Bells will peal again at St Clement’s Church in Ipswich after bequest to find repairs
The chimes will ring out again from historic St Clement’s Church, in Ipswich, during 2018.
Ipswich, along with the likes of Rome, Berlin and Geneva will have its carillon playing again.
Restoration work in the bell tower of the redundant church, which is to become the new Ipswich Arts Centre, will allow musical tunes to be played again on the bells.
Carillons, machines that play tunes on bells through keyboards or clockwork machinery, are very common in Europe, especially in France and Holland, but are rare in this country – there are said to be less than 20 across the UK.
The restoration work will take place thanks to a special bequest, which will repair the Victorian carillon within the church tower originally paid for by the Cobbold family.
The building is in the care of the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust.
On Friday evening, at a special event to unveil memorial plaques within the building, the church bells were in good voice – being played manually by ringers pulling the ropes for the first time in years.
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Historian John Field said: “This is an exciting time for the church and its future.
“We have had a bequest, out of the blue, to restore the carillon in the New Year.”
He said it would have been a familiar feature in the town in the latter part of the 1800s.
Different tunes would be played – one of them Oranges and Lemons – four times a day, except on Sundays when the bells would be rung to call people to church.
“It is unclear when it was last heard, certainly three or four decades,” Mr Field added.
Anthony Cobbold, of the Cobbold Family Trust, said: “Generations of brewers from the Cobbold family came to this church. They are all around us.”
Peter Brooks, chairman of the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust, said the memorial plaque event was about the past, present and future of the building.
As an arts centre it would serve the community again, he added.
Carol Gant, of the Ipswich Arts Centre project, said its immediate target was raising £54,000 for important work to make the building suitable for the new use, which includes new flooring, toilets and heating.
Carol added it also wanted to gather stories of people who worshipped in the church over its lifetime.