We went for our peal of London Royal on Sunday, but didn't succeed. We had two good attempts though: the first lasted four courses and the second time we made it to half way. So that was a total of eleven courses, which must have been good practice. We feel we're nearly there, and we're going to have another attempt on Monday.
While preparing for the peal, I noticed a few things about London that I don't remember spotting before. According to PealBase, I've only called one peal of London Royal (on tower bells, of course), and that was 20 years ago. So it's not surprising that I'm not very well up on the details of how you work with other bells in relation to the coursing order.
The first point is about keeping track of the wrong hunting on the front. I have always thought of 2nds and 4ths place bells going to 4ths and back twice, and 3rds and 6ths place bells going to 4ths and back just once. However, on Sunday I suddenly realised that all four place bells lead twice each, which is a more uniform way of looking at it. I told the rest of the band about it - they have all rung plenty of London Royal before, but no-one said "Well, of course, didn't you know that?". After we had finished ringing, Julia said she had found it useful.
The next point is the order in which bells lead, during the wrong hunting on the front four. In London Major, after 7th place bell leads, the sequence is 3, 2, 4, 6, and then the 7th returns to lead. So that's a sequence of four bells in coursing order, which I sometimes manage to observe as a check on the ringing. In Royal, after the 7th leads, the sequence is 3, 2, 4, 6, 3, 2, 4, 6, and then the 10th appears. This is actually what made me spot that every bell leads twice. I haven't been able to observe this sequence yet, but the potential is there.
If both your bells are in the frontwork, they can be either coursing or in the 2-3 position. Pairs of bells that are in the coursing position (3-2, 2-4, 4-6) are coursing in the frontwork. Pairs of bells that are in the 3-4 position (3-4, 2-6) are in the 2-3 position in the frontwork. Pairs of bells that are in the 7-8 position (3-6) are also coursing in the frontwork - more about that later.
Let's think about the backwork for a moment. There's a fair bit of treble bob hunting, and after the fishtails near the beginning of the lead, the back bells stay in their natural coursing order for a while. As a result, 9ths place bell becomes rather like 3rds place bell in Cambridge, passing all the other bells in coursing order. The difference is that the pattern doesn't start until the fishtail has finished.
On the subject of passing bells in coursing order, let's look again at the frontwork. A bell in the frontwork is working with three other bells that are near it in the coursing order: for example, the 4th is working with 3, 2 and 6. So there is potential for a coursing order check while on the front, although I expect it will take more practice to be able to see it.
The place bells in the frontwork are 6, 4, 2, 3 (in the order in which they occur in the method). A coursing pair, for example 9-10, overlap in the frontwork for three leads: when they are 4th and 6th place bells, then 2nd and 4th place bells, then 3rd and 2nd place bells. The 3-4 pair overlap in the frontwork for two leads: when they are 6th and 2nd place bells, then 4th and 3rd place bells. The 7-8 pair overlap in the frontwork for only one lead, when they are 6th and 3rd place bells. Finally, the 5-6 pair are never in the frontwork together.
What this means is that 7-8 is the ideal pair for the conductor, in order to take advantage of the groups of four bells in the frontwork. For seven leads of the course, one or both of 7-8 are in the frontwork, giving maximum opportunity to check that the other bells are working correctly together on the front.
I'll write more about ringing London, and about the composition, after our next peal attempt.