Although it seems ages since the wonderful 2023 Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta, so many of us have lasting memories of hearing the Bells of St Saviour’s and St Petrox Churches ringing out over the River Dart – the true and unique sound of Regatta, Devon, and England!
Not to be outdone, FRoST – the Friends of St Thomas Church Kingswear, a non-denominational Registered Kingswear Charity - supported by the Parochial Church Council and Kingswear Parish Council, launched a campaign last year for Kingswear’s Platinum Jubilee and Coronation Legacy Project, which was the purchase a of a new, fourth bell for St Thomas of Canterbury Church.
Chris Ryan who coordinated the fundraising for FRoST explained: “The concept was that this new bell would replace the original bell that was sold in 1767 to purchase a clock, which had to be large enough to be seen from Dartmouth!”
Cllr Stephen Pearson, who supported the project on behalf of Kingswear Parish Council, said: “The Legacy Project was originally conceived by Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, supported by the whole council, to be a lasting celebration of 70 glorious years of the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II and the Coronation of King Charles III.”
Chris Ryan continued: “FRoST is delighted to announce that the fundraising efforts were so successful – that enough donations and pledges have been received to purchase and install not one, but an additional three bells – making a total of six bells in the ancient tower, which is its maximum capacity. Although completion of the project is subject to final Church Faculty approval, we are optimistic that, once approval is given, the installation could commence next year and who knows - it may even be finished in time for the next Dartmouth Regatta”
Church warden John Griffin said: “St Thomas Church was dedicated in 1173 and the bell tower was originally built for defence purposes.
“The church was substantially rebuilt in 1847, but the tower, which will house the new bells, dates to the original construction. It predates by 200 years any other tower at the mouth of the River Dart.”
Chris Ryan went on to say: “On behalf of FRoST, we want to thank the wonderful donors and sponsors who have made this project possible – as well as the enduring support of the parish and parochial church councils.”