A SPECIAL service has been held to dedicate the new bells which are to be installed at a north Pembrokeshire church.

Tivyside Advertiser: Duncan Fitzwilliams stands next to the Agatha Christie bell at St Brynach's Church, Nevern

Parishoners at St Brynach’s Church at Nevern saw their hard fund-raising work rewarded when the Bishop of St Davids the Rt Revd Dr Joanna Penberthy carried out the blessing of the 13 bells which are now in the church and are set to be installed in the newly-restored bell tower.

Tivyside Advertiser: The bells are laid out along the aisle at St Brynach's Church, Nevern

It is more than 120 years since the bells at St Brynach last rang out across the village but now, thanks to a huge two-year fundraising effort that has brought in more than £400,000, the project to restore the 12th century church tower and bells is almost complete.

And what started out as a scheme simply to restore the tower and the original six bells dating back to 1763, has expanded.

Ten bells, including two news bells specially commissioned and cast in Milan, will make Nevern stand out as one of only six churches in Wales that have 10 bells – the other five peals of 10 are all in cathedrals.

The church will also now have three chiming bells, one cast in memory of crime writer Agatha Christie.

All the bells – bar the two from Italy which are now in the UK but awaiting customs clearance – were laid out in the church on Wednesday (February 17) and blessed at the special socially-distanced service.

The bells have all be individually named, among them the six original bells dating from 1763 which have been refurbished and are the:

  • Vicar’s bell, gifted by the Rev Dr James Phillips
  • The Comgloyn bell, donated by Thomas Lloyd from the old house at Comgloyn
  • The Benefactors’ bell
  • The Victoria bell, marking Queen Victoria’s jubilee
  • The Living Call bell (formerly the church’s old tenor bell and which will be used as a chiming bell from now on)
  • The Wardens’ bell

The Patricia bell is from a church at Goodwick, with two more bells from churches in Canada – the Hayward bell and the Conwyn Martyn bell, which were cast at the same time as the bell from Goodwick.

The final two Italian bells making up the full peal of 10 are the Bowen bell and the Williamson-Leyshon bell.

The two other chiming balls are the Agatha Christie bell and the Maggie Smith bell, which was cast back in 1590 and has a preservation order on it that means it is not allowed to be altered by tuning to fit in with the others.

Duncan Fitzwilliams, chair of the Nevern Bells project, said: “It has taken a tremendous amount of hard work to get to this stage, especially during the pandemic, but there has been a tremendous team behind it.

“We suddenly discovered so many skills in the congregation that we never knew we had and so many people have played a part.

“We would like to thank the bishop for her invaluable support.”

More than 200 individuals have contributed to the fund-raising and their names are going to be displayed on a donor board inside the church, along with the major charities that have contributed including among others £150,000 from The Heritage Lottery Fund, The All Churches Trust and The Wolfson Foundation and The Colwinston Trust.

The Keltec Trust also donated the Maggie Smith bell as it is so special and the two Bells from Canada. The Keltec Trust specialises in preserving and donating bells,

Fund-raising efforts are continuing – there is still time to get your name on the donor board, added Duncan - and a short animated sketch to promote the project has been created following the adventures of Tammy and Jim at Nevern Church.

It has been produced by the well known up-and-coming animator Tamzin Rafn. Go to nevern-church.org.uk