Stedman Doubles for Beginners

Introduction

Stedman Doubles is a useful method* to add to the repertoire at an early stage in method learning. It extends easily to ringing on higher numbers and offers opportunities for many musical compositions. Unlike many other methods it is divided into ‘sixes’ (rather than ‘leads’).

*Well, strictly speaking, Stedman is called a Principle as all the bells (apart from the cover bell of course) do the same work. Most other methods have the treble doing something simpler such as Plain Hunting or Treble Bob Hunting.

Theory

(Feel free to ignore this section! It may be interesting but probably won’t help you learn the blue line.)
The essence of Stedman is that three bells stay in positions 1, 2 and 3 (known as the front work) and Plain Hunt on three. Whilst this is going on two bells dodge in 4-5 (and for Triples two bells also dodge in 6-7, and for Caters two bells dodge in 8-9, and so on for Cinques). The Plain Hunting on three alternates between right hunting for six blows then wrong hunting for six blows. These are known as as Quick sixes (where the hunting is RIGHT) and Slow sixes (where the hunting is WRONG) as shown below:

Right Hunting
(Quick six):
123
213
231
321
312
132

123
  Wrong Hunting
(Slow six):
123
132
312
321
231
213

123

You will see that Wrong Hunting produces the same six rows as Right Hunting but the order is reversed; Wrong Hunting is often referred to as Backward Hunting, particularly in methods other than Stedman. When ringing, one way in which Wrong (or Backward) Hunting ‘feels’ different, is that the leading is Wrong (ie at Backstroke then Handstroke) rather than at Handstroke then Backstroke as in Plain bob or Grandsire, for example.

Even with two more bells dodging in 4-5, Plain Hunting on the front three produces only six different rows. So, to get more rows, the alternating Quick and Slow sixes are joined together as follows: at the six-end the bell in 5ths place stays put while the other two pairs of bells swap. As a result, one bell leaves the front work and goes to dodge in 4-5, and it is replaced on the front with one of the bells that was previously dodging in 4-5.

Also, by convention, Stedman starts with rounds as the 4th row of a Quick six (ie at Backstroke). This means that the treble goes straight out to the back and double dodges 4-5 up the same way round as in Grandsire (ie it dodges back to 4ths place at Handstroke, which ‘feels’ familiar). You can see how Stedman starts below, with the front three bells highlighted in different coloured backgrounds (darker green for Quick sixes and yellow for Slow sixes), and the bells dodging in 4-5 highlighted in turquoise:

Stedman Doubles - how it starts
Quick
six

     


Slow
six


     


Quick
six


     
12345 4th row of Quick six
21354
23145End of Quick six
32415 bell in 5ths place stays put, other pairs swap
23451
24315
42351
43215
34251End of Slow six
43521 bell in 5ths place stays put, other pairs swap
45312
54321
53412
35421
34512End of Quick six

The Plain Course and Terminology

The Blue Line

As with all methods, learning the method involves learning a picture of the blue line. (The term ‘blue line’ comes from an early booklet of commonly rung methods where, for each method, a blue line was drawn through the path of one of the working bells). Below, I have written out all the rows of a plain course of Stedman Doubles, and coloured in bell number 4 BLUE. If you print out this diagram you might like to join up the numbers to get a blue line! The work of bell 4 is shown for no reason other than it is easier to see the ‘Slow work’ in its entirety and then the ‘Quick work’. Choosing a different bell and joining up the numbers will reveal that the work is the same, but just starting in a different place. You can try that also by drawing a ‘blue line’ through the path of other bells on the diagram (print out another copy).

Plain Course
Front Work names


/
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|
Slow |
Work |
|
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|
|
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\












/
|
Quick |
Work  |
|
\











3rds   /
(Right) \

/
First | 
Whole | 
Turn  | 
\



First /
Half | 
Turn  \


Last  /
Half | 
Turn  \



/
Last  | 
Whole | 
Turn  | 
\

3rds   /
(Wrong) \














Lead 
Full 











12345
21354
23145
32415
23451
24315
42351
43215
34251
43521
45312
54321
53412
35421
34512
43152
34125
31452
13425
14352
41325
14235
12453
21435
24153
42135
41253
14523
41532
45123
54132
51423
15432
51342
53124
35142
31524
13542
15324
51234
15243
12534
21543
25134
52143
25413
24531
42513
45231
54213
52431
25341
52314
53241
35214
32541
23514
32154
31245
13254
12345

Terminology

After a brief look at the blue line for Stedman you will see that it is considerably more complicated, and hence more difficult to learn, than Grandsire or Plain Bob. So, to help with learning the shape of the blue line, it is normally thought of in “chunks” of work that can be named and learned separately. This practice will be common with learning all methods from now on, because nothing will be as simple as Grandsire or Plain Bob. I have already referred to ‘Slow work’ and ‘Quick work’ without explaining what that means, but they are the names given to “chunks” of work in Stedman. In fact, the ‘Slow work’ of Stedman is itself quite long so it is broken up again into more manageable “chunks”, namely:
thirds;
whole turns;
half turns.

