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Oldest bell at Offton church is replaced - after ringing from the tower for 500 years

Left to right - Offton bellringer Peter Stock, bellhanger Jed Flattters, tower captain Brian Whiting and churchwarden Ian Dickson. Picture: SILKE PINSON-ROXBURGH

Left to right - Offton bellringer Peter Stock, bellhanger Jed Flattters, tower captain Brian Whiting and churchwarden Ian Dickson. Picture: SILKE PINSON-ROXBURGH

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The oldest bell in St Mary’s Church in Offton has been replaced - having rang from the village’s belltower for more than 500 years.

The new bell is inscrivbed with 'Funded by the Bbellringers and parishioners of Offton'. Picture: SILKE PINSON-ROXBURGHThe new bell is inscrivbed with 'Funded by the Bbellringers and parishioners of Offton'. Picture: SILKE PINSON-ROXBURGH

The original bell was cast at the Bury St Edmunds foundry back in 1470, 548 years ago, but needed replacing as it had lost its tone and resonance.

A fundraising campaign was launched in November 2015 to pay for a brand new bell.

The Suffolk Guild of Bellringers gave a grant of £1,250 to get the project up and running but the majority of funding came from the bellringers themselves and their friends.

A host of events were planned, including concerts in the church and a bowls tournament, and eventually £11,500 was raised.

The new church bell is winched into the tower. Picture: SILKE PINSON-ROXBURGHThe new church bell is winched into the tower. Picture: SILKE PINSON-ROXBURGH

To mark generosity of all who donated, the new bell has been inscribed with ‘Funded by the bellringers and parishioners of Offton’.

Originally there were five bells in the tower at St Mary’s Church up until 1958 when they were rehung and retuned to six.

Two more were added in 1983, bringing the total to eight.

The replacement bell was cast by John Taylor and Co, from Leicestershire, back in October 2017 and was delivered to the church last month. It was recently winched into the tower.

The original bell will remain at St Mary’s and will be fitted with an electro-magnetic hammer so it can be used as a toll bell.

Silke Pinson-Roxburgh, village recorder, said bellringing was a great hobby, an invited those in the area to join in the fun.

She said: “It was tremendously rewarding for Brian Whiting, leader of the bellringers there, to hear the new bell ringing out.

“It was a great achievement to raise the funds for this in less than three years.

“Brian and his fellow bellringers are very proud to have been able to replace this ancient bell with a new one, and especially proud it was cast in this country.

She added: “Now all eight bells can ring out again in Offton calling worshippers and celebrating festivals, weddings and funerals.
“Many pleasurable hours can be had by the Offton band as well as the numerous visiting bands that like to come to Offton to ring.

“Bellringing is a great hobby and new recruits from Offton and the immediate locality would be most welcome.”

For more information contact offton@suffolkbells.org.uk

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