For the first time in 70 years, the eight bells of St Michael and All Angels Church in Ledbury have been removed from the church tower and taken away for repair and re-tuning.
When they return in October, there will be ten bells including four that are brand new. Two of these will be replacements, and two are additions.
One of the new bells will be “The Bell to Remember”, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice and our commitment to peace in our own times. This has been funded by the people of Ledbury. Local individuals or families, including the family of Doris Mitton who died in December, have very generously taken on the sponsorship of six other individual bells.
The bellringers would now like to mark the difficult times which we have been living through during the pandemic with the dedication of one particular bell to those who have suffered during the Covid-19 crisis, and to all those who have helped to serve the community during the last few months.
Tim Keyes, Tower Captain at Ledbury who has been leading the Ledbury Bells project over the last two years, comments: ‘Each bell in our tower has its own particular history with inscriptions to mark the dates when it was cast or repaired, and who paid for this. Just as the Bell to Remember will be a special reminder to future generations of the commitment of Ledbury to peace in our own times, we think another bell should mark both our sympathy and gratitude in connection with the biggest upheaval in this country since WW2.’
It will cost about £2,000 to put the inscription on the bell and the project is appealing to local people to help us to meet the cost of this new dedication.
‘We are immensely grateful to all the people and organisations who have helped us to raise over £268,000 so far, just £12,000 short of our overall target’ says Tim. ‘It has been a magnificent effort. The generosity of ABE Ledbury Ltd in providing free transport for the bells is typcial of the local support we have received.‘
The work on the bells is being carried out by Whites of Appleton who will take great care to make sure that the bells will be fit to ring for the next hundred years and more. The new bells will be cast by a company called The Westley Group who are a specialist engineering company based in Newcastle-Under-Lyme.
The removal of the bells marks the end of an era of over 300 years of eight-bell ringing in Ledbury. ‘The additional bells will now make it much easier for us to teach new recruits as we look to the future’ continues Tim. ‘We are immensely grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund whose generous grant will enable us to introduce this historic tradition to further generations of Ledbury people.’