Years of being hit has almost rung bells out

The Oxford Times: St Nicholas Church bellringer Anthony Hughes up in the tower with the biggest bell St Nicholas Church bellringer Anthony Hughes up in the tower with the biggest bell

THE sound of church bells has rung out across the rooftops of Marston for more than a century.

But it is not the residents’ tolerance of them that is wearing thin. St Nicholas Church, Elsfield Road, Marston, has been told its six bells had worn down from years of the hammer striking them.

Honorary treasurer of the St Nicholas Church Marston Society of bellringers, Anthony Hughes, said: “We were warned that the bells needed a major overhaul because the clangers have been hitting the same bit of bell, which has created large pits on the edge.

“The worry is that the sound of the bell might change.”

Other than funerals and weddings, the bells only ring in two practice sessions every Sunday because of fears the bells might crack.

If this happens the bells would need recasting, which could cost up to £100,000.

Instead the society must now raise £25,000 to remove, renovate and retune the bells.

Abingdon bell hanging firm Whites of Appleton would be the firm to remove and inspect the bells before they are sent to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London to be tuned.

They will be rotated when reinstalled in the tower so the hammer strikes a different part of the bell.

Five of the bells were installed in the 19th century before a sixth bell was added in 1972.

Mr Hughes, 71, of Oxford Road, Old Marston, said: “It’s the biggest task that the bellringers have undertaken since the war.

It’s a significant job, but they are light bells and they can get at them through the traps.”

He added that bellringing classes could be taught and visitors allowed to use the bells once they are replaced.

The work will take about two months. The society has already raised £4,000 from its 100 club lottery.

  • Donations can be made directly to the church. People can get entry forms for the 100 Club from the church or by emailing ritchfish@gmail.com
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