The History of the Devon Association
Potted History of the Devon Association of Ringers
Call change ringing has a long history and is unique mainly to Devon and parts of Cornwall.
In the early 1900"s 5 bell towers were common and competitions were being held in them. Both 6 and 8 bell competitions then followed.
Around the 1920 's, probably due to an increase in the number of method teams who had a guild to back them, The Guild of Devonshire Ringers, which was formed as long ago as March 1874, call change teams decided to get together in 1925 to hold an annual competition or festival.
Both a 6 and 8 bell competition took place at North Tawton in June 1925. Winners were Barnstaple and Atherington. At this time a further competition was planned and held in October 1925 at Zeal Monachorum and the 6 and 5 bells won by North Tawton and Throwleigh respectively.
"Rules of a sort" were drawn up by Revd. McCarthy such as "Hats off" in the belfry and no smoking in the "House of God" The start of the Devon Association.
6 Bell 1926 Held at Lustleigh
1927 Held at Moretonhampstead won by North Tawton
1928 Held at South Tawton won by Lapford. An 8 bell at Alphington won by North Tawton
1929 The first formal meeting of the Devon Association was held at "The Ring of Bells" North Tawton at 3.00pm on March 30th The Revd. McCarthy proposed that Mr. W. Fewings (North Tawton) be elected Chairman with himself as Sec. Treasurer. The first President of the Devon Association was Alderman C. J. Ross of Exeter who presented "two magnificent shields" one for eight bell and one for six bell competitions, "to be presented annually."
The constitution of the Association was drawn up and printed in June 1929. All affiliated towers were issued with these and a few towers still possess the original copy.
1929 8 bell competition held at Torrington 12th October 6 bell competition held at Zeal Monachorum 19th October Winner Burrington.
In 1925 The first prize was an ink well in the shape of Zeal Monachorum treble. This was made by Gillet and Johnston and presented by Mr Cyril Johnston representing the company, who also acted as a judge with Mr. W. Fewings of North Tawton. Although the shields were presented for the 1929 competitions, the winners from the 1925 competition in October and the following years had their names added to the shields.
Reproduced from an article by Mervyn Way.