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Ancient bells are going, going, gong to restorer

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: October 16, 2012

Nelly Croft with the largest bell of all, right, experts and volunteers help carefully lower a treble bell marcus thompson

Nelly Croft with the largest bell of all, right, experts and volunteers help carefully lower a treble bell marcus thompson

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FOR the first time in more than 100 years, the historic bells at a Mid Devon church have been taken down from its tower for major refurbishment.

Ringing on the current set of listed bells at Cruwys Morchard has been practiced since the early 18th century, when five of them were recast out of the molten remains of the previous bells following a devastating fire in 1689.

The last major works were undertaken in 1905, when the bells were rehung.

But now, after 107 years, it is time for them to be refurbished once more to last another century.

Last week a group of volunteers from the local area helped to gently lower the historic bells safely.

Cruwys Morchard parishioners raised thousands of pounds for the project, which also won a £21,000 lottery grant.

The aims of the project are to preserve the practice of bellringing in Cruwys Morchard and promote the activity, particularly among the younger generation.

Roland Notley, who bid for the lottery grant, said although the bells were still ringable at the moment, they had become heavy and it was becoming difficult to do so.

He said: "Despite this, there is still a regular group of 10 ringers, who practice every Monday and ring for Sunday Services and weddings.

"As part of the project, some of the current ringers will be learning how to teach the skill, particularly to younger people, so that when the work is done there will be new ringers ready to start taking up the hobby."

The final bell was taken down last Thursday and a lorry arrived from Loughborough to take them away for restoration.

It is hoped they will be back before Christmas.

Rehanging the bells with new headstocks and sealed bearings will make it less physically demanding to ring them. Bell experts say the current oak frame is still in good order and will serve at least another 100 years.

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