Combe Raleigh bell project picks up pace

PUBLISHED: 14:49 30 May 2017 | UPDATED: 08:58 06 June 2017

Trevor Hitchcock with Little Me a bell dating from 1430 at Combe Raleigh church. Ref ehr 44-16TI 1314. Picture: Terry Ife

Trevor Hitchcock with Little Me a bell dating from 1430 at Combe Raleigh church. Ref ehr 44-16TI 1314. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

St Nicholas Church, in Combe Raleigh, will ring louder than ever before when its current ring of bells is doubled.

An ambitious project to fit three new bells in a village church has moved forward a stage.

St Nicholas Church, in Combe Raleigh, will ring louder than ever before when its current ring of bells is doubled.

Members of the Combe Raleigh Bell Project, a small fundraising group behind the scheme, have raised £100,000 to bring the move to fruition - six years since starting their fundraising journey.

Group member Trevor Hitchcock said: “The bells and frame were taken out in late January and moved away.”

“The frame went to Bridport to be modified to take six bells and the bells to Whitechapel for tuning, except for the medieval bell which we are required to keep untouched.

“This must have been one of the last jobs done by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry before it closes.”

The bells and frame arrived back in Combe Raleigh today (Tuesday) and will remain on the church floor while the frame is installed, which is expected to take a week.

Work is also taking place to reinstate an old gallery at the back of the church.

The gallery was taken out in the 19th century because it was described as ugly, but the members of the restoration group were determined to raise the money to rebuild the lost facility.

Trevor added: “Next Monday, the builders are due in to begin construction of the ringing gallery and to replace the clock chamber floor.

“But when the bells were about to be taken out it was discovered that this floor was dangerously unsupported and a temporary steel supporting frame had to be hastily fitted.”

This setback was costly - driving the costs to £110,000. So far, the group has managed to get fundraisers to dig deep and help raise £100,000 - just £5,000 short of their target.

Trevor added: “If all goes to plan the bells will be ready to ring by the end of August.

“Arrangements are in hand for the Bishop of Exeter to visit and bless the bells in October.”

The three bells fitted to the ring were sourced from across the country – including Bolton and Middlesbrough.

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