Churchill Bell comes home
(Article written April 2004)
Once it rang out over the Churchill Estate
and surrounding countryside of Tamnamore. Then the bell
disappeared in 1927 and there has been much debate ever
since as to what might have become of it. Two local
men were determined to track it down and spent many
hours searching the local area. A month or so ago they
struck gold - or should I say bronze - and the bell
was at last uncovered. Now it is hoped that, after some
restoration work, the Churchill Bell will go on display
at Peatlands Park, near Dungannon.
In the late 18th century Mr Thomas Verner, a descendant
from an early plantation family who had settled in Ulster
in the early 17th century, bought about 4,000 acres
from Lord Charlemont in the northern part of Co Armagh.
He established a landed estate and built a house at
the centre of his lands at Churchill in the townland
of Mullenakille, close by to what is now known as Vernors
Inn. He also set up a farming business. Thomas was successful
and passed on to his great grand nephew William a thriving
rural gentleman's enterprise known as Churchill House
and Estate. Unfortunately, the estate did not fare so
well under successive generations and finally in 1927
things came to an end.
The bell hung in the farmyard of the Churchill Estate
for about 150 years and was rung to mark the different
stages of the working day. It would have been heard
at starting time, to notify meal breaks and to let the
estate workers know when they could down tools. The
sound of the bell carried out not only over the estate,
but the surrounding countryside as well and people on
local farms got used to setting their time by it. In
1927 when the estate's effects were being sold up, word
got round that a local Roman Catholic church was interested
in purchasing the bell. Some people didn't like this
idea and on the night before the estate's clearance
auction the bell disappeared from the sale yard - never
to be seen again! At least not until this year.
Detectives on the case
Tommy Glenny (a local historian) and Robert Greenaway
(an amateur metal detector enthusiast from Derrylee)
set about locating the bell. Over the years little bits
of information had slipped out about the whereabouts
of the bell and who had taken it. Armed with this knowledge,
such as it was, they poured over maps and drew conclusions
as to what route the perpetrators might have taken.
Then it was a case of donning their walking boots and
searching out on the ground. Many hours were spent following
false trails and many other interesting items were dug
up in their search for the bell!
James Walsh, a licensed historical archaeologist, then
joined the search team and a month or so ago at last
their metal detector picked up a strong reading close
to a huge tree. As they dug the first thing they came
across was the ironwork that the bell would have hung
from. Their excitement increased as gradually the rim
of the bell appeared. When the bell had finally been
removed from its earthy tomb, it was clear that it was
in remarkably good condition considering its resting
place for so many years. The bronze body of the bell
had been well preserved. However, the ironwork was badly
eroded and the clanger was missing - so some restoration
work was required.
Bell finders Tommy Glenny,
James Walsh and Robert Greenaway
with the Churchill bell
(courtesy of Tyrone Courier)
With the bell recovered, the next question was what
to do with it. Peatlands Park is sited on what was once
part of the old Churchill Estate. The park is opening
a new Educational and Visitors' Centre later this year
and it is hoped that the bell will go on permanent display
there. It seems a fitting home for this famous local
artefact. In a sense, the Churchill Bell will be returning
Listen - Tommy Glenny and Robert Greenaway show
off their find to Mary Ferris and take her to the spot where they uncovered
(broadcast on Your Place & Mine 03.04.04)
Do you remember hearing stories about the disappearance
of the bell? Do you know anything about the Churchill
Estate? Share your stories and comments here at Your
Place & Mine by filling in the form at the bottom of
Robert Michael P. Berioso - July '08
Hi guys,im ROBERT MICHAEL P. BERIOSO,son of ROBERT GREENAWAY and ROSALINDA P. BERIOSO, I'm 37 yearsold now I use my mom family name because I'm illigetimate child. I'm here in Philippines, I need to find my father name ROBERT GREENAWAY thats my Mama said that he knows about me. Please help who ever read this massage,I JUST TRY MAYBE THIS ROBERT GREENAWAY IS MY FATHER. I hope that you dont ignore this message.,thank you godbless you all.
ROBERT MICHAEL P. BERIOSO
Rupert Irving - July '08
My name is Rupert Irving and I am the great-nephew of Sir Edward Derrick Wingfield Verner (6th Baronet; 1907-1975) and his eldest surviving male relative.
I am undertaking some research on my Wingfield Verner family history and would be very interested in hearing from anyone with information and/or who may be connected to the family.
My great aunt Ruth, sister to Edward Derrick, wrote a book on the family and published this privately in a limited edition format. I would very much like to have a copy.
Derrylee Resident - July '08
I think that it will be found that this bell wasn't
indeed 'stolen' but retrieved away from the RC Church
in Maghery who had indeed stolen the gates from the
Estate previously. The bell was redeemed in this instance
due to the irony that the Church wanted something from
an estate that they helped insurrect violence towards
in the 1800's. However, in the interests of todays Northern
Irelands appeasement and overzealous political correctness,
the truth (yet again) has been overlooked, and a middle
of the road stance taken once again.
Liam Glenny - Jan '07
Hello, my name is liam Glenny from county Clare. I was
just wondering if Tommy Glenny Had Info on the Glenny
Lauren Verner - Nov '06
Hi, my name is Lauren Verner. I'm from Australia and
am related to the Verner's from Churchill. I was just
wondering if you had any information on my family. I'm
really interested in knowing about my families history!
It would be great if you could get some to me :D Thanks
Robert Greenaway - April '06
On Thursday 27th April 2006, the Churchill bell will
officially go on display in Peatlands Park Educational
Centre. Ceremony starts at 7.30pm and will include a
talk on the Verner estate.
Free in, and everyone is most welcome!
Jeanette Cherry - June '05
Hi, my young daughter and I are interested in finding
sites with history and pictures of Churchill House.
we live at Tullyroan and are down at peatlands quite
a bit so we thought it would be nice to know a bit of