When Stella Simmons comes to the Devonshire village of Burracombe to start her teaching career, she is alone in the world. Orphaned as a child and brought up in a children's home, she was separated from her sister Muriel and has never been able to trace her. Stella is soon caught up in the life of the village, and especially in the plans for celebrating the Festival of Britain. As headmistress Miss Kemp and vicar John Harvey try to keep the peace between villagers who all have their own ideas for the proposed pageant and fair, Stella tries, with the help of artist Luke Ferris, to find her sister. But Luke has other concerns - notably a relationship he had with Val Jackman, daughter of a local farmer. Val herself has to come to terms with her own guilt over her husband Eddie, killed in France during the war. Val's closest friend Hilary Napier, daughter of the local Squire, is also facing a crisis - whether to stay at home and continue to look after her father, or to break away and lead her own life in London.
The Bells of Burracombe begins the story of life in a Devonshire village in the 1950s and shows us a picture of Britain coming to terms with the aftermath of the Second World War and entering a new decade.
Lilian Harry grew up in Portsmouth and now lives in a village on the edge of Dartmoor. She has a son, a daughter and two grandchildren, and is a keen walker.