Yesterday saw the removal of the existing ring of bells from Christ Church on Julian Road in Bath, at the start of an exciting project to bring the sound of ringing back to the north of the city.
Eight bells (the largest weighing over half a ton) were lowered from the tower and will be loaded onto a lorry today for transportation to the historic Whitechapel Bell Foundry, providing an unusual and impressive sight.
The sound of church bells is a much loved part of the English soundscape, church bells have been ringing in England since the 7th century, but for many years there has been no regular ringing in the vicinity of Christ Church in the north of Bath.
Christ Church plays an active role in the community around Julian Road and has a strong musical tradition which continues to this day, but the once regular bell ringing gradually lessened after the First World War as the peal became too difficult to ring.
A project is now underway to restore the bells to working order and install a number of measures to control and direct the sound of the bells upwards, thus avoiding disturbance to the church’s neighbours.
Following overwhelmingly positive feedback to a community consultation last autumn and a fund raising campaign which has so far raised over £100,000, work can now begin.
The project has the support of many local and national champions including the Bishop of Taunton, the Mayor of Bath and chairman of the National Trust, Sir Simon Jenkins.
Journalist and broadcaster Bel Mooney, who lives in the city has also offered her support. She said: “The great poet John Betjeman wrote that he was ‘summoned by bells’. To me there is nothing more beautiful than that sound echoing in city streets.
“Once the peal of Christ Church bells would have uplifted the hearts of countless Bath people each week. Let them ring out anew!”
Betjeman once worshipped at Christ Church and would surely have been delighted to know that its bells will sound out across the Royal Crescent and the Circus once again.
Caroline Kay, Chief Executive of the Bath Preservation Trust said “We are so often concerned about the visual appearance of our beautiful city that perhaps we neglect the protection of the historic soundscape. We fully support the efforts of Christ Church to rectify this”.
Further details of the project and ways to support the on-going appeal for funds can be found on the church website: www.christchurchbath.org.