The Bearded Wonder in USA

(a.k.a. Cambridge University Guild’s USA Tour 2000)


  1. Tour Diary

  2. Tour Map

  3. Itinerary

  4. Pictures

  5. RW report

Tour Diary

Saturday 22nd April

10:30 am arrive Gatwick. The Lebon family rail travel arrangements are destroyed by a landslide, but a helpful friend drives them to the airport. Take off is aborted due to a faulty micro-switch and we twiddle our thumbs on a runway for an hour and a half, thus missing our connecting flight from Newark to Atlanta. There are no more connecting flights that evening, so Virgin Atlantic Airways graciously put all of us except two up in the Days Inn with meal vouchers. We eat and drink the night away in the hotel bar, then realise that we will not be using the breakfast vouchers as our flight leaves too early. A liquid breakfast, in the form of five bottles of wine, is negotiated by Tony and Philip.

Sunday 23rd April

Finally Tony Parry joins the waiting party in the hotel lobby at 5:20 am. This time our flight is without incident and we pick up two 8-seater vans at Atlanta airport. We arrive at Marietta where we are joined by Bernard and Rachel Taylor and Chris and June Johnson. Sadly we are too late to ring for and attend the Easter day service, but after losing a quarter peal, the Guild rings its second tower bell peal outside the British Isles, and is complimented by the locals. The evening is spent in the company of the local ringers who kindly provide us with food.

Monday 24th April

Drive to Charleston with a brief stop off at Madison, a notable colonial town. Joined by Ron Edge (the Guild’s American correspondent) and the Dew family (fresh from Disneyland). We ring at St. Michaels [1] in the evening, starting with half an hour of open ringing and then 1 hours of closed, simulator ringing to placate the local residents. Bernard amuses himself by changing the pitch of the bells during the touches. We help the local ringers with their Stedman and Superlative and end the evening in A. W. Shuck’s Seafood Restaurant with them.

Tuesday 25th April

We ring a peal of Stedman Caters at Grace Church [2] and retire to a local eatery where our President is served a “16 in Johnson”. Non-peal ringers spend the time sightseeing around Charleston, which retains much of its original colonial architecture, and learn about the misery caused by the evil Brits. Rod “couldn’t afford to keep it up” so we make our way to Stella Maris on Sullivan’s Island to ring a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples. Emma and Richard brave the sea, and catch sight of porpoises and black pelicans. Afterwards, the remaining tour ringers join their practice whilst the quarter peal band return to Grace Church to help them out.

Wednesday 26th April

Drive to Raleigh where the local ringers have laid on dinner. In the blue/green bus the adults teach the Lebonettes how to play “cheat”. We become hopelessly lost on the I-40 and arrive late. Finally we join the locals for a ring. We find our president in an exceedingly good mood. Meet the lovely Theo, Andrew Johnson’s girlfriend, who takes us to the local brewery for refreshment. Eventually get back to the Motel after being stuck on the I-40 again. Emma introduces us to her “clover leaf” manoeuvre for interstate junctions. Tony v. impressed!

Thursday 27th April

Score peal of 8 spliced at Raleigh. During the six hour drive to Hendersonville the surroundings become more and more mountainous and beautiful. The adults are beaten at “cheat” by Lebonettes. We join the locals for their practice night but seem unable to ring Stedman. The locals take us to a steak. Rod realises the reason for Motel beds being big enough for three: there are three types of restroom, ladies, men and janitors. A third sex?

Friday 28th April

Early start as we attempt the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way to Washington. We encounter blizzards at ~5000 feet, and are forced to turn back. In the evening in Washington, our president and Vivian Nutton find themselves in a gay bar and are asked if they are a couple. There is an outcry from the Guild as we find ourselves eating in a restaurant which is not licensed.

Saturday 29th April

We lose the peal at the Old Post Office, but the photo opportunities from its top are excellent. We attempt to “do” Washington in an hour, then head for the Cathedral. Both are very enjoyable rings of 10. We arrive in New Castle in the early evening.

Sunday 30th April

Ring for Sunday service at Immanuel, New Castle then drive to Philadelphia. We see the old senate houses where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Met by Eileen and Bruce Butler (NAG President) to ring for the service at St. Mark’s. Grab St. Martin-in-the-fields and head for the “benders of Burlington”. After the aborted raise we realise why there is such a large local reception. The ton bells on plain bearings that have not been rung for 2 years, coupled with the double rope guide that is secured by ropes that pulls the bell ropes to the side mean these are exceedingly difficult bells. We just manage Grandsire Triples, to the astonishment of the locals, and then expire. These bells have yet to be pealed - can’t think why! The drive through New York to Waccabuc is moderately stressful, but being met with real English tea makes up for everything.

