Metallic Lapel Ringing Badges and Medals
This catalogue is based firmly on the work of Chris Ridley. In 2002 he published a catalogue in paper form and updated it the following year. This revised edition was subsequently placed on the Library Committee web site of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers as an online catalogue in May 2005.
In 2008 Chris published a second edition of the printed catalogue, considerably enlarged by the addition of numerous additional badges. The current online version has added still more examples. It represents an attempt to list all known bell ringing badges that have been produced. Illustrations, where available, are shown, with accompanying notes to describe the composition, size and other details of the badge. Chris sought information from ringing organisations and a number of individuals who have built up their own collections. A survey undertaken by the Library Committee on behalf of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers was disappointing, in that a large number of organisations appeared to have only limited knowledge of badges they had previously produced. In the circumstances the information provided is unlikely to be comprehensive. The Library Committee would therefore welcome any corrections or additional facts that can be added (email).
The majority of items in the catalogue, and in the Library Committee’s own collection, are cast metallic lapel badges. There are, however, a number of other items where it was thought that they were relevant and interesting. The possibility of a national ringers’ badge under the auspices of the Central Council arose in 1914, when a resolution was put by Revd G F Coleridge, on behalf of the Oxford D G, ‘That the Central Council approve and issue a national badge for ringers’. After discussion, the matter was adjourned for a year, ‘in order that the feelings of the Associations might be taken’. At the 1914 meeting, the adjourned resolution found no proposer and was dropped.
The wearing of a badge is of course a matter of individual taste, and is never likely to come into general vogue among ringers. That is one strong reason against an attempt to issue anything like an official badge, but there are others equally as strong against the Council entering upon an undertaking of this kind. In the first place many associations have their own distinctive decoration and those who owe allegiance to a county or diocesan organisation and like to wear these little medallions would, we think, prefer to have that which would identify them with their own society rather than wear a badge which would have no special distinction. Moreover, tastes vary and what would please one would not appeal to another. Under present circumstances, they have a fairly varied selection provided by enterprising firms to choose from, and would much prefer, we believe, to make their own choice. The question stands deferred for a year by the Council, but we doubt if, when it comes up next time, it will receive very extended support, although we are ready to admit that from a sentimental point of view a national badge has a good deal to be said for it.
The Ringing World editorial 19th June 1914
There was a later suggestion that lapel badges could be used as an indication of ringing ability or qualification. This was quickly dropped after this letter appeared in The Ringing World on 27th October 1922
Sir, – In reference to ringers’ badges, etc., I would suggest a medal in bronze, silver and gold for Plain, Treble Bob and Surprise peals, the medal to vary in size according to the weight of bell rung for the first peal; also a bar might be added to denote lengths above 5,000; a chevron to be worn for every peal rung. Think of the man with a thousand or so! Then for the convenience of conductors making up teams, perhaps the Editor would compile a small handbook entitled ‘Form at a glance.’ As to anyone who rang 25 per cent. of peals in any one method, he should be suitably ‘crimed’. Thus should we know and be known. Yours, T H Vallance
The ‘Specials’ section charts the various firms which offered badges to ringers throughout the country, rather than within a Guild or Association, and also illustrates some of the other badges created for special occasions or for organisations other than ringing associations.
It is not easy to distinguish between the various metals used to cast badges. Consequently, unless a badge is marked as of gold or silver, only ‘brass’ and ‘cupronickel’ are used to describe the finished appearance. The four common types of fastening are shown below.
A black asterisk (*) against an illustration indicates that an example of that badge is held in the Library Committee collection. To save space, Associations, Guilds and Societies are referred to throughout by the common abbreviated form of their title.
Apart from the original research by Chris Ridley, many other people have helped in the preparation of this catalogue by supplying badges or information. The compiler is grateful to them all:
Ivan Andrews, Hazel Basford, David Beacham, Richard Bett, Stella Bianco, Sally Brown, Terry Brown, Lynn Burren, Ian Campbell, Carolyn Charlesworth, Murray Coleman, Steve Coleman, Richard Collins, Carolyn Dawson, Ray Fanthorpe, Ann Fowler, Tom Goodyer, Clare Griffiths, Andrew Gunn, Jim Hedgecock, Alison Hodge, David Joyce, Chris Kippin, David Kirkcaldy, Jenny Lawrence, Colin Lewis, Maureen Lowe, Jean Nixon, Alec Osbaldiston, Bruce Purvis, Alan Regin, Roy Rice, Hilton Roberts, Ivan Saunders, Mike Scott, Ian Self, Neil Skelton, Tony Smith, Denis Stephens, Victoria Tucker, Sandra Underwood, Richard White, Anthony Lovell-Wood.
‘Special’ Ringing Badges and Medals
This section contains details of a wide range of badges other than Guild or Association membership badges. They include early badges available to all ringers (Church Agency, Coldwell, Comber), ringing competition medals (Cumberland Association, Tong Carnival), training scheme awards (Sherbourne, ART, Guildford Diocesan), and many other badges with links to bells and bell ringing. The details of many of these badges is even less well recorded than those of the membership badges, and the compiler would be grateful to receive any additions or corrections to the catalogue (email).