Throughout this week the Parish Council Newsletter has been delivered to every house in Audlem along with a leaflet about keeping the church bells of St. James's ringing.
We would like to thank the Parish Council for including the leaflet,and also the Scouts and Guides for its delivery.
The sound of bells has been part of the rhythm of life in villages such as Audlem, towns and cities for centuries. Before the coronavirus bells were rung by thousands of ringers to call people to church, to mark national events both in celebration and mourning and to announce weddings and funerals in our personal lives.
Due to social distancing ringing has stopped in most of the country but will hopefully return to normal soon. Church bells are the loudest musical instrument in the world and are often hundreds of years old. They can be as small as your hand or as heavy as a truck. The people who ring them control the bell with a rope, while the bell turns full circle mounted on a wheel. In the English speaking world ringing is a unique combination of music, mathematics, sport and teamwork. There are over 5000 churches in Britain with a ring of bells and no two are the same.
There are six bells that can be heard ringing in Audlem. The present bells were cast in 1736 by Abel Rudhall of Gloucester for St. James's and have hung there and rung ever since. The heaviest bell is 9 cwt and tuned to the key of A through to the lightest which is 4.25 cwt and tuned to F#. Each of them has a different inscription such as – ' Peace and prosperity to this neighbourhood'.
As you can see Audlem bells have been around for nearly 300 years. The bells are in reasonable condition, but unfortunately the wooden frame they hang in and all the bell fittings, headstocks, wheels etc. have seriously deteriorated and this means that within a few years the bells will become unringable and silent.
We need therefore to begin to raise funds to make repairs and make sure they will last into the next century. One of the more exciting aspects of this renovation is that the bells will have to be lowered from the tower, taken to the bell foundry and then brought back to Audlem, a sight worth seeing and a unique moment in Audlem's history.
We have three reports that state that the sum of approximately £77,000 Is needed to bring the bells up to standard and to install a new bell frame. Some of this will be raised by grants and we could also lower the cost by the use of voluntary local labour. If you would like to preserve our ancient village tradition, you can make a donation by clicking on the link to our 'Just Giving' page, click:- https://justgiving.com/audlemstjamespcc