Bell Restoration Project
Progress to date:- £7,000 Target:- £50,000
Over the years, the historic bells of All Saints’ East Garston have been rung to call parishioners to Sunday worship, for weddings, funerals and baptisms, as well as marking events and historic anniversaries such as the end of the World Wars. Throughout 2014-2019 we rang muffled bells as a mark of respect on the 100th anniversary of the death of each man named on the village war memorial, who died in service in WWI. The bells continue to be rung by our small but enthusiastic band of ringers from the village (though like many, we have had to pause full ringing duties during the Covid-19 outbreak, due to social distancing measures).
The six bells were last re-hung over 100 years ago and are in much need of attention to ensure that they remain ringable in the future. Sadly, the bells are becoming increasingly difficult to ring and the Treble (smallest) bell which has been cracked for many years is now in danger of breaking apart, meaning we can no longer use it.
The bells of East Garston have long had a 'reputation' in local ringing circles. They are very difficult to 'handle' and many ringers struggle with them: the bells are much more physically challenging than others and require a certain level of fitness and excellent handling technique. Because of this, visiting ringers are a rare occurrence, and we struggle to find helpers when we are short of ringers.
Our core band is now only six ringers; just enough to ring the full peal of bells. The local band has started to train new ringers on occasions but has only managed to train and retain one new ringer in the last 10 years or so, as the bells are so difficult to handle. Only the treble and third bell have been suitable for training on, and now the treble is out of action. We are in danger of the bells falling silent if we cannot train new ringers and this is increasingly difficult due to the poor condition of the bells.
If the bells were to be rehung and made easier to handle, the bells will continue to ring out for years to come. We would be able to train new (and younger) ringers for our own band much more easily and also be able to attract help from neighbouring towers to ensure the bells are rung regularly for services and special occasions.
With the support of Reverend Mintern, Church Wardens and the PCC, the bellringers have set about raising funds in order to restore the bells to good working order.
Proposed restoration work:
To restore the bells we need to raise around £50,000. We have asked a local bell hanger, Whites of Appleton , to undertake the work for us. The six bells need to be dismantled from their fittings & lowered to the ground, the old fittings then need to be removed from the tower and refurbished. Details about the components of a bell can be seen here.
The Treble bell needs to be taken to Soundweld of Newmarket for repair. All the bells need attention of some sort and the peal will require tuning, which means them leaving the church for the necessary work to take place. The framework in the tower on which the bells are hung requires refurbishment whilst the bells are absent. Once the work on the bells has been completed, they will be returned to the tower to be raised and fitted back into the frame.
The ringers would love you to support this project in any way that you can. There are many ways for you to do this both now and once the work starts.
Firstly: it goes without saying that, without funds the project will not be possible. We are in need of funds either through sponsorship/donation or through organised fundraising events. (Please Note: the funds for the bells are completely separate from the funds needed for the running expenses of the church and we do not wish to detract).
Fund raising has already begun and we would like to express huge thanks to all the generous people who have already raised funds through various means or made donations during the last year. The funds currently (March 2021) stand at almost £7000.
This year the East Garston annual plant sale will again be donating profits to East Garston bell fund.
Beautiful bell design hanging-basket brackets and coat hooks are being sold with all profits going to the bell fund. See details here.
Secondly: once we are in a position to start work (hopefully within the next couple of years) we will be in need of volunteers to help with some of the tasks and reduce costs. We need construction of trap ways for the removal of the bells, so if you’re a carpenter or woodworker this might be something you could help with. The ironwork on the bell frame needs de-rusting and painting. We need fit and able-bodied local labour to assist in dismantling and lowering the bells and old fittings and to help with the hoisting and rehanging of the bells when they return. All of these things are very important and it gives the village a chance to get involved in something that is really out of the norm and will not be seen again for many, many years.
For more information about the project, to make a monetary donation or offer support by other means, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank You, The East Garston Bellringers