Group name - Hull Handbell Change Ringers

Treble D. Minor

  Treble Dodging Minor - London Surprise

London Surprise Minor

About London Surprise Minor

London Surprise incorporates the maximum amount of backward plain hunting that is possible in a treble dodging method.

Making places "back and hand" is so alien that the method "feels" wrong even when you are ringing correctly; and because there are more Place Notation artefacts (compared with right place where every alternate artefact is "cross") ringing London Surprise requires a lot of mental effort. London Surprise Minor is elegant, conceptually simple and executionally fluid and complex.

This is a challenging but rewarding method.

Table Sections

Tabular Index to the 147 Regular Treble Dodging Minor Methods.

Site Sections:

A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells
Method Ringing

A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells
Hull Project

A set of 12 handbells


London Surprise incorporates the maximum amount of reverse hunting (bells lead back and hand) that is possible in a treble dodging minor method. There is reverse hunting between 3rd and 6ths when the treble is dodging in 1-2, and reverse hunting between 1st and 4th places when the treble is dodging in 5-6. The 3rds place half-lead and 2nds place lead end then make this an interesting method to ring.

Method Structure.

Place Notation:
36 X 36. 14 X 12 X 36. 14 X 14. 36, 12, Bob 14, Single 1234.


London Surprise Minor change rows with grid

Diagram: London Surprise Minor, plain lead, change-rows and grid.

Plain Course structure
The section where the treble dodges in 3-4 is pure, right place treble bob and the other sections are backward hunting. The method is characterised by the constant switching between right and wrong hunting. The method is quite fluid and has some interesting artefacts.


Learning London Surprise Minor.

The Structure

Below the treble the switch from right place to wrong place creates a stedman whole turn for the pivot bell which makes 3rds at the half lead and returns to make a further stedman whole turn, switching back into right place work.

The Rules

London Surprise Minor - the rules
Ring the maximum amount of backward hunting without violating the rules for surprise methods. 3rds place is made at the half lead.
NB. Apparently it is possible to ring the method via this rule if you have a strong language based memory.

Double Blue Lines

Double Blue Lines

London Surprise Minor, 1-2

London Surprise Minor on 1-2

Diagram: London Surprise Minor, 1-2.

In the grid and double lines the treble is picked out in red, forward hunting is in black and backward hunting is in blue. Points to note:

  • In the first half lead, where the treble hunts from lead to 3rds place, 3rds place bell hunts from 4ths to 6ths in parallel with the treble, i.e. 2 bells apart.
  • The "fishtails" of 3rds place bell are essentially a right place scissors dodge approached from the wrong way hunting mentioned above.
  • A better way of describing the 3rds place bell fishtails is as a point 6ths at backstroke followed by a 5-6 down dodge, which is scissors with the 3-4 up of the treble.
  • NB. After the scissors dodge, treble and 3rds place bell cross over in 4-5, and the 4ths place backstroke blow is the start of backward hunting.
  • In the first half lead, where 2nds place bell hunts from lead to 3rds place, the treble hunts from 4ths to 6ths in parallel with the 2nds place bell, i.e. 2 bells apart.
  • The above two statements are reversed in the second half of the lead.
  • The transition between right place ringing and wrong place, at lead, takes place after the point lead of 2nds place bell / also after the point 2nds of the Stedman Whole turn (5ths place bell).
  • 6ths place bell and 3rds place bell then lead (wrong) whilst 5ths place bell hunts to make 3rds and return to lead (wrong).
  • The point lead of 4ths place bell / point 2nds of 5ths place bell then marks the return to right place ringing at lead.


London Surprise Minor, 3-4

London Surprise Minor on 3-4

Diagram: London Surprise Minor, 3-4.

Suggested approach.

  • Become thoroughly familiar with the grid structure, the place bell order, and the single blue line. Analyse the interaction of the single line with the treble for right and wrong places. It is probably time efficient to ring 1-2 on the simulator before tackling 3-4.
  • Memorise the double place bells shown in the diagrams:
    3-4 5-2, 5-2 6-3, 6-3 4-5, 4-5 2-6, 2-6 3-4
    before learning anything else for 3-4 . NB.

Use the double place bells as "staging points", they are written out below for the starting pair each time.

It is the switching between backward hunting and forward hunting that makes London both delightful and difficult. Here are a few points for ringing 3-4.

