North Creake residents will be offered the rare opportunity of watching the bells in their parish church being retuned next month.
The work is to be done at the John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough and it marks the climax of a remarkable fundraising effort not only to restore and enhance the sound of the bells ringing out across the village from St Mary’s church, but to increase the number from six to eight.
A drive to raise £120,000, started in 2007, has achieved its aim and early in June the six existing bells will be lowered to the church floor.
The money came from local donations, small charities and fund-raising events enabling the appeals committee to place the order for the work to be done at the beginning of this year. Remarkably, for such a small village, it was achieved without recourse to any major funding source such as the National Lottery.
Four of the bells will be retuned but the treble and tenor bells are defective and these are to be replaced. In addition two new bells with be cast.
Originally the treble and the fourth bells were cast by Osborn and Arnold of St Neots in 1774 and 1775, the second, third and fifth bells by Thomas Newman,of Norwich, in 1774 and the tenor by Thomas Mears, of London, in 1817.
The work will also include removing the 14th century oak floor supporting the bell frame within the tower as many of the timbers are severely decayed.
These creaking old timbers move slightly whenever the bells are rung spoiling their pure tone. More importantly its removal is necessary because it would be unable to support the weight of the extra two new bells.
A new steel work floor will be fixed slightly lower in the tower and the present nineteenth century bell frame, after repair, lowered into position on top. The bells will be returned early in October.
Appeals secretary John Green, said: “Provisionally we expect them to be blessed on December 6 and then rung in time for Christmas. Without the support of the village and those who supported our fund-raising events all this would not have been possible.”
Mr Green added that change bell ringing had been heard in the village for over 250 years. “We do hope that after the completion of the new bells people will be inspired by the ancient art of bell change ringing.
It is hoped to provide lessons for those interested”.
Anyone wanting to travel to see the bells both cast and restored on Thursday, June 25, should contact Mr Green on 01328 738996.