The bells of Richmond fall silent after three centuries

The historic bells of Richmond parish church in North Yorkshire fell silent at the weekend as a major project to replace them gets underway.

During the next few weeks the ancient bells of St Mary’s which date back as early as 1500 will be taken down and replaced with a new set of bells which are being cast at the famous John Taylor's bell foundry in  Loughborough (see picture below left).

(Pictured left: Bellringers at St Mary's Church, Richmond, as the bells ring out for the last time Picture: Blake Byles)

Replacement for the original ‘bell frame’ in the church tower was recommended ninety years ago! Finally, thanks to local generosity and a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, work can begin and St Mary’s Church is confident that the future of bell ringing in the town has been secured for generations to come.

The oldest bell at St Mary’s Richmond (pictured right) is thought to originate from Easby Abbey and was cast around 1500. Three other bells were cast in 1697 and one in 1739. All are beautifully decorated and inscribed

Peter Trewby, of the Richmond bell restoration appeal said, “The soundscape of our church bells has been an part of Richmond community life for three centuries. St Mary's parish documents record peals rung to celebrate the coronations, deaths and anniversaries of five monarchs, the safe return of regiments, the end of the Boer War and two World Wars and the passing of millennia. The bells have rung to celebrate music festivals, the Olympics, the Tour de France, royal, civic, guild and military occasions, weddings, funerals and Church services.

Bells being cast at Loughborough“The heritage project will ensure that not only are the historic bells preserved for posterity  to be viewed and appreciated by all, but  also that  the sound of bell ringing continues to be heard in Richmond for centuries to come.”

Just after Easter the new steel bell frame and eight new tuned bells will be installed. Bishop James Bell will dedicate the bells at a special service at St Mary’s Church on Tuesday 25 April, just five days before his retirement.

For more information about the project visit http://www.richmondbells.com