St Veep Church Bells

Monday 13th November 2017

St. Veep Church Bells     

For those of you who have been lucky enough to experience David Vipond’s telling of the casting of the St. Veep bells in the 18th Century you will know not only what a unique event it was then but, with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, what a truly magnificent venture St. Veep Parish has successfully undertaken again. History repeating itself?

When Mr Pennington prepared to tune the bells in June 1769 little did he know before he tapped them that he had cast a perfect virgin peal. It was known that one or two bells had been perfectly cast prior to this but St Veep churchnever a full six. It was the only virgin peal in England in 1770 and it remains, as far as we are told, the only virgin peal to this day.

Highslide JSLike all precious things the bells need to be cared for and loved. They were taken down in 1935 for cleaning and the Medieval bell frame was replaced by John Taylor a Bell Founder of Loughborough. The bells were laid in the Churchyard. (See photo left).

After a decree from the Bishop in 2015 the bells were once again inspected and it was discovered that not only was the bell frame badly corroded but the bell hangings needed replacing. So it was in August 2015 a committee was formed and the bell appeal was started. The estimate for the work which needed to be carried out was £120,000. At this point many would have balked, not so the newly formed committee and with the help of Dick Stern they began their campaign. The local community raised £25,000, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of £55,000 and with Dick’s advice further grants were obtained from SITA Cornwall Trust, Cornwall Historic Churches Trust, Truro Diocesan Ringers, All Churches Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation. The East Cornwall Bell Ringers Association and local Church Towers also contributed to the fund. The money was raised and The Bells come downin April 2017 the Committee informed their contractors, Heritage Cornwall Limited, M&M Scaffolding and Nicholson’s Engineering that the project was set to go. In June of this year building Coach trip to Lyme Regis and Nicholsons Bell Foundry at Bridportwork commenced. The tower was re-pointed, rotten stone was replaced and cracks were repaired. The bells were lowered in July. All were welcomed to view the bells on the 13thof July as they were displayed in the centre aisle of the Church. Lerryn Primary School had their own private viewing that afternoon and the bells set off on their journey to Bridport the following day.

The bells may be absent but the Committee is not. A group from St Veep and their friends went to Bridport in August to visit the foundry. Andrew Nicholson was on hand to explain the process and timescale. The 10 hundredweight tenor bell inscribed with “William Penwarne, Vicar AD 1770. I call the quick to Church and the Dead to Grave” had been sent to Cambridgeshire to have a hairline crack repaired.  In September Heritage Cornwall Limited offered members of the public the chance to climb the scaffolding and enjoy the view from the top of the tower.

Local Organisations have been instrumental in promoting and supporting the work of the Committee. In April Lerryn History Society arranged a talk about the history of the Church. A Jazz evening was held in October with the Penny Royal Jazz Band. On the afternoon of November 23rd Lerryn Primary School will perform a play written and directed by David Vipond, last performed 25 years ago, based on the casting of the virgin peal in 1770. Later that evening the Church will be open for all to view the refurbished bells before they are re-hung.  The Supporters of St Veep will lay on wine and nibbles to mark this “Once in a Lifetime” event. It is hoped that the bell hanging will be completed by Wednesday December 6th.

Work has been held up for six weeks but the Committee are able to verify that the Truro Guild of Ringers will attempt to ring a full peal on Saturday December 9th which will be the first full peal to be rung at St. Veep since 1988, and, if successful, will take around 3 hours to complete. Their marathon starts at 9.30 am and all are welcome to hear this historic event. During the afternoon local teams of ringers have been invited to join St Veep in Cornish Traditional ringing, again, all are welcome. The final event will take place on the 10th December at 6.00pm, a celebration to mark the re-hanging of the bells and the completion of the project conducted by the Reverend Paul.  Please come and join us - all are welcome to enjoy this historic event.         

We would like to thank Brian and Penny Philp and Pat Bucknell for their stalwart support, Oliver Trevelyan and Charles Morgan St. Veep Churchwardens. The Stevens family who constructed the steelworks for lowering and hoisting the bells, and supported whenever necessary, Heritage Cornwall for their meticulous work on the tower. To Nicholson’s Foundry for their work on the bells, the volunteers who helped remove and rehang the bells. To all local organisations including the Supporters of St Veep, the WI for their catering and all individuals who helped with fundraising, events and support.

In times of need there are always individuals who step up to the plate and put in hours and hours of work behind the scenes to ensure a project is guaranteed success, so a


HUGE THANK YOU to Peter Bucknell, Dick Stern and the wonderful people at the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“From tower embattled, all ivied and gray,

Our virgin bells herald this blest happy day,

From inland to seaboard, twixt earth and blue sky,

Their message soars heavenward to Jesus on high.”


(Taken from St Veep on the Hilltop written by Jim Pearce Tencreek)

Share this page