The Bourne Imperative

On Saturday we had a handbell day in Tulloch, hosted by Peter Bevis and Helen McGregor. Nick Jones organised the ringing programme, and beforehand he and I had discussed the best 12-bell method to try as a step beyond Kent. As a result, when he sent out the schedule, several participants were surprised to discover that they had requested a quarter peal of Bourne Surprise Maximus; these requests were all granted...

We chose Bourne because it has a simple structure and can be rung in a rule-based style, but is a little more complicated than Kent. It's like Kent Royal on the back 10, with a fat slow work occupying 1-2 and 3-4. As well as the Kent-style pattern of one bell ringing long places while the other bell treble bob hunts, there are some other possibilities. One bell can be dodging on the front while the other is in the backwork; in the coursing course one bell can be dodging on the front while the other bell makes 3-4 places; and in the 3-4 course both bells can be dodging together on the front. The trick is to watch for the treble's appearance in 3-4 down in order to know when to stop dodging, and this also causes the backwork bells to start their double dodges. Added to the difficulty of maintaining a good 12-bell pace and rhythm, all of this gave us a good challenge.

Nick organised the day so that everyone would have a good practise session and then a quarter peal with the same band. So altogether we spent over two and a half hours ringing Bourne, culminating in a quarter. For simplicity we rang three full courses - just three bobs at home - so that everyone except 3-4 could stick to a single position. We managed quite well - not perfect, but certainly a successful advance on Kent, and a good achievement. Nick suffered the organiser's dilemma and ended up putting himself into a different band, so we rang with five Scottish regulars and a reinforcement from the talented Jack Page. Somehow or another we didn't get around to trying some Cambridge Maximus as we did last year, so the debate about whether or not Bourne is really easier was inconclusive. But I think we would have found it difficult to get through a quarter of Cambridge. Maybe next year.

As alternatives to Bourne we had discussed Norwich and Westminster. The disadvantage of Norwich is that the frontwork bells have to switch round at the half lead, and the disadvantage of Westminster is that the alternate dodges and places on the front invite swapping. So I do think that Bourne is the easiest of the three. We might think about ringing a peal of it later in the year, if I can persuade the band...



Interesting, I was thinking about the next step up from Kent Royal/Max recently and I had considered going for one of Bourne or Norwich. Have you tried Barham Delight?

Barham Delight

No, I had not come across Barham Delight before. Rather Pudsey-ish, I see. Let us know how it goes, if you try it.