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New bells to ring out across the Fens

19 April 2024

Tom Scott

One of the bells arrives at All Saints’, Landbeach, last month

One of the bells arrives at All Saints’, Landbeach, last month

TWO new bronze bells for All Saints’, Landbeach, will be christened on Sunday 28 April, when it is hoped that the ring of six will be heard across the Fens.

The bells have been cast at the Royal Eijsbouts Bell Foundry, in the Netherlands. One commemorates the King’s Coronation last year (News, 12 May 2023), and the other is in appreciation of the Landbeach community. A third bell, the tenor, has had its headstock restored, and the remaining bells — one of which dates back to medieval times — have all been cleaned.

The work has cost in the region of £70,000, raised by the ringers themselves, the Friends of All Saints’, Landbeach, charitable trusts, individuals, and anonymous donors.

All Saints’ is one of the smallest parishes in the diocese of Ely, but it is home to the Beach Bellringers — recruited and trained by the tower captain, Barbara Le Gallez — and a community of what a longstanding member of the congregation, Angela Brown, described as “stars and stalwarts”. The church is a warm hub in the winter, hosts weekly free lunches, and operates a Community Cupboard for food distribution. Its first Christmas-tree festival last year drew 250 visitors. It was “living the gospel here”, Mrs Brown said.

Film crews were present to record the arrival of the new bells on 18 March. Mrs Brown said that it had been “a heart-stopping moment” when the bells were being handled. “One false move, and it would have been back to the Netherlands.” She described the micro-movements employed by the Nicholson Engineering team as both “tender and adept”. There were more heart-stopping moments the next day, as the bells were lifted over the rood screen and guided through the aperture into the tower.

The bells will first be heard in a concert on 27 April in a piece for choir and bells by a local composer, Philip Mead, sung by the choir of St Augustine’s, Cambridge.

The Acting Bishop of Ely, Dr Dagmar Winter, who is the Bishop of Huntingdon, will formally dedicate the bells the next day. The Beach Bellringers, who are proud to be part of Cambridgeshire’s strong bell-ringing tradition, hope to encourage new ringers from Waterbeach New Town to join in what they consider to be both a sport and an art.

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