Call to end Aldeburgh bells ding-dong

SOME have complained about the noise, but the sound of bells ringing over Aldeburgh was music to the ears of the huge congregation in the parish church yesterday.

Richard Smith

SOME have complained about the noise, but the sound of bells ringing over Aldeburgh was music to the ears of the huge congregation in the parish church yesterday.

Parishioners at St Peter and St Paul's Church, Aldeburgh, said that complaints about the bells - voiced last week - did not ring true and they wanted an end to the ding-dong battle.

Objectors say they do not want the three-hour peals on the Second Sunday in the month during the summer because the noise disrupts their afternoon siesta in the garden.


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Suffolk Coastal District Council has been asked to investigate complaints of a noise disturbance.

Ruth Last, of Aldeburgh, has rung the bells for 45 years and she said: ''The noise is irresistible and when I visit another town I always try and hear church bells.

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''We ring the three-hour peal in the afternoon because we don't want to do it in the evening when parents are putting children to bed.''

The tower captain Richard Rapior said the noise complaint was a surprise to his team of 12 ringers. Mr Rapior said: ''Bell ringing is a thoroughly enjoyable hobby and it also calls people to church.

''The peal on the second Sunday has been done for about 30 years on a regular basis and I hope the dispute can be resolved amicably - we certainly do not want to end up in loggerheads with anybody.

''The noise is absolutely joyous and, depending on the direction of the wind, can be heard in Iken or Thorpeness.''

Worshippers Derek and Catherine Cook live close to the church and Mr Cook said: ''There are so many churches that do not have real bells - they use recorded bells - and it is lovely to hear the real thing ringing.

''This is part of Aldeburgh and, for the very few hours that it may cause a disturbance, I think it is well worth it for the heritage of Aldeburgh to continue.''

Yesterday's peal marked the start of the Aldeburgh Festival and Trevor Hoskins, of Nayland, has been coming to the festival since 1961.

Mr Hoskins said: ''The bells are marvellous and the idea of stopping them is appalling. It is absurd to think the bells should be restricted - they are good bells and well rung.''

Aldeburgh is one of 5,000 churches which ring bells regularly. Nigel Hartley, the vicar of Aldeburgh, says the threat to silence tradition at his church could become a test case for other churches.

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