2013 Bere Regis Bell Tower Appeal
am delighted to be able to tell you that we have reached our
returning from holiday in the last week I have heard that we
have been successful with an application that has been in the
pipeline for a long time and have been granted an award of £3,000
from the Barron Bell Trust. This is most unexpected (they normally
give much less), but it means that our £60,000 original
target should now be secure.
have been contacting individuals and organisations who are currently
active in raising funds for the Appeal to let them know, and
to say that, though we will not be starting any new initiatives,
I would like to continue with the fund-raising efforts currently
planned, to give us, hopefully, something in hand.
additional contributions will help us with cash flow (grant
monies can only be accessed as work is completed but suppliers
require progress payments and the VAT man wants his cut before
we can recover it from another government department) and to
support some extra ideas such as the school "Bells' Heritage"
project. Also, as you will imagine, at this stage there is plenty
of scope for 'unforeseens' which may only emerge once everything
has been taken out of the tower and stripped down.
we do end up with more money than we need, I envisage it being
placed in the church "Fabric Fund", which is there
to provide for maintenance of the church buildings, equipment,
furniture and infrastructure. The next architect led Quinquennial
Inspection of all these items is due in 2015 and it is to be
expected that some work will inevitably be recommended.
people have asked me - "If there is money left over, are
you going to re-instate the clock chimes - the quarter hours?"
- either because they like the idea or because they have a concern
about the possibility of the chimes going on throughout the
answer is no - not as part of this refurbishment project.
have been thinking about it for the future once we have finished
the bells refurbishment, but it could not be undertaken without
a separate project to be approved by the PCC and would require
a new Faculty from the Diocese and approval from the central
Church Buildings Council. If it is eventually put forward it
would include automatic mechanisms for stopping chiming and
striking throughout the night-time hours. These are expensive
to buy and to install and so there would likely need to be a
separate fund raising. During our current project, the linkages
and hammers for chiming have to be left in place in the belfry
(we have undertaken to do so for conservation) so that it would
be possible for it to happen in the future, and yes, these will
be refurbished at this time together with all the other belfry
hope that this update is helpful. Please don't hesitate to email
me if you have any questions or comments. I am attaching a copy
of the update included in the latest edition of the Parish Magazine
which sets out the overall position, though written before hearing
about the latest grant award.
thank you all for your help, contributions, enthusiasm and support
for the project. With a following wind, what we are setting
out to do could last for 200 years - we don't get too many opportunities
like that these days!
can see the Appeal, as it was when first launched below -
The bells of St. John the Baptist Church Bere Regis have rung
out for over 500 years. Now they need a major overhaul which
will cost £60,000.
Bell Tower was paid for by Cardinal Morton in 1500 and originally
built to contain 4 bells. A fifth was added in 1609 and a sixthin
1920. At that time, the old wooden bell-frame was replaced by
a steel frame, the bells were lowered, repaired and re-hung
together with servicing and replacement of all the ringing mechanisms.
Since 1920 the bells have been in constant service, with routine
maintenance being carried out by successive steeple-keepers.
The time has now come for a major overhaul to ensure that the
ring of bells remains serviceable and safe for another hundred
years and to bring it up to modern standards.
What the refurbishment Project does
Deals with the wear and tear accumulated over the 94 years since
the last major overhaul and ensures that the bells remain safe
Conserves the bell-frame and the bells and minimises the danger
of the bells developing cracks in the future
Provides for the ring of 6 bells to be brought back into tune
it will be done?
trapdoors in the bell tower will be opened up. Temporary lifting
gear will be installed in the top of the bell tower.
bell will be carefully lifted from its mountings and lowered
to the foot of the tower. The largest bell weighs 948 Kg and
the smallest weighs 341 Kg
the bells will be transported by road to the workshops of John
Taylor & Co. in Loughborough, who are our chosen specialists.
The combined weight of all 6 bells is 3.5 metric tonnes.
bell will have the remains of old iron fittings that they used
to hang from carefully removed. When iron rusts it expands and
this can cause cracking of the bell metal which is bronze, an
alloy of copper & tin, chosen to give resonance.
places where the old iron fittings have been removed will be
welded up by the company “Soundweld” who are specialists
in welding of bell metal. They use a Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG)
process with a specially cast filler metal. Wear and tear caused
by the clappers striking the bells over the centuries will also
be corrected by this type of welding.
plain bearings and gudgeons on which the bells swing are worn.
