Welcome to the website for the Ely District of the Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers.

Bell ringing is a team activity that stimulates the brain and helps keep you fit ... it also makes a glorious sound! 
This website is primarily intended to keep local ringers informed of news and district events. We hope other ringers will find the details of towers, practice nights and the district ringing programme useful.
  For an introduction to bell ringing, and how to learn to ring, click the bell.   Unofficial Facebook group run by an Ely District member

Ely DA Young Ringers

Dates for the district (larger calendar for the whole Ely DA is here)

Here are dates for the District, the Association and the Stretham REC shown in a Google Calendar. A larger calendar, showing these dates and dates for all the Districts and for the Young Ringers, with space for more entries at a time, and with options to view a whole week or month, is available on the Ely DA website here. Use of a Google Calendar is experimental - comments or suggestions to the webmaster (elyweb_at_elyda.org.uk) please. 

Ely DA AGM 2020 on Saturday 3rd October at 2 pm via Zoom

From JoAnne Rutter, General Secretary Ely DA

The Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers 2020 AGM will be held at 2 pm on Saturday 3 October, via Zoom. The meeting is open to all members of the Association, but you will need to register at the following link:


In order to register your votes at the AGM, members who live in the same household are asked to register individually and 'attend' the meeting on separate devices (phone, tablet or computer) using the Zoom app and not the browser interface. Once you have registered, you will be sent via email a Zoom link for the meeting, and necessary supporting documents.

Any A.O.B.  items for the meeting should be sent to the General Secretary as soon as possible, and not later than 25 September 2020.


JoAnne Rutter, General Secretary, ElyDA CBR

Ely DA Annual Report

The Ely DA Annual Report for 2019 (Handbook for 2020) is available as a pdf file to Ringing Members, Junior Members and Honorary Members of the Ely DA. The file is dated 21/05/2020, which corresponds to when the Annual General Meeting would have been held. Please request a file from the District Secretary (elysec_at_elyda.org.uk) or the Report Editor (elyweb_at_elyda.org.uk). Paper copies are likely to be available when the AGM is actually held. Details are still to be decided, but we will probably print one copy for each active tower and copies for individual members by prior request. 

Lockdown Bellringing Activities

Dee Smith, as Education Officer for our District and as RATO for the Association, has provided a summary of suggested activities. The current list, dated 23/04/20, is here, and Dee will provide updates as new events arise.

Contents of the summary: Cambridge District Webinars; Drop-in and Help sessions on Saturday mornings; Ringing Room. 

Summary dated 23/04/20 is here.

Jon Reed

From Phil Marshall of Bluntisham, Friday 20th March:

Very sadly, I have to let you know that Jon died at home, and unexpectedly, yesterday evening.  

Jon's home tower was St Mary's, Ely, and he rang regularly at several towers in the Huntingdon and Cambridge Districts, also in various quarter peal bands and with the University Guild. Our thoughts are with Naomi and the rest of his family at this very difficult time.

From Naomi Laredo, Monday 13th April

Naomi thanks ringing friends for their cards and messages of sympathy, which are a great comfort. The cause of Jon’s death has been confirmed as heart failure. The end was quick and he won’t have suffered.

Jon was buried at Barton Glebe woodland burial ground on Monday 20th April. The funeral was attended by close family only, but we shall celebrate his life at a later date.

No flowers, please. If anyone wishes to make a donation to the British Heart Foundation in Jon’s memory, cheques payable to BHF may be sent to FW Cook, 49 Church St, Willingham, CB24 5HS.

Ely District ringing and Ely DA AGM update

In the light of yesterday's announcement by the Government - to avoid all non-essential travel and social contact - and the latest update from the CCCBR (see https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/03/16/coronavirus-covid-19-update/ ), the Ely District committee has decided to suspend all District ringing until further notice. This includes the District outing scheduled for 4th April, and the District striking competition scheduled for 2nd May. Philip Bailey is hoping to rearrange the outing to the same towers next year, and also suggests that we could look at holding the striking competition later in the year.  

All sessions at the Stretham REC are also cancelled until further notice.

