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Ipswich bells back in church after lottery-backed repair work

PUBLISHED: 15:28 01 March 2018

The bells as they were being returned.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The bells as they were being returned. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

The bells from one of the most historic churches in Ipswich should be ringing again soon after arriving back in town after major repair work.

St Margarets Bells have returned to their home to be rehung.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSt Margarets Bells have returned to their home to be rehung. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The eight bells from St Margaret’s Church near the entrance to Christchurch Park were taken away to be repaired in Holland last May.

They have now arrived back in the church and will be blessed by vicar Canon David Cutts at a special service at the weekend.

They then have to be hung in the tower – and will be rung from a new gallery which will give worshippers the chance to see the bellringers in action.

Stan Gaskin from the church said everyone was delighted to see the bells return and could not wait for them to be back in place and peeling again.

St Margarets Bells have returned to their home to be rehung.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSt Margarets Bells have returned to their home to be rehung. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The church received almost £164,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to repair and rehang the bells – and also to improve security at the 700-year-old church which should allow it to be opened during the week as well as for services and concerts.

The church is hoping that the bells could be in place by Easter – but installing them in new ringing mechanism is a complex task in itself.

Their new position in the tower will be lower than before – a move that will reduce the stress on the Medieval building and should reduce the amount of maintenance it need in the years ahead.

The bells date from 1630 and have been a feature of the church’s life since then.

St Margarets Bells have returned to their home
 to be rehung. John Girt, John Lewis and Stan Gaskin.   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSt Margarets Bells have returned to their home to be rehung. John Girt, John Lewis and Stan Gaskin. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr Gaskin said: “They have been away for several months and now that they are back they will be an even more important feature of the church.

“The new bell-ringing gallery is not that common – there is one other in east Suffolk – and people will be able to see the bellringers.”

The captain of the bellringers is John Girt – and Mr Gaskin said he was thrilled when the bells returned: “I’m sure John won’t mind if I say he’s in his 80s and the look on his face told you all you need to know about how important the bells are to the church.”

The newly-repaired and re-hung bells will give the church the opportunity to teach new bellringers – and it will be particularly looking to attract schools and youth groups to try to attract more younger people to take up the skill.

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