  • When the treble is dodging in 1-2 or 5-6, the places in the 36X36 or 14X14 elements are made wrong (back and hand).
  • When the treble is hunting into or out of 3-4, the places 14 or 36 are made right (hand and back).
  • When the treble is dodging in 3-4, all of the bells ring the standard surprise minor structure X12X; however, the bell that leads is the 5ths place bell, (the pivot bell) and the lead is the right place component of the stedman whole turn.
  • For 2-6 pair, leaving the fishtails can be tricky, count 2 handstrokes in 6ths, cross in 5-6, 4ths&6ths at hand, 3rds etc.
  • The pair starting from 3rds and 6ths places cross at the half lead, hence symmetrical, and become 4ths and 5ths place bells.


London Surprise Minor, 5-6

London Surprise Minor on 5-6

Diagram: London Surprise Minor, 5-6.

The double place bells are delightful in that they are adjacent pairs in the single place bell repeating sequence: 2-3-5-6-4-2
Use the double place bells as "staging points", they are written out below for the starting pair each time.

  • The pair starting from 2nds and 4ths places cross at the half lead, hence symmetrical, becoming 2nds and 3rds place bells.

Place Notation


The right place lead of the stedman whole turn takes place as the treble dodges in 3-4.
At the same time, 3rds place bell is making a fishtail in 5-6 with 4ths place bell.

Place Notation and Grid

Unless you are ringing by the rules (see above), both grid and place notation are relevant to learning and ringing London Surprise Minor.


The method is too complex to chop into elements.


Ringing London Surprise Minor.

Track the treble

Awareness of the position of the treble is a key skill for most bellringing methods, and a significant help in ringing London Surprise Minor. Some hints and tips for developing the skill are given in the techniques section.

London Surprise Minor is complicated to ring owing to the backward hunting. The grid is rich in "work to do" and requires close concentration. The luxury of right place methods where the focus of attention is the backstrokes is not available. The treble position is a reasonable guide to where the backward hunting the work of the method starts and finishes.

Positional Awareness

Our experience is that the hardest part of this hard method is making the wrong 4ths when the treble is in 5-6. Don't be surprised by the half lead place made right in amongst the backward hunting and stedman turns.

Place Notation Elements

The method only contains 5 elements (36X36, 14, 12, 36, 14X14), the backward hunting blocks are new.

Place Bells, Pivot Leads, and Staging posts

The place bell sequence for 5-6 is very helpful.
Pivot for 3-4 pair is the 3-6 lead, where the fishtails and 3-4 dodge bring the pair coursing to cross backwards under the pivot bell at the half lead.
The cross over in 4-5 for a coursing pair looks easy on paper but is counter-intuitive with a pair of bells.

Awareness of other bells

London Surprise Minor demands total concentration on the method structure, awareness of the work of the other bells comes automatically.

Coursing Order in London Surprise Minor

The 4 consecutive 4ths under the treble are in natural coursing order.

Ringing the Method

This is a classical bellringing method repaying the time spent in study and practice.

The difficulties in London Surprise stem from:

  • leading wrong and hunting wrong
  • there is no comfort zone of the familiar plain hunting patterns
  • the perpetual switching between forward and backward hunting
  • e.g. fishtails and coat hangers feel "unnatural" on handbells
  • the sheer amount of mental effort to cater for the places
  • -36- seems disproportionately easier than 36-36
  • The dots make it relentless: 14.36-36.12.36-36.14 and 36.14-14.36.14-14.36

It seems that ringing purely by the grid structure (or place notation) is too mentally demanding to be sustainable and a more comprehensive visual approach is needed. Our suggestion is to use both grid structure and double blue lines as aids to ringing London.

Our real life experience of learning London fits exactly with the learning process at all levels of ringing, which is:

  1. you learn
  2. you ring what you have learned
  3. then you see things that you didn't know you needed to learn

Then you learn more and go back in at step 1:

So we memorised the double blue lines for the three pairs, rang them and learned:

  • Simultaneous places are re-assuring
  • Be ready to do stuff that feels wrong
  • Learn the "nudge points", the points where a pair of bells strike in adjacent places but, unlike right place methods, do not cross afterwards
  • Learn the transitions between right and wrong
  • The double place bells are not the saviour you think they will be, at least, not to start with.
  • York and Cunecastre are not much help in getting into wrong place methods.


Bobs and Singles.

Running in and out at the bob is more intuitive than making the 4ths and turning round to hunt out to the back.

All the bells make places and reflect back down the blue line.


Touches of London Surprise Minor.

5ths place bell is the pivot bell, and hence the first lead end is 142635 giving calling positions from the tenor as:
In, Before, 4ths, Wrong, Home.

Touches of Double Oxford work for London Surprise Minor but give twice as many changes.