VIDEO: Bells of St Mary’s are taken down for restoration, thanks to lottery cash

Villagers in Bletsoe will be missing their bells for the next few months as they have been removed for vital restoration work following a lottery grant.

St Mary’s Church will hear new peals after the historic bells were taken down this week for renovation, thanks to £46,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Bells being removed at Bletsoe.

Bells being removed at Bletsoe.

Paul Mason, of John Taylor and Co, the company tasked with restoring the bells said: “The five largest all date from 1786 and the newest, which is the smallest, is 1899. The heaviest weighs half a tonne and lightest a quarter of a tonne. It’s now time for a major overhaul.”

During the lowering of the bells it was discovered there was a hairline crack of nine inches on one of the bells.

Churchwarden Mike Gibbons explained: “The bells have been used for many years and we found a small crack in one of them. Once they are restored they will all sound a bit different. I’m sure people from Bletsoe who have heard them all their life will tell the difference in sound subconsciously.”

Paul Vine, tower captain of St Mary’s said: “I look after the bell ringers. Most of us started from scratch three years ago. They are very difficult to ring so we decided to apporach the relevant people to see if we could get the bells restored.”

In a twist it transpired a forebear of John Taylor and Co, a Robert Taylor, first cast the bells at St Mary’s Church in 1786.