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Silenced bells to ring again after restoration

29 September 2023

JOHN HALL

Bell-ringing plaque in St Giles’s, Killamarsh

Bell-ringing plaque in St Giles’s, Killamarsh

THE church in which a famous bell-ringing change was created almost a century ago is to have its bells restored after hanging silent for four years.

A National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £76,450 will ensure that the 40-minute-long Treble Bob Minor can once again be heard at St Giles’s, in the Derbyshire village of Killamarsh. The money will fund the full restoration of the ring of six bells, which date from 1843; support training new ringers; and help towards researching the history of the Grade II* 12th-century church.

”Bell-ringers from as far away as Australia, South Africa, and Canada used to come to see the home of the famous Killamarsh treble bob and have a chance to ring it where it was first heard,” the PCC secretary, John Hall, said. “But the wheel of one of the bells is out of line, and, if we ring it now, there is a chance it could all fall down. The grant will allow us to have the bells retuned and repair the tower frame.”

The money will fund a two-year project to turn St Giles’s into into a worldwide attraction, and also provide resources for subjects as varied as wildlife-recording in the churchyard, art workshops exploring St Giles’s heritage, and podcast creation.

Dave Kelly, who runs the Keltek Trust, which finds rings of replacement bells for churches, said: “I can well believe that the bell-fittings are at the end of their useful life and require replacement. The state of the bell-fittings does have a considerable affect on training new recruits, as it can make a bell unpredictable and tricky to ring by even experienced ringers, let alone learners.

“The Killamarsh bell-ringing method was quite popular at one time, and is likely to have been practised regularly in the local area. It is good that restoration projects such as this receive funding, as it allows the tradition of bell-ringing to continue, and it also helps to keep the bell-hanging skills alive and keep people in work.”

David Potter, of Taylors Bell Foundry, which cast the original bells, said that they were last refurbished in 1892. “It is now 130 years since that last restoration, and, although the installation is still in basic good order, some of the frictional components are worn and need refurbishment,” he said.

The Rector of Killamarsh and Renishaw, Canon Helen Guest, said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support, thanks to National Lottery players. St Giles is an important heritage site and green space in the village. It’s great to know that we are a step closer to conserving it for the community and our many visitors.”

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