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Harry Trelawny - Ringing Enthusiast

CCCBR Famous Ringers, Biographies and Obituaries

Harry Reginald Salusbury Trelawny was born at Harewood, Calstock in December 1826. He was educated at Ottery St Mary, Westminster School and Sandhurst Royal Military College, after which he served in a number of different British Army regiments. He resigned from the army in 1853 to join the Royal Cornwall Rangers Militia, eventually being appointed to the rank of Colonel. In the same year (1853) he married Juliana Kelly, the sister of Maitland Kelly.

Trelawny probably learnt to ring as a child at Ottery St Mary, but it was not until around 1863 that he became aware of the half-pull method of ringing. In early 1864 he acquired copies of Hubbard’s Elements of Campanologia, Ellacombe’s Practical Remarks and Maunsell’s Church Bells and Bellringing. Through the study of these books he gained sufficient knowledge to train a local band. In September of that same year they were able to ring 120 Grandsire Doubles on the bells at Calstock Church. This was the first recorded peal to take place in Cornwall. Within two years Trelawny and the Calstock Ringers had taken part in the first peal of Grandsire Minor, on this occasion with the assistance of William Banister, an eminent ringer.

Like many ringers, Trelawny also practiced with hand-bells, even instructing his family in the art of method ringing. It is said that every morning the family – both parents, three daughters and one son would practice for 30 minutes, each taking two bells. In January 1869 “The Harewood Band” gave a demonstration of method ringing on hand-bells, at a talk entitled “Bells and Bellringing” delivered by Rev H T Ellacombe at the Athenaeum, Exeter. There appear to have been around 200 changes; at that time the children were aged between 10 and 14 years.

Trelawny had few opportunities to ring with experienced ringers or to achieve full peals, he is remembered most for introducing method ringing to Cornwall. But his name does appear in the record of a peal of 5040 Grandsire Triples rung at St Mary’s Lewisham in September 1866, in the company of several members of the Banister family and other College Youths.

In 1870 Trelawny and his family moved to Poltair House, Madron, near Penzance. Trelawny became enthusiastically involved in the local community and the church of St Mary's, Penzance; he introduced the ringers to the half-pull method; he was involved in the commissioning and installation of a carillon of bells; and continued to ring for the rest of his life as far as his health allowed.

Trelawny died in late 1883 at the age of 57. According to The Cornishman a short peal of Grandsire Minors with the 7th and tenor covering was rung the evening before his funeral and a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples immediately after the service, both with muffled bells.

Sources: CCCBR Famous Ringers, Biographies and Obituaries; Bell News and Ringers Record, November 1883; The Cornishman November 1883; John Eisel, The Band at Calstock, The Ringing World, June 2017

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