Hammers to ring out for St Clements as blacksmiths compete at Finch Foundry

Mary Youlden's picture
Authored by Mary Youlden
Posted Monday, November 19, 2018 - 11:54am

Blacksmiths from all over the South West are set to gather at the National Trust’s Finch Foundry on Saturday 24 November. Once a year, they congregate at the foundry to practice their art and celebrate their patron saint, Saint Clement, harking back to medieval tradition. The foundry, which is the last working water-powered forge in the country, will be the scene for the gathering, which includes a rare chance to see the spectacular ‘firing of the anvil.’

The Saint Clement’s day event is an opportunity for the public to get an insight into this highly skilled craft, now practiced by only a handful of people, as well as see some top blacksmiths in competition.  The anvil is fired, then throughout the event it will be possible to see the blacksmiths at work making competition pieces, which are judged at the end of the day. The anvil will be fired regularly and the blacksmiths will be busy working on their competition pieces, which will be judged at the end of the day.

This year the event will once again be holding ‘The Great Snail Race’. This is a competition in which the competing blacksmiths have to forge a ‘Sticklepath Snail’ in the shortest possible time.  Everyone is welcome cheer on a blacksmith and browse local craft stalls with handmade goods that will also be there on the day.

Ben Shapcott, Foundry Manager, said, “St Clement’s Day is the main highlight in our calendar at Finch Foundry.  It is a fantastic opportunity to see and meet blacksmiths demonstrating their craft in such a unique historical setting and to cheer on the snail making.”

There’ll be warm mulled apple juice being served to keep out the cold, with light meals, cakes and drinks available in our tea-room.  In keeping with this special day we’re offering tastings of St Clement’s curd in the shop, which is part of this year’s festive food range.

The event starts at 11am which also includes Morris Dancers, local craft sellers, National Trust gifts and delicious treats in the tea-room throughout the day.  The blacksmith competition comes to end at 3.30pm with trophies for the winners.   Entry to the event, gift shop and tea room is free; normal admission applies for the indoor forge areas.