|A part of Chew Valley Lake - by Stuart Buchan [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
[I have been listening to "Questions, Questions" on Radio 4 and in part of it they investigated whether church bells can ring under water (it turns out that they do, but that the sound is muted and has difficulty transferring back into the air - wish they had put a wooden boat in the water to act as a sounding board).
The reason they where doing this was to investigate the possible truth of the widespread myth about flooded (vanished) churches still tolling their bells. I had grown up hearing this in relation to Chew Valley Lake (a reservoir) where it is said a village was flooded during its construction. The website for the lake says there was 16 farms and 11 other houses that where flooded during its construction in 1955 - it does not mention a church or a village. Wikipedia however mentions the small village of Morton, though there is no mention of a church. I wander how in the 35ish short years between the construction and my standing on its edge as a child it had garnered this common myth? Who told me? I think it was either my dad or my friends dad - neither where from the area, but both had worked in the area planting trees.
Interestingly the nearby village of Chew Stoke was home to a well known family of bell and clock makers.
I even remember it being said that on drought years one could see the cockerel at the top of the spire poking out! The archaeologist part of me dismisses this as highly unlikely, even if there had been a church. If the dam builders had not knocked it down the water would have ruined it in a few years, if not months...
The radio program mentioned the town of Duwich, in Suffolk where it is also said you can hear the church bells ring. Alan Lee and Brian Froud mention in their Faeries book that the Welsh Gwragedd Annwn, beautiful lake dwelling faerie maidens, lived in Welsh mountain lakes, and legends tell that in one of these lakes tall towers can bee seen in the depths and peals of bells heard... It is obviously a persistent and widespread legend.]