Church bellringers to perform first peal since 1947 after restoration

Tower captain Paul Corbett with one of the bells from Barham Church as they were removed for restoration.

Tower captain Paul Corbett with one of the bells from Barham Church as they were removed for restoration. The bells are all now back in the church - Credit: Paul Corbett

Ringers will sound the first-ever peal on a newly-restored set of church bells, a feat not carried out since 1947. 

The existing four bells at the historic Church of St Mary and St Peter, which serves Claydon and Barham, have been fully restored with two new bells being added.

Although the restoration is now complete, more fundraising is needed to meet the full cost of around £110,000.

And you can hear them ring on Thursday, November 25, from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.

The Church of St Mary and St Peter in Barham, near Ipswich

The Church of St Mary and St Peter in Barham, near Ipswich - Credit: Peter Wiles/iWitness

The peal will involve around 5,000 changes during non-stop ringing - and all the ringers will be people who have been involved in the restoration.

Paul Corbett, tower captain, said: "It will mean a lot and be quite sentimental for everyone who is taking part.

"We had a considerable amount of help from different volunteers during the removal and installation process.

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"The last recorded peal on the original four bells was in 1947.

"I've lived here for 17 years and had never heard the bells ring. They had fallen into such a state of disrepair that they had become redundant."

He said the previous rector, the Rev Carl Melville, had spoken to the PCC about getting the bells restored and the project then got under way.

A bell being removed from Barham Church tower for the restoration, which has now been completed 

A bell being removed from Barham Church tower for the restoration, which has now been completed - Credit: Paul Corbett

"Because of Covid, we have been unable to hold the sort of fundraising events we had planned. I think we have about 13 grant applications in at the moment," Mr Corbett said. 

During 2020, the existing four bells were removed and refurbished by Taylors Bell Foundry, who also cast two additional bells.

The bells were hung in a newly-constructed frame lower down the tower, with the work being completed in the summer. Since then they have been rung for a few events including weddings.

The priest- in-charge, the Rev Canon Mark Howarth, said: "I think the first time we heard them ringing was for a band concert in July at Barham Hall, opposite the church. There was a lot of interest and people were asking lots of questions."

He said he was very pleased the bells had been restored and could ring out for worship once again.

Paul Corbett, his wife Jane and several others started training as bell ringers in 2019, in readiness for the bells' return - but their training was disrupted by Covid, which brought restrictions on bell ringing. 

Now, following the easing of restrictions, they meet every Wednesday evening for training. Anyone interested in joining the ringers should call Paul on 01473 820201 or contact him by email.


   

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