Did you know that since an inspection of the tower in July 2017 St. Matthew’s Church bells, affectionately known as ‘Butterleigh’s Bells’, have not been rung? It was concluded that the decay of the frames and fittings and of the bells themselves was so great that they were unsafe to ring.
History and information in brief
The tower contains three bells (one tenor and two trebles) and is the oldest part of the church, believed to be constructed between 1277 and 1319. One of the treble bells is a fine early bell cast around 1485 by Robert Russell, a well-known 15th century bell founder, from Exeter Foundry. Its origin is characterised by the impression of a groat in the head of the bell; only 35 bells in the country bear this inscription. The other two bells were recast by bell founders in Wellington in the 18th century. The bells have traditionally been rung for many different ceremonies, weekly services and to mark national events.
To begin the restoration process, the bells needed to be removed and sent away to a foundry; this part of the project has now been completed. The bells are currently in storage at Taylor’s Foundry, Loughborough.
Repairing and restoring the bells. This phase has now begun.
The bells will be returned to the tower with the intention that an electronic chiming mechanism will be installed when the bells are rehung. The bells can then be chimed for Sunday services, weddings and other occasions without the need for ‘expert’ bell ringers.
Costs and fundraising
The estimated cost of the work totals around £20,000 excluding VAT and we have so far raised a staggering £15,000 thanks to our wonderful local residents, businesses and grant providers.
If you wish to follow the progress of the bell restoration and find out more about our fundraising events, please see our Facebook Page and details of our latest fundraising events by following this link.