The Cornille-Havard bell foundry has cemented its place as one of the foremost foundies in Europe, if not the world, after making eight bells for Notre Dame in Paris which were installed earlier this year.
Bells have been made in Villedieu-les Poeles since Medieval times and on the present site in the middle of the ancient town since 1865 when the foundry was founded. They have sent bells to New York and youâ€™ll also find them in Malta, Belgium, Germany, Brazil and numerous other countries around the world.
It won the contract for Notre Dame because of its reputation for making some of the finest bells in the world, melding traditional methods with new technology.
Now it has been asked by the Bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux to make a new bell to be ready in time for the D-Day anniversary next year which is set to be a major event with numerous foreign and French dignitaries.
The new bell will join the four existing bells and will be called ThÃ©rÃ¨se BÃ©nÃ©dicte in memory of a young German Jew who converted to Catholicism but died in Auschwitz in 1942.
Laurent Berthout, parish priest of Notre-Dame du Bessin and archpriest of the cathedral said that the new bell will be rung for the first time on 14 June 2014. â€˜It will be an occasion to celebrate peace and 70 years of freedom,â€™ he explained.
The idea came from a young parishioner who helps out with events at the cathedral and the Bishop of Bayeux and the Normandy Memory association backed the idea.
The bells are still made using medieval techniques with the moulds made from clay, horse dung and goat hair and the bells themselves from a mixture of copper and tin.
But it is the foundryâ€™s expertise in designing bells and the motors that make them ring that has put them in the enviable position of being so sought after by cathedrals all over the world. Cornille-Havard was the first foundry in the world to introduce the use of computer technology to make models of bell shapes which enables the team to be able to recreate the sound required, even that of ancient bells.
The Villedieu team has worked with the Engineering School of Caen and the Research Centre of the Division of Shipbuilding at Cherbourg to be able to create bells that are unequalled anywhere else in the world.
Director Paul Bergamo explained that 60% of the quality of the sound comes from the bell and 40% from the installation and the motors used for ringing. The Villedieu foundry is the only one in the world to have developed a motor controlled by a microprocessor which is easy to fit with little adjustment needed. â€˜We believe that our skills are unequalled in the world,â€™ he added.