Strike a Light is pleased to be part of new Heritage Lottery funded Piddinghoe Bells heritage project in East Sussex.
Piddinghoe is a small village of 200 people on the edge of Newhaven in East Sussex. It is in the Conservation Area of the Ouse Valley and within the South Downs National Park which attracted 18.8 million visitors in 2016.
The project will help to restore the bells in the church, and also develop intangible heritage through local history and community memory. The current three bells, dating from the 18th century, will be repaired, and refurbished while three more will be added. The six bells will be rung ‘full circle’ – creating the tuneful ringing so familiar across the UK.
We are delivering Oral History training to Newhaven secondary school pupils at Seahaven Academy to record memories of Piddinghoe village residents and links to St John’s Church. We will enjoy training the next generation of historians in a variety of new skills. We will also be creating all of the summaries for the 24 oral histories to be recorded in 2023.
St John’s the Evangelist Piddinghoe is a Grade 1 listed church which dates from the 12th Century or earlier. It is one of only three round tower Churches in the Chichester Diocese and, unlike the other two, has Bells which could be rung full-circle. It sits in the South Downs National Park, but is also adjacent to nearby Newhaven (which has two neighbourhoods amongst the 20 per cent most deprived quartiles in the country) and is the subject of considerable regeneration. Piddinghoe is mentioned by Rudyard Kipling in his 1902 poem ‘Sussex’ “where windy Piddinghoe’s begilded dolphin veers” as a reference to the wind vane which sits on the church spire.
The Church and bells are our legacy, historical, cultural and religious. For many of today’s children, finding out about that legacy could be an adventure into a world far away from computers and smart phones. We will engage our younger generation of school children in recording & reflecting on their parents and grandparents histories about their homes, lives, culture and aspirations through a unique and empowering oral history project.
The process will be documented by a local film maker and the outputs will be shared with a permanent interactive exhibition and an exhibition at the newly established Cultural Space in Newhaven in 2023.