Chishill Millennium bell restoration project continues making progress

The St Swithuns church in Chishill

The St Swithuns church in Chishill - Credit: Phil Maynard

Since the millennium began, the residents of Great Chishill have continued to raise money to fund improvements to St Swithun's church bells.

As the year 2000 got nearer the town was given the opportunity to choose a project to celebrate its passing, and the residents decided to get the bells ringing again after 25 years of falling into disrepair and silence. 

The project got on its feet and the bells have been rung since then - however the bell ringers continued to raise money for restorations, as the initial restoration only encompassed the minimum amount of effort required to get the bells functional. 

The bells require additional work as they do not ring at the right time after the ropes have been pulled, and the frame adds to this desynchronisation as the wood it is made from bends due to age. 

The age of the wood used cannot be discovered because it is believed to have been recycled to make the frames, unlike the bells, the first four of which were casted in 1686, and the fifth bell later added in 1841. 

As such, the bells are rung sparingly. The ringers practice each Wednesday, Sunday mornings before church service, at weddings and each year at New Years Eve when the new year ticks over - a new tradition that began after the initial restoration. 

The restored bells and the new bell were delivered this week and will be lifted into the bell tower next week using a special spider crane.

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Project organiser Phil Maynard said: "The community voted to get the bells ringing again and raised enough money to get the bells just ringing.

"I think it was the intention that they would ring in the new year but now they're rung every week.

"There's been a lot more enthusiasm for bell ringing in the local community than was ever anticipated so the project will be something that will be of significance to the people because it's part of village life.

"When the project is over it will be the biggest achievement of my life."

You can help by donating through their ‘Just Giving Page’, fundraising events or alternatively you can help with the the fitting of the bells and framework from April 25 to 27.

If you wish to get involved with the project call Phil on 01763 838311.