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Lincoln and Stedman

Recently Chris Kippin in the Ringing World set a Quiz in which several questions were asked based on peals of Stedman Cinques. I found the answers very interesting particularly as my early ringing at Lincoln Cathedral was in the 1950s when ringing was returning to pre-war standards.

Lincoln Cathedral came third for the number of peals of Stedman Cinques (141) rung on the bells of a particular tower which is quite remarkable as the bells were not augmented to 12 until 1927. The source for this data is Felstead and the leading towers are Birmingham Cathedral and St Mary le Bow London. In both places there is a long tradition of 12 bell ringing. In fourths place is Birmingham St Martin with 94 which is 47 behind Lincoln. Leicester Cathedral is in sixth place with 91 peals. It is very surprising that the other Leicester 12, St Margaret’s, has only 81 peals to its credit and ranks number 28.

When it comes to the top ten conductors of Stedman Cinques Pealbase is the source and this data at present is from 1957 to the present day. It is good to see that Jack Millhouse is there at number 6 with 99 peals. Jack of course was calling peals before the second world war and his overall total must be much higher.

John A Freeman called a peal of Stedman Triples in 1911 and it is said that after losing his first attempt he never again lost a peal of Stedman Triples which he was calling.

He was elected Master of the Cathedral Company of ringers in 1929 and called many peals of Stedman Cinques. Mr Freeman’s son John astounded the ringing ‘Exercise’ by calling his own first peal - Stedman Cinques at the Cathedral! Like his father John went on to gain a high reputation as a conductor and it is said that after his first he always conducted from a working bell. His total for Stedman Cinques during the period covered by Pealbase is 54 and he is in 19th place. His daughter Jennifer rang the third at the Cathedral to Londinium Surprise Maximus for her own first peal!

With three very able conductors of Stedman Cinques it is not surprising that there were many long runs of consecutive peals - I counted 20 in one such run! At the Cathedral conducting of Stedman Cinques was not confined to the two Freemans and Jack Millhouse. Anyone who wanted to have a go got their chance and amongst these are Harold Gibson, Robin Heppenstall, Ian Lloyd, Geoffrey Parker, Geoffrey Paul and Peter Sharp.

I hope these notes will help newcomers to appreciate the leading place which Lincoln held as a centre for Stedman Cinques ringing. Perhaps they will be able help the City to return to the standards of the 70s and 80s.