Margaret Boumphrey, who from 2000 until early 2013 was in charge of the ringing at Carlisle Cathedral, died on 18th December 2013.

She was born on 9th October 1930, Elizabeth Margaret Bryce and brought up in Lancashire. She went to school in Kendal and Lancaster, then to University in Leeds. It was there that she met her future husband Leslie Boumphrey. Leslie & Margaret were married at Torrisholme, near Morecambe, Lancashire in August 1955. They made their first home in Hazel Grove, Stockport, Cheshire where, a few years later, their daughter, Jackie, was born and in 1962/63 they moved to Cumbria when Leslie got a job in a school at Lillyhall near Workington. When Jackie reached school age Margaret got a job at St Michael’s Infant & Junior School in Workington where Jackie was a pupil. Leslie & Margaret joined the bell ringing team at St Michael’s Church in Workington where they were also regular church goers.

Both Margaret and Leslie were committed Christians and felt they were called to do missionary work. In 1967 they moved to Uganda where Leslie was Deputy Head of Bishop Willis Teacher Training College in the south-east of the country. By 1974 life under Idi Amin was uncertain and difficult and they returned to Cumbria and Carlisle Cathedral. Margaret taught at Newlaithes School, then worked for the Carlisle Diocese as Education Officer. After retirement she continued to be very active in Diocesan Education. She helped literally thousands of children learn about the Cathedral. When asked how she dealt with some of these, often very large, groups who, like all children, could become unruly she said, “I’m too old to learn new ways but I find the old tricks still work.”

Leslie Boumphrey was a well-known ringer who rang over 500 peals and who was Tower Captain of Carlisle Cathedral. Margaret herself rang 36 peals (34 with her husband) but teaching was more in her line. When Les became ill, then died in 2000, Margaret was appointed by the Cathedral to run the ringing. She was active in the Carlisle Diocesan Guild and was made a Life Member.

Margaret was a devout and thoughtful Christian who maintained high moral standards. Quiet, reserved even, she was well able to speak her mind when she felt it was necessary. She expected her ringers to do their best and to respect and show kindness and consideration to one another and she appreciated their efforts. She ran a happy tower.

She was also a very independent person, living alone (after her husband’s death) in Kirkandrews-on-Eden with her beloved Golden Retriever (Amber, then Goldie, were the last of several) and travelling around in her camper van. Early in 2013 she fell ill and had a long spell in hospital. But in late August 2013, despite still suffering from ill health, she was determined to go home and her daughter succeeded in organising the necessary care to enable her to do this. She died at home on 18th December.

Her funeral was held at Carlisle Cathedral on 2nd January. The bells were rung half-muffled. Les Boumphrey had insisted that it was the handstroke which should be muffled (Death before Resurrection) and this tradition is maintained at the Cathedral. Before the service only regular Cathedral ringers rang but afterwards the numerous other ringers present joined the band. Both before and after all 12 bells were rung.

Margaret is greatly missed, not just by family, friends and her ringers but by the whole Cathedral community.


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