University of London Society of Change Ringers

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The University of London Society of Change Ringers was founded just after the end of the Second World War. The objectives of the Society are the promotion of the art and science of change ringing in the University of London and ringing for church services.

Membership of the Society is open to all past and present members of the University of London, persons undertaking courses of tertiary education at City University, Brunel University, or any other college in London and past and present full time employees of the University of London.

The society includes ringers of all standards from rounds and call changes to spliced Maximus ringers, and also teaches students with no previous experience of ringing. It has an active social calendar including outings, picnics and parties together with an annual dinner and ringing tour during the summer vacation. The society also attends the SUA competition each year.

The Early Years

Memories of the Society’s early years by Denis Layton[1] -extracts taken from pages 49-53 of University of London Society of Change Ringers 60th Anniversary, Annual Report 2005-2006

...In October 1945 Vernon Benning, Philip Gray, Paul Williamson, Ted Challis and I met at Imperial College and adopted a constitution for the University of London Society of Change Ringers. I was the first Master, Philip Gray the Secretary, and we invited Dr James C E Simpson - a very well known and respected ringer, and lecturer in the University at Kings from 1935 to 1939 - to be the first President. Of the founding members, Vernon Benning died in July 2004 but at the time of writing (May 2006) the other four are still alive. Vernon played a big part in ringing and teaching learners in the early years and was Master 1947-8...

At the very beginning, the Society had its base at St Gabriel's, Pimlico. The bells had not been rung since before the War, and Philip and I spent an exhausting afternoon clearing out what felt like tons of pigeon manure and nesting material from the bell chamber and cleaning the ringing chamber. The ropes were rotten at the top so, because we couldn’t afford new proper bell ropes, I obtained a large amount of hemp rope from a chandler in Dockland that my father knew, and we spent another afternoon splicing the bottom ends of the existing ropes, which were good enough for up to about 10 feet from the sallies, on to the new rope. Since the total draught was long and the hemp rope was initially very elastic we had some rather exciting times ringing!

We taught learners with silenced bells on Thursday evenings, and practised with open bells on Mondays. Regular Sunday ringing was not possible because most of us were attached to other local towers, but we did sometimes ring quarter peals for special occasions. The arrangement lasted for a couple of years or so, but eventually we were asked to leave because the level of complaints from residents in the area became too high -the church was completely surrounded by houses and we had no means of sound reduction. We then led a somewhat nomadic existence for a while - ringing on the 8 bells at S Mary’s Lambeth (by the gates to Lambeth Palace) and for quite a period at S Stephen, Belsize Park, Hampstead with 10 bells though we mostly rang the back eight or the front six.

Our headquarters became S Olave, Hart Street [1954]. In the very early years we rang a lot of call changes (very good for our striking), Grandsire Triples, Stedman Triples and Bob Major. The repertoire widened as we gained more members and experience, and, for example, on the Yorkshire tour, centered on Ilkley in 1948 we scored good peals of London Surprise Major and Little Bob Royal and rang a good half course of Cambridge Major on the back eight at York Minster with Bill Simpson on the tenor (he was in fact one of the highest rated heavy bell ringers in the country at that time).

When the ULSCR was founded in 1945, Dr J C E Simpson agreed to become the first President on condition that it should be for a reasonable but limited time - he was adamant that the Society must be the institution, not any of the officers. In the event, his untimely death in 1952 at the age of 43 coincided with the time he had in mind as the limit of his period in office. The principle he laid down concerning periods in office has been adhered to throughout the Society’s history...

After ten years of existence the members of the ULSCR reckoned that the Society was sufficiently well established to be affiliated to the Central Council. Application was therefore made and affiliation was approved at the Council’s meeting at Leicester on 22 May 1956. I was admitted as the first representative of the ULSCR at that meeting.

Denis Layton, May 2006

Current Activities

ULSCR ringing is based at St Olave's Church, Hart Street in the City of London (near Tower Hill Tube - District & Circle Lines).

Practices take place on Thursday evenings between 7:00pm and 8:30pm during term time and Sunday service ringing is from 10:15am until 11:00am on the 1st and 3rd Sundays in the month.

Ringing including some practices also takes place at various other towers in the London area (see Upcoming Events) or contact the Master for details.

Students interested in joining can turn up to any practice, contact the Society by emailing, or view the website for more information.

A full list of current society contacts can be found here.

Past Presidents

DATE President DATE President DATE President
1945-52 James C E Simpson 1972-76 Alan J Frost 1994-00 Michael J Trimm
1952-58 Denis N Layton 1976-78 Robin R Churchill 2000-01 James R S Sawle
1958-64 Philip M J Gray 1978-84 Roger Bailey 2001-04 Mark C Bennett
1964-68 David J R Martin 1984-88 Nigel Thomson 2004-09 Nicholas W Jones
1968-72 Alan F Thirst 1988-94 Richard S J Saddleton 2009- Oliver D Cross

Past Masters

DATE Master DATE Master DATE Master
1945-46 Denis N Layton 1970-71 Nigel Thomson 1991-92 Nicholas W Jones
1946-47 Philip M J Gray 1971-72 Graham G Firman 1992-93 Russell J Collins
1947-48 Vernon J Benning 1972-73 Martyn G Reed 1993-94 Vanessa Powell
1948-52 Denis N Layton 1973-74 A Keith P Poole 1994-95 James R S Sawle</a>
1952-53 Richard E Price 1974-75 Paul R Wotton 1995-96 Michael J Townsend
1953-54 D Kay Adkins 1975-76 Keith C Butter 1996-97 Rebecca S Bruce
1954-55 John R Leeming 1976-77 Richard M Thompson 1997-98 Simon M Barnes
1955-56 Geoffrey R Bryant 1977-78 Gareth Davies 1998-99 Oliver D Cross
1956-57 John Armstrong 1978-79 Paul S Seaman 1999-00 Katherine L Town
1957-59 Roger Keeley 1979-80 Geoffrey Gillman 2000-01 Jennifer A Holden
1959-60 J Michael Lakin 1980-81 Richard W Butler 2001-02 Jennifer R Pick
1960-61 Geoffrey Pratt 1981-82 Peter J Sanderson 2002-03 David H W Ottley
1961 Douglas A R May 1982-83 Neil Buswell 2003-04 Kelly N Barnes
1961-63 Paul Cattermole 1983-84 Phillip R J Barnes 2004-05 Martin J Cansdale
1963-64 Alan J Frost 1984-85 David J Garton 2005-06 Rupert H J Littlewood
1964-65 Richard O Humphries 1985-86 Gareth Dancer 2006-07 Charles W G Herriott
1965-66 Roger W Powell 1986-87 Marcus A Wheel 2007-08 Peter M Jasper
1966-67 Timothy G Pett 1987-88 Lesley J Belcher 2008-09 Nicholas J Hartley
1967-68 Robin R Churchill 1988-89 Michael J Trimm 2009- Heather M Forster
1968-69 Audrey R Alexander 1989-90 Rowland H Gwillim
1969-70 Philip Bosworth 1990-91 Ruth H Kemsley



External links


  • extracts taken from pages 49-53 of University of London Society of Change Ringers 60th Anniversary, Annual Report 2005-2006