Friesthorpe church bells to ring for Beechey brothers killed in WW1

Media captionThe BBC's Robert Hall reports on the Beechey Boys

Three restored church bells will ring together for the first time in 100 years to remember five brothers killed in World War One.

The Beechey family, from the hamlet of Friesthorpe in Lincolnshire, was one of only three in the country known to have lost so many sons.

A play called Leaving Home, which tells the family's story, is being performed in the hamlet on 3 and 4 August.

The University of Lincoln and BBC Radio Lincolnshire have led the project.

The Heritage Lottery Fund paid for the bells at St Peter's Church in Friesthorpe to be restored so they can chime again.

Image caption St Peter's Church in Friesthorpe was built in 1285
Image caption The Heritage Lottery Fund has paid for the bells to be restored

Karen Brookfield from the Heritage Lottery Fund said: "It's so great to hear those three sounds coming out and I so look forward to seeing the performance as well.

"I was very struck in hearing about the project that from the Beechey family eight boys fought and five died, and from a tiny village, and it's important to have that story now and to pass it on, and involve a wider group of people."

The boys' father, the Reverend Prince William Beechey, was vicar of the church until his death in 1912.

The church was built in 1285 and two of the bells are thought to date from around 1400, while the third bell is imprinted with the date 1676.

They will be rededicated at 17:40 BST, following a performance of Leaving Home broadcast live on BBC Radio Lincolnshire.

Image caption Leaving Home has already been performed at the Lincoln Arboretum
Image caption Josephine Warren, daughter of the youngest Beechey sister, was among the family descendents who watched
Image caption The performances have been co-written and directed by senior lecturers from the University of Lincoln's School of Performing Arts

Leaving Home executive director Conan Lawrence said: "The beautiful setting of Friesthorpe presents us with a rare opportunity to transport our audience, both physically and through immersive performance, to the heart of the action."

The Beechey boys' mother, Amy Beechey, was presented to King George V and Queen Mary in April 1918 and thanked for her sacrifice.

But she is said to have bluntly told Queen Mary: "It was no sacrifice, Ma'am. I did not give them willingly."

The Leaving Home project marks the centenary of the start of the war and forms part of the BBC's World War One At Home season.

Image caption Eight brothers from the Beechey family fought in World War One
Image caption Only three of the brothers returned from the war alive
Image caption The boys' mother was presented to King George V and thanked for her sacrifice

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