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A Tale of Two Bell Towers awarded £10,000

December 4th, 2012

Bell Towers

From left: Chideock churchwarden Val Cowell, Dave Symonds, captain of the bell tower at St Giles in Chideock, Mark Symonds, captain of the bell tower and St Candida and Holy Cross, and Hilary Joyce, Whitchurch Canonicorum churchwarden. Photographed in the St Giles bell tower.

Whitchurch Canonicorum Parochial Church Council is one of the first groups in the UK to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) All Our Stories grant. This exciting project, A Tale Of Two Bell Towers, has been given  £10,000 to make a video documentary about the recent restoration of the church bells in Whitchurch and Chideock.

All Our Stories, a brand new small grant programme launched earlier this year in support of BBC Two’s The Great British Story, has been designed as an opportunity for everyone to get involved in their heritage. With HLF funding and support, community groups will carry out activities that help people explore, share and celebrate their local heritage.

The popular series presented by historian Michael Wood and supported by a programme of BBC Learning activities and events got thousands of us asking questions about our history and inspired us to look at our history in a different way through the eyes of ordinary people.

The programme and HLF All Our Stories has proved a real hit and A Tale Of Two Bell Towers is one of hundreds of successful projects around the UK to receive a grant. Whitchurch and Chideock villagers will be working together with Bridport-based Watershed PR to make a video documenting the highs and lows of the bell restoration in the two churches, St Candida and Holy Cross, and St Giles. The project aims to record the special meaning that the bells have to people in both communities and show how they are interwoven with the heritage and history of the two villages.

Local people of all ages are being invited to tell their stories about how the bells have touched their lives, and the project includes work with nearby schools.

TV presenter and historian Michael Wood said: ‘We British love our history, and no wonder; few nations in the world, if any, have such riches on their doorstep, and so much of it accessible to all of us. It is really tremendous that the people of Whitchurch Canonicorum and Chideock have been inspired to get involved to tell their own history and to dig deeper into their own past. It’s brilliant that so many people are being given the chance to get involved through the All Our Stories grants. Having travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles this last year filming The Great British Story, I am certain that fascinating and moving stories will be uncovered which will not only bring to life the excitement of local history, but will illuminate and enrich every community’s connection with the national narrative.’

Commenting on the award, project organiser Betsy West from Ryall said: ‘The restoration of the two sets of bells in the two churches has been an epic event in the lives of both villages. It’s great that we have been awarded this grant so we can record what the bells mean to the people who live here, past and present. We love where we live and we are all really excited about telling other people about our findings and sharing our heritage and history.’

Richard Bellamy, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: ‘Clearly the success of All Our Stories has reinforced the fact that we are indeed a nation of story tellers and that we want to explore and dig deeper into our past and discover more about what really matters to us. This is exactly what the grant will do for The Tale Of Two Bell Towers as they embark on a real journey of discovery.

One Comment

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  1. Linda Templer #
    December 25, 2012

    Our daughter was recently married at St.Wite’s and was rung in and out of church to the sound of the recently restored peal, a wonderful sound. Many thanks to Mark and his team. We shall follow with great interest the progress of your documentary. One day it may even be broadcast on this side of the world, we can only hope.

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