Church bells are set to ring once again in the village of Horley after more than 25 years of silence.
Cast by the well-known foundry Bagley’s of Chacombe in 1706, the four bells at St Etheldreda’s Church in Horley had been ringing out to celebrate weddings and call worshipers to Sunday services for nearly 300 years.
Twenty five years ago, however, the bells fell silent when the ancient bell frame – built by the Williams brothers of King’s Sutton – was declared unsafe for ringing due to water damage from leaky guttering.
Now, after an incredible £70,000 fundraising campaign by villagers, the four ancient church bells have been reinstalled, two new ones cast and a new bell frame built.
A new team of bell ringers has also been recruited and the bells will be rung in a special service of re-dedication on Sunday at 10.30am.
Alison Tite, Horley Tower Secretary, said the feedback from villagers on hearing the bells ringing again has been very positive. She said: “I think it’s fantastic.
“It’s a small village so it’s even more impressive that we’ve managed to raise that much.”
Mrs Tite paid tribute to the efforts of fundraising co-ordinator Mike Patching, without whom she said the project would not have been sewn up.
The new bells and the frame were made at The Loughborough Bell Foundry and, despite dating to 1706, the original bells required no tuning.
Funding was generated from a series of events in the village such as an auction of promises and generous donations from individuals.
A series of grants were also secured, including one from the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers which has supported the project throughout. The dedication service will be led by the Right Rev Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester. It will also see the licensing of Rev Dr Hugh White as House for Duty Associate Priest in the Ironstone benefice, of which Horley is one of eight churches.
l More information about the bells at Horley and the fundraising campaign can be found on the Horley Bell Tower Facebook page.