Monday 1st May

Arrive 28 Hilltop, Waccabuc for breakfast care of Helen MacGregor and Peter Bevis. We spend a leisurely morning making use of mini-ring, hand bells and swimming pool. In the afternoon we take a country walk, during which Eric introduces “skunk-cabbages”. That evening we ring at Melrose School, Brewster. Back at Waccabuc we ring the first quarter on a mini-ring outside the British Isles. Helen cooks us all Spaghetti Bolognaise and we drink wine courtesy of Virgin Atlantic.

Tuesday 2nd May

Visit Haight and Hopkins vineyards (or wineries) and see covered bridges on the way to Kent School. On the way we pass through Bantam, but Rod who has not noticed remarks, “there must be lots of chickens round here, we keep passing bantam shops”. At Kent School we have to ring muffled as the students are still having classes. However we are allowed to ring open for our quarter of Cambridge Royal. In the evening we return to Waccabuc and a mini-ring quarter of Surprise Minor – a first for one of the locals.

Wednesday 3rd May

Ellen Dew (aged 11) rings her first quarter of surprise minor on the mini-ring, thereby earning 10 from her Grandfather. We enjoy a picnic lunch and woodland ramble at Bartholomew’s Cobble, a wildlife reserve. Rod’s solid contact at Smith College was not so solid after all (or is that firm[3]?).

Thursday 4th May

Last long drive! We spend the day at Plymouth Plantation, a replica of the original settlement where the Mayflower travellers lived, and see the Mayflower II, which sailed the Atlantic in the 1950s. The keener members of the party in the red bus also make it down the coast to Cape Cod. In the evening we join the Advent ringers at Boston for their practice. A select few make it to the Cambridge brewery and eventually back to the Motel, I-9 willing.

Friday 5th May

Loath to take the vehicles into Boston again (especially as the rubicundly-challenged bus was only just short enough for the car park), so we all catch the commuter train into Boston. We spend the morning sight seeing in Boston – local tourist guides recount their tea party and the bashing of the English forces with great glee. Views of the city from the 60th floor of the John Hancock building are very impressive, as is the speed of the lift! We score a quarter peal of 8 spliced at Advent, then dine in style at the “Legal Seafood Restaurant” – very good, try their Chowder.

Saturday 6th May

We join the Old North ringers for their two-hour practice, and discover that Paul Revere (who rode out to warn the Americans that the British were coming) was a ringer. In the afternoon we drive out to Hingham, a challenging 10 in a free-standing tower which sways a fair bit. 16:30 arrive Boston airport for journey home. Tired but satisfied.


[1] Hope you appreciated the 10p piece. Your tower nickel is on the shelf by the door.

[2] Dan was the architect for the tower.

[3] Ridigus Quam Virga

[4] J Roderick N Lebon M.A. (Selwyn)


Date Travel Towers No. Bells Weight (cwt) Method
Sat 22-Apr Gatwick to Newark        
Sun 23-Apr Newark to Marietta [1] St. James, Marietta 8 5 Peal Yorkshire S8
Mon 24-Apr to Charleston [2] St. Michael, Charleston 8 17 Grab
Tues 25-Apr   Grace Church, Charleston 10 16 Peal Stedman 9
      Stella Maris, Sullivan's Island 8 4 QP Grandsire 7
      Stella Maris & Grace Church Practices      
Wed 26-Apr to Raleigh [3] Christ Church, Raleigh 8 4 Practice Night
Thurs 27-Apr   Christ Church, Raleigh 8 4 Peal 8 Spliced S8
    to Hendersonville [4] St. James, Hendersonville 8 9 Practice Night
Fri 28-Apr to Washington [5]        
Sat 29-Apr   Old Post Office, Washington 10 26 Lost Peal Grandsire 9
      SS. Peter & Paul, Washington Cathedral 10 32 Grab
    to New Castle [6]        
Sun 30-Apr   Immanuel, New Castle 6 3 Service Ringing
    to Philadelphia [6] St. Mark, Philadelphia 8 18 Service Ringing
      St. Martin in the fields, Philadelphia 8 4 Grab
      St. Mary, Burlington 8 22 Grab the "benders" of
    to Waccabuc [7]        
Mon 1-May   Mini-ring & Handbells 8   Grab
      Melrose School, Brewster 8 8 Grab
      Mini-ring 8 ? Ibs QP Yorkshire S8
Tues 2-May   St. Joseph, Kent 10 24 QP Cambridge S10
      Mini-ring 8 ? Ibs QP Cambridge S6
Wed 3-May   Mini-ring 8 ? Ibs QP Cambridge S6
Thurs 4-May to Boston [8] Church of the Advent, Boston 8 19 Practice Night
Fri 5-May   Church of the Advent, Boston 8 19 QP 8 Spliced S8
Sat 6-May   Christ Church (Old North), Boston Practice 8 13  
      Memorial Hall Campanile, Hingham 10 19  
    Depart Boston        
Sun 7-May Arrive Gatwick        


