A DESCENDANT of Sabine Baring-Gould has come over from the United States to get married in Lewtrenchard Church this Saturday.

Elizabeth Merrial (Betsy) Almond is the great-great-granddaughter of the famous hymn-writer and folk song collector, who was a former rector of St Peter's Church in Lewtrenchard. Her middle name is taken from the hymn tune used by Americans to sing her predecessor's hymn 'Now the day is over'.

Her mother Merriol — whose name is taken from the name of one of the Baring-Gould family whose effigy is in the building — said she had been bringing her husband Douglas and their three children for visits to Lewtrenchard every year for 30 years — and had also been subscribing to the Times for the same amount of time!

'We are very attached to and interested in Lewtrenchard, and when we came last year with Betsy, her husband-to-be and his mother came too and thought it was lovely,' Merriol said.

As a result, when the couple got engaged they decided it would be good to get married in the church. A special licence was obtained and Merriol said the Rev John Heath — the current rector — had been extremely helpful and made it possible for it to happen.

'The Rev Heath will be assisted in the service by former rector the Rev Kenneth Jackson, who baptised our son Christopher,' said Merriol.

The bride currently lives in Philadelphia and is at the Graduate Business School of Pennsylvania. The groom — Douglas Peter McGregor — lives in San Francisco, where he is an asset manager for AMP Property Corporation.

After honeymooning in Turkey, the couple will spend their time shuttling between Philadelphia and San Francisco for a year.

The churchwarden of St Peter's Church, Anne Westlake, said it was 'brilliant' news that the family was coming over for the occasion.

'Merriol comes over two or three times a year and is the patron of the church. But it is incredible to think they should come all this way for the wedding,' she said.

Around 70 guests will be making the trip from the States, with a further 50 coming from elsewhere.