Bell ringer to get 20p

ANOTHER bizarre drain on the finances of an Ipswich church has been unveiled today - 20p to the chief bell ringer.Ipswich finance expert Rowell Bell hit the headlines earlier this month after discovering The Swan, in King Street, faces a £2 fine every year as punishment for apparently being the scene of a murder in 1664.

ANOTHER bizarre drain on the finances of an Ipswich church has been unveiled today - 20p to the chief bell ringer.

Ipswich finance expert Rowell Bell hit the headlines earlier this month after discovering The Swan, in King Street, faces a £2 fine every year as punishment for apparently being the scene of a murder in 1664.

And today, after his latest look at the Ipswich St Mary-le-Tower Church Charities' books, he has revealed some more peculiar payments.

Mr Bell, an auditor, says 20pence must now be paid to the church's chief bell ringer and £25 to reimburse the vicar, The Rev Peter Townley, for the beggars he has helped.

The odd-payments date back to the 18th century. They have been discovered by Mr Bell as he collates the church charities' accounts using a book printed in 1747 called “An Account of the Gifts and Legacies that have been given and bequeathed to Charitable Uses in the Town of Ipswich”.

Mr Bell, of Henley Road, says the payments must be made before the church can donate £146.94 surplus cash to charities for the homeless in Ipswich.

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He said: “We've some surplus money accrued from the various fines and gifts - including that from The Swan - from the past three years or so.

“Twenty pence goes to the chief bell ringer for his services, £25 is for the vicar to reimburse for people who have knocked on his door begging, and £677 goes to the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.”

Mr Bell, who works for HM Revenue and Customs in London, says the accounts will go before the parochial church council next Tuesday, April 4.

He said: “I have recommended that the unspent funds on Income Accounts go to a charity for the homeless or soup kitchen in Ipswich, as we did a few years ago.

“The money should be given to the trustees and although they won't still be buying coal or potatoes for the poor, as suggested in the wording of some of the gifts, they will use their common sense.

“I expect for example they will agree to give it to charities which help the homeless.”

The story about The Swan, discovered by Mr Bell, attracted international interest as was reported in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Do you have a fascinating story about Suffolk history? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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