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Case Study - Parochial Church Council of St Peter and St Paul 

Programme: Your Heritage 
Applicant: Parochial Church Council of St Peter and St Paul, Langton by Spilsby, Lincolnshire 
Grant awarded: £42,015 
Project length: 2007-2009  

 

Summary

This project restored the six church bells, commissioned in 1825 by landowner John Langton for the Grade I listed Georgian church in the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to full circle ringing. The bells had not rung full circle for more than 50 years since they were deemed unsafe and a new ceiling was installed in the porch with no provision for ropes. The original bell frame and a very unusual Bailey chiming mechanism were also restored. The work was carried out by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and the Bishop of Lincoln attended a re-dedication service in August 2008. A permanent display and a leaflet were produced describing the history of the bells and their links to local area. They are now rung regularly by the local bell ringing group and their rehanging introduced young people to change ringing - some of whom have become very proficient in a short time.

The aims of the project

  • to restore the original bells so that full circle ringing could take place
  • to retain the (suitably strengthened) wooden frame which had been made by a local craftsman to accommodate the original six bells
  • to restore the very unusual Bailey chiming mechanism installed in the 1880s
  • to create materials to enable people to learn about the bells and their unusual history.

Benefits for heritage

  • completion of the overhauling and refitting of the Bailey chiming mechanism. Installed in the 1880s, the chiming mechanism strikes the outside of the bells, in contrast to the normal way, whereby the internal clapper strikes the bell on the inside as it swings “full circle”. The Bailey mechanism enables one person to ring all six bells using a similar mechanism to a music box. This had never been seen before by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry who undertook the work
  • due to incorrect original tuning, two of the original bells were described as sounding ‘wild’. Expert advice was sought and it was decided to re-tune the two bells to their original 1825 temperament. This is of special interest to students of music and bell founding and was one of the reasons that the project was supported by the Lincoln Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers and the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.

Benefits for people

  • information about the bells now advertised in the church, on village website and in bell ringers journals. The church now averages about 70-100 visiting bell ringers each year
  • some 16 local people now regularly ring the bells. The restoration of the bell ropes to their original position in the entrance lobby of the church has meant that even young children are able to ring and several teenagers now ring regularly
  • tours to the first floor chamber housing the Bailey mechanism allow new generations to understand the original construction and how the bells ‘work’. HSE requirements mean that normally the chamber has to remain locked, but it is always opened on request
  • the biannual village fete has provided opportunities for the bells to be demonstrated to a wider audience. The semi-annual chamber concert series in the church are always interested in the bell project
  • a permanent display about the bells has been created developed describing the original costs, the rarity of them being cast simultaneously and by the same founder, their unique features, their transportation by ship and then horse and cart from London to Langton. The church guide gives general information about the history of the bells while new leaflets link them to the wider heritage of the church and village
  • the church has a section on the village website which has been updated with information on the bells restoration including photographs.

Lessons learnt

  • important to have sought expert advice from leading bell experts ensuring that the unusual features of these bells were looked at in detail and appropriate decisions about their restoration made
  • local schools were encouraged to visit. Individual children came but overall the response was disappointingg.The church is to rethink its approach to encourage more school visits.

Long term benefits

  • the church forms part of the rural bike ride trail within the southern Lincolnshire Wolds, and this project has attracted new visitors
  • confidence gained from this project has encouraged the church to undertake other projects. In 2010, the Henry Bryceson organ and the box pews were restored and chamber concerts now take place.

The budget



The bell being re-hung in the church 

The bell being re-hung in the church 

Sector

Buildings and Monuments