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Let the bells ring - Village church to chime for first time in almost 30 years

PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 August 2020

Bell hanger Andrew Ogden, left, with the volunteers helping to remove the bells from St Peters Church at Hedenham to be retuned, pictured with the tenor (largest) bell. From left, Chris Tyacke, secretary of Hedenham PCC; David Ledsham; Rachael Moralee; and John Connor. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Bell hanger Andrew Ogden, left, with the volunteers helping to remove the bells from St Peters Church at Hedenham to be retuned, pictured with the tenor (largest) bell. From left, Chris Tyacke, secretary of Hedenham PCC; David Ledsham; Rachael Moralee; and John Connor. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

The unmistakable sound of church bells tolling has not been heard in the Norfolk village of Hedenham for almost 30 years.

Two of the six bells that are being removed from St Peters Church at Hedenham to be retuned. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYTwo of the six bells that are being removed from St Peters Church at Hedenham to be retuned. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But later this year, it will chime through the village once more - thanks to a £36,000 project to end their silence for the first time since 1991.

This week, six of the Victorian-era church bells were taken down from the Church of St Peter in the village for renovations and retuning, in what will fulfil a long held ambition for the church.

Dating back to 1838, the bells have weathered over time and are in need of love and care to restore them to their former glory.

But until now the church has never had the finances in place to restore them, despite fundraising efforts a few years ago raising around £5,000.

Bell hanger Andrew Ogden removes the headstock of one of the six bells at St Peters Church at Hedenham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBell hanger Andrew Ogden removes the headstock of one of the six bells at St Peters Church at Hedenham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

However, a time-sensitive £15,000 grant from the Saracen Trust gave the parishioners the impetus to put the wheels in motion and the project is now going ahead.

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Church secretary Chris Tyacke said it would be wonderful to hear the sound of bells chiming from the church once more.

He said: “We had a test ring back in 1991 but they haven’t rung in anger since then, so it will be wonderful to hear from them.

Bell hanger Andrew Ogden prepares to remove one of the six bells from the belfry at St Peters Church at Hedenham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBell hanger Andrew Ogden prepares to remove one of the six bells from the belfry at St Peters Church at Hedenham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“We contacted lots of people from the village about the possibility and only really had positive reactions. Even people who aren’t religious have said they would find the sound of bells comforting.”

The four smallest of the bells were taken down on Tuesday, August 18, with workers and volunteers returning to remove the two larger ones the following day.

All six will now be fine tuned, have their headstocks replaced and be returned in around six weeks, when an electronic ringing system will also be fitted.

It is hoped the bells will toll again in the village by October.

Bell hanger Andrew Ogden prepares to remove one of the six bells from the belfry at St Peters Church at Hedenham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBell hanger Andrew Ogden prepares to remove one of the six bells from the belfry at St Peters Church at Hedenham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Tyacke added that he was grateful for the help of volunteers who supported the operation, which shaved thousands of pounds of the final cost of the project.

The bells were made by Thomas Mears Foundry in Whitechapel in the same year as Queen Victoria’s coronation to the throne.


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