In addition, the General Committee of the Ely DA has agreed to postpone the 2020 AGM from the date of 30 May 2020 to a date later in the year when the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic has passed and more members will be able to attend. The intention is to transfer the AGM and striking competition to Saturday 3rd October, which is the date which was proposed for the Autumn Event, and to hold the AGM and Striking Competition in the Wisbech District at Downham Market as originally arranged, but these details are not fixed yet.

CCCBR advice on Coronavirus covid-19, 16/03/2020

See https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/03/16/coronavirus-covid-19-update/

Executive summary: new updates on the Coronavirus have been issued by the UK government today, which include avoiding any “non-essential” travel and contact with others and avoiding pubs, clubs theatres and social gatherings.  If you haven’t already decided to cancel ringing activities, it seems that now is the time to do so.

Supercedes previous advice (12/03/2020) https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/03/12/coronavirus-covid-19/ with executive summary: use common sense and hygiene.

David Gilbert

From Dee Smith, Burwell, 5th March 2020

It is with great regret that I have to tell you that David Gilbert , who was Tower Captain at Burwell for many years, has died.

The funeral was held on Thursday 19th March at 2 pm at West Suffolk Crematorium.


Armistice 100 in the Ely DA

A nationwide Day of Commemorative Events is planned for Sunday 11th November 2018, marking the Centenary of the end of the First World War and paying tribute to the millions killed or wounded in battle, and those on the home front who struggled amidst pain and loss to help ensure freedom survived.

To support this Day of Events, in the Ely DA, we intend to ring 100 rows (i.e. 100 blows from each bell) at as many of our towers as possible during the weekend 10-11th November.

See the Armistice 100 pages for more details of the Commemorative Events, and ringing arranged so far at Ely DA towers. Use the Comments page to indicate details of ringing which is already arranged, request for more ringers at a tower or offer to help at a general time and place.

Ely District ringing for Armistice 100
  • Bottisham – rounds, call changes and Plain Bob Doubles
  • Burwell – half-muffled rounds and call changes for the Service of Remembrance, open rounds at 6.55 pm for Battle's Over. All the Ringing Remembers recruits were included: Nathan Fuller, Woody Swann, Gwen Spike, Vanessa Dolphin and Robert Fuller (the Burwell one).
  • Chatteris – rounds and call changes for morning service, for Remembrance service parade and for lighting the beacon
  • Cottenham – call changes for morning service, including Ringing Remembers recruit Helen Jenkins; call changes, Plain Bob doubles and Reverse Canterbury Doubles for the commemoration of the Armistice centenary; call changes and Plain Bob Doubles for Battle’s Over commemoration.
  • St Mary, Ely – 1300 Plain Bob Doubles rung open for the commemoration of the Armistice centenary; rounds for the lighting of the Beacon of Peace, including Ringing Remembers recruit Alexandre Kabla.
  • Fordham – Call changes and Plain Bob Doubles before the Armistice Day service at the War Memorial; diminishing rounds rung during the procession to the church for the Remembrance service.
  • Histon – Grandsire Doubles, including 39 changes with 3 covers in memory of the 39 fallen members of the parish.
  • Landbeach – Half-muffled call changes before the village Act of Remembrance; open call changes for Evening Prayer in thanks for peace. Also call changes rung fully muffled with the tenor open at backstroke while the Parish Council unveiled a plaque in memory of the fallen of Landbeach.
  • Oakington – Call changes for Battle’s Over commemoration.
  • Over – 1260 Plain Bob Doubles, with 3 covers, rung half-muffled during the procession from the war memorial for the Service of Remembrance.
  • Rampton – Call changes for Battle’s Over commemoration.
  • Soham – Rounds on 10 for Battle’s Over commemoration.
  • Stretham – Diminishing rounds rung half-muffled during the procession from the cemetery to the church war memorial, leading up to the 11.00 am service and including Ringing Remembers recruit Helen Taylor; half-muffled rounds, a whole pull for each of the 45 fallen members of the parish; 100 rounds to mark the centenary of the Armistice; increasing rounds and more lively call changes for Battle’s Over commemoration.
  • Swaffham Bulbeck – Rounds, including whole pull and stand, and call changes rung half-muffled for the 11 am act or remembrance; rounds and call changes, rung half muffled and including Whole Pull and Stand  and tolling 100 times on the tenor, for the Benefice Remembrance Service;. call changes and Grandsire Triples rung open for Battle’s Over commemoration.
  • Swaffham Prior – Rounds and call changes, rung half-muffled for the centenary of the Armistice and open for the Battle’s Over tribute.
  • Swavesey – 1320 Cambridge Minor, rung open for the commemoration of the Armistice centenary.
  • Willingham – Half-muffled Plain Bob Doubles rung for the morning service; Plain Bob and Grandsire rung open for Battle’s Over commemoration

