THE cheery tintinnabulation of church bells has been absent from St Mary’s in Denbury for more than two years but this is all set to change as a refurbishment project to the tune of £120,000 is nearing completion.

’Twas in 1906 when the bells of St Mary’s were last given an overhaul and it’s safe to say they were in dire need of another.

More than seven years ago residents of the village, as well as other concerned persons, started a project to refurbish the bells, the oldest of which is dated 1631.

St Mary’s Church, Denbury
St Mary’s in Denbury (Ethan Heppell / MDA)

The project quickly gained traction and those involved worked tirelessly to secure grants, liaise with architects, planners and historical societies of various persuasions and organise fundraising.

Progress ground to a halt due to the pandemic such that it is only now the project is entering its final stages.

The bells of St Mary’s have been retuned and repaired where necessary, with two of the existing bells set to be replaced and a sixth bell added to the peal of five.

Forgoing the archiac method of retuning a bell, which involves gouging out chips from the edge of the bell mouth, the bells at St Mary’s underwent laser treatment to see them sing properly.

One of the old bells at St Mary’s set for retirement
One of the old bells to be retired (Ethan Heppell / MDA)

A substantial amount of the final £120,000 price tag of the project, which will also see the ringing room moved to the first floor, was raised by the village community itself.

Churchwardens Steve Bassett, Tessa Amies and Mike Bray have been overseeing the installation; a team of volunteers, under the watchful eye of Ian Hasman from Nicholson Engineering, have been working day and night to see the project through.

It is hoped the bells will be back in place within the next couple of weeks.

Steve, who is also Bell Captain, said: ‘It is fantastic, absolutely brilliant to have these new bells.’

Rachel Belringer, who sits on the Parochial Church Council, said: ‘It was been seven and a half years since we launched the idea, held up by the pandemic quite considerably and there is an awful lot of hoop jumping you have to do before you can even start.

‘After a very long time we have had the bells retuned, we have replaced a couple which were beyond recovery.

‘It is a real joy to hear the sound of the bells again.’