The complete set of six bells had been sent to a bell works in Dorset to be restored and re-tuned, and a new bell frame constructed to hold them. They were due to be returned and re-installed earlier this year, but the coronavirus lockdown put a stop to the construction work needed in the tower to accommodate them.
The Church of England has now agreed that building works can resume inside churches as long as the necessary procedures are followed, and the team at Upper Sheringham are keen to resume the project. However, there is a new problem, as Sue Morton from All Saints explains: “We were almost there with the builders and bell-hangers due to do the preparation works for the new frame – and then lockdown hit! Unfortunately, we are no longer able to use our wonderful volunteer helpers to do the work, and this has added a few thousand pounds to the final sum we need to find. This is of course the sensible approach; no project is worth risking anyone’s health for.”
Sue and the team have hit upon a fund-raising scheme using their electronically operated chiming mechanism which they had installed for occasions when full circle ringing of the actual bells isn’t possible. Sue said “One person can press a button and make them sound out to the Glory of God – which, when all is said and done, is what they are there for. It will be a bit like when we don’t have an organist on a Sunday morning and have to make do with the hymn CD – does the job but just not the same!”
They also have a Saxilby Simulator, which is a bell wheel with weights attached rather than an actual bell. The sound is then made via a computer. It is used in conjunction with a bell-ringing programme called Abel that can ring the other bells, enabling the bell-ringer to join in on one bell.
Sue’s idea is to use this technology to ring the bells on request, perhaps for a birthday or anniversary, in return for a donation of £50 to the bell fund. “Either I or my husband will ring a quarter peal, where the bells are rung continuously for around 40 minutes, on the simulator with Abel ringing the other bells. We will then produce a personalised certificate which can include a photograph of your choice, perhaps of the bells being rung, which will be emailed to you.”
If you are interested in “purchasing” a simulator quarter please get in touch via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to make the necessary arrangements. Five people have already taken up the offer, and Sue says they were all delighted with their certificates.
All donations to the bell fund will be gratefully received. Visit www.gofundme.com/upper-sheringham-bell-appeal. Alternatively, cheques payable to “Upper Sheringham PCC” can be sent to Sue Morton at 4 Linden Grove, Sheringham, Norfolk NR26 8PD.
Pictured, top, the re-tuned bells are waiting to be returned. Above, Sue Morton is ringing a quarter peal on the electronic bells.
This article originally appear on Network Norfolk, photos are courtesy of Network Norfolk.