Oxford Society
Merton College
Monday, 28 December 1896 in 3h 40
5184 London Surprise Major
J W Washbrook
1 Charles Hounslow
2 Percy A Hind
3 Charles Fowler
4 Arthur W Pike
5 Rev F E Robinson
6 Thomas Hibbert
7 William Smith
8 James W Washbrook (C)
This is the first peal of Major on this magnificent ring of bells, and was rung in honour of the marriage of Mr. T Payne, the Steeple-keeper, and respected Hon. Sec. of this Society. Reference to this peal will be found elsewhere.

Bell News 97/482 Published as Weight of Tenor not known.


"However you have got the face to try ringing Major on Merton College bells is a knockout, and to try London Surprise by candlelight, too. What next, I wonder?”

"Look here, my boy, father has undertaken to erect the illuminations, and you can rest assured that it will be done satisfactorily.

"All right, I shall come and listen to it. What time are you going to start?”

Four o’clock — right off.

This colloquy took place before the peal, recorded on another page, was rung. For the benefit of those who do not know Merton, it may be stated that the bells have to be rung from a gallery at an elevation of 56 feet from the tesselated floor of the chapel. This gallery is about 3 feet wide, and the ringers are protected from falling by an arrangement of wood and gas-piping. The chamber is 26 feet across, and the bells go very heavy and strike very false. Hence, we suppose, the above questioning.

Well, our correspondent adds: The father arranged the candle business very nicely, for each ringer had one each side of him, and the light seemed pretty fair.

Go London, was called at 4.30, and all went very comfortable for about 1¼ hours, when it seemed evident that our candles were going much too fast, this caused some alarm, and was not productive of continued good ringing, however, we meant going as far as the fat, both above and below, would allow us, and we rolled them along well, again, for another hour; then matters looked very gloomy, for some of our illuminations had entirely disappeared, and it was very difficult to see whether the ringer opposite was pulling hand-stroke or back-stroke; however, under the circumstances, we kept fairly good striking. Just at this time our good old friend Jimmy could be heard aloft, replenishing the fat up there, which we down below felt very thankful for, and in a few minutes he appeared just inside the door of the ringing gallery with his electric bull’s-eye.

By this time the Faticles were hanging to our few remaining candles to an alarming extent.

Fetch some more candles, Jimmy, said a voice from the darkness. Right, says Jimmy; and off he went across the chapel roof and down the stairs, and soon returned armed with two candles— all he could get, as the shops were closed.

These he lighted, and with considerable difficulty in getting along the gallery behind the ringers, managed to lighten our darkness on one side of the tower.

But it was soon evident that his services would be required the other side, for the Rev. and Old Tom were getting very much clouded. Fetch some more, ’Jimmy,’ is the cry. The much-wanted candles duly arrived, and just as Jimmy arrived inside the door with them, the change, 14235678, rolled up magnificently. No sooner had we entered upon this course, than the greatest difficulty of all presented itself, for by this time, although it was easy enough for the heavy bell men to see the light bell men, it was almost impossible for the latter to see the former, and together with the energy exhibited by Jimmy in his endeavors to squeeze by the 5th and 6th men, and the sudden lighting of our darkness, no wonder that one or two of the band tripped about and spoilt the ringing of the last course, for ringing London Surprise under such trying circumstances would have been utterly impossible to any but cool-headed and careful ringers, and the band offer Jimmy their best thanks, for, never was the services of a greaser more effectually realised; and it is certain that 8.10 would not have arrived so pleasantly had it not been for him.

J. W . W .

AbelSim Ringing Simulators