Hadleigh: Nesting jackdaws force church bell to be silenced

AN HISTORIC church bell is today out of action – because of nesting jackdaws.

A nest has forced the bell in St Mary The Virgin Church, Hadleigh, against a clock face.

A decision was taken over weekend to remove mechanism to stop the bell swinging, to avoid damaging the clock. However, the move means the bell will not sound until the birds’ breeding cycle is over.

Church warden Lesley Turner said: “The nest is quite big and the bell wasn’t striking properly. Now it’s wedged against the clock face so the bell mechanism has been disconnected.

“It’s a feature of the town and I think people will miss it. I live 10 minutes away and I can hear the bell quite often and I know what the time is by it if I wake up in the night.”

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The Very Reverend Martin Thrower, Dean of St Mary the Virgin, is unaware of the church ever needing to disconnect the bell before.

“We’ve been watching the nest progressively being built and it has now got to the stage where the bell has needed to be disconnected,” he said.

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“One of our members got a telescope on Friday and it’s amazing to see how large some of the pieces of wood are. We think now it could be home to two families because of the size.”

The town council is responsible for the bell and Mr Thrower said it would need to look into how to stop birds nesting in the space again.

Once the birds have flown from the nest, which is expected to be around the end of June, it would be possible to remove the nest. But Mr Thrower said it would not be a simple matter and the fire service may have to be called in.

“It’s an incredibly long way up so it’s not a case of just sending a ladder up there,” he said.

According to the local history book Hadleigh Through the Ages the bell has been in the same position since 1584.

Most birds’ nests, including the jackdaws’, are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act and it is illegal to remove them until the breeding cycle is complete.

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