Yetminster’s silenced chime

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Villagers are raising funds so that their 300 year old faceless clock can ring out again to welcome the new King. Roger Guttridge reports.

St Andrew’s church in Yetminster is famous for its chiming clock – and yet it has no clock face.
Image: Michael Day

Silence may be golden but not at Yetminster, where the historic faceless clock on St Andrew’s Church tower no longer chimes.
The clock dates from the mid-17th century but is particularly prized for its late Victorian addition – a carillon that plays the National Anthem every three hours. This rare and possibly unique feature was added by benefactors in 1897 to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
In about 1670, Thomas Bartholomew set up in business in Sherborne as a clockmaker, whitesmith* and blacksmith. The first records of the family appear in the Sherborne church records in 1674 with the baptism of Thomas, son of Thomas and Anne. The couple had a large family of 19 children. The Bartholomews continued as clockmakers in Sherborne for three or four generations; the last, Josiah, dying in 1792.
One of the first turret clocks that Thomas Bartholomew made was for Yetminster church. His name is on a small brass plate attached to the clock with the names of the churchwardens who commissioned it. Thomas Bartholomew used the frame of a much earlier clock, from around 1600.

A silenced chime
It worked well until last year, when wear and time forced its silence.
Now the village has launched a crowd-funding appeal to raise enough money to restore the clock and carillon to full working in order in time for the coronation of King Charles III next spring.
The work, to be carried out by clockmakers Smith of Derby, will include replacement of worn parts and an improved winding system.
The total cost is expected to exceed £25,400 plus VAT.
Churchwarden Clare Lindsay says: ‘The tower clock is a much-loved and familiar part of our lives and the sound of the bells ringing out over our houses and the fields beyond has been greatly missed over the last year.
‘We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the whole village, with their families and friends, to get the clock striking again and chiming out for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.’
The clock enjoyed a brief break from its silence earlier this year when the National Anthem was played manually for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
More than 80 per cent of the restoration cost has already been promised by various charitable trusts and other organisations but that still leaves £5,000 for the village to raise.
By mid-October they had already raised more than £3,000 of this and are hoping to collect the rest in time for repairs to start at the end of November.

To donate, visit the project’s Just Giving page here or you can email either treasurer@yetminsterpcc@gmail.com
or contact churchwardens Clare Lindsay and Geoff Goater on churchwarden.yet@gmail.com.

*A whitesmith is a metalworker who does finishing work on iron and steel such as filing, lathing, burnishing or polishing; it may also refer to a person who works with “white” or light-coloured metal or it can be a synonym for tinsmith.

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