Tour Map


Copyright 1988–2000 Microsoft Corp. and/or its suppliers. All rights reserved.
1999 Navigation Technologies B.V. and its suppliers. All rights reserved. Selected Road Maps Copyright 1999 by AND International Publishers N.V. All rights reserved. Crown Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.


Please click on the picture to enlarge it.

St. Michael, Charleston Grace Church, Charleston Stella Maris, Sullivan's Island
St. Michael Grace Church Stella Maris, Sullivan's Island

St. James, Hendersonville

St. James, Hendersonville

Snowed off the Blue Ridge Mountains at 5000ft

Snowed off the Blue Ridge Mountains at 5000ft

The Old Post Office, Washington DC The Old Post Office, Washington DC
The Bicentenary bells, a gift from the British to the Americans.
Old Post Office, Washington DC
SS. Peter & Paul, Washington Cathedral SS. Peter & Paul, Washington Cathedral SS. Peter & Paul, Washington Cathedral
SS. Peter & Paul, Washington Cathedral
Looking towards the Monument from the Capitol, Washington DC The Capitol, Washington DC
Looking towards the Monument from the Capitol The Capitol
Washington DC
St. Mark, Philadelphia St. Mary, Burlington, Is this bad handling? St. Mary, Burlington, Or just tricky bells?
  Is this bad handling? Or just tricky bells?
St. Mark, Philadelphia St. Mary, Burlington

US Tour Team - After ringing the "Burlington Benders".

The US Tour Team - After ringing the "Burlington Benders".

Covered Bridge Covered Bridge Covered Bridge
Covered Bridges
Mayflower II A Pair of bottom up Mayflower II Ice Creams in Plymouth Plymoth Plantation (correctly spelt!).
Mayflower II A Pair of bottoms up Mayflower II (Plymouth) Ice Creams in Plymouth Plymoth Plantation (correctly spelt!)
Church of the Advent, Boston Christ Church (Old North), Boston
Church of the Advent Christ Church (Old North)
The dome of this building is covered in gold leaf. The City of Boston The City of Boston Old fire engine in Boston The building where the Queen re-read the declaration of Independence during the bi-centential celebrations, Boston. Followed by a presentation of a cheque from the US Government paying for the tax due on the tea wasted at the Boston "Tea Party".
The dome of this building is covered in gold leaf. The City The City Old fire engine The building where the Queen re-read the declaration of Independence during the bi-centential celebrations, Boston. Followed by a presentation of a cheque from the US Government paying for the tax due on the tea wasted at the Boston "Tea Party".
Tour Dinner Tour Dinner Tour Dinner

The Tour Meal at “Legal Seafood Restaurant”,
Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Last stop before the flight home. Memorial Hall Campanile, Hingham

Last stop before the flight home
Memorial Hall Campanile, Hingham


Ringing World Report

CUGCR and Friends' USA Tour

In two weeks we have managed to drive through twelve states and ring at eighteen towers. The tour was not without hitches - a landslide on the rail track followed by a faulty micro switch on the aeroplane caused an unscheduled stopover, but did allow us to trade in our breakfast vouchers for bottles of wine! The trip started a day late with a peal in Marietta and a party with the local ringers.

Having sampled the three towers in Charleston, we moved on to Raleigh in North Carolina, where the I-40 caused serious navigational problems. From Hendersonville the Blue Ridge Mountains proved too much of a challenge, and a blizzard at 5000 feet forced us to turn back.

