AFTER 665 years a hard working resident of Leek Wootton is semi-retiring.
The current tenor bell at All Saints’ Church first rang out in 1360 when Edward III was on the throne, and has continued to do so down the centuries.
And the ancient 355kg bell – the largest of all the church’s bells – will continue to be heard chiming to tell people the time, but will not join the other six bells as part of the chorus, when calling worshippers to services and celebrating weddings.
The bells will be silent for a while through as they were taken down earlier this month and sent to Leicestershire for much-needed restoration, and the casting of a new treble bell.
The work has been made possible following a year-long fund-raising drive – including concerts, an open gardens weekend and a scarecrow competition – which saw parishioners raise £40,000 during 2014.
The medieval bell actually survived the original church which was pulled down and replaced with a new one in the 1790s.
The bell tower will also be refurbished while the bells are away – having last been done nearly a century ago – with
the wheels, pulleys and the belfry in need of urgent repair.
Unfortunately, initial inspections have identified more restoration is needed to both the bells and the church tower, so the appeal will continue to cover the extra costs.
Lesley Eldridge from the Leek Wootton History Group said: “The response from the community and the church regulars has been positive and generous. Any donations, large or small have been warmly accepted.
“Members of the church and guests have helped host some great fund-raisers for the cause as well.
“After removing the bells we ran into a few more problems as you can’t always guarantee the quality of a tower from the 18th century, but all works are underway and well prepared for.”
It is hoped all works will be completed and the bells returned in time to ring out on Easter Sunday April 5.
Visit www.leekwoottonchurch.co.uk for more information on the renovation works and to support the appeal.
All Saints’ Tower Captain Mark Sayers lends Mary Barrass a hand with the casting of the new treble bell. (s)
The bells were been removed from the belfry in January and lowered to the ringing chamber. (s)
The bell tower is also being repaired. (s)