Bells set to ring again

A SET of ancient bells are due to be heard across the town centre again thanks to donations from our generous readers.

A SET of ancient bells are due to be heard across the town centre again thanks to donations from our generous readers.

An appeal was launched earlier this year to reinstate the five bells at St Lawrence Church, which would have been heard by a young Thomas Wolsey.

Kind-hearted readers of The Evening Star contributed to the £62,000 which was needed to lower the historic bells at the recently renovated church in Dial Lane.

The Ipswich Historic Churches Trust's £40,000 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund was rejected and so it began a public appeal. As well £2,500 donated by Star readers, grants were also received from the Elizabeth Walter Trust, the Suffolk Guild of Ringers, Ipswich Borough Council and the Alfred Williams Charitable Trust. The last bit of funding has just been secured.

Dr John Blatchly, chairman of the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust, said: “Four of the bells date from about 1450 and the fifth was added when Wolsey was about ten years old in 1480. It is even likely that his wealthy and influential uncle Edmund Daundy was the donor of the fifth bell, but certain that the sound of the ring of five bells will have been very familiar to the ears of both uncle and nephew. No other church in Ipswich had bells before 1500, and the next oldest ring of five is of 1500 at St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield.”

The bells are in perfect condition but cannot be used because of the poor condition of the tower they are housed in. At present they are mounted high up in the tower extension, which was added in 1882, but they not been rung properly in decades.

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They money raised will fund the new belfry where ringers will be visible from the body of the church and the remounting of the bells.

Sisters, Kathleen Groom and Joy Botwright, whose late father Tom Groom was an organist of St Lawrence church for more than 50 years, added: “We look forward to hearing the bells ring again - a very familiar sound throughout our earlier years. As children we used to stand and watch the tower rocking gently on Sunday mornings, while the bells were being rung.”

Do you know about an interesting restoration project in the town? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.