Rosetta Alice White was born on October 8th 1880 and raised in Basingstoke, the daughter of Henry White, a ‘well known ringer and instructor’ of bell ringing at St Michael’s Church. Consequently, Alice would often accompany him to service ringing and was soon joining in by chiming the bells at a young age.
When Alice was 11 years old she learnt to ring bells full circle and progressed to ringing methods both on tower bells and also on hand bells, the practices for which were often held at her parents’ home.
In 1895, Alice successfully rang a quarter peal of Grandsire triples and then on February 12th 1896, rang her first full peal of 5040 Grandsire Triples here at St Michael's. This historic peal was the first to be rung by a lady anywhere in the world. The peal band was made up of 6 local ringers and 2 invited visitors from Salisbury. It was conducted by her father, Henry White.
In July, Shortly after this momentous achievement, she rang in another peal at St Michael's with her younger sister Dora, aged 13 years. Alice also rang in a Peal of Grandsire Caters at St Nicholas, Guildford, making her the first lady to ring a peal on 10 bells. In all, Alice rang a total of 32 peals, and her peal book is held in the guild library.
On July 2nd 1898, Bell News reported that as Alice turned into Church square on the June 23rd she was charged by a rampaging bullock, whilst on its way to the slaughter house, was knocked against a wall, badly bruised and received serious injuries to her face. Luckily, she made a good recovery and Alice’s ringing continued to progress over the following years. She became a very proficient and well known ringer, often meeting visiting ringers from the surrounding area with her father at the station and accompanying them to both St Michael's and All Saints churches to ring the bells.
In the early 20th century she represented the Basingstoke District on the Central Committee (now the Central Council) for a number of years. She was also elected the first president of the Ladies Guild, formed in 1912.
In 1920, two years after her father passed away, Alice was married to Mr Joseph C. Salvaneschi at St Michael’s Church. Joseph was the General Manager of the Liverpool Telephone (New System) Co. And so presumably Alice and Joseph moved to Liverpool following their honeymoon in London. In 1940 Alice moved to Canada where she continued to live until her death in 1979.
To mark the 100th anniversary of Alice’s first peal, 5040 Grandsire Triples was rung at St Michael’s by ladies of the Basingstoke District of the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild to commemorate the achievement.
On Wednesday February 12th 1896
in 2 Hours 57 Minutes at
St Michael’s Church.
A Peal of 5040 Grandsire Triples (Holt’s Original)
1 Alice White
2 John C Ballard
3 Harry Lawes
4 Thomas Blackbourn
5 Frederick G Wilson
6 William W Gifford
7 Henry White
8 William Coldrey
Conducted by Henry White
This peal was arranged for the treble ringer, Miss Alice White, aged 15, eldest daughter of the conductor, and is the first peal on church bells in which a lady has taken part.
(Bell News 22nd February 1896)
On Saturday 10th February 1996
In 2 Hours and 52 Minutes.
A peal of 5040 Grandsire Triples
Composed by J. J. Parker (12 part)
1 Shirley A. Hedges
2 Angela M. Athawes
3 Linda R. Hough
4 Heather A. Kippin
5 Katheryn R. Arkless
6 Eleanor J. Kippin
7 Barbara A. Foster
8 Lynne G. S. Jordan
Conducted by Barbara A Foster
To celebrate the Centenary of the first peal on church bells in which a lady, Alice White of Basingstoke, took part and which was rung in this tower on 12th February 1896.
Rung by a Basingstoke District band.