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The Magical Bells of Kinsham

There are many tales and strange occurrences involving churches in Herefordshire folklore. Our story this week takes us to the lovely village of Kinsham.

Many centuries ago the villagers of Kinsham decided that they wanted to have the best church bells in the whole of Herefordshire. There had been much debate about how many, what they should look like and how much money would be spent. They were proud folk and the new bells would bring prestige to the village. So the villagers rallied round and collected an enormous amount of money for their latest project and before long an order was sent off to a bell foundry abroad requesting the finest bells that their money could afford.

The villagers waited in anticipation, imagining what the new bells would look like and how they would sound. People would be able to hear them from far and wide, what a treasure they would be. After a short time the bells were cast and shipped back to the UK, first arriving in Bristol where they were then transferred to a waiting barge ready to take them on the last leg of their journey up the Wye and Lugg to their final home at Kinsham.

All went well and the bells arrived safely in Kinsham. But just after the first few bells had been successfully unloaded disaster struck. As the largest bell was being lifted off the barge the ropes broke and it unleashed itself. The villagers stood in shock as their prize bell tumbled straight into the river where it was immediately seized by an evil spirit. There are various reports of what happened next. As you can imagine this tale has been retold hundreds of times over the centuries but the most colourful one involves a passing clergyman. So we’ll continue with that version.

It had been a while since the unfortunate incident when an unsuspecting clergyman passed through the village. He had heard the story about the bell which now lay at the bottom of the river in the grasp of an evil spirit and decided to free it from its clutches. He knew that the villagers had tried on numerous occasions to retrieve the bell and had failed dismally but it didn’t stop him gathering a group of villagers together for one last try with some divine intervention.

Under his instruction they attempted to lift the bell from the river once more with cattle and ropes and as they did so he waded into the river praying loudly, undeterred and completely focused on the task in hand. After much heaving from the cattle and praying from the clergyman to everyone’s surprise the bell released itself and was dragged onto the riverbank.

The villagers feeling jubilant from their efforts turned to thank the clergyman only to find that he had disappeared and was never seen again. But the fair folk of Kinsham never forgot him especially when the bells rang out across their parish.