At the Parochial Church Council AGM on 15th May it was agreed that we would join the Two Rivers Mission Community Joint Council. This will streamline administration. It was also agreed that the church will be open daily (times to be confirmed). The PCC remains in place to oversee the church building, finances and mission. We plan to put together a programme of special services for the year, in conjunction with the village hall.
Our three listed bells are in need of repair
The bells were sinking on their medieval oak frames. The frames were decayed with supports falling away from the trusses. One bell is cracked and all are out of tune. Around 30k is needed to carry out repairs.
Richard Sears, who is leading the project, has raised over 21k. You can help by supporting our events or making a donation. An easy way to donate is to subscribe to Easyfundraising, the UKs biggest charity shopping site. Just click on this link:
The earliest bell dates from the reign of Henry VIII in 1505 with the others dating from the 1600’s. They have sat on a framework of oak trusses and horizontal foundation beams since they were installed but over the centuries, as rot set in, new beams were placed between the original ones. This closed the gap between the beams meaning that today it was impossible to lower a bell through them. So phase one of the work has involved placing two steel beams below the bell chamber to allow the original beams to be moved apart. This created a big-enough gap between the beams allowing passage for the bells. This work was completed in early March with the help of Eddie Staines and Arron Baker (Staines Trailors) who generously donated the metal beams saving the Bell Fund nearly £1000. We are grateful to Eddie and Arron for this support.
Phase two involved the actual bell-lowering which took place over an intensive 3-day period in March. Steve from Taylors Bell Foundry, Loughborough carried out the work with support from a team of volunteers who helped with holding guide ropes, operating pulleys, fetching and carrying and making the tea. The tenor (the oldest and biggest bell) came down first followed by the treble and the No. 2 bell. The bells rested overnight beside the font by the west door. Security was a concern but the police kept a watchful eye. People were able to view the bells before they were loaded onto a lorry and transported off to Loughborough. We hope to see the bells back in Huntshaw next year after they have been cleaned, repaired and retuned.
We are grateful to the volunteers who helped with this momentous task and look forward to seeing them again next year when we have to repeat the whole process in reverse!. See photos below.
Book Reprint: Our popular book
on the history of Huntshaw
written by Richard Sears, has
been reprinted. All proceeds
from sales go to the church.
£6.00 per copy. Contact
The Big Jubilee Lunch
On Sunday, 5th June we celebrated the Queen's platinum jubilee. An outside service opened the event but then the rain came so we were forced indoors. The hall was festively decorated in red, white and blue and food, music and dress was 1950s themed. The coronation chicken was delicious and our jubilee trifle was amazing. After the meal we went outside for a ceremonial tree planting that was ably carried out by Andy. This was followed by the launch of the our Plant a Tree project. In honour of the Queen’s Green Canopy, the aim is to see 70 trees planted in and around the village in the coming year. Guests were given a sapling (a crab apple tree) and asked to match it with a tree of their choice. They were asked to capture and share their tree stories through photographs, videos, paintings, poems. Thirty trees were given out and we eagerly await those fantastic tree stories (as well as jams, jellies and wines!) The trees came from the Woodland Trust.
Thank you to those who helped with organising the event and who contributed to the catering.
Big The Art and Science of Bells and Bell Ringing
To support the bell restoration appeal an afternoon devoted to bells took place on Saturday, 14th May. And what a successful event it was!
Ian Campbell, the church’s top advisor on bells in Devon, led the event with an excellent talk. He brought along an 8 foot tall bell stand complete with large bell and demonstrated ringing in the "up" position and "down position" People were able to have a go at this after the talk and many were surprised at how difficult it was. Ian also brought along a set of hand bells and had members of the audience giving a melodious performance to the eager listeners. The Town Crier from Bideford acted as MC for the afternoon and there were models and displays to examine. Other activities included 'Guess the weight of the bell' and a raffle in which a bell-shaped cake (in the colours of the Ukrainian flag) was the prize. The 600-year old "Huntshaw Nail" found aloft in the belfry woodwork went for £50 in an informal auction. The weather was sunny and warm and cream teas spilled over onto the grass outside.
A very successful afternoon and well over £1,000 was raised towards the bell appeal.
Big Huntshaw in Pre-historic times
On a cold, wet and windy evening on 12th March, the hall was packed for a talk by local archaeologist Michael Griffith-Jones.
Michael enlightened the audience on how successive peoples migrated into our area, pushing out the ones before, and the way they lived life from 10,000BC through to Roman Times. Especially illuminating was how the Bronze Age "Huntshaw Dagger" found in Huntshaw Barrow No 2 on Haycroft Farm over 100 years ago was of national significance.
Plus at Berry Castle and other North Devon Hillforts the spiritual significance of the 3-river system on three sides, and how they always ‘dip’ one to one corner.
The event proved to be very popular and around £250 was raised for the Huntshaw bell restoration fund. Thank you Michael for a fascinating evening
A walking Treasure Hunt
On Sunday 17th July over 40 people completed a circular walk of four miles around the lanes, woods, hills and valleys of Huntshaw. This was an amazing achievement and all should be congratulated as this particular day was the hottest day ever recorded! There were clues to solve along the way with one clue being in Honey Wood Orchard, where much welcomed cold ciders and apple juices were being given out. A barbecue awaited the intrepid walkers on arrival back at the church. Over £400 was raised for the bell appeal. Our grateful thanks go to Chris Tattersall from Honey Wood Orchard for providing the cider and apple juice and to Les Birch was manning the barbecue.
On Saturday 10th September we enjoyed our annual Harvest supper. The food was delicious as usual and a good time was had by all.
Halloween Skittles night
On Saturday, 29th October the ghosts and ghouls of the village turned out and played skittles. Various levels of skittling skill was demontrated and everyone had a lot of fun.
The repair work would not have been possible without the generosity of a number of organisations.
At the end of 2020 we were awarded a lifeline grant from the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund.
The Church of St Mary Magdalene Huntshaw was one of 445 heritage sites across the country to receive a lifesaving financial boost from the government thanks to the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. The organisations shared £103 million to help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector. The Friends of the church were awarded £11,900 to fund urgent repairs arising from storm damage and to revive our restoration and conservation programme.
We are #HereForCulture
The Coastal Recycling Community Fund awarded £25,000 towards urgent repairs to the tower.
The Devon Historic Churches Trust Devon Historic Churches Trust awarded a grant of £4,000.
The Allchurches Trust Allchurches Trust awarded a grant of £1,500.
The Wolfson Foundation in conjunction with ChurchCare awarded £7,000
The Bideford Bridge Trust awarded £2,000
See our Bell Restoration page for details of grants given to the Bell Appeal
Thank you to all organisations for their generosity