Group name - Hull Handbell Change Ringers

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  Stedman - An Introduction

The Classic Bellringing Principle


"Stedman - the Method" has come to be associated with the name of the man, Fabian Stedman; this one method generates a love it or loathe it response like no other.

"The Method" is essentially simple in concept, interesting in apparance, and superficially, easy to ring (on towerbells). It does call for the skill of backward hunting and leading, and the natural coursing order of Plain Bob is no-where to be seen.

However, Stedman is so counter-intuitive that it seems to justify a special approach to learning.

Whilst this approach was developed to cater for the special needs of the double-handed handbell ringer, the approach would also be of benefit to the aspiring towerbell ringer.

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Method Structure

The method has just 3 elements, forward hunting on 3 bells, backward hunting on 3 bells, and dodging related to each block of hunting.

Plain Hunting on 3 bells generates 6 unique change rows, and in Stedman the foward hunting blocks are called a quick 6, and the reverse hunting are called a slow 6. The method is rung on odd numbers of bells 5, 7, 9 etc., and so the block of 6 changes are associated with dodging by the other working bells, which will for example, be in 4ths and 5ths places on 5 bells.

Stedman is constructed from:

Stedman Quick 6

Diagram: 5r.00.01 Stedman Quick 6.

Followed immediately by:

Stedman Slow 6

Diagram: 5r.00.02 Stedman Slow 6.

These two alternating blocks are linked by 5ths place, viz::

Stedman Twelve changes

Diagram: 5r.00.03 Stedman Twelve.

However, the practical application of the structure is made further complicated by the normal starting point for Stedman, which is the 4th row of a quick 6:

Stedman block

Diagram: 5r.00.04 Stedman Section.

Learning Approach

Distilling from this the work of one bell gives a blue line with many interesting aspects

Stedman 'Blue' Line

Diagram: 5r.00.05 Stedman - The Line for one bell.

The line is characterised by:

  • (Treble) hunting out to 4-5
  • 2 sixes of double dodging, up & down
  • 5 sixes of Slow work
  • 2 sixes of double dodging, up & down
  • One quick six

The work in the line is sufficiently complicated for a single bell, being a mixture of whole turns and half turns, wrong way and right way leading and places, and double dodging in 4-5.

A handbell ringer is also looking for the ability to concentrate on one bell and allow the other to be rung "relative" to the first. However, the complexity of the line in Stedman makes this very hard, especially at the point where one bell is ringing slow work and the other is migrating between dodging positions. Stedman Doubles is especially hard as there is little time to think between change rows, but the higher numbers bring the difficulty of navigating amongst greater numbers of bells.

The solution to this difficulty has parallels with learning the more complex even bell methods, that is to break the work into small, more memorable sections. And specifically learning the Slow Work in 5 pieces of six rows that align with the dodging work in 4-5 and above is a key technique.

At this point we introduce a memory technique conceived by Anne and Eddie Martin, which is to associate the work of the individual whole sixes wih a day of the week. This is documented on the handbell ringing blog at Conquering Stedman in hand.

Slow 6

  • 3rds, 3rds;
  • 2nds, lead;
  • lead, point 2nds.
Stedman 'Blue' Line for 'Monday'

Quick 6

  • lead, lead;
  • 2nds, 3rds;
  • 3rds, 2nds;
Stedman 'Blue' Line for 'Tuesday'

Slow 6

  • point lead at Hand, 2nds;
  • 3rds, 3rds;
  • 2nds, point lead at Back.
Stedman 'Blue' Line for 'Wednesday'

Quick 6

  • 2nds, 3rds;
  • 3rds, 2nds;
  • lead, lead.
Stedman 'Blue' Line for 'Thursday'

Slow 6

  • point 2nds, lead;
  • lead, 2nds;
  • 3rds, 3rds.
Stedman 'Blue' Line for 'Friday'

The permutations and combinations of various pieces of slow work, for either two bells in the slow, or a quick bell with a slow bell, or either a quick or a slow bell, with a dodging bell is what makes Stedman a challenging method. The relevant details are documented for each stage of the method.