Woodbridge: St Mary’s Church bells set to ring again

THEY have been silent for nearly nine months – but residents living in a Suffolk market town will once again be able to hear the familiar peal of their historic church bells.

The tower at St Mary’s Church, Woodbridge, has been undergoing extensive repairs.

Its bells have had to remain silent throughout the work, which started in August last year.

However, the first phase is now complete and members of the church’s bell-ringing team have been back in action.

The bells, which have rung out over Woodbridge for nearly 500 years, weigh a total of nearly five tons.

In the 16th Century there were originally five bells in the tower, but this was augmented to six in the following century.

In 1799, all the bells were recast and augmented to eight by Thomas Osborn, a bell founder from Downham, in Norfolk.

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A climb of 52 steps takes you up to the ringing chamber, which is about half way up the 100ft tower.

In 1753, a gentleman named Andrew Fosdike – at the nimble age of 67 – went up and down the steeple an impressive seven times in 27 minutes.

Margaret Stagg, temporary acting parish press officer for St Mary’s, said: “Although not the easiest of bells to ring, St Mary’s bells sound glorious when rung at the right pace by experienced ringers and are considered by some to be the finest ring of eight in Suffolk.

“Woodbridge ringers regularly climb the steps to ring on Sundays, and on the Tuesday practice nights – so let’s hope they remain as fit as Mr Fosdike so they can ring out the bells for many years to come.”

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