Ely District outing to the Wisbech District 07/04/2018

The Ely District outing to the Wisbech District was attended by around 25 ringers, including visitors from the Wisbech district and from further afield. Here are some photos from the day, thanks to Geoff Grayton.

The first tower of the day - All Saints, Elm   Ringing at Elm
St Peter & St Paul, Wisbech   Ropes ready for ringers at Wisbech
Arranging the next touch at Wisbech   St Edmund King & Martyr, Downham Market
Holy Trinity, Stow Bardolph   Ringing at Stow Bardolph
St Martin, Fincham   Ringing at Fincham

Susan Williams

Bill Murrells writes:

It is with great sadness that I am informing you of the sudden passing of Susan Williams. Susan, a ringer for many years at Wilburton and Haddenham, passed away at home on Friday March 30th. May she rest in peace.

Funeral arrangements will be notified when they are known.

Arthur Finch

Dee Smith writes:
Burwell ringers are very sad to announce the sudden death of Arthur Finch. Arthur had joined the Burwell band last Autumn and was a loyal Sunday Service ringer. Our thoughts and prayers are with Nicky and her family at this sad time.

John G Gipson

From Peter Hinton, on the Cambridge District website:
I am very sorry to pass on the news that John Gipson has died, at the age of 93. He rang his first peal in 1939 and last rang on the rehung bells at Meldreth in September 2015. A short paragraph is never going to be enough to do justice to his life; John gave so much to Meldreth (not just in his ringing, but in his service to the church and to the village), to the District and the Association and to the ringing community nationally. His engineering skills were put to effective use in many bell-hanging projects, within the Association and beyond. He taught several generations of ringers and was always keen to encourage their peal-ringing. This is truly the end of an era. Our thoughts and sympathies go to his daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Service of Thanksgiving:
A Service of Thanksgiving will be held on Tuesday 25th July 2017 at 2:30pm at Holy Trinity Church, Meldreth. All are welcome.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be sent c/o Peasgood and Skeates Funeral Directors, 45 Moorfield Road, Duxford CB22 4PP for Holy Trinity Church, Meldreth and Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bellringers.

More details on the Ely DA website here.

Ely District Striking Competition, 06/05/2017

The Ely District striking competition was held at Oakington this year. Judges David and Cecilia Pipe thanked everyone for attending the striking competition, and for an enjoyable evening. They had a ring on the bells before the competition started, and commented that, while the bells are a challenge to ring well, there was some good ringing during the competition.

There were six teams in the Call Change section. Cottenham were placed first, and awarded the Don Murfet Memorial Trophy. Longstanton were placed second, followed by the combined band from Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham, then bands from Oakington, Stretham and Over. In the Method section, the Scratch band were placed first, with Over second, followed by Longstanton and Cottenham. The Ely District Shield is awarded to the highest placed tower band, so the Shield was awarded to Over. Cottenham were awarded the wooden spoon. Full results are here.

Thanks and congratulations to all involved, especially to the judges for their helpful and positive comments, and to the committee for the excellent refreshments and for seeing that the evening went smoothly. Congratulations also to the Stretham team who won the Coastal Places quiz running during the evening. If anyone would like answers to the quiz, please contact me (elysec_at_elyda.org.uk).

Photos clockwise from top left:
The Over Method team
Presenting the trophy for the Method section
The Cottenham Call Change team


Fig 1

Photo: Geoff Grayton
On a peal board in Soham’s ringing chamber there is a peal of 5003 “Grandsire Tittum Caters”. It seems to have puzzled ringers as to exactly what this means.

