Welcome to the Banbury Branch News Page for 2017 

Aims of the Branch
Branch Officers
Diary of events
Tower details and contacts
Latest news and newsletters
Our younger members page
Details of quarters and peals in the Branch
Links to other ringing websites
      Branch Quarter Peal Fortnight Guild 10 Bell Striking Competition
Pudsey for Pudsey Robin Green Alan hits 80 Striking Competition Les Underdown
Quarter Peal Fortnight Cropredy Roger Stranks Quiz Night Christmas Tree Festival


News from previous years  2015


Photos from the archives

 Branch Events Miscellaneous


Latest News

Branch Quarter Peal Fortnight

This was our second Banbury Branch Quarter Peal Fortnight for 2017 - the first one was held in the spring. Remarkably, this time around we had a 100% success rate, scoring 8 quarters, ranging from Plain Bob Doubles to Surprise Major. They were rung in 8 different towers in the Branch and involved 23 Branch members. Two notable royal occasions were marked - the platinum wedding anniversary of HM The Queen and Prince Philip (appropriately enough with Anniversary Doubles) and the engagement of HRH Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle. During the fortnight a sponsored quarter of Pudsey Surprise Major raised £700 for Children in Need. See Peals and Quarter page for details                     Liz Smith

Back to the top

Guild 10 Bell Striking Competition

North Bucks Branch hosted the Guild 10 bell striking competition this year, the venue being the market town of Olney, north of Milton Keynes. Six of the 15 branches in ODG managed to raise a band.
In their general remarks before announcing the results, the judges, Alison and Roy Williams, commented that none of the teams had completely got to grips with the 24cwt bells. They also noted that the set touch of 240 Stedman Caters had proved quite a challenge as the mix of the heavy bells in amongst the front ones had easily upset the rhythm of the piece.

Ringing position






Tenor generally set good rhythm. Some handstroke leads a bit fast. 150 changes in, got into stride, although slowed slightly towards end. Generally a bit inconsistent.
Peal speed 3hr 27





Generally consistent, although slowed towards end. Some handstroke leads a bit fast. Halfway through, tenor dropped in. No major faults.
Peal speed 3hr 23





Didn't settle. After 140 changes fired out.
Peal speed 3hr 21

Vale of White Horse




Very pleasant to listen to. After 108 changes mis-called
Peal speed 3hr 30





Leading rather inconsistent. Front bells didn't make clean dodges, back bells falling over themselves
Peal speed 3hr 19





Consistent speed and rhythm. Confident ringing. Some leads a bit fast.
Peal speed 3hr 29




Over the last 4 years we have slowly but steadily improved in this competition, which, given that we rarely all ring together, is quite an achievement in itself. However, this is the first time in at least 25 years that the Banbury Branch has come in the top 3, so the band was particularly pleased with their performance this time around.

From Left to Right:- Colin Lee, Liz Smith, Lionel Smith, Rosemary Hemmimgs, Charlotte Holmes, Chris Holmes, Harry Gibson, Alan Griffin, Grahajm Clifton, Robert Reeves.

Back to the top

Ringing Pudsey for Pudsey

It seemed an obvious thing  for bellringers to do – to ring a quarter peal of the appropriately named Pudsey Surprise Major, sponsored in aid of Children in Need. So on the evening of Friday 17th November 8 ringers, representing 6 churches from the Banbury Branch, gathered at Bodicote church to do just that.
The method was going to be quite a challenge for some of the ringers as it's not part of the regular repertoire in our area – at least one of the ringers had never attempted it before and another had last rung it some 25 years ago. Never-the-less, 45 minutes of very creditable ringing later, the quarter peal was successfully brought round to applause from those gathered in the nave below.
This was truly a Branch event, with ringers and congregations from around the area supporting the effort with generous sponsorship, resulting in £700 being donated to Children in Need.
Our thanks go to the Branch Ringing Master, Lionel Smith, for organising the event and to everyone who took part or supported it in any way.                                                                                    Liz Smith

For details of the quarter rung see the Peals and Quarters page

Back to the top

Robin Green

On August 9th Robin's friend Stephen had the unenviable task of letting Robin's bellringing friends know that he had died.
Robin came to this area from Sussex about 10 years ago. He lived on a boat at Fenny Compton but chose to make Banbury his home tower, ringing there regularly. His main interests were ringing, railways and the canal. Robin enjoyed ringing in new towers, travelling by train along lines he hadn't been on before and taking his boat along the canal systems. On retirement he took his boat along the canals from Easter until August and successfully completed two trips. This year, in spite of having had a mild heart attack in the early spring, he set off again. Sadly he didn’t make it back and was found by his son near Wolverhampton on his return journey.

Back to the top

Alan hits 80

Alan Griffin celebrated his 80th birthday by turning the tenor in, at Bloxham, to a quarter peal of Plain Bob Major on Sunday August 6th. He wore his 80th birthday badge for 3 days!!

The band from front left anticlockwise is Lionel D Smith, Alison Varney, Elizabeth A Smith, Sue Burchell, Rosemary K Hemmings, Martin Saunders, Robert A Reeves, Alan J Griffin

See peals page for details of the quarter

Back to the top


Branch Striking Competition

This years Branch Striking Competition was held on June 10th at Adderbury. Ten teams representing seven towers took on the challenge of ringing the heavy front six. Congratulations go to Steeple Aston who came out winners of both the call change and the method sections. Thanks go our judges from Abingdon and Adderbury ringers for the excellent barbeque. This turned out to be a big week for 13 year old Jack Knowles who not only was in the Steeple Aston call change band but a week later rang his first quarter peal at Steeple Aston. Well done Jack!

