Group name - Hull Handbell Change Ringers

Treble B. Minor

  Treble Bob Minor - Cambridge Surprise

Cambridge Surprise Minor

About Cambridge Surprise Minor

Cambridge Surprise Minor is frequently the first Surprise method rung after Kent and Oxford Treble Bob.

Cambridge incorporates the maximum amount of plain hunting that is possible in a Surprise method, and so there is plain hunting between 3rds and 6th place when the treble is in 1-2, and between 1st and 4ths when the treble is in 5-6. The 5ths place half-lead and seconds place lead end make this a crisp method to ring; it moves between the fluid hunting, long place-work and the two-lie-one-5ths-one-lie-two of the symmetrical 3rds place bell. This is a neat method.

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Cambridge Surprise Minor incorporates hunting when the treble dodges in 1-2 and in 5-6, with the standard 14 X 12 X 36 for regular surprise minor methods. It also has 5ths place at the half lead and 2nds at the lead end.

Method Structure.

Place Notation:
X 36 X 14 X 12 X 36 X 14 X 56, 12, Bob 14, Single 1234.


Cambridge Surprise Minor change rows with grids

Diagram: 6t.s.32.00 Cambridge Surprise Minor, plain lead, change-rows and grids.

The first visual above emphasises the structure of the method in relationship to the treble's dodging path, whilst the second has all of the internal places inserted and shows all of the dodges. The third visual emphasises the relationship between the bells making places and the other bells.

Plain Course structure
Cambridge Surprise Minor is a fluid method in spite of the treble bob dodging. There are four instances each lead of a bell hunting from lie to lead or vice versa without interruption.


Learning Cambridge Surprise Minor.

There is no one best way of learning Cambridge, there are several approaches listed below. Our advice would be, look at them all, make sure you understand them all, and then pick one. Use that approach to get going with the method, and then come back and add in bits from all of the other techniques. And keep ringing the method, 1,000 courses is not too many.

The Structure

The maximisation of plain hunting has created here a method which is dominated by the bells making Cambridge places. For a towerbell ringer the places are a staging post. For a handbell ringer, the places define the work of the treble (and vice versa), and in many cases the work of the other bell.

The position of the treble can be used to define the work of the other 5 bells. Dodging in 1-2 relates to hunting in 3-4-5-6
Dodging in 5-6 relates to hunting in 1-2-3-4
Dodging in 3-4 is standard for all regular Treble Bob, Delight and Surprise methods and has the essential structure of a Plain Bob Lead end (-12-).

The transition of the treble between dodging places is the standard (internal) places for a Surprise minor method, 14 for hunting in 2-3, and 36 for hunting in 4-5.

The following diagram shows the Place Notation, change rows (for 1st lead), treble dodging / hunting, and then full grid for the method.

Cambridge Surprise Minor change rows with grids

Diagram: 6t.s.32.00 Cambridge Surprise Minor, plain lead, change-rows and grids.

The half lead (5-6), and Lead end (1-2), also add dodges which many ringers enjoy.

The Rules

Cambridge Surprise Minor - the rules
This is not a method that can be encapsulated in a simple, easily memorised, language statement.

Double Blue Lines

Double Blue Lines

Cambridge Surprise Minor, 1-2

Cambridge Surprise Minor on 1-2

Diagram: 6t.s.32.01 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 1-2.


Cambridge Surprise Minor, 3-4

Cambridge Surprise Minor on 3-4

Diagram: 6t.s.32.02 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 3-4.


Cambridge Surprise Minor, 5-6

Cambridge Surprise Minor on 5-6

Diagram: 6t.s.32.03 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 5-6.


Cambridge Places

In Cambridge Surprise, there is always at least one bell involved in making places. In Cambridge Surprise Minor, one bell (4ths place bell) starts making places down, and does so including a dodge with the treble in 3-4, until the half lead, when it dodges with 6ths place bell. 6the place bell then makes places up, and does so including a dodge with the treble in 3-4, until the lead end, where it dodges with the bell becoming 4ths place bell.

In the first section / cross-section 6ths place bell runs through its course bell (4ths place bell) to the front. In the second cross-section / section 5ths place bell runs through the bell making places(4ths place bell) to the front.

