140-year-old bells removed from church
PUBLISHED: 05:30 24 June 2020
Three special church bells, made in honour of a beloved couple, the county of Suffolk and the Lottery Heritage Fund, have been made by specialists in preparation to replace a 140-year-old ensemble at a Stowmarket church.
The Stowmarket Bells Project won £95,100 in Lottery funding last year to restore the ancient bells and create new ones to complete the ring of 10 at St Peter and St Mary’s Parish Church.
The three new bells have been individually dedicated to those who made the project possible and could be installed in the church as early as September as the old bells are brought down this week.
Dr Maureen Gardiner, project co-ordinator, said: “The bells are being taken down today and will be transported to the bell hanger in Bridport, Dorset.
“There, the hangers will tune them and get that Stowmarket sound which is so well known.
“There is also a new steel frame being made and the bells will all be put in for them to test the sound.
“It will all be taken apart afterwards to be transported to Suffolk, just like it was in the middle ages.”
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Dr Gardiner said sadly they had been forced to cancel the open day planned for September to give people the chance to come and see the bells.
She added: “We are trying to hold the event online as much as we can, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the bells as they’ll go up on the church for another 100 years.
“It would be lovely if by September people could come and see the bells for themselves.”
The lightest treble bell has been dedicated Dr Peter Franks, a GP from Bacton, and his wife Sheila Franks, who were both bell ringers for the Stowmarket church.
Dr Franks passed away a couple of years ago and his wife had wanted a bell to be dedicated to his memory, so when she passed away in early 2020 the church decided instead the treble would be for both of them.
One of the new bells will also be dedicated to Suffolk, as a large percentage of the funds which made the project possible were donated by organisations and people from across the county – the total cost was £179,000.
The third new bell will be dedicated to the Lottery Heritage Fund as thanks for the enormous donation of nearly 50% of the total funds for the project.
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