Views from Washington Old Post Office and Cathedral were almost as impressive as the bells, and the organiser begrudgingly allowed us a glimpse of the city on foot. Sunday service ringing was varied, beginning at New Castle, continuing through Philadelphia, and culminating in "the benders of Burlington". The ton bells on plain bearings that have not been rung for 2 years, coupled with a double rope guide that moved about, made these bells exceedingly difficult. We managed Grandsire Triples, but only just. These bells have yet to be pealed - can't think why.

At last some relaxation, care of Peter Bevis and Helen McGregor at Waccabuc. We made full use of the mini-ring and hand-bells, and made excursions to Melrose and Kent Schools, and to some of the local wineries.

Having visited the pilgrim village and the Mayflower II at Plymouth, we attended the Advent practice at Boston. After a day for sight seeing, we visited Old North and Hingham before our homeward flight. Our thanks to the American ringers for such a warm welcome, to Helen and Peter for their hospitality, but most of all to Rod and Karen Lebon for their hard work organising this difficult trip.

Philip & Emma Abbey

Sun Apr 23 2000 2h 38m (5)
5058 Yorkshire S Major
Comp. D Barton (Selwyn)
1 C M P Johnson (St Johns)
2 E Abbey (Jesus)
3 H Muirhead (Newnham)
4 J R N Lebon (Selwyn)
5 P A Abbey (Corpus Christi)
6 P K Williamson (Trinity)
7 A H G Parry (Homerton)
8 B H Taylor (Trinity) (C)
To celebrate Easter.

Tue Apr 25 2000 3h 3m (16)
5055 Stedman Caters
Comp. R E J Dennis
1 Richard S Lebon
2 Christopher M P Johnson
3 Hilary Muirhead
4 J Roderick N Lebon
5 Karen Lebon
6 Paul K Williamson
7 Anthony H G Parry
8 Michael J Dew
9 Bernard H Taylor (C)
10 Philip A Abbey
First on ten - 1
50th together - 4,9

RALEIGH, NC, USA Christ Church
Thu Apr 27 2000 2h 30m (4)
5056 Spliced S Major
(8m: 768 Rutland, 704 London, 640 Superlative, Yorkshire, 576 Bristol, Cambridge, Lincolnshire, Pudsey, 121 com, atw)
Comp. P G K Davies 1976
1 Emma Abbey
2 Karen Lebon
3 Edward J R Lebon
4 J Roderick N Lebon
5 Philip A Abbey
6 Paul K Williamson
7 Anthony H G Parry
8 Bernard H Taylor (C)

Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, USA (Stella Maris) 25 April 1260 Grandsire Triples: Karen Lebon 1, Emma Abbey 2, Edward Lebon 3, Roderick Lebon 4, Rachel Taylor 5, Ron Edge 6, Philip Abbey (C) 7, Michael Dew 8.

Waccabuc, New York, USA 1 May 1280 Yorkshire S Major: Karen Lebon 1, Philip Abbey 2, Emma Abbey 3, Helen McGregor 4, Hilary Muirhead 5, Michael Dew 6, Roderick Lebon 7, Anthony Parry (C) 8. 1st on mini-ring: 1,5,7,8, 1st QP on a mini-ring outside the British Isles, 1st on Coleridge Campanile at its new home. Also: on 2 May 1320 Cambridge S Minor: Beverly Faber 1, Roderick Lebon 2, Helen McGregor 3, Emma Abbey 4, Hilary Muirhead 5, Philip Abbey (C) 6, 1st Treble Bob for 1. Also: on 3 May 1320 Cambridge S Minor: Philip Abbey 1, Ellen Dew 2, Janet Dew 3, Emma Abbey 4, Anthony Parry 5, Michael Dew (C) 6. 1st Surprise inside for 2 (aged 11).

Kent, Connecticut, USA (St. Joseph) 2 May 1282 Cambridge S Royal: Anthony Parry (C) 1, Karen Lebon 2, Hilary Muirhead 3, Emma Abbey 4, Janet Dew 5, Eric Roberts 6, Paul Williamson 7, Roderick Lebon 8, Michael Dew 9, Philip Abbey 10.

Boston, Massachusetts, USA (Church of the Advent) 5 May 1280 8 Spliced S Major: Karen Lebon 1, Hilary Muirhead 2, Emma Abbey 3, Paul Williamson 4, Eric Roberts 5, Philip Abbey 6, Roderick Lebon (C) 7, Anthony Parry 8.