Will bells ring in Westhorpe again after 100 years?

An appeal has been launched to restore Westhorpe's historic church bells. David Barker and Clive Me

An appeal has been launched to restore Westhorpe's historic church bells. David Barker and Clive Mees at St Margaret's church in the village. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Passionate residents from Westhorpe, in mid Suffolk, have launched an ambitious fundraising appeal which could see the church bells sound in the village for the first time since before WW1. 

With the support of the Suffolk Guild of Ringers, a steering group from the village has announced they are looking to raise £100,000 for the project. 

The money would see St Margaret's church given modern bell fittings, hung in a new frame lower in the tower, meaning bells could ring out across the village for the first time in a century.

An appeal has been launched to restore Westhorpe's historic church bells. Clive Mees and David Barke

An appeal has been launched to restore Westhorpe's historic church bells. Clive Mees and David Barker inside the church. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Speaking about the 'A-peal for Mary Tudor' initiative, church treasurer and bell ringer, Clive Mees said: "The proposal to restore the bells has been received with enormous enthusiasm and interest by the community of Westhorpe. 

"We are a small village with important historical links to the Tudors."

Mary Tudor, Queen of France and sister to Henry VIII, lived in Westhorpe until her death in 1533. Her second marriage was to the Duke of Suffolk Charles Brandon. 

Mr Mees added: "The bells ringing out would have been a familiar sound to her (Mary Tudor) hence our project name 'A-peal for Mary Tudor'." 

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The campaign, has already had a welcome boost as the Keltek Trust, described as a "dating agency for bells" have donated a bell - which will complete the set of six that need replacing. 

An appeal has been launched to restore Westhorpe's historic church bells. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

An appeal has been launched to restore Westhorpe's historic church bells - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Neal Dodge, from The Suffolk Guild of Ringers said: "It's great the village has already shown such enthusiasm for the return of change ringing to their community as it's such an integral part of English culture and life.

"This isn't just about preserving the past but ensuring our living cultural heritage is secured for the future." 

The bells at St Margaret's have been dated back to the early 15th century using analysis of tree rings in the timber holding the bells, the oldest bell in the tower was cast by a founder in Bury St Edmunds named Roger Reve. 

If successful the appeal will also recruit bell ringers from the village and a booklet will be published outlining the history of Westhorpe, St Margaret's and the bells.