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Offton church rings in a new era after medieval bell is replaced

PUBLISHED: 16:53 05 October 2018

The new bell being hoised into the tower Picture: MIKE BOLTON

The new bell being hoised into the tower Picture: MIKE BOLTON

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The sixth bell at Offton church near Stowmarket has had to be replaced after cracks began to appear in it.

The bell arriving at the church this year with delivery man from Taylors Foundry in Loughborough (left), tower captain Brian Whiting (centre) and Ian Dickson (right) Picture: MIKE BOLTONThe bell arriving at the church this year with delivery man from Taylors Foundry in Loughborough (left), tower captain Brian Whiting (centre) and Ian Dickson (right) Picture: MIKE BOLTON

Bell ringers at the church had begun to notice the change in the sound of the bell during their regular peels and so the decision was made to have it replaced at a cost of £12,000.

The bell is thought to have been cast in the 1400s at Bury St Edmunds. Three of the other bells in the church are also veterans having been made in Sudbury in the 1500s while a further bell was made in Ipswich in the 1600s.

The new bell was made a little further afield by Taylors of Loughborough, the last bell foundry in Britain.

The money for the new bell was raised nearly entirely by those living in the village.

The bell up close at Offton church Picture: MIKE BOLTONThe bell up close at Offton church Picture: MIKE BOLTON

Those behind the changes have been thrilled by the reaction of the community.

“Above all it reflects on what the villagers think of their church and its heritage,” said Richard Johnson, secretary to the parochial church council.

“It’s fantastic when you think that bell has gone through all these periods of history.”

As the bell is medieval it has had to remain in the tower but is no longer rung by hand.

The bell being pulled into place Picture: MIKE BOLTONThe bell being pulled into place Picture: MIKE BOLTON

Instead an electric chime helps the bell to retain part of its history.

To mark installation of the new bell a concert is being held at the church tomorrow (Saturday October 6) from 7.30pm. Choral group Illuminati will sing acapella with the Barking Handbell Ringer performing also.

However, it will be the eight church bells that will take centre stage on the night.

Entrance to the event is £8 with simple refreshments on offer.

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