One explanation given was that the bells were rung in the tittums change, which is 142536, or 15263748, or 1627384950 whichever number of bells you happen to be ringing.
On 9 bells with the tenor “covering”, to get from rounds 123456789(0) to 162738495(0) is difficult and it would’nt have been allowed even in those days, to start a peal with any change other than rounds.

What it means is that most of the peal was rung with the back bells in the “tittums” position.

Look at the first lead of Grandsire Caters in Fig 1. The back bells are coursing 8,9,7 and this is the order in which they lead.

The “tittums” position for the back bells is when they are coursing 7,8,9 and they lead in that order too. If you look at the lead of Grandsire Caters in Fig 2, you can see this very easily. In those days, and indeed today, this position was considered by 10-bell ringers as more musical than the Plain Course.

So much did they enjoy this arrangement of the back bells that they had them coursing like this for most of the peals of Grandsire Caters that they rang.

Fig 2
However, this position doesn’t bring up rounds. They had to, as we do today, end in rounds or the peal wouldn’t have been counted as a proper peal. There is, however, an easy way to get the bells back into rounds.

You may notice the length of the peal is 5003 changes. Since most peals are even numbers of changes (5040, 5024, 5056, 5152 etc) it means the bells were brought round at handstroke and not backstroke. You can safely do this with things like Grandsire and Stedman. In Grandsire Caters this is how they would’ve done it. They would have called it “round as usual”.
But unfortunately that doesn’t help us much.

This is how it was done. They would have composed the peal until they’d got the change 142563978. From that change, if you call the 9th into the hunt and leave it there for one lead, and then call a bob at the next lead, the bells come into rounds at the handstroke lead of the treble two leads later. This is often referred to in old ringing books as “9 in and out at 2”.

Many composers used this style for their peals and because it was so common to bring the peal to an end in this way it became known as “round as usual”.

Nowadays composers have found many musical ways of arranging the back bells, and the “tittums” position, although still widely used, is to some extent less popular than it was.

It is a very fitting tribute to Soham’s bellringers of that bygone era that they were sufficiently competent to ring what is still a challenging method! Not many rings of 10 bells could boast this….well done, Soham!
Matrin Kitson, March 2017

Ely District Striking Competition, 14/05/2016

There was a record turn-out for the Ely District Striking competition this year, with 8 teams in the Call Change section and 4 teams in the Method section. The judges, Alan and Marj Winter, congratulated everyone on entering, and the district on arranging the competition, and on the organisation of the evening. The winners of the Call Change section were the home band, Longstanton A, with Cottenham placed second and Stretham third. In the Method section, Cottenham were placed first and retain the trophy, with Over second and Longstanton third. Full results are here. Thanks and congratulations are also due to the Longstanton band for the delicious and plentiful refreshments that were provided during the evening, and to the Cottenham band for winning the railway-themed quiz. If anyone would like answers to the quiz, please contact me (elysec_at_elyda.org.uk).

  Photos from above left:

Marj Winter presenting the Don Murfet Memorial Trophy to the Longstanton A Call Change band.

Alan Winter presenting the Ely District Shield to Kit Kilgour, for the Cottenham Method band

Alan Winter presenting the wooden spoon to Roderick and Vicki Johnston for the Longstanton Method band.

Thanks to Barbara Le Gallez for the photos, click on a photo to see a larger version.

Sue's 1000th peal

The band in ringing order, except for Mike Purday who could not stay for the photo.
  Congratulations to Sue Marsden, and to the rest of the band (including three more Ely District ringers and 2 former ones) on the peal rung at Godmanchester on Saturday 19th March.

Ely Diocesan Association
Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire
St Mary
Saturday, 19 March 2016 in 3h10m (19–2–19 in E♭)
5056 Double Norwich Court Bob Major
Composed by A.M.Barber
1 Marion A Robinson
2 Alan M Barber (C)
3 Edith M Robinson
4 Susan E Marsden
5 Kevin J Skillings
6 Philip D Bailey
7 Paul S Seaman
8 Michael G Purday
1000th peal: 4

Kim Ogden

Nick Carver reports:

It saddens me deeply to have to report the death of Kim Ogden, beloved husband of Ruth, tower captain at Isleham and member of the district committee for many years, shortly before 8.00am on January 24th 2016. Kim had been very ill for the last few years and tackled his afflictions with his usual fortitude and good humour, supported always by his devoted wife. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ruth and the rest of the family at this difficult time.

