Fakenham church bells may not ring at Christmas

There are fears that, for the first time in more than 20 years, the bells will not be ringing out for Christmas Day in Fakenham this year.

Bell number five of the eight bells has major problems. The clapper pivot is damaged and the pivot pin has seized into the bearing and the clapper.

As large dynamic forces and stress are imposed by the heavy clapper when the bells are rung it is feared that the heavy clapper could break free, causing immense danger and risking the lives of bell ringers.

The problem was discovered during a recent routine inspection and immediately it was decided to cease bell ringing at the church.

The clapper has been sent to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London for repairs, costing about �1,000.

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Tower captain at Fakenham Parish Church Dennis Allcock said: 'We don't know if we will get the clapper back in time for Christmas Day.

'It really is touch and go at the moment. It will be very sad if we can't ring the bells on Christmas Day in Fakenham but if there is any chance of us doing it, we will.

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'We will just have to wait and see,' he added.

Plans are in hand for a complete overhaul of the church's bells at a cost of �80,000. This is part of a major on-going development project at the church and money is being raised for this to be done.

Rector of Fakenham, the Rev Adrian Bell, said: 'It will be a great shame if we can't ring the bells on Christmas Day here but safety has to come first.

'The bells were taken down about 20 years or so ago for work to be done on the bell tower but no work has been done on the bells since 1926, so they will all soon need to be taken down and worked on as part of the church development project appeal.'

We have previously reported how this project is to see around �350,000 of refurbishments at the church over a number of years.

Money will be raised for the bells and the church development project appeal at the church's popular annual Christmas Tree Festival, which begins tomorrow.

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