1:00pm Tuesday 15th November 2011
By Andrew Ffrench
THE bells of St Giles’ Church in Oxford were back in place just in time to ring out for Remembrance Day following a £56,000 restoration project.
All eight bells at the church were removed in August to be retuned by experts in Whitechapel, London. The bells were taken out through the north window of the bell chamber and to the ground via scaffolding.
The 13th century church in Woodstock Road has one bell cast in 1632, five from 1850 and two from 1927.
The bells were restored after their musical quality was criticised, compared to other church bells in the city.
Tower captain John Pusey, 71, who lives in South Oxford, started bellringing aged 14 and has been part of the team at St Giles since 1976.
He said: “While people assembled for the Remembrance service in St Giles, the bells rang for about an hour before the service.
“It was lovely to have the bells back in place for such an important occasion.
“It was touch and go for a while whether we would have the bells back in time but thankfully the restoration team managed to get them back in the tower and in working order by Friday.
“It’s lovely to have the bells back after a three-month absence – the bells do sound different now but I think they have a fine tone. You can notice the difference and I think there is a distinct improvement.
“The bells sound better but they also move more smoothly and in a more controlled way.”
Bellhangers Whites of Appleton led the restoration and staff member James Haseldine, 29, said: “The tenor bell weighs three quarters of a ton so this was quite a big job.
“It was an intricate operation to get the bells back into the tower. But everything went very smoothly and the bells were rehung in time for Remembrance Sunday.”
Former car worker and bellringer Bernard Masterman, 67, from Botley, gave £27,000 towards the £56,000 bill.
The bells can usually be heard for 40 minutes at 10.30am and 6.30pm on Sundays, and at Thursday evening practices.
St Giles is now the only church in the centre of Oxford which has its own group of bellringers, and which still has its bells rung twice on almost every Sunday throughout the year.
Anyone wanting to join the bellringing team should contact Mr Pusey on 01865 723645.
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