1925 - 2013

I was saddened to read of the death of Claudia Critchley née Harding on the change-ringers chat list. If my memory serves me correctly Claudia came from East Anglia; can’t remember just where. She came to teach physics at Malvern Girls College (MGC) after her studies at Cambridge University. In 1945/6 she and two other teachers from MGC joined the newly formed Priory band under the guidance of Joseph Lawrence. Claudia quickly took to ringing and soon began to visit Malvern Link and other local towers. She joined me in visiting Claines, near Worcester, each week where we came under the influence of George Large and his peal band. In June 1949 we rang our first peal together and within twelve months we had rung twelve more peals, one later proved false, with the same band. This band was always very critical about striking, something that would hold us both in good stead in the years to come. An amusing incident occurred at Malvern Link at around this time. This Sunday morning we were going to ring Bob Major and Claudia announced that she would ring the tenor. She did and, naturally, made a good job of it. This was a great surprise to the old men who rang there as they did not have any lady ringers let alone one who could ring a tenor. In 1950 another lady ringer had moved to the Worcester area, this was Jean Southerst, later to become Darman. They both rang their first peal of Stedman Doubles together at Hanley Castle and this enabled them both to complete the Stedman family.

By late 1951 Claudia was ringing fewer peals in this area but ringing more in Birmingham. On October 4th 1952 Claudia came, with William (Bill) Critchley, to Worcester to ring a peal of Cambridge Royal called by Bill. On June 15th 1953 Claudia and Bill rang in my first of London Major at Clent, and on June 27th they both came to Claines to ring in a peal of Stedman Caters, this was my last of many peals with Claudia. For the rest of her life I must leave to others in other parts of the country. The last time we met was a few years ago on a visit to our ringing friends, the Bakers’, in Fowey. Arthur had arranged a meeting, in some tower which I can’t remember, where we had a short ring and long chat about old times and who was left of that Claines band. Well there is one less now. Claudia was pleasant person an excellent method ringer and a good striker and always a pleasure to ring with.


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