Cam­bridge Sur­prise Minor


Cam­bridge is the most com­monly rung Sur­prise Minor method. Ringing Cam­bridge is a big step-up from plain meth­ods like Plain Bob or Grand­sire, but it can be broken down to be made easier to learn.

It’s tempt­ing to try to learn the method as a single long line, with chunks of work joined up by hunt­ing and dodging (per­haps as­sisted by no­ti­cing that the method is sym­met­rical). This might seem like a lo­gical ap­proach after learn­ing rules-based meth­ods like Plain Bob (pass the treble in X, do Y) or Kent (dodge un­less the treble is be­low you in 3/​4), but this tu­torial will in­stead guide you through learn­ing the method lead-by-lead with an em­phasis on not­ing where the place starts oc­cur. This will mean:

  • You know all the place starts, so bobs and singles are easier.
  • You can ring any bell without hav­ing to look up where to start.
  • When people say things like “you’ll be be­come 5ths place bell at back­stroke!” their words make sense.
  • Ringing spliced is a less daunt­ing pro­spect.

Let’s con­sider each lead in turn.

2nds Place Bell (Front­work)

The first half of 2nds place bell con­tains the “for­wards” half of Cam­bridge front­work, which goes: “Dodge, lead seconds, dodge, lead, dodge”. Note that the seconds is over the same bell as you then im­me­di­ately dodge with (there is nowhere else for them to go), and that the fi­nal dodge of the front­work hap­pens at the half-lead (when the treble lies be­hind).

Fin­ish the lead by hunt­ing to the back, double-dodging up and then dodging down at the lead end to be­come 6ths place bell. You may find it use­ful to re­mem­ber that the double-dodge goes on the side closest to the front­work.

  1. Line
  2. Prac­tice

6ths Place Bell (Places Up)

The 2nd half of this lead is filled by Cam­bridge Places in 3/​4 up, but the lead be­gins by hunt­ing down to the front, lead­ing and, dodging up. You may find it help­ful to re­mem­ber that the dodge is on the same side of the lead as the places.

The places them­selves go: “dodge, far place, near place, dodge, far place, near place, dodge”.

Ob­serve how the middle dodge of the places is al­ways with the treble, the first and last place are over/​un­der the treble’s dodge, the first dodge is at the half-lead, and the last dodge is at the lead-end. This struc­ture provides some help­ful check­points.

The lead fin­ishes at the last dodge of the places, and you be­come 3rds place bell.

  1. Line
  2. Prac­tice

3rds Place Bell (Back­work)

3rds place bell con­sists en­tirely of what is re­ferred to as “the back­work”, and starts at the dodge at the end of the 3/​4 places up.

You double-dodge up, lie, and dodge down with the treble. You then make 5ths un­der the treble at the half lead and do the same back­wards. Dodge up, lie, double-dodge down and go down to start 3/​4 places down.

You’ll prob­ably find this to be one of the more straight­for­ward parts of the method once you get the hang of the in­ter­ac­tion with the treble. Be­ing at the back for so long gives you an easy view over all the other bells.

  1. Line
  2. Prac­tice

4ths Place Bell (Places Down)

4ths place bell is 6ths place bell back­wards. The first half of the lead con­sists of places down which go (the same as places up): “dodge, far place, near place, dodge, far place, near place, dodge”.

While the ba­sic struc­ture is identical, the dodges are down dodges (over at back­stroke) and ‘far’ here means 3rds place not 4ths.

Fin­ish the lead by dodging then lead­ing (the dodge is near the places as in 6ths place bell), hunt­ing to the back, and dodging 5/​6 up.

  1. Line
  2. Prac­tice

5ths Place Bell (Front­work)

5ths place bell is the op­pos­ite of 2nds place bell. The second half con­sists of the front­work, which be­gins at the half-lead dodge.

Be­gin by ly­ing be­hind and double-dodging down. As in 2nds place bell, the double-dodge goes on the same side of ly­ing be­hind as the front­work does.

Then go: “dodge, lead, dodge, seconds, lead, dodge”, and make 2nds over the treble to fin­ish the lead and be­come 2nds place bell.

  1. Line
  2. Prac­tice

Put­ting it all to­gether

Now that you know each part of the method, try ringing through a full plain course. Each lead end and half lead is marked.


Calls are in the­ory the same as Plain Bob and are done by swap­ping the 12 lead end to 14 (Bob) or 1234 (Single). This res­ults in a bell mak­ing 4ths and the front bells either run­ning in/​out (in a Bob) or mak­ing a place (in a Single).

As you have learnt each lead sep­ar­ately you should hope­fully know when the end of the lead is ap­proach­ing, and be able to use your know­ledge of place starts to quickly pick up the line after the call.


If you are about to make 2nds in the middle of the front­work, then in­stead run out and be­come 3rds place bell (back­work). If you are just com­ing down from the back­work and about to start 3/​4 places down, then run in and pick up 2nds place bell (front­work). If you are com­ing to the end of 3/​4 places up, then make 4ths in­stead of the fi­nal dodge, be­come 4ths place bell, and then do 3/​4 places down (without the dodge at the start).

  1. Line
  2. Prac­tice Out
  3. Prac­tice In
  4. Prac­tice Make


If you are just com­ing down from the back­work and about to start 3/​4 places down, then make 3rds (over the bell mak­ing 2nds), then turn around and do the back­work again. If you’re do­ing the front­work then you’re un­af­fected by a single. If you are com­ing to the end of 3/​4 places up, then you make 4ths in­stead of the fi­nal dodge in the same way as in a bob (al­though both blows in 4ths are over the same bell).

  1. Line
  2. Prac­tice Make 3rds
  3. Prac­tice Make 4ths


Hope­fully this tu­torial has helped with some of the learn­ing so you can make the most of any prac­tical ex­per­i­ence you’re able to get.

After learn­ing Cam­bridge you may want to try one of the other com­monly rung Sur­prise Minor meth­ods. Lon­don and Nor­wich are good op­tions. Or you may wish to con­tinue the Cam­bridge theme by learn­ing the other 11 “Cam­bridge-over” meth­ods in the Stand­ard 42 Sur­prise Minor.