The East Grinstead and District Guild of Church Bell Ringers
The East Grinstead and District Guild of Church Bell Ringers

History of the Guild

In May 1927, ringers at East Grinstead sent out invitations to towers within 10 miles of the town for representatives to meet, with the object of forming a Ringers’ Guild.  On 4 June the meeting was held and the Guild formed.  A rota of practices, two a week, was drawn up and was fairly successful; but in 1928 the Guild settled down to a meeting once a month.  The difficulty was to avoid clashing with the meetings of the three County Associations over whose territory the Guild operated (Sussex, Kent and Surrey).  This was overcome by holding the meetings regularly on the second Saturday of each month.


At the meeting on the 4 June a Committee was elected, and they met for the first time on 22 June. The first ringing meeting was held at East Grinstead on 30 July 1927.  The towers represented at the meeting on 4 June were Crawley, Cuckfield, Cowden, Oxted, Chiddingstone, Colemans Hatch, Turners Hill, Penshurst, Hartfield, Balcombe and East Grinstead.  Withyham and Godstone were unable to attend, but said they would support the Guild, if it was formed.  


At the first Annual General Meeting, in 1928, the Rector of Withyham was elected president, and remained in that office until he died in 1936.


In 1929, following an objection by the Sussex County Association, the office of Master was changed to that of Chairman, and during this time, despite the Sussex County's opposition, the Guild was an immediate success and the membership soon reached the 100 mark.


At the request of ringers outside the 10-mile radius, this was extended, in 1932, to 15 miles. The area is now divided into four divisions and each is visited in turn.


Also, in 1932, it was proposed to affiliate to the Central Council of Church Bellringers, but this was opposed on the grounds that all members were represented by their county associations.  In 1939, the opposition was overcome and the Guild affiliated.  The Guild's first Central Council Representative left all his ringing books to the Guild.  This now forms the Guild library.


Last amended 27 April 2016

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© Patrick Wills