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Church bells are back - after coronavirus takes its toll

PUBLISHED: 12:59 08 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:00 08 October 2020

Guy and Sue Morton with the returned bells at Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue Morton

Guy and Sue Morton with the returned bells at Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue Morton

Archant

Six bells from a village church have been fully restored and re-hung, but not before the two-year, £75,000 project was almost derailed by the coronavirus lockdown.

Guy Morton, Steve Upton and Sue Morton ringing the bells at their first service at Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue MortonGuy Morton, Steve Upton and Sue Morton ringing the bells at their first service at Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue Morton

The bells at All Saint’s Church in Upper Sheringham are now once again ringing out over their parish.

Sue Morton, project co-ordinator, said: “The project wasn’t without its hitches - we were just making arrangements for the bells to return and the work to resume when lockdown hit.

“We were so disappointed, but all had to be put on hold for a few months. Imagine the excitement when churches started to lift restrictions on building works, and we were able to get things moving again.”

They have also installed an electronically-operated chiming mechanism to ensure the bells can call the faithful to prayer for years to come, even if there are no experienced bellringers available.

Sue Morton with the new bells in the tower at Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue MortonSue Morton with the new bells in the tower at Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue Morton

Nicholson Engineering was engaged as the bellhangers, assisted by local builder Malcolm Abbs.

Help came from joiner Jon Dorey, carpenter Chris Copage, fabric officer Alan Boardman as well as volunteers Ian Dent, Steve Upton and Guy Morton.

MORE: Project to fix historic church bells delayed by coronavirus ‘hitch’

The Rev Frank Clarke performed a short blessing ceremony before they were hauled up into the a frame and the last piece of the puzzle will be the installation of a glass balustrade dedicated to Elizabeth Martin, a former organist at the church.

Because of coronavirus guidelines, only three of the bells are able to be rung together.

The new wheels lined up inside Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue MortonThe new wheels lined up inside Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue Morton

Mrs Morton said: “We intend to arrange a celebration of bells service when restrictions are lifted where we can ring all of the bells and celebrate with a large service and invite our donors on a date yet to be decided.”

She said they were also looking forward to introducing more people to the “delights of bell ringing” at regular Tuesday evening practice sessions, which are currently on hold.

The bells were cast in 1841, and were thought to have been made from the melted down remains of three previous bells that had hung in the church since medieval times.

Mrs Morton added: “We also want to thank everyone who helped with all the associated administration work and fundraising as well as assisting with the removal of the bells.”

The bells installed in the new frame at Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue MortonThe bells installed in the new frame at Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue Morton

One of the bells from Upper Sheringham Church being lowered. Picture: Supplied by Sue MortonOne of the bells from Upper Sheringham Church being lowered. Picture: Supplied by Sue Morton

The bells on the new ringing gallery floor before being hauled into the belfry at Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue MortonThe bells on the new ringing gallery floor before being hauled into the belfry at Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue Morton

The bells at Upper Sheringham Church before the work. Picture: Supplied by Sue MortonThe bells at Upper Sheringham Church before the work. Picture: Supplied by Sue Morton

Revd Frank Clarke blessing the retuned bells on their return to Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue MortonRevd Frank Clarke blessing the retuned bells on their return to Upper Sheringham Church. Picture: Supplied by Sue Morton


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