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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 17:15 GMT
Ringing endorsement for bell book
Church bells
Rev Scott's book covers 500 churches
A retired Devon vicar has committed his love of church bells to paper with the release of a new book.

Reverend Prebendary John Scott, 81, has spent 53 years climbing ladders to take a closer look at Devon's church bells.

He kept careful notes on each bell and on retirement, in 1993, decided to start work turning them into a book.

The 800-page Towers and Bells of Devon is thought to be the one of the most comprehensive surveys of any English county's bells, covering 500 churches.

Rev Scott, 81, spent his working life as a vicar in Clawton, near Holsworthy, then in Newton St Cyres and finally in Bampton.

I took it upon myself to start visiting all these churches and taking a look at the bells
Rev John Scott

His job allowed him to indulge his passion for church bells, which began when he became a bell ringer and became a major hobby when he was given a book on Devon bells by H T Ellacombe.

"The book was written in 1864 and I realised it needed serious updating, so I took it upon myself to start visiting all these churches and taking a look at the bells," said the Rev Scott.

"Remarkably, a ladder only once collapsed under me, and I didn't hurt myself, although I did once manage to lock myself in a church in Devonport."

Rev Scott was also an advisor on bells and clocks for the Diocese of Exeter for 41 years and says his scariest moment came when his torch failed in a belfry in Berry Pomeroy.

"It was a very dark night, and I had to navigate my way back across the bell frame in pitch darkness with a lot of very knobbly things to fall on if I missed my footing," he said.

The book, written with Frank Mack and James Clarke, has been published by the Mint Press with the support of Devon County Council.

Rev Scott was also helped by the Devon and Cornwall Record Offices and cathedral archivists.

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