Negotiating a corner with the bell - Credit: Richard Sears

Huntshaw’s Bells see the light of day for first time in 500 years

Huntshaw’s Bells see the light of day for first time in 500 years

Joseph Bulmer

For over a year the ‘Friends of Huntshaw Bells’ have been raising money through grants, sponsorship and events and have raised so far £17k. There is a long way to go yet to get the full £30k needed but last week saw a big step on the way.

Because Taylors of Loughborough (the Bell Founders) had a slot in their work schedule come free due to a cancellation, they were able to come and over for a three-day period and with lots of volunteers from the village, remove the bells from St Mary Magdalene Church as a first step.

The tower in its present form was added to church in 1439 with three bells sitting on a framework of oak trusses; but over the centuries with decay in some of the trusses the bells have been sinking under their own weight making them unringable for the past 20 years - plus they are in need attention with new fittings and bearings and also one of them needs specialist welding as it is cracked.

The earliest bell, the tenor, dates from 1505 and was cast by Thomas Gefferies in Bristol, and this will be the first time it has seen daylight in 500 years! The other two are more local, being cast in 1665 in Exeter and the one in 1634 by “WK” in Barnstaple is believed to be only one of eight known to be in the country.

A special event, The Art and Science of Bells and Bell Ringing, will take place on Saturday, May 14, at 2.30pm - with Ian Campbell at St Mary Magdalene Church in Hunstshaw.

The church’s top advisor on its bells in Devon, Ian, will be bringing a laptop with speakers to demonstrate bell sounds and changes, and a large demonstration bell which is hung for full-circle ringing (about 8 feet high) to demonstrate the difference between bells hung "dead" and full circle.

There will also be a set of handbells, with their volunteers, to give a demonstration which shows the principles of change ringing.

There will be large information boards from the Devon Guild of Ringers and there will also be cream teas with pink bubbly and activities for the children.

Everyone will be allowed to try ringing the large bell after the talk.

A spokesperson for the event said: “Basically, Ian says his talk is more like entertainment than a straight talk, so something for all to look forward to!”

Entry will be free, but donations gratefully accepted.

At about 4pm there will also be an auction of a 600-year-old nail found loose in one of the foundation beams of the bell chamber.

For further info, or to become a sponsor, contact