The Society of Sherwood Youths Founded 1672

The origins of the Society are lost in history but there are references to its establishment in 1672 and it may well be that it was the successor Society to the 'Northern Youths' who gave the two new treble bells making the octave to St Peters Church Nottingham in 1671.

When the list of subscribers to John Holts compositions was published in 1752 'the Nottingham Society' were amongst them.

Thumbnail of WDC
Artist: Richard Bonington
Image provided courtesy of
Nottingham City Museums and Galleries

The 1760's to c1800 were a period of great activity under the leadership of William Doubleday Crofts. In 1765 he became member 922 of the London based Ancient Society of College Youths and their website makes the notation: "First Nottingham member. Famous ringer *".

The Society continued to be active throughout the 19th century. With the formation of the Midland Counties Association the Society became defunct towards the end of that century.

The Society was revived in May 1924 under Albert Coppock who was at the time Ringing Master at Nottingham St Mary. There being then alive two old members of the Society, George H Johnson and Alfred Archer, the Society cannot be said to have become totally extinct.

The first handbell peal was rung in 1938 just prior to the 2nd World War, after which followed another lean period. In 1955, with some effort, William Butler (of Bill Butler's blog on Pealbase) managed to find enough members to get a peal organised. During the 1970's the Society held a 10 bell practice at Nottingham St Mary on the first Monday of the month attracting visitors and ringers from many miles around. The Society funded one of the new trebles to help augment the tower to a 12. The inscription reads:

Eijsbouts Astensis me fecit Anno MCMLXXX. The Society of Sherwood Youths gave me. "Their sound is gone forth unto all lands". Canon M.J. Jackson, Vicar, S. Yarnell and E. Mottram, Churchwardens. (E) Eayre and Smith.

By the early 1990's the Society lost its direct association with Nottingham St Mary's. It continues to hold a number of meetings at various towers regulary around the East Midlands during the year as well as maintaining the custom of an annual dinner when possible to commemorate the memory of William Doubleday Crofts. It aims to provide a high standard of ringing for those that maybe do not have an opportunity at their local tower or district meetings, or for those who want to ring on higher numbers and are attracted by the secular nature of the Society.

For many years the Society was affiliated to the Central Council

Tony Lees (past Secretary)

With thanks to historical information supplied by George Dawson