They will be replaced with new turned steel gudgeons and modern
ball bearings mounted in new cast iron housings. This will make
it considerably easier to swing the bells in future –
something the bellringers are looking forward to!
wrought iron clappers, which strike the bells, will all undergo
repair or replacement. Several of them have broken and been
welded up already.
the “running gear” that transmits the efforts of
the bellringers to the bells – the ropes, pulleys and
the big wooden wheels that apply the leverage – will be
repaired, renovated or replaced as necessary.
subject to approval by conservation authorities, the repaired
and renovated bells will be retuned. Whilst they are not badly
out of tune, some correction is desirable for 4 of the bells.
This will be done by mounting the bells individually in a type
of giant lathe, which allows a very small amount of metal to
be skimmed from the inside of the bell.
the bells are away from the tower, the steel bellframe will
be cleaned down, anti-corrosion measures applied & then
re-painted. It sounds straightforward but this will be a long
and messy job.
refurbished bells and fittings will be transported back to Bere
Regis and hoisted back into place. Then they will be tested
before a ceremony to mark their return.
What it will Cost?
current estimate is that the whole project will cost £60,000
When will it be done?
have first to raise the money! To date we have raised £7,699
so we have made a great start but there is a long way to go.
Our timetable is for 6 months of intensive fundraising, locally
in the parish and by applying for grants regionally and nationally.
hope to be able to start the work at the end of next summer.
Once underway, it should take 2-3 months.
Who will do it?
main contractor will be the specialist Bell Hangers, John Taylor
& Co of Loughborough. We expect that builders’ work
within the tower will be done by A. E. Griffin & Son.
Can I help?
will be looking for able-bodied volunteers to help with lowering
and later reinstating the bells, working under the supervision
of the bell hanger. We also need someone to transport the bells
to and from Loughborough.
you would like to get involved in any way, please contact Jon
Cleave on 471 463 to find out more.
Bell Ringers and the Parish Church Council are launching the
“Bell Tower Appeal” to raise the £60,000 required.
We are grateful to Brenda Pitfield for allowing us to reproduce
the drawing of the Bell Tower by Fred which appears at the start
of this article and which will be used throughout our Appeal.
shall be approaching local businesses and enterprises and trusts
that specifically aid church and bell refurbishment projects.
To succeed with these organisations, we need to show that we
are raising at least 10% of the money through our own enterprises
within the Parish.
ringers themselves have already contributed £2,000 by
sponsorships, by donating their payment for ringing at weddings,
and by selling articles on eBay. Now we need your help! Here’s
some of the ways ……
Tasie Russell, who is a wonderful local naturalist and painter,
has very kindly allowed us to reproduce 8 of her original flower
paintings in the form of individual notelet cards. These have
been printed to a high standard and are available to purchase
from any of the bell ringers or call Adrian on 471 774. The
cost is £3 for 4 cards with matching envelopes. All the
proceeds are going to the Appeal. Everyone
needs a card from time to time to say “Get well”
or “Thank you”, so please buy some to be ready for
Julien and Bernie Lightfoot did the graphic design of the cards
for us and organised the printing. They have kindly donated
some of their own notelet cards depicting birds, and these are
On the counter of the Mace shop you will find Fred’s drawing
around a model of the Bell Tower. Please contribute your small
change! We are grateful to the Moorses for hosting the collecting
Elsewhere in this magazine you will find an advert placed by
the ringers. The Vicar has kindly agreed that we may ring the
bells for individuals or groups to mark special days or anniversaries
in return for a donation to the Bell Tower Appeal.
John England, our Tower Captain, and Philip Ventham, will be
giving an illustrated talk entitled "Following George's
Footsteps - the WW1 Diaries of a Grenadier Guardsmen 1917 to
1919" in the Drax Hall on Wednesday 24th April at 7.30pm.
Tickets (£5.00) will soon be available. Proceeds will
be donated to the Appeal. Please make a note in your diary.
there is already quite a lot going on. In the future, the organisers
of the next Flower Festival are going to make it in aid of the
fund. If you yourself have any ideas, or are willing to get
involved in any way, please let me know on 471 463. That is
also the number to call if you could make a donation directly
– which would be very warmly received!
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