July 2021
from the St Peter & St Paul magazine

New bells for old: hard decisions

 

Chop down a 200-year-old oak tree, and until the next
acorn grows up, all you’re left with is a pile of timber and a gap that makes you sad every time you walk past.  A piece
of history and a wonderful memory have disappeared forever.  Let’s not allow the same happen to our bells.
Please help now!

 

Take down 200-year-old bells, and maybe you have a choice.  Can they be re-fettled and re-hung?  Can they be melted down and re-cast as new?  Can they be sold, or handed on to another church, in exchange for more suitable ones?

 

We have looked at all of these options for the North Curry church bells.  The one indisputable fact (as described in June’s magazine) is that the bells have to come down in order that the supporting frame can be replaced.  The
frame is 200-year-old oak, and it is beyond repair: it is no longer able to support the bells.

 

The bells are not yet beyond repair – but they are well on
the way.  They were not cast to modern standards and have worn (where the clappers strike them) sooner than they should.  Changes to the headstocks (the huge metal brackets that they hang from) have left some of them liable to crack.  And they are not properly tuned.

P1020187.JPG

So we thought: better to make a good job of it today instead of leaving the village to face another large bill tomorrow.

 

Darren Woodyer, tower captain, spent long hours seeking out redundant bells from other churches – but to no avail.  So the plan now is to melt down some or all of the bells, improve the alloy (so that they do not wear so quickly in future) and re-cast them.  The church gets new bells, perfectly tuned, made to present-day standards.  And the old bells live on, just in new form, as their metal is recycled.

 

The new bells will be lighter: easier to ring for the youngsters who are learning to be the ringers of the future, and for the present ringers, some of whom are no longer youngsters.  They will sound the same notes as before, but sweeter.  And they should still be ringing as sweetly in 200 years’ time, when that acorn has finally grown into an historic tree.

 

To achieve this we need £150,000.  Can you help?  Would you or your family like to sponsor a whole bell – and have your name cast permanently into the metal as a memorial for centuries to come?  

We have invited tenders for our bells from four reputable firms.  One of these is Matthew Higby of Radstock.  We visited Stoke St Milborough in Shropshire to hear similar bells to those he specified for us.  Mike Hansford, Diocesan Bells Advisor, and Adrian Whatmore, Tower Captain at Pitminster, accompanied us to assess the quality and sound of the bells.  The team at Stoke St Milburga church was very helpful and hospitable and a cup of tea was enjoyed on The Old Rectory lawn!!

 

A visit was also made to Nicholsons Engineering at Bridport.  Again Mike and Adrian accompanied us to view their operation.  They are a long established company with wonderful old machinery. This includes a giant lathe from the now defunct but highly respected Whitechapel Foundry: this is used to tune their bells.  A great afternoon hosted by Andrew Nicholson amongst the wonderful smell of wood, grease and iron and some very large bells!!

 

Looking forward, we have

August 21st      the Vivaldi Concert to enjoy - it is in the church and tickets are available from the Post Office.  

August 28th      the Jumble Sale at Lawnmoor House, so search out all those bargains.   

September 8th   Mary Stuart-Wilson is talking about ‘Inside the Royal Household’ – please do add your name to the waiting list at the Post Office as more places may be available as Covid restrictions are lifted. 

Please support these events if you can – the concert will be another treat following on from Cabaret in the Country.

 

We are now planning events through to Christmas - as this is being written there are only 165 shopping days left!  Please do contact us if you have any ideas or even better if you can help to plan and organise an event even if it is for 2022.

 

Finally, many of you have asked how much we have raised so far.  I am pleased to say, as at 30th June the amount in the Bells Appeal account was £30,000 and we have since received more pledges  A great start and huge thanks to all who have donated or contributed to an event. The Appeal target of £150,000 is a lot to raise but if we pull together as a community we can and will do it.

 

I would like to emphasise that this is a Community Appeal as the bells have been at the centre of village life for centuries.  They are part of our heritage and culture and a way of bringing us all together again whether you are church attendees or not.  To illustrate this: a hundred people (that we know of) out of our small village have made direct donations so far, and more are in the pipeline.  Many others have chipped in anonymously and have given help in kind – from gifts of jumble, cake sales to Sam and Harry Stroud who delivered our leaflets to every house in the parish.  Our thanks go to all of them.

 

Let us once again hear the wonderful sound of the bells ringing across village and moors very soon.

 

Geoffrey Dart

Chair, Appeal of Bells Committee

We have invited tenders for our bells from four reputable firms.  One of these is Matthew Higby of Radstock.  We visited Stoke St Milborough in Shropshire to hear similar bells to those he specified for us.  Mike Hansford, Diocesan Bells Advisor, and Adrian Whatmore, Tower Captain at Pitminster, accompanied us to assess the quality and sound of the bells.  The team at Stoke St Milburga church was very helpful and hospitable and a cup of tea was enjoyed on The Old Rectory lawn!!

 

A visit was also made to Nicholsons Engineering at Bridport.  Again Mike and Adrian accompanied us to view their operation.  They are a long established company with wonderful old machinery. This includes a giant lathe from the now defunct but highly respected Whitechapel Foundry: this is used to tune their bells.  A great afternoon hosted by Andrew Nicholson amongst the wonderful smell of wood, grease and iron and some very large bells!!

