A FEW months ago, I wrote about some of the history of Elvin House, now the premises of the Newbury Building Society at 35 High Street, near the entrance to the Chantry Centre. I was subsequently contacted by magazine editor Will Bosworth, whose offices are on the first floor of the building, to ask whether I was interested in having a look at the premises, an offer I was pleased to take up.

The photograph shows a dimly-lit top floor bedroom in Elvin House where today nobody but the long-departed ghosts of old Andover sleep; but in earlier years, it was part of the living accommodation of the resident doctor who practised on the ground floor. A succession of 20th century medical men followed the residency of late 19th century corn and seed merchant Thomas Compton, but before that, these attic rooms would have been dormitories for ‘young gentlemen’ who attended the boarding school that operated here between 1834 and about 1870. The green-painted Victorian cast-iron fireplace could well date from the school’s time, a lone, tangible relic of that period still in situ.

READ MORE: David Borrett's feature: Elvin House — from private school to doctor's practice

Andover Advertiser: Top floor bedroom of Elvin House, and Elvin House, inset,  during renovations c1971In stark contrast, the rooms on the first floor, immediately above the building society, are home to the publishers of the weekly periodical The Ringing World, which specialises in all matters to do with bellringing. Will, who showed me round, has been its editor since 2019 and he told me they have been in the present offices since 2008. Before that, the offices were in Eagleside House in Chantry Street which itself was converted from two residential houses originally built on the site of the Eagle inn that burnt down in 1902.

There are many regularly-produced specialist magazines that deal exclusively with hobbies and pursuits that would be regarded by most people as ‘of niche interest’; but The Ringing World is no eccentric idea of recent times, doomed to fail. It has a long history with the first edition produced in 1911, and even then, it was not the first of its kind. The Bell News was launched in 1881 and ran until 1915 and long before, in the 18th century, reports of ringing performances appeared in Berrow’s Worcester Journal and later in Bell’s Life in London (Bell in this case being the proprietor). Other similar titles devoted to the subject rose and fell during the late Victorian and Edwardian period.

SEE ALSO: David Borrett's column: Remembering the business that called Andover home

Since its launch in 1911, The Ringing World has now run to nearly 6,000 weekly editions and in 1983 it was established as a limited company and a registered charity, run by a board of trustees and directors, which set it on a more secure economic footing. Since then a range of merchandise has been introduced such as the usual pens, mugs and diaries but more importantly, there are many instructional books and records that can be accessed through the website that teach and record the art of bellringing, together with the many different changes and sequences that can be achieved from the simple rounds to the mysteries of Stedman Triples and beyond.

St Mary’s church in Andover has of course its own team of devoted bellringers. For some years during the 1970s, the bells were silenced while essential work was done on the tower but there is now a happy band of enthusiasts. Unseen in their work they may be but who has not been cheered by the sound of the church bells ringing out over the town on every possible occasion from routine Sundays to weddings and the special performances such as on St George’s Day? May it all long continue.  

If you are interested in local history, why not join Andover History and Archaeology Society? Details can be found at andoverlocalhistoryarchaeology.uk