News – and all of it is good!
All of a sudden, a lot is happening with the Appeal. We held a public meeting in August to describe progress, but the middle of the holiday season is not the best time to catch everyone, so here is an up-to-date summary.
In July we were granted a faculty by the Diocese – that is, permission to carry out the project to renew the bells and their supporting frame. The Diocese made no changes to our plans.
In August a bat survey confirmed that there are no bats in the North Curry belfry.
In the last couple of months two donors have offered to sponsor a bell each. This has really boosted the Appeal. Sponsors can have a dedication cast into a bell, visible for perhaps the next 200 years or more. Anyone who would like to do the same has three weeks in which to tell us! After then, the foundry starts to prepare the moulds for the new bells.
And in mid September the Appeal edged over the £150,000 target. This is a fantastic achievement for the North Curry community. It should be enough to cover all the known costs – but we need to be sure we can cover the unknown ones as well. The fabric of mediaeval buildings can be full of surprises (and don’t even mention inflation). So we are still fundraising: please keep up your support!
The Parochial Church Council (PCC) has now signed the contract with the Loughborough bell foundry (John Taylor & Co) to carry out the work.
Taylors were due to start work on 20 September. The contract is very clear: Taylors will do everything. Thanks to the generosity of all our donors, including you, we do not need to face the problems of finding volunteer labour or other local resources to fill a gap in the budget. So Taylors carry full responsibility for delivering the new peal on time and on budget.
The church will be closed to the public for three weeks when work starts. As four tons of bells, and the same weight again of bellframe, are lowered from the tower, it is just not safe to have open access. During this period services will be held in the chancel. The clock will stop, and hence be silent, until the new bells are in place.
We hope that you will be able to watch the bells being lowered into the church (provided we are certain it is safe to do so). You will also have a chance to view all the bells before they are taken to Loughborough to be melted down and recast. We can only give brief notice of these occasions, as the timetable of work is unpredictable at this stage. Keep your eye on the Post Office window, nextdoor.co.uk and this website. We will publish details as soon as we have them.
Photo: Colin Trim
Before Christmas we shall organise coaches to the foundry to witness the recasting as it happens. (Numbers will be limited by the available space at Taylors.)
In the new year the new frame and bells will be assembled at the foundry for testing, and we hope the bells will be ringing in the church once more later in the spring. The dates are vague at present because we don’t know what the builders may find as they remove the present frame and later embed the new one in the tower walls. All the evidence so far is that the tower is structurally in good condition, but tinkering with 800-year-old buildings always carries a risk.
Do please come to the remaining fundraising events.
Once again, we thank all our many supporters most warmly. Two years ago, we might have hoped to reach our daunting target by now, but would we have expected to? Hardly. That we have is due to the great generosity of so many people, in North Curry and beyond.
The level of support from our own community has surely been a factor in encouraging major grant-givers to add their weight to the Appeal: the Bath & Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers, who have pledged £20,000; and North Curry Parish Council, which (like the Parochial Church Council) has granted £10,000. We are very grateful for their support. We have applied to a number of charitable trusts and foundations and are hopeful of further grants.
If you have questions about the work and timetable from now on, do please contact us.