All this can be seen in the annotated Plain Course of Stedman Doubles above.

Learning the Blue Line

In words the method can be described (for bell 4) as follows:
one blow in 5th places then back to 4ths and go down;
make 3rds place as you go in Slow;
complete the Slow work;
leave the Slow work making 3rds place on the way out;
double dodge in 4-5 up then two blows in 5ths;
double dodge in 4-5 down and go down;
in and out Quick;
double dodge in 4-5 up then two blows in 5ths;
double dodge in 4-5 down.

If you are ringing a plain course, this will come round after the first of the two dodges in 4-5 down. But if not just carry on:
one blow in 5th places (this is the second of the two dodges in 4-5 down) then back to 4ths and go down;
make 3rds place as you go in Slow;
etc.

The Slow Work

As shown in the annotated plain course above, the Slow work can be described in words as follows:
make 3rds on the way in;
first whole turn;
make 3rds;
first half turn;
make 3rds;
second (or last) half turn;
make 3rds;
last whole turn;
make 3rds on the way out.

The Quick Work

This is much easier and can be described in words as follows:
hunt straight in;
lead a whole pull Right (ie Handstroke then Backstroke);
hunt straight out (to 4-5).

Some useful tips.

A useful tip is to learn which blows are at Handstroke and which are at Backstroke, particularly for the whole turns. You can work this out by looking again at the Plain Course above, noting that the first row in a six is at Handstroke, and the last row is at Backstroke. And remember that ‘lead Right’ means lead at Handstroke then at Backstroke. ‘Lead Wrong’ means lead at Backstroke then at Handstroke.

It is also easy to forget whether you are about to go in Quick or Slow. People who ring Stedman regularly have their favourite way or ways of checking this, so I suggest that you try talking to someone who is experienced and see what they suggest. Common ideas include: just remember which way you came out last time (surprisingly hard!); foot shuffle; listen or look to see if the leading is Right or Wrong whilst you are in 4-5 down (leading Right means it is a Quick six so the next six, when you need to go in to the front, will be Slow, and vice versa).

Calls in Stedman Doubles

Unlike Triples and above, there is only one type of call - a Single - and it is unique to Stedman Doubles. It affects only the two bells that are in 4-5. (The calls used in Triples, Caters and Cinques are easier!) A plain course of Stedman Doubles lasts 60 changes, and so all possible 120 rows can be rung with just two calls, one to swap over a pair of bells, and another to swap them back again a course later. The work is shown in the touch below. In this diagram, the work done by bell no. 4 is often called ‘cat’s ears’. I am not aware of any widely used description for the other (complementary) work done here by bell no. 2.

Touch to swap 2 & 4


























2nd comes out quick 





4th comes out slow 

Single called 




4th goes back in Slow 





2nd goes back in quick 














The Half way point 
12345
21354
23145
32415
23451
24315
42351
43215
34251
43521
45312
54321
53412
35421
34512
43152
34125
31452
13425
14352
41325
14235
12453
21435
24153
42135
41253
14523
41532
45123
54132
51423
15432
51342
53124
35142
31542
13524
15342
51432
15423
14532
41523
45132
54123
45213
42531
24513
25431
52413
54231
45321
54312
53421
35412
34521
43512
34152
31425
13452
14325
Repeat to swap back 2 & 4 

Things to beware with Singles in Stedman Doubles.

In the plain course each bell dodges in 4-5 for two sixes (six rows to double dodge 4-5 up, and six rows to double dodge 4-5 down), and then goes in to the front the OPPOSITE way to what it came out last time. If you came out Quick you go in Slow, and if you came out Slow you go in Quick. If there is a Single, you go in either after only one six (‘cat’s ears’) or after three sixes (which seems an age!), and consequently you go in to the front the SAME way as you left.

Other Touches

The above touch uses just two Singles but many other touches are possible with more Singles, sometimes producing unusual lengths. It can be interesting to work out different touches, noting always that a Single swaps two bells. (Hint – try calling the treble to be affected by every Single).

Blue Line Answer

Did you print out the method and draw a line through the path of bell 4? Check your result against this.


Return to Pimlico Learners’ Page


Stephanie J Pattenden and , April 2020