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The famous 'ringers' of Egloshayle

By Nat Fox,

Every Christmas morning for 65 years, Mr W Rickard made his way to Egloshayle Church. He pushed open the door and made his way to the bell tower, along with his companions, and rang the bells. Another bell ringer, John Menhennick was just as dedicated. He rang the tenor bell for 50 consecutive years.

Egloshayle Parish Church has been standing by the River Camel for at least eight centuries. Once owned by Henry I’s illegitimate son Robert, Earl of Gloucester, Egloshayle Church is unusual in that it is not associated with a saint, and doesn't appear to have a founder.

It does have a renowned bell ringing tradition which is active today. The bells still ring at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and again on New Year’s Eve.

Four bells hung in the tower in 1728, which were likely recast in 1756. Since 1907, there have been eight bells, including a treble and tenor.

In the early 1800s, five of Egloshayle’s bell ringers became something of a legend. So much so, that their names have been etched into history, thanks to a popular song.

These five men had somewhat of a competitive edge. The song tells of them outdoing the ringers of Lanlivery, St Tudy, St Kew, St Issey and Stratton.

The song is displayed on a wall in the church and starts:

“Come, listen to my story, come, listen to my tale,

l tell thee of five ringers bold, who lived in Egloshayle.

For ringing they did hold the sway wherever they did go,

The music of their merry bells, t'was their delight to show.”

So when you hear the bells of Egloshayle Church ringing, you’re listening to a beautiful sound that’s echoed across the parish for nearly 300 years.


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