The funeral was at 11:30am on Friday 5th February at Isleham church, with ringing before and after the service (no muffles) as per Kim's wishes. Refreshments were provided afterwards.

Ruth sends her thanks to everyone for their cards.

Ely District ADM

The Annual District Meeting for the Ely District was held at Burwell on Saturday 2nd January. We rang the bells from the new, raised, floor of the ringing chamber, tested the smart new facilities in the base of the tower and had tea and the meeting at the back of the church.

Most of the District Officers were re-elected to continue in the same posts as last year. Robert Bramley is standing down as BRF Trustee and the meeting nominated Kit Kilgour to take that post. The election of nominated BRF Trustees will take place at the AGM of the ELY DA in May. For the committee, Rachel Frost, Geoff Grayton, Barbara Le Gallez, Sue Marsden and Simon Smith were elected to continue as members; Lesley Boyle and Nick Carver were elected to join the committee. We were sorry that Peter Binns and Roger Palmer, who were members of last year’s committee, were not able to continue this year. Peter Binns has moved to Cornwall, and we wish him well in his new home. With his decision not to stand for election to the committee this year, Roger Palmer was ending a very long term of service to the District Committee, in which he had given so much in so many ways. As a token of thanks a mini bell engraved with the words "Thank you Roger, Ely District, 2016" had been obtained which Roderick Johnstone, as President, would present to Roger on behalf of the District.

Stephen Sadler, funeral at Isleham on Thursday 14th January

Sad news from Isleham of the death of Stephen Sadler. Stephen was a member of the Ely DA for the past 38 years, although age and infirmity precluded him from climbing the stairs to the tower for the last 20 years or so. Stephen’s funeral service took place at Isleham church on Thursday 14th January at 11.00 am. A quarter peal will be rung in  his memory at a time and date to be confirmed. 

Ely DA Quarter Peal Event

Ten members of the Ely District took part in the Ely DA Quarter Peal event on Saturday 31st October. This was hosted by the Huntingdon District with immaculate organisation. There were two quarter peal slots in the afternoon, with four attempts at each time, and a further four quarter peal attempts in the evening. A total of 36 ringers were involved in these quarter peal attempts, with a few more turning up for the splendid tea and meeting in the St Mary's Centre at Houghton. Although three of the quarter peal attempts were not successful, five additional quarters were rung in the area, involving another ten ringers, so the total of successful quarter peals for the day was 14.

Details of all the quarters are on Bellboard, linked to the event here.

Congratulations to all involved, and especially to three Landbeach ringers. David Waterhouse rang his first quarter on 6, tenoring behind to Plain Bob Doubles at Hilton, Roger Gooding rang his first quarter on 8, tenoring behind to Plain Bob Triples at Hemingford Grey, and Sarah Alexandra rang her first quarter ever, tenoring behind to Plain Bob Doubles at Houghton (the photo shows the band after the quarter at Houghton).

Minirings in the district, July 4th & 5th

The weekend of July 4th and 5th saw two minirings in the district. The Maplestead miniring was erected in Roderick's garden in Over for the District BBQ on the Saturday evening, and the Charmborough miniring was located beside the Coop in Histon for the Histon Feast Market on the Sunday. Thanks to Geoff Grayton for the photos.

The Charmborough miniring at Histon ->
Rethreading a rope which had slipped wheel on the Maplestead miniring at Over


RWNYC - Congratulations to the Ely DA Young Ringers

Congratulations to the Ely DA Young Ringers for doing so well at the Ringing World National Youth Contest (RWNYC), and especially to Rachel Frost and Benjamin Edwards of the Ely District. Ringing call changes, the band achieved a B grade and were placed equal 4th, two grades up from last year's grade of C+, when they were equal 7th. Photo of the band and supporters, and a report from Barbara are here; full results are here.

