The bells are back in town!

church bells at Heidi Huntley

Rev'd Heidi Huntley at the arrival of the recast bells of St John the Baptist Church - Credit: Phil Burchell

Church bells arriving back in Royston were a sight to behold this week - as restoration work continues to progress.

The serious fire that devastated St John the Baptist Church in December 2018 ruined all eight of the historic bells, some of which date back to 1739.

The extreme heat together with the amount of cold water played upon the belfry by the fire service during the blaze meant that all were cracked and unusable.

In June 2019 the damaged bells were taken by lorry to Taylors of Loughborough and recast. Despite the problems arising at the foundry resulting from the COVID restrictions, work on their restoration was completed at the end of last year ahead of their return on Tuesday.

The damaged bells of St John's.

The damaged bells of St John's. - Credit: Phil Burchell

Complete with their original inscriptions, the bells were greeted by  Rev'd Heidi Huntley and bellringers, and all agreed that they looked "absolutely stunning".

Church treasurer Phil Burchell told the Crow: "One by one they were taken into the church to be raised into the belfry ready to be rehung.

"This is a process which will take a couple of weeks to complete although it will be some time before their tones will ring out once again over the town of Royston - something we can't wait to hear.

The church bells arriving back in Royston. 

The church bells arriving back in Royston. - Credit: Kevin Richards

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"Although the return of the bells this week represents an exciting, visible sign of the progress that is being made to bring St John's back to the beautiful house of prayer.

"While these signs are very much ones of progress there is still some way to go as we prepare to turn our attention to the work required on the inside of the church, which will transform the building into one which we see as being a friendly, welcoming one for the use of the community in Royston.

The church bells arriving back in Royston. 

The church bells arriving back in Royston. - Credit: Kevin Richards

"This will take several months to complete before we can all meet again, COVID willing, in this beautiful place.

"As well as progress being made on the building itself we still remain extremely grateful for the support of the community of Royston in many ways.

"We continue to receive donations and there has been great interest in our 'sponsor a chair' scheme which to date has reached a sum which will enable us to purchase in excess of 100 chairs and rising.

"We still have some way to go so if anyone would like to make a donation this way the information can be found on the church website, this will also provide details on how to donate towards the cost of the refurbishment as well as progress on the building and what is going on at church."

royston church bells

The bells are back at St John's! - Credit: Kevin Richards