Right Jack holding the Call Change cup

Back to the top


Les Underdown

Les was born on the first of April 1930 and started to learn to ring at the age of 12. This would have been on tied bells as there was a war on at the time. The precise date at which he became tower captain is not known but he held this position till about 1995. During his time as captain he taught many people to ring and although he did not approve of teaching people to ring properly before they could ring up and down, his enthusiasm meant that few people gave up even after 5 practice sessions of swinging the bell ¾ of the way up. There are still three members of the band who were taught by him.
Eventually he decided that the level of method ringing became too complicated for him to be the “leader”. He did, however, carry on with ringing the tenor behind. It was a well-known fact that when Les rang the tenor he was always a fraction late, perhaps the result of learning to ring on tied bells with no indication of striking quality.
In 2012 he celebrated 70 years ringing and was presented with a certificate by the bishop. He was very proud of this fact and the certificate was hanging on the wall in his dining room.
In 2013 health issues initially stopped him from attending the entire practice session and later that year he had to give up ringing altogether.
Apart from bell ringing Les was, over the years, involved in many activities in Cropredy for which he was awarded the British Empire medal.
Les will be missed and our thoughts are with his wife Sara.

Andries Bosland

Back to the top

Quarter Peal Fortnight

We have recently come to the end of an enjoyable Branch Quarter Peal Fortnight.  In all 12 quarters were attempted, of which 9 were successful – a very creditable performance.
The statistics are:  8 different towers, 28 ringers and 5 conductors, with a further 3 towers and 5 ringers involved in the unsuccessful attempts of Plain Bob Doubles, London Surprise Minor and Grandsire Triples.
We scored 3 Doubles Quarters (April Day, St Simons, 2 methods), 4 Minor (Plain Bob, Double Oxford, Kent Treble Bob, Beverley Surprise) and 2 Major (Plain Bob, Lincolnshire Surprise).
A good number of “firsts” were recorded, which is a promising sign of progress within the Branch, and much of the ringing was of a very pleasing standard.  All in all a very good effort.

Liz Smith

Back to the top


Cropredy bells are once again back in action after a long lay off whilst the church roof was being repaired. Please note that practice night is still on a Monday but with a later start and finish time i.e. 7.30pm until 9.00pm.

Back to the top

Roger Stranks

Roger was one of the longer serving members of the Banbury Branch joining the Guild in 1956 at Duns Tew. He remained a member of Duns Tew tower all his life. During that time he taught many many people to handle a bell as well as looking after the bells.
Roger was usually happy to ring the tenor behind and never aspired to ringing many methods.
The first of his five peals was at Duns Tew on 20th November 1993 ringing the treble to a peal of doubles in 14 methods. His son Simon also rang in this peal. It was rung to celebrate the 100th birthday of a local resident. The four other peals were all covering on the tenor at Great Tew. The last on 20th October 2007 was in thanksgiving for the life of Rev. Abbott Conway. Two of these peals were to celebrate the 100th birthdays of both Roger’s parents; this must be a unique event!

Roger was always ready to stand in and help out at other towers ringing for weddings and funerals in the area. When Steeple Barton bells were rehung Roger gave freely of his time to assist the bellhanger Geoffrey Armitage in installing the bells and frame. Roger was also  involved with ringing at Westcote Barton, Sandford and Great Tew. Roger really enjoyed coming with me on jobs for Whites of Appleton and assisting. He particularly enjoyed helping with the refurbishment of St Paul’s Cathedral bells. He often would recall how pleased he was to get a ring there when the bells were tried out, although with the long draft and his slightly agricultural style the sally did not always come down where it was expected.

Away from ringing Roger did so much in and around the Duns Tew area for so many people. He also served Duns Tew church in many ways and was a churchwarden for many years. I also knew Roger through the farming community and he was a very keen supporter of ploughing matches and particularly enjoyed judging.

Roger had a very kind and gentle manner and will be missed by so many people.
Our thoughts are with Myrtle, Simon, Heather and all the family. May he rest in peace.

 Graham Clifton

Back to the top

Quiz Night

The Branch quiz night was held at Tadmarton on March 18th. The evening was well attended with 46 members and guests present. The 7 teams  that took part had a colourful range of names which included Cobwebs, tadpoles and Jacks Lads. After 7 closely contested rounds the Dolly Mixtures came out on top.
Thanks go to Lionel and Liz Smith our quiz masters for a well thought out set of questions, Vicky Clifton  and Lindsey Smith for the catering and Lindsey and her helpers for all the organisation at Tadmarton. Brenda Day managed to persuade those attending to buy raffle tickets resulting in £84 being raised for the Guild Bell Fund.

Liz and Lionel our quiz masters in action!

Back to the top

Christmas Tree Festival

In early December Adderbury church, in conjunction with the Children's Society, held a 'Decorated Christmas Tree Festival.' This has become an annual event in the village calendar.
Adderbury ringers' entry can be seen on the left.
The striped "ropes" were pipe cleaners, each with a small bell on the top end and a lego person on the other end representing a bell ringer. There were a dozen bells which lit up in coordination with the carols which they played on the bells, and the tree was topped with a model of the top of the church tower and spire (made by bellringer Chris). All of the other decorations were bell themed. Adjacent to the tree were recruitment flyers, we just hope that they yield some new potential ringers!

We were pleased to be announced as the winner of the category for Best Decorated Adult Tree.

Trevor Trivett

Jean and Barry Davis were also involved in the festival. They designed and made the  decorations for the Adderbury History Association's entry which was called 'Made in Adderbury'. The decorations reflected some of the things that had been made in Adderbury over the centuries.
The History Association won Best Decorated  Community Tree.


Back to the top