Visit of Kilifi ringers, Friday 26th - Sunday 28th June

The EDA hosted the visiting ringers from Kilifi, Kenya, from Friday 26 June to Sunday 28 June. They were visiting England to become proficient in simple Doubles methods and to learn how to teach the other members of their band. On Saturday 27th June, the Kilifi ringers rang at Rampton in our district. After the Ely Diocese, the Kilifi ringers went on to Derbyshire where they were hosted by the Whiting Society. While they were in Derbyshire, each of them rang in a quarter peal (details here);  in addition, John and Lennox are able to teach bell handling, and they are familiar with Kaleidoscope ringing. Thanks to Colin Humphreys for the photos.

Lennox, John, Deborah and Elizabeth outside Rampton church   Kilifi ringers and helpers in the ringing chamber at Rampton

Ely District Striking Competition, Saturday 9th May 2015

This year, our District striking competition took place a week after the Ely DA Inter-district competition. The venue was Cottenham, and the local band won both sections. Judges Alan and Marj Winter congratulated all the bands on entering and said that all the ringing was enjoyable to listen to.

In the Call Change section, there were 5 teams: Cottenham were placed first and Over second, with the Young Ringers scratch band third, followed by Isleham and Landbeach. The photo shows Simon Wilson receiving the Don Murphet trophy for this section.

In the method section, Cottenham were placed first with the older ringers scratch band second. Over were third followed by the Young Ringers scratch band. Cottenham were awarded the trophy and, as the lowest placed tower band in this section, Over were awarded the wooden spoon. 

Full results and more photos are here.

Ely DA Inter-district Striking Competition and AGM, Saturday 2nd May 2015

  The Ely District band was placed second in the inter-district striking competition at Bluntisham on Saturday 2nd May, the winners being Huntingdon. Several members of the band also rang in one of the two Ely DA peals (rung at Fordham and Fulbourn) which commemorated the 300th anniversary of the first recorded peal at St Peter Mancroft, celebrated several birthdays and welcomed a new Royal Princess. More about the AGM on the Ely DA website here.  

In Memory of Private Arthur Carver, 24th April 2015

  Nick Carver, ringer at Isleham, writes:

On this day 100 years ago, my great uncle, Private Arthur Carver of the 1/4th battalion East Yorks Regiment was killed in action at the second battle of Ypres aged 22. We know something of his last day because the commanding officer of the battalion also lost his life and this was recorded in the regimental diary. The battalion crossed to Boulogne a couple of days before this and made their way to the front line. As soon as they got there, they went over the top and a number of men, including the Colonel and Arthur, failed to return. His body was never found and he is remembered at the Menin Gate memorial.

This evening, to commemorate the centenary of Arthur's death, a quarter peal of Norwich Surprise Minor was rung at St Andrew's church in Isleham. I was honoured to take part in the ringing. This performance, dedicated to Arthur, is recorded on the Bellboard web site where it will remain in perpetuity, which hopefully will be regarded as a fitting memorial to a brave young man serving King and Country, who like so many others was keen to serve but failed to return.

Details of the quarter are here, Dee Smith notes that this was Nick's first quarter of minor, and first of treble bob.

Nick is a keen family historian, and would be happy to offer advice on how people can research and/or check information relating to their own family. Contact Nick on nick_at_carverfamily.org.uk.

St George's Day 2015

The bells at St George, Littleport were rung on St George's day 2015 by a local band which included three generations of the George family, all wearing appropriate T-shirts! Thanks to Lisa Morgan for the photo.

The bells at St Mary the Virgin, Over were also rung for St George's day. 

Young Ringers website

There is now a separate website for the Ely DA Young Ringers. Dates for Young Ringers events will continue to be shown on this page, but see the separate website for more information, reports of past events and so on.

Advertise your tower open day with the Ely DA banner

  This 2.5 metre PVC banner is available for any tower that needs to advertise an open day or similar ringing-related event. The only proviso is that you hold it on a Saturday and have at least some of the attractions listed under the title, temporarily blanking out what is not on offer.

The banner is available to borrow, with the mobile demonstration bell and display stands. For more information, and to make a booking, see the Mobile Bell page on the Ely DA website.

More photos, news and articles for the district are available here.and here

Inside Over church

St Mary's, Ely

Ringing at Stretham

Cottenham tower

Working on Haddenham bells

Sutton in the Isle

Visits since 18/02/2013