After the dodging for the half lead, the "flying bells" run up to the back through the 6ths place bell which is now ringing Cambridge Places up.

Cambridge places become a major factor in ringing the method, especially if blue lines are your primary aid to memory.

Place Notation

Place Notation

Using only Place Notation (-36-14-12-36-14-56/12) as a guide to the work of the bells; pair 3-4 are picked out below.

Treble in 1-2 up


3&4 over

Treble in 3-4 up



Treble in 5-6 up



Treble in 6ths, half lead



Treble in 5-6 down



Treble in 3-4 down



Treble in 1-2 down


4&5 over

Lead end

Place Notation Pitfalls

This mental exercise of working from Place Notation to places occupied can be performed for the 5 starting positions for the pair 1-2, and the 10 positions for two method-work bells. However, there are at least two pitfalls to avoid:

  • The place notation from lead end to half lead tends to be better assimilated than from the half lead to the lead end. Make sure you can say it and see it backwards.
  • Using the Place Notation as a string of symbols is OK, but it's hard to recover from errors. The visual clues from the grid; and position of the treble are valuable recovery tools.

The mental exercise described above should not be undertaken at the same time as other responsible activities such as preparing vegetables with a sharp knife, or driving a motor car, etc.

The above information is sufficient to enable a ringer to ring Cambridge Surprise Minor, however, a deeper knowledge of the method is useful in making a ringer more confident. Time spend looking at the Cambridge places, the Cambridge front work, (2nds place bell to the half lead), and the work of the symmetrical 3rds place bell will all be repaid in quality and enjoyment of ringing the method.

Grid /Picture Elements
"Cambridge Cages"

The position of the treble and the method structure - "Cambridge Cages":

Cambridge Surprise is ideally suited to splitting the grid into picture elements (pictels) to use as a memory jogger.

  • Treble dodging in 1-2: the upper four bells hunt in a -36- cage.
  • Treble hunting in 2-3: the lower four bells (including treble) hunt in a -14- cage.
  • Treble dodging in 3-4; this is a standard treble bob -12-.
  • Treble hunting in 4-5: the upper four bells (including treble) hunt in a -36- cage.
  • Treble dodging in 5-6; the lower 4 bells hunt in a -14- cage.
  • 5ths place half lead, seconds place lead end.

Notes on cages

  • A -14- cage creates a dodge in 5-6, a -36- cage creates a dodge in 1-2.
  • A -36-14- pair of cages, which occurs twice in the first half lead, enables 6th place bell, and then 5ths place bell to hunt all the way from lie to lead.
  • A -14-36- pair of cages, which occurs twice in the second half of the lead enables 2nds place bell and then 4ths place bell to hunt all the way from lead to lie.

Further notes on the method structure

  • The structure (14-12-36) from when the treble leaves 1-2 to when it arrives in 5-6 is standard for all regular Surprise Minor methods.
  • Cambridge places run from the Lead End to the Half Lead, and the half lead dodge, a reflection point is with the bell that makes the Cambridge Places from the Half Lead to the Lead End.

Let's visit the mind of a ringer, ringing 5-6 to the first lead of Cambridge Surprise Minor, using picture elements of the method structure:

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 1-2 section

(Treble dodging in 1-2 up):
Cross in 5-6: H: 5&6 over
Hunt in box:  B: 4&6
Hunt in box:  H: 3&5

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 2-3 cross section

(Treble hunting up in 1-4 box):
Hunt in 3-2, dodge at the back: B: 2&6

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 3-4 section

Treble dodging in 3-4 up:
Cross: H: 1&5
Lead and dodge: B: 1&6
Cross: H: 2&5

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 4-5 cross section

(Treble hunting up in 3-6 box):
Dodge and hunt: B: 1&4

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 5-6 section

(Treble dodging in 5-6 up):
Hunt in 14 Box, meet and cross in 2-3: H: 2&3
B: 2&3 over
H: 1&4

