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The bells are back in time for Christmas!

by Michael Ford last modified 10 Dec, 2019 05:16 PM

The bells of a Dorset church have been ringing again after 3-and-a-half months of silence.

The bells are back in time for Christmas!

Tower Captain Debbie Phipps

The bells from St Mary’s Church Lytchett Matravers were taken to John Taylor & Co Bell Foundry in Loughborough to be restored and have new fittings made.

During this time, 24 willing volunteers cleaned, painted, restored and made refreshments so that the Bell Tower and frame were completely prepared for the bells to be rehung.

St Mary's Tower Captain Debbie Phipps takes up the story, and explains that for one moment it looked like the bells wouldn't be back to ring in Advent:

"We found 4 cracks in the frame which were quickly dealt with by Taylor’s so we could keep to the time frame to have our bells ringing for Christmas.

"All was prepared, and early on a chilly November morning the bells were returned. Before they were taken off the transport, Stephen, our vicar gave a short service to ‘Welcome the bells’.

The bells are back in time for Christmas- ringers and lorry at Lychett Matravers

"We welcomed over 30 visitors to see the bells before they were hoisted up into the belfry.

"Gordon Paterson our Steeple Keeper positioned the last clapper to be put in, and I attached the bolt at 10 past 12 on November 15th! All bells were now hanging ready for the fittings to be put in during the next couple of weeks. Ropes were attached and other fittings in the next few days, followed by another big clean up. Hard hats were then put away ready for a final test ring.

"We were grateful to have an experienced band of ringers to do a test ring and were thrilled with the way the bells now ring and sound; they are now said to be one of the best peals of 6 bells in the East Dorset Branch of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild, and we believe the outcome is all that we had had planned for."

And with the bells back, the Lytchette Maltravers ringers are on course for making sure everyone can hear the traditional ring of Christmas bells again this year:

"We had our first practice on Friday 29th November, followed by our first ring for the morning service on the first day of Advent and then for our Christingle service in the afternoon. Though we are nestled in the valley just outside the village, we were pleased to see on the village Facebook page that the bells were heard and enjoyed by several people in the village.

"We will be ringing the bells and letting them settle down over Christmas and will then be holding a service of Re-dedication for the bells in January."

The bells have been restored to ring out for at least the next 100 years with thanks to a range of grant bodies, donators and fundraisers. The grants were awarded by Talbot Village Trust; Llewellyn Edwards Bell Restoration Fund (Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers); Dorset Historic Churches; Allchurches Trust; Sharpe Trust; The Elmgrant Trust; Dorset County Association; Church Buildings Council; Erskine Muton Trust; Hobson Charity; and Barron Bell Trust.

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