An association centenary peal at was rung at 6, tenor 18 cwt in Eb
Wednesday 19:30 (by arrangement only)Tibenham on Tuesday 13 May 2014. Gudrun Warren has submitted the following peal report.
The day was rather cool for late spring, but the sun, when not obscured by clouds, was bright and warm. As the day wore on, the wind dropped, until not a cloud moved in the skies. The song of skylarks was clear over the fields; cow parsley stood waste deep, and the scarlet of poppies was vibrant against the verdant verges.
A timeless scene in a remote Norfolk village; so much so that it might almost have been a hundred years earlier. On that day (Wednesday 13 May 1914) as on this (Tuesday 13 May, 2014), six ringers climbed to the ringing chamber of the church of All Saints, Tibenham, to ring a peal of seven surprise minor methods: London, Wells, York, Durham, Cambridge, Netherseale, Norwich. They were all men from the village, who had learnt their ringing together: Clarence Gooch, Frederick Manser, George Snelling, Bertie Turner, John Snelling, Frederick Seager. In 1901, only one ringer was listed under Tibenham as a member of the Norwich Diocesan Association: George Manser, father of Frederick. In 1905, a local band (with the exception of the treble ringer and conductor, who came from Bunwell) rang its first peal at Tibenham; the peal of 13th May 1914 was the 41st. The pinnacle of achievement had been reached by the same six ringers on 23rd January 1913, when they rang the first ever peal of fourteen surprise minor methods in seven true 720s (formerly they were ringing 360s or 240s).
Other ringers took part in some peals, amongst them: Arthur Seager, Frederick’s brother; Basil Manser, brother of the other Frederick, Albert Brown, Ronald and Frederick Skinner, two of the sons of the vicar of Tibenham. But the six were the core group, and 13 May 1914 was to be their last peal together. Every man in the original band was of fighting age (Bertie was the youngest at 19, George Snelling the oldest at 35) and George Snelling, Clarence Gooch and Bertie Turner did not return from the Front. Frederick Manser died in 1919 of a congenital illness; Ronald Skinner was killed in action; Albert Brown was wounded and taken prisoner of war; Frederick Seager and Frederick Skinner were both wounded. (Frederick Seager was ‘dangerously ill’ in November 1918, and discharged from service in October 1919, yet rang the seventh at St Mary Magdalene, Pulham to a peal of Superlative Surprise Major in May 1918). In 1930, Albert Brown, John Snelling and Frederick Seager formed half of the band which rang the first peal on the bells since 1914, standing in their accustomed positions of treble, fifth and tenor.
Two points stand out: that a small village produced a ground-breaking band of ringers; and that the First World War caused havoc in village communities. Both seemed to Jeremy Warren to be fit for commemoration, so he gathered together a band to attempt to recreate that last pre-war peal: Gudrun Warren, Jeremy Warren, Daniel Denton, John Loveless, Simon Rudd (C), Alan Regin. The village turned out to support the attempt, stoically drinking tea and coffee as they sat in the churchyard to listen. The attempt was successful, in 3 hours and 14 minutes. The original band had done it in 3 hours 5 minutes; according to his obituary in the Ringing World of February 5, 1960, Frederick Seager was ‘one who enjoyed brisk ringing and could push a heavy bell along’.
A short Act of Remembrance followed the peal, at which a number of villagers joined the ringers in commemorating their fallen fellows. Moving words were spoken by the Revd David Hill, himself chaplain to the 6th Regiment Army Air Corps as well as being a ringer. He compared “Dead Ringers” – the 1980s impersonation radio programme – with the “Dead ringers” of Tibenham, who were the real thing in their service both to Church and to Country. The Last Post was played by Julia Jones, who grew up in Tibenham and rang her first quarter peal on the bells of All Saints before they were rehung in 2003. A wreath was laid on the War Memorial to the memory of those ringers by Daniel Denton, the only one of today’s ringers who would have been of an age to serve.
George, Frederick and Basil Manser, and John Snelling are among those who lie in the churchyard. We hope they felt that the ringing did justice to them all.
Norwich Diocesan Association
Tibenham All Saints, Norfolk
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 in 3:14 (18-1-3)
5040 Surprise Minor
One extent each of London, Wells, York, Durham, Cambridge, Netherseale, Norwich
- Gudrun E Warren
- Jeremy W Warren
- Daniel Denton
- John P Loveless
- Simon A Rudd (C)
- Alan Regin