, 24th January 2015

At the Wisbech District ADM, held at Downham Market on 24th January 2015, the officers of the District were unchanged. There is one alteration to the other members of the committee, with Helen Greenleaves of March being elected in place of Andrew Davey. The ringing programme for the District was approved, details are here. Changes to the rules for the Novices section of the District striking competition were approved, these changes are intended to encourage wider participation in the competition. The resulting updated rules are here. Tom Ridgman presented Brian Hullah with a certificate to celebrate 50 year's membership of the Ely DA, and Brian was warmly congratulated by all present.
Pam Wakeling
Wisbech District Secretary

Wisbech District Striking Competition at Walsoken on September 27th 

Thanks to everyone who took part in the District striking competition. We had four teams in the method section and three in the novice section. All those who took part or came as supporters appeared to enjoy themselves and it was a worthwhile experience for all of us.

The method section was won by Shouldham, with Methwold retaining the novice trophy, but it was quite a close run contest in both sections and next year should be even more interesting! Many thanks to the Walsoken ringers for their hospitality - one of the visitors commented on the welcoming atmosphere and the beautiful church - and for their ringers who were willing to fill in where needed. I hope next year you will have a team of your own. Thanks to the ringers who took part from March, Upwell and Watlington.

The next meeting will be at Emneth on October 25th and it will be the first of the winter meetings, which start at 3 pm. Visitors always welcome.
Pam Wakeling

Angel Roof, St Wendreda, March

The six bells at St Wendreda, March are rung from a gallery with an excellent view of the famous angel roof. Here is a picture and some words by Tony Boughen.
The church of St Wendreda in March, Cambridgeshire, is known to church architecture enthusiasts for its magnificent angel roof. It is probably the best example in England and features 120 winged figures. The three tiers of angels, many holding musical instruments, make a marvellous sight peering down from the double hammerbeam roof. Sir John Betjeman, the late Poet Laureate and lover of churches said, "St Wendreda's church is worth cycling 40 miles in a headwind to see." He was right.

This church has another unique attribute to set alongside its angels: the dedication to St Wendreda is the only one known. Wendreda (also known as Wyndred) was a Saxon princess, possibly a daughter of the seventh century King Anna of the East Angles, who had a palace at Exning in Suffolk. She was known for her healing powers and for helping others. After her parents' and brother's death Wendreda relocated to March and ministered to the people of the Fens. In 1343 her remains were returned to March. It is likely that the pilgrims who came to March in the hope of benefiting from the saint's healing powers, were part of the reason for the building of its remarkable roof.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen
St Leonard, Leverington

St George, Methwold

Memorial window, Emneth

St Peter, Upwell

Ringing at Stow Bardolph

Visits since 09/02/2013