Church appeal gets belle boost

CHURCH-goers in Earl Stonham are toasting their luck today, after a chance visit by a Gregorian chant soprano turned into a potential money-spinner.It was during a recent trip to Suffolk from her French home that Angela Maguin heard about the fundraising efforts of St Mary the Virgin Church.

CHURCH-goers in Earl Stonham are toasting their luck today, after a chance visit by a Gregorian chant soprano turned into a potential money-spinner.

It was during a recent trip to Suffolk from her French home that Angela Maguin heard about the fundraising efforts of St Mary the Virgin Church.

The congregation is currently trying to generate the £65,000 needed to replace the bells and repair the chamber used to house them.

So far, around £36,000 has been raised through a combination of events but Mrs Maguin was so impressed with the Grade I listed building she has offered to help bolster the tally.


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Brian Sayers, one of nine bell ringers at the church, which is famed for its glorious single-hammer-beam roof, said: "The offer came completely out of the blue. She's obviously been over here on holiday and seen our appeal and thought she would like to help."

Although delighted to accept the offer, Mr Sayers admitted his knowledge of Gregorian chant is very limited.

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"Nobody I know has witnessed a performance of Gregorian music so it should be interesting, he said.

"I don't think Gregorian chants have ever been used to raise money before so it will be quite a change."

The Church of England has historically not been associated with Gregorian chant, but Mr Sayers said they were very much looking forward to the visit.

The appeal, which has been running for around two years, is vital to ensure the sound of bells chiming does not become a thing of the past in the village.

Mr Sayers said: "They are so much part of English tradition. People would complain bitterly if they couldn't hear the bells ringing.

"Bell ringing is in decline because there's so few churches with bells that work. It's so sad really, which is why we're so keen to get the bells up and running again."

N The Concert of Gregorian Songs is being held St Mary the Virgin Church, in Earl Stonham on Saturday, August 16, from 8pm.

Tickets cost £5 and the performance is expected to last around 50 minutes. For more information call 01449 711448.

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