Handbell Ringing by Method Construction


By G. F. Woodhouse

(The Ringing World, 12th April 1946)

Recently some of the principles of method construction have been explained in The Ringing World. These principles can be utilised for ringing advanced methods and splicing on handbells.

It was pointed out that the places made in a lead are symmetrical about the treble. Thus in Double Norwich, in which all the places are right, they run - 14, 36, 58, 18 (treble behind) and then the same, but backwards - 58, 36, 14 and 18 (treble leading) or 16 for a bob. The position of the treble is also important, thus "Court" places are made about the treble as it passes through 3-4, the places being 4ths and 3rds, and sometimes, as it passes through 5-6, 6th and 5th. In Double Norwich both these sets of places are made. As the treble hunts down these places will be reversed. There were also two articles, about 1941, explaining the method of ringing a pair, in Bob Major, by the various positions they fall into.

These positions must be so well known as to be automatic.

Thus, suppose at a lead end, one bell is in 3rds and the other in 7ths. If the places are right, at handstroke the bell in 3rds should automatically move into 4ths and the other on into 8ths. If the places to be made are 14, the bell in 4ths will stay there and the one in 8ths move back to 7ths. In the next handstroke the one in 4ths will move to 3rds and the one in 7ths back to 8ths, or, in other words, it will dodge.

All that is necessary to ring the method is to know the places made in a lead and the position of the treble. It is not necessary to know the whole work of a bell throughout a plain course, and it must be thoroughly understood that a pair of bells should be rung as a unit to help each other; on no account should one attempt to follow the work of each bell separately. This is the essential difference between handbell and tower bell ringing, and applies with greater force when the higher methods are attempted. A little thought will show that if the places made are:

12 Bells in 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 dodge
18 All the inside bells continue hunting
14 Bells in 5-6 and 7-8 dodge, those in 2-3 hunt
36 Bells in 1-2 and 7-8 dodge, those in 4-5 hunt
58 Bells in 1-2, 3-4 dodge, those in 6-7 hunt
16 Bells in 7-8 dodge, and the rest hunt
56 Bells in 1-2, 3-4, 7-8 dodge
34 Bells in 1-2, 5-6, 7-8 dodge
38 Bells in 1-2 dodge, those in 4-5 and 6-7 hunt

The first three account for Bob Major.

As an example of the use of these principles follow the motions of 5-6 in Double Norwich. Again, it is not necessary to remember that 6 is the treble bob bell down, and that 5 is doing four places. These come by the automatic handstrokes and knowing the places and observing the position of the treble.

As the handstrokes are automatic, take the changes in pairs.

Position of treble Places Movements of 5 and 6


14 5th and 6th dodge
4-5 36 6th down to 4th, 5th makes 6th
6-7 58 6th dodges 3-4, 5th makes 5th
8 18 Both continue hunting
7-6 58 6th dodges 1-2, 5th makes 8th
5-4 36 6th dodges 1-2, 5th dodges 7-8
3-2 14 6th leads full, 5th dodges 7-8
Leads 18 6th up to 3rd, 5th down to 6th

Again, consider the start of Superlative: ringing 3-4. To repeat, it is not necessary to know that 4 will be doing odd 3rds last and the 3 goes to work behind. At the first change, 4th goes to 3rds and 3rd to 4ths. 2nd change, places to be made being 36, 4 stays in 3rd, while 3 continues towards the back.

On looking at Double Norwich it will be seen what a lot of it is Bob Major, (a) all handstrokes, (b) when treble is at lead and behind, (c) 14 are merely bobs in Bob Major, though the treble is not leading. Having mastered Double Norwich, Hereward, Pershore and Double Oxford will present no difficulty at all, as the only differences are when the treble is leading, behind, or both.

It might be a good thing to try plain Minor methods such as Little Bob, Double Court, Double Oxford or any method of which the work is not known. They will be found to be surprisingly easy. Then perhaps Cambridge, and after this Primrose, Ipswich and Hull, which will be quite easy after Cambridge.

These principles can be used by a man visiting a strange tower where a method, unknown to him, is being rung, such as St Clement's Bob Minor. He will learn the places in a lead in half a minute, and should then be able to carry on.

Try all this seriously and get on to difficult methods.