All options have been considered, including
the simplest repair and refurbishment of the bells and frame
re-casting the bells (i.e. recycling the metal) to create a new and better peal, in a new frame
replacing the North Curry bells with a redundant peal from another church
Minimal repair and refurbishment would be only a short-term answer. That has been done before, over the last 200 years, and it is one cause of the current problem. It would leave the cost of a proper restoration for someone else in the future – so money would have to be raised twice. It is not the best solution.
To strengthen the frame, we had to take down all the bells, in which case it was better to return them in a condition that will last for another few centuries. A year of searching and negotiating to obtain redundant bells – right through the pandemic – drew a blank. So we believe the second option (re-casting the existing bells) was the best, and the best value for money.
The history of the old bells will live on in the new, as the metal will be re-used. Recycling them is environmentally friendly.
This is what a newly refurbished peal and bell frame can look like, courtesy of St Mary Magdalene church in Taunton, for which 15 new bells were cast in 2016.
What’s more, the current bells had never been tuned as a harmonious set! Think of it as owning a musical instrument but keeping it out of tune. The new ones will be tuned properly. They will sound just as you remember them – but sweeter.
A new steel frame will spread the weight of the bells more evenly and reduce wear on the structure of the tower. The eight ‘new’ bells will weigh at least a ton less than they do now. The clock will continue to strike the hours and quarters.
It’s important too that we secure the future of our bell-ringers! New lighter bells will allow older ringers to carry on for longer, and we can continue to attract and train youngsters of 9 or 10 upwards, who can ring the lighter bells with ease.
This has been a one-time opportunity for us all to secure our bells and bell-ringing for future generations. Let the ‘Cathedral of the Moors’ ring out again for the next two hundred years!