When Harry Trelawny and the ringers of Calstock achieved the first short peal to be rung in Cornwall, they began something of a craze about method ringing in the local area. Trelawny was married to Juliana Kelly and presumably had close contact with his brother-in-law Maitland, so perhaps it should not be surprising that the latter enthusiastically followed Trelawny’s example and started to train his own band at Kelly.
In October 1864 the Tavistock Gazette carried an article about a gathering at Milton Abbott where the bells had recently been “put in order” with new ropes replacing the old cart ropes and stays added to the bells. The vicar of Milton had issued a special invitation to the ringers of Kelly, Bradstone, South Sydenham, Lamerton, Maristow and Calstock to try out the newly repaired bells. The various bands demonstrated their skills with some fine round ringing and the men from Calstock were invited to ring a short peal of Grandsire Doubles, “thus affording to many who have had no opportunity before, a chance of judging the merits of the scientific, or half-pull method.” This was followed by a short peal by the Kelly men “who are rapidly progressing, and will no doubt vie with their Cornish friends in another few months”. The ringing was followed by a handsome supper provided by the vicar and neighbouring clergy. The event was so successful that discussions over supper inspired those present to suggest that bands should be similarly trained at Milton and South Sydenham.
The visit to Milton Abbott was quickly followed by another, to the tower of Plympton St Mary, on 31st December. On this occasion it would seem that only the Calstock band was present. Several short touches were rung to allow the ringers to become acquainted with the bells before two peals of Grandsire Doubles were rung. The bells at Plympton were heavy, the tenor weighing 36 cwt and observers were impressed that the Calstock men were able to ring the bells single handed when more usually they were rung by two or three men.
The Kelly ringers were indeed hot on the heels of their Cornish friends; on 21st January 1865 they achieved the first peal of Grandsire Doubles recorded in Devon, to be rung by local men. The Kelly family were sufficiently enthusiastic about ringing for Maitland’s father to organise and largely fund the restoration of the bells at Kelly church in 1867. The ringers of Calstock, Milton and Kelly all took part in the inauguration of the bells. Peals were rung, apparently including courses of Grandsire Triples, and as usual supper was provided.
Sources: Tavistock Gazette, Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, Western Morning News.