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, Half Lead

(Treble making 6ths): Dodges: B: 2&3

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 5-6 section

(Treble dodging in 5-6 down):
Hunt in 1-4 box: H: 1&4
B: 1&4
H: 2&3

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 4-5 cross section

(Treble hunting down in 3-6 box):
Dodge and 3rds: B: 1&3

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 3-4 section

Treble dodging in 3-4 down:
Cross: H: 2&4
1-2: B: 2&3
Cross: H: 1&4

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 2-3 cross section

(Treble hunting down in 1-4 box):
Box: B: 1&4

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 1-2 section

(Treble dodging in 1-2 down):
Cross: H: 2&3
Box: B: 1&3
Cross: H: 2&4

 Cambridge Surprise Minor, 1-2 section

(Treble leading):
Lead end: B: 2&3: Place Bells

Further notes on using the method structure
Handbell ringers learn when to cross their bells, how to remain crossed that way, and when to cross back. The crossing points are noted above.
Bells 5 and 6 are not highlit in the graphics above because the graphics are a visual aid to the structure, the structure then defines the movement of the pair, which leads to the all important places in which to ring.

Only when it is right in your head will it come out right on the bells
The process detailed above is repeatedly to:

  • Visualise the structure.
  • Note the impact on the bells.
  • Articulate the places in which they ring.
  • Simultaneously with articulating the places, move your hands up for handstroke and down for backstroke, "seeing" the correct number of bells before and between your pair. Hand movements should be in the correct order.

The process needs to be rehearsed to perfection for all 5 starting positions for each of the 3 pairs of bells.


Ringing Cambridge Surprise Minor.

All of the foregoing memory techniques are aimed at enabling the ringer to know, with certainty, in which pair of places his or her bells are intended to be rung. The skill in handbell ringing is putting the bells into those places.

Track the treble

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

Before ringing Cambridge Surprise Minor, it is worth while becoming proficient at Oxford Treble Bob, and the more highly structured Plain Methods. Such expertise will make ringing Cambridge Surprise Minor all that much easier and enjoyable. And the practice will have given some skill at being aware of the work of the treble.

Positional Awareness

Positional awareness vs Cambridge Surprise Minor. Cambridge Places anchor down 3rds and 4ths place amongst the other bells. Time spent studying the places will be repaid when it comes to ringing Cambridge.

Place Notation Elements

The method only contains 5 elements (X, 12, 14, 36, 56), all of which will already have been rung.

Place Bells, Pivot Leads, and Staging posts

The helpful double place bell sequence for 3-4 should be noted, 3-4, 4-5, 5-2, 2-6, 6-3.

For a coursing pair, study:
Cambridge front work and Cambridge places
Cambridge front work and pivot bell.
Both bells make places in succession.
Pivot bell and front work.
Places and front work.

Awareness of other bells

Because Cambridge Surprise is fairly fluid in anature, developing an awareness of othe bells is quite tricky. Focusing on the flying bells is a good way to start building an awareness of the work of the other bells.

Coursing Order in Cambridge Surprise Minor

Cambridge preserves the natural coursing order, well, above the treble.

Below the treble it is the coursing pair incvolved in places that dodge together at the half lead, in 3-4.

The below the treble coursing order requires thorough study of the method structure, and some ringing experience, before the coursing order is valuable.

Ringing Cambridge Surprise Minor

What you are aiming at, in the end, is a total concentration.
Counting is so automatic you are unaware.
You just see your bells flowing down the grid structure.
The places relate to the dodging and hunting, the dodging fits beyond to the places and hunting, the hunting fills the spaces between the places and the dodges are outside; all at once; itís all the same thing.
The place notation is only the grid in numbers. The grid is only a picture of the place notation. The pictels are the grid after the scissors have been applied. The grid is the pictels stuck back together.

And all of that takes place while you listen to the striking and think about the next call, and check the coursing order.

Maybe 1,000 courses is just the start.


Bobs and Singles.

Bobs Bobs change the 1-2 of the lead end into 1-4, bells dodging in 5-6 are unaffected. Running in and out feels quite normal. Making the 4ths links together two sets of places.

Singles. Singles replace the dodge together in 3-4 with 3rds (which links together two sets of pivot work), and with 4ths with links together two sets of places.


Touches of Cambridge Surprise Minor

3rds place bell is the pivot bell, and hence the first lead end is 156342 giving calling positions from the tenor as:
4ths, In, Wrong, Before, Home.

Double Bob Minor has the same pivot bell as Cambridge Surprise Minor so all of those touches will translate to Cambridge, but with twice as many changes.