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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Cumbria church rings the changes as 594 -year-old bell comes home

THE oldest ringing bell in England has been restored and re-installed in a Cumbria church as part of a £28,000 project.

Two bells returned to St Mary’s and St Michael’s Church, in Church Road, Great Urswick, on Monday night.

The Harrington bell is the oldest ringing bell in England and has estimated to have been ringing since 1420.

Restoration work includes a new headstock, retuning, as well as having work on its top.

It was taken down to be restored along with another bell in January and were consecrated and reinstalled on Tuesday.

The restoration forms part of a £28,000 project which includes the purchase of a century bell in remembrance of the First World War.

A grant towards the project was rejected by charities because the church had recently received funding for an extension.

Church members and villagers have been raising money for the project since December, 2012.

They still need to raise about £1,500 for one of two new bells.

Church spokesman Sonjie Marshall said: “One of the new bells has already been cast – the Four Sisters, which has been named for a village family who donated generously towards it.”

The Four Sisters bell cost the church about £6,500 and they are still awaiting a price on the century bell.

Mrs Marshall added: “We are still doing the spirit draw, quizzes and in the summer we are hoping to hold a country and western night.

“We are hoping that the century bell will be on display in the church in August for the First World War Flower Festival.

“They had to be consecrated before they went up yesterday morning.

“We have been looking forward to getting them back for a long time.”

“We have raised the money over the last year and a bit through donations and fundraising events. The community has been very supportive and generous.

“We just set out to do what we could to get the money.

“The village has really come behind us and been a part of the fundraising events.

“It’s has become a community scheme rather than just something for the church.”

Mrs Marshall said the congregation expects to have both of the new bells in place by the end of the year.

A service to celebrate the bells being restored will take place at a date yet to be confirmed.

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