A church in North Cornwall is celebrating its rich heritage of bellringing by bringing a well-known painting from 1810 back to the local Heritage Centre at the Castle Bude.

St Swithin’s Church in Launcells has recently moved the painting by Frederick Smallfield from the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro to the Heritage Centre at The Castle Bude, which is just 3 miles from the church.

The painting was inspired by a poem called ‘The Ringers of Launcells Tower’ by Reverend Hawker of Morwenstow.

The Ringers of Launcells Tower, Frederick Smallfield

In this poem, the six bell ringers who had rung the bells at the accession of George III in 1760, were still alive and able to ring the bells 50 years on, on his Golden Jubilee in 1810. Three of these men survived to then ring peals for the coronation of King George IV in 1821 and one of them also rang to celebrate the coronation of King William IV in 1831.

Upon hearing the poem, artist Frederick Smallfield visited the church and decided he wanted to paint his idea of what the ringers may have looked like in 1810. You can even read some of the names of the ringers if you look closely on the peal board on the painting. Amongst the names would have been ‘Lyle’, which was a prominent family in the parish at the time. Some of the Lyle family still take part in bellringing and were in attendance at the celebration event which took place at the Heritage Centre on 28th February.

The painting was donated in 1905 to Truro’s Royal Cornwall Museum, where it has since been restored and until recently was kept in storage, available to view on request. It was a team of people, led by Lillian Quinn who approached the Royal Cornwall Museum and arranged for it to be on loan.

The painting in its new home with the current Tower Captain.

If you wish to visit ‘The Ringers of Launcells Tower’ then it can be viewed at The Castle Bude which is open daily from 10am – 4pm with free entry.