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Repairs to the Church Bell

Repairs to the Church Bell

'Our Bell'

St John’s has only one surviving medieval bell and the Quinquennial Survey 2013 reported that it has a severe crack and requires urgent repair. Shortly afterwards, it was inspected by Peter Trent, Bells Adviser to Norwich Diocese, who found that it had last been repaired in 1601 by William Brend, All Saints (Norwich?) at a cost of £6 18s 6d. Fortunately, it is now capable of being repaired using the relatively modern technology of the tungsten inert gas process.

The sound of the bell ringing out over the village has been much missed these past 18 months and villagers, as well as Friends, are anxious that it should be repaired.

Whilst the PCC share this view, there have been other urgent repairs and insufficient funds available to put the work in hand. The Friends have therefore offered to assist by acting as the authorised fund raiser in applying for grants on behalf of the PCC. We have established that the Church Buildings Council provide grant funding for the repair of bells that are of historic significance i.e. any bell cast before 1700. We have been in touch with them and they confirm that “Our Bell” is of historic significance! They requested us to submit an on-line application by the closing date, Friday 26 June 2015. Something of a rush as well as a challenge! The Church Building Council required us to forward a letter of support from our Archdeacon, the Ven. John Ashe, who replied the same day, saying that he was more than happy to do so and was delighted that St John’s had formed a Friends Group to support the active church at Aylmerton.

The maximum grant from Church Buildings Council is £8,000, although they advise that the average award is around £5,000. Apart from the specialist repair of the bell there is the additional cost of dismantling it (a section of flooring has to be removed) and re-hanging it. The provisional costs are estimated around £6,000 to £8,000 but there is a further complication in that the condition of the headstock cannot be determined until the bell has been removed.

It is too early to speculate on the likely success or otherwise of the grant application, but we should get an initial response from Dr David Knight, Senior Conservation Officer, Church Care Council, London, within a short time. We can then decide whether we will need to apply for any additional funding from other specialist grant funding bodies, such as the Paul Cattermole Fund of the Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers.