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Bells of Prinknash Abbey find a home after eight-year search

17 February 2023

KELTEK TRUST

Prinknash bells in store at the John Taylor and Co. foundry, Loughborough

Prinknash bells in store at the John Taylor and Co. foundry, Loughborough

A RING of bells removed from a Benedictine monastery and sold almost eight years ago has finally found a home split between three Anglican churches.

The eight bells from the Roman Catholic Prinknash Abbey, in Gloucestershire, were bought by the Keltek Trust, a charity that matches redundant bells to new owners, after the bells had failed to reach an auction estimate of £60,000 in 2015 (News, 17 April 2015).

“Essentially, we are a dating agency for bells,” the trust’s founder, Dave Kelly, said. “These projects generally take three to four years, but, in this case, at the end of four years, we were in the middle of the Covid pandemic, and a Lichfield church which wanted some had a change of priorities; so we had to start the process again.”

KELTEK TRUSTBells at All Saints’, Kempston, in Bedfordshire

Now, two have been hung in All Saints’, Laxfield, in Suffolk, and two in All Saints’, Kempston, in Bedfordshire. The remaining four are due to be hung later this year in Holy Trinity, Roehampton, in south-west London.

The trust’s longest-running deal yet started in 2003, and is due to be completed this year. The buyer is a church in Australia, where Keltek sends many of its bells. “A lot of churches there were built without bells, because they couldn’t afford them at the time,” Mr Kelly said. “This one has finally managed to raise the money.”

Keltek buys bells whenever they come on the market, although some are donated, and then it offers them to suitable churches on a waiting list of more than 100. “We have something going on all the time,” Mr Kelly, a keen bell-ringer, said.

“A lot more bells are required than are available. When we acquired the Prinknash bells, we were also buying a set in south Wales, and we did not have enough funds to cover both. Fortunately, we managed to borrow some money, and we launched an appeal which led to £500,000 in legacies; so, for the past five years, everything we have acquired we have given away. That money allowed us to help 79 projects.”

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