The Forum Exeter, Devon

An RIBA south west award wining building at Exeter University in Devon; The Forum. This building benefited from design review during the design and pre-planning stage

Design Review Panel Training 2018

Design Review Panel training session carried out in Taunton and the Somerset County Cricket Ground in November 2018. The event was extremely well attended by local authority representatives, house builders and design team members

Exeter Quay by Jonathan Braddick

Photograph of Exeter Quay taken by Architect and Design Review Panel Manager Jonathan Braddick. The Design Review Panel holds regular design review panel sessions at Exeter City Council

Design Review Panel Training 2018

Design Review Panel training event 2018. Jonathan Tricker, Highways Engineer, Urban Designer & Director at Phil Jones Associates, gave a talk entitled: ‘Highway Design in Placemaking’

Steiner School Exeter

The design review Panel was engaged by Willmott Dixon during the pre-application design stage of the project to help them prepare a design that would be acceptable to the local authority

Design Review Panel Site Visit Poole

Photograph from a 2018 design review panel site visit carried out in Dorset in 2018. A full sit down design review panel was subsequently held in the Poole Borough Council Offices

North Grays Farm Para 79 House

External visualization for a NPPF paragraph 55 (now 79) house that was presented to the design review panel. This project has subsequently gone on to achieve planning permission and is now built on site

Design Review Panel Training 2017

Design Review Panel training session carried out in Exeter, Devon in December 2017. The event was extremely well attended by local authority representatives, house builders and design team members

Para 79 House by Hawkes Architecture

Para 79 House in Dover Kent by Hawkes Architecture

Rockfish Exeter Quay

A small but sensitive project in Exeter Quay; The Rockfish Restaurant has been designed by Grainge Architects who engaged with The Design Review Panel during the design & pre -application planning stage

Pegasus Life Project Sidmouth Devon

Pegasus Life secured planning permission through public inquiry for a Sarah Wigglesworth Architects scheme for a C2 assisted living community at The Knowle, Sidmouth, Devon. The Design Review Panel (www.designreviewpanel.co.uk) were instructed by East Devon District Council (EDDC) to provide multidisciplinary, expert, independent and impartial guidance and feedback to the local authority, applicant and design team during the pre-application design stage.

Plymouth Hoe

Photograph of Plymouth Hoe, Devon. The Design Review Panel holds regular design review panel sessions at Plymouth City Council

Design Review Panel Training 2017

Design Review Panel training session carried out in Exeter, Devon in December 2017. The event was extremely well attended and incorporated a mock design review panel session and design workshop

Five Hundred Years of Church Bells in Ermington


During the thirteenth and fourteenth century there was a great surge in bell founding and also in bell tower building to churches throughout Devon. St Peter & St Paul, Ermington is amongst a group of churches in the South Hams which built towers with broach spires to house their new church bells. The era also saw the first bell foundry built in Exeter and at the time most of Devon’s church bells were cast either there, or in Lezant or Stoke Climsland in Cornwall.


Bells have been rung in St Peter & St Paul, Ermington for nearly half a millennium. We know this for certain, as four bells are listed in the church inventory of 1553. Although these bells have since gone, the current ring of six bells also has an historical value and they are also part of Ermington’s heritage. The bells are installed over two stages in the bell chamber, which sits at the top of the west tower. The 3rd, 5th and tenor bell are all dated 1748 and are all attributed to Christopher III and John III Pennington of Lezant and Exeter. The 4th bell is dated 1799 and is attributed to Thomas Bilbie III of Cullompton. By 1600 medals were being used for bell decoration. One of Ermington’s bells has a medal commemorating Admiral Vernon’s capture of Portobello in 1747.


Around the figure of the Admiral is the inscription ‘The British Glory restor’d by Admiral Vernon’. In addition to having a church bell dedicated to him, Admiral Vernon was nicknamed “Old Grog” and also had the Navy’s “grog” (or watered down rum) named after him.


The remaining two bells date from the Victorian era. The treble bell dates from 1889 and is attributed to Llewellins & James of Bristol. This date coincides with the refurbishment and reordering of the church by the Victorian architect JD Sedding, when Violet Pinwill was also just embarking on her wood carving career in the church. Finally, the second bell dates from 1904 and is attributed to Mears and Stainwick of Whitechapel.


Full details of all the bells are set out in the table below:


By 1963 the bells, which were relatively heavy for the tower, had become un-ringable and were rehung on a two tier cast iron “H” & low side frame by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough. Now that the bell frame is over fifty years old, it is starting to show signs of corrosion and it needs cleaning and repainting. The overall cost of the works is approximately £10,000. The Church has been advised by the Devon Church Bell Restoration Fund that if the bell frame is not restored within the next few years the bell frame will corrode beyond the point of repair. At that point the bell frame would have to be completely replaced, which would involve the whole bell installation being removed from the tower.


The scope of work required is as follows:

  • Dismantle the fittings, but not the bell frame, to allow the best possible access.

  • Chip back the material of the wall around the foundation joists where they enter the tower walls. Clean back all corrosion discovered to the joists and carefully inspect all, reporting to the parish any problems discovered.

  • Thoroughly clean down and descale all the ironwork to the bell frame and ringing fittings. Prime all with Rustoleum primer and paint all with two coats of top-quality enamel.

  • Where parts of the steel foundation grillage cannot be accessed for cleaning and painting, spray with Waxoyl.

  • Reassemble the dismantled parts of the fittings.

  • Point up and build back into the walls those areas around the foundation joists which were cut back for inspection, ensuring that no air gaps are left.

  • Clear all dust and rubbish from the bell chamber, finishing off with a vacuum cleaner.

Ermington Parochial Church Council is starting to raise monies and apply for grants for these essential restoration works to the bell frame. 2053 will be the 500th anniversary of bell ringing in Ermington and it would be some achievement if the Parish could give the bells the care and attention they need now, so they will be in good shape for this historic anniversary and for the future generations in Ermington.

Ref: Scott J, Mack F, Clarke J, Towers & Bells of Devon, Mint Press & Devon County Council (2007)

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Many thanks to Grant Elliott RIBA, who has provided the excellent blog article above. Grant is a Chartered Architect, Associate at LHC Design https://www.lhc.net

Grant is admitted on the RIBA Conservation Register and is an Inspector authorised to carry out Quinquennial Inspections by the Diocese of Exeter and the Diocese of Bath & Wells

Grant is also a member of the pool of volunteer experts on The Design Review Panel, attending Design Review Panels across the South West; in Cornwall, Devon (both Plymouth & Exeter), Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Swindon.

#TheDesignReviewPanel #designreviewpanelEngland #SouthwestDesignReviewPanel #Southwestdesignreviewpanel #designreviewpanel #ConservationArchitecture #historicchurchconservation #DevonDesignReviewPanel #somersetdesignreviewpanel #DesignReviewPanelDorset #southhamsdesignreviewpanel

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