 

Looking forward, we have

August 21st      the Vivaldi Concert to enjoy - it is in the church and tickets are available from the Post Office.  

August 28th      the Jumble Sale at Lawnmoor House, so search out all those bargains.   

September 8th   Mary Stuart-Wilson is talking about ‘Inside the Royal Household’ – please do add your name to the waiting list at the Post Office as more places may be available as Covid restrictions are lifted. 

Please support these events if you can – the concert will be another treat following on from Cabaret in the Country.

 

We are now planning events through to Christmas - as this is being written there are only 165 shopping days left!  Please do contact us if you have any ideas or even better if you can help to plan and organise an event even if it is for 2022.

 

Finally, many of you have asked how much we have raised so far.  I am pleased to say, as at 30th June the amount in the Bells Appeal account was £30,000 and we have since received more pledges  A great start and huge thanks to all who have donated or contributed to an event. The Appeal target of £150,000 is a lot to raise but if we pull together as a community we can and will do it.

 

I would like to emphasise that this is a Community Appeal as the bells have been at the centre of village life for centuries.  They are part of our heritage and culture and a way of bringing us all together again whether you are church attendees or not.  To illustrate this: a hundred people (that we know of) out of our small village have made direct donations so far, and more are in the pipeline.  Many others have chipped in anonymously and have given help in kind – from gifts of jumble, cake sales to Sam and Harry Stroud who delivered our leaflets to every house in the parish.  Our thanks go to all of them.

 

Let us once again hear the wonderful sound of the bells ringing across village and moors very soon.

 

Geoffrey Dart

Chair, Appeal of Bells Committee

The tuning can be improved, and the worn spots can be patched – but you are unlikely to get anything like another 200 years out of them.  Sooner rather than later the bells would have to be taken down again and replaced.

 

So we thought: better to make a good job of it today instead of leaving the village to face another large bill in the future.

 

Darren Woodyer, tower captain, spent long hours seeking out redundant bells from other churches – but to no avail.  So the plan now is to melt down some or all of the bells, improve the alloy (so that they do not wear so quickly in future) and re-cast them.  The church gets new bells, perfectly tuned, made to present-day standards.  And the old bells live on, just in new form, as their metal is recycled.

 

The new bells will be lighter: easier to ring for the youngsters who are learning to be the ringers of the future, and for the present ringers, some of whom are no longer youngsters.  They will sound the same notes as before, but sweeter.  And they should still be ringing as sweetly in 200 years’ time, when that acorn has finally grown into an historic tree.

We have invited tenders for our bells from four reputable firms.  One of these is Matthew Higby of Radstock.  We visited Stoke St Milborough in Shropshire to hear similar bells to those he specified for us.  Mike Hansford, Diocesan Bells Advisor, and Adrian Whatmore, Tower Captain at Pitminster, accompanied us to assess the quality and sound of the bells.  The team at Stoke St Milburga church was very helpful and hospitable and a cup of tea was enjoyed on The Old Rectory lawn!!

 

A visit was also made to Nicholsons Engineering at Bridport.  Again Mike and Adrian accompanied us to view their operation.  They are a long established company with wonderful old machinery. This includes a giant lathe from the now defunct but highly respected Whitechapel Foundry: this is used to tune their bells.  A great afternoon hosted by Andrew Nicholson amongst the wonderful smell of wood, grease and iron and some very large bells!!

 

Looking forward, we have

August 21st      the Vivaldi Concert to enjoy - it is in the church and tickets are available from the Post Office.  

August 28th      the Jumble Sale at Lawnmoor House, so search out all those bargains.   

September 8th   Mary Stuart-Wilson is talking about ‘Inside the Royal Household’ – please do add your name to the waiting list at the Post Office as more places may be available as Covid restrictions are lifted. 

Please support these events if you can – the concert will be another treat following on from Cabaret in the Country.

 

We are now planning events through to Christmas - as this is being written there are only 165 shopping days left!  Please do contact us if you have any ideas or even better if you can help to plan and organise an event even if it is for 2022.

 

Finally, many of you have asked how much we have raised so far.  I am pleased to say, as at 30th June the amount in the Bells Appeal account was £30,000 and we have since received more pledges  A great start and huge thanks to all who have donated or contributed to an event. The Appeal target of £150,000 is a lot to raise but if we pull together as a community we can and will do it.

 

I would like to emphasise that this is a Community Appeal as the bells have been at the centre of village life for centuries.  They are part of our heritage and culture and a way of bringing us all together again whether you are church attendees or not.  To illustrate this: a hundred people (that we know of) out of our small village have made direct donations so far, and more are in the pipeline.  Many others have chipped in anonymously and have given help in kind – from gifts of jumble, cake sales to Sam and Harry Stroud who delivered our leaflets to every house in the parish.  Our thanks go to all of them.

 

Let us once again hear the wonderful sound of the bells ringing across village and moors very soon.

 

Geoffrey Dart

Chair, Appeal of Bells Committee