Church Mouse travelled to the beautiful Marcher border country between England and Wales on Sunday, so picturesque as to belie its bloody past of conflict when bells were vital to alert the community to danger, warn of threats, celebrate important or happy events or call people to prayer. Walterstone, a small village with a well-supported church, has a tiny bell tower, from which hang two small, old bells. In need of restoration, the community pulled together to achieve the magnificent sum of approximately £15,000, aided by friends and well-wishers of the church and, of course, HHCT, which contributed a substantial grant.

Blessed by Bishop Richard, the larger bell can now be rung safely again with a rope through the ceiling, while the small bell has been brought into the C21st with an electronic clapper. Both gleam as a result with a soft sandblasting and polish and the surrounding mechanisms have been replaced where necessary. A representative of the Bell Foundry (John Taylor, Bell Foundry, Loughborough) was on site to tell us about the project and a Hymn to St. Mary’s was written specially for the occasion by Robert Peate who played the organ.

Sunday’s occasion was such a joyous one, filled with laughter and smiles. Church Mouse and chauffeur were delighted to have been invited to such a happy event which reflected beautifully the work of the Trust in helping churches to help themselves. From Judy and Rachel, (whose smiles never faltered) who welcomed us all, including Bishop Richard, to the bubbly Angie Kateley, the curate, The Forget Me Nots, a musical trio invited to entertain us after the service and the wonderful catering arrangements with the most delicious cakes, sandwiches and wine, it was truly splendid – and the bells rang out! One might say that the whole occasion was a resounding success!

Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust