THEY have rung out at weddings, funerals, and Christmases for more than 600 years.
But it seemed the majestic bells of North Moreton All Saints Church would toll for a final time unless major repairs were carried out.
Following an appeal in the Oxford Mail and a fundraising effort, the tiny committee charged with raising the cash has been blown away by the response.
It has raised £43,000 in just five months and with cash still pouring in it could be in line to hit its £50,000 target soon.
The bells have been used sparingly in recent years due to their crumbling state, and have not had any upgrade since 1905.
On hearing the news people from across Oxfordshire began sending cash.
An unnamed donor, who used to ring the bells but no longer lives locally, gave £4,200.
Project secretary Beryl Jones said: “The response has been astonishing.
“We are so incredibly grateful to everyone who has pitched in.
“People were pushing money through the door saying: “You rang at our wedding, please take this.”
“It has been remarkable.
“We’ve put on local events to help fundraise, and everything large and small has been hugely welcome.
A 500-strong plastic duck event which raised £950 and beekeepers giving £1 for every pot of honey sold were among fundraising ideas.
She said: “It has been marvellous.”
The cash is also for a ringing gallery to raise the floor and give ringers more control.
Barry Sadler, 75, has been ringing the bells for the past 15 years, and said: “The campaign has gone phenomenally well. The bells are worth preserving and we hope that people continue to get behind us.”
The bell frame at the Grade I listed church in Wallingford Road was built to fit six bells but only five were ever cast.
The two heaviest date from the 14th and 16th centuries, and the remaining three are not in tune.
The bells will be fixed by a specialist team of architects and bell advisors, under guidance from the North Berkshire Ringing Guild.
New bell fittings will be installed, the three lightest bells will be retuned, a new rope guide will be fitted and a new treble bell will be added to make the ring up to six bells.
To find out more or donate contact Beryl Jones on 01235 510035 or Richard Lloyd on 01235 850459.
- Treble bell: £10,200
- Individual bell fittings:
- New treble: £2,100
- Bell 2: £2,600
- Bell 3: £2,800
- Bell 4: £3,000
- Bell 5: £4,300
- Tenor: £4,300
- Rope guide: £2,650
- Essential works: £18,000
- TOTAL: 49,950
- Each set of bell fittings will be fitted with a plaque acknowledging the donor.