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Striking competitions

Ringing competitions go back at least to the 18th century, when they were very popular forms of public entertainment, as well as cause for serious rivalry between different towers. In the late 1700s in Wokingham, the landlords of The Ship, The Bush and The Six Bells (which stood in Cross Street) all sponsored ringing contests at All Saints, with hats as prizes. They made their profit from the food and ale consumed by both contestants, and listeners.

Modern ringing competitions are less grand affairs, and the audience is normally limited to other ringers. The aim is the same though, to ring as accurately as possible. The test piece in modern competitions normally takes about 10 minutes to ring, with a few minutes practice beforehand to become familiar with the bells.

Most striking competitions give either shields or cups as trophies, but the trophies for the Sonning Deanery 6-bell and 8-bell competitions are rather different. Each is a bronze casting, shaped like a bell, and mounted on a turned mahogany base. In the side of the bell are relief figures of a man and a woman ringing. The trophies were made by John Harrison , who is an All Saints ringer, and presented to the Branch at the AGM in February 1988. You can see the trophies here .

 The Oxford Diocesan Guild holds annual 6, 8 and 10 bell competitions. Contestants in the 6 bell contest are normally the winners of their Branch competition. The 8 bell contest is open to both branch teams and individual tower teams. The premier striking contest is the National 12 bell competition.

All Saints regularly enters teams for both local competitions, and has often had custody of one or other of the trophies. The band has also over the years entered both of the Oxford Diocesan Guild striking competitions, and in the mid '80s enjoyed a three year continuous run of wins in both contests. 

They developed a routine – a team practice a few days before, and on the morning of the competition, at a tower en-route if the competition was a long way away, with a picnic lunch together (no alcohol before the contest). The team spirit went even further when they wore team T-shirts, with a design by Pearl Gibson, based on the lion motif, as used by Roger Landen at the Wokingham bellfoundry


Click images for larger version with names.

Design used on the competition team's tee shirts
Bicester 1986 – Jon Tutcher - Stewart Gibson - Tony Pullan - Terry Scott - John
Hurst 2004 - Andy Smith - Liz Barter - Nigel Mellor - Barbara Smith - Steve Smi
Charlton on Otmoor 2005 - John Harrison - Richard Woodward - Ken Davenport - Jo
White Waltham 2006 - Jon Tutcher - Katie Titcher - John Harrison - Steve Smith
Cowley 2010 – Nigel Mellor - Jonathan Goodchild - Julie Goodchild - John Harris
Waltham St Lawrence 2011 (1 of 2 teams) - Oli James - Richard Woodward - Mhairi

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