Once in a lifetime chance to see rare peal of bells

First published on: 20th July 2021

A ring of ten bells will soon be chiming at St Michael’s Alnwick - making it only the second church in Northumberland to house such an impressive collection.

Six of the bells have been secured from the Keltek Trust after they were removed from St James’s Newton Hall, near Corbridge, and refurbished, and a further four bells have been specially commissioned.

Hexham Abbey is the only other church to boast a ring of ten bells in Northumberland, which has in the past been described as ‘bell barren’.

The bells will be unveiled on Monday 9 August and for one day only they will be on display in the 15th century church before they are lifted into the belfry and installed by Whites of Appleton bellhangers.

On this special day, the bells should be available for public viewing by midday and at 7pm they will be blessed by Bishop Mark at a short service attended by Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland, who is patron of the project.

This will be followed by light refreshments and a further opportunity to see the new bells.

Jean Darby, St Michael’s PCC project rep, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming all who want to take advantage of this once in a lifetime chance to see this magnificent ring of ten bells.”

Up until recently the church tower was home to three unringable bells – two of which date back to the 16th century, and a third which was recast in 1764.

The two older bells will be cleaned and returned to the church where they will be put on display, and the third – a cracked tenor bell - will be scrapped to help finance one of the new bells.

Funding for the new bells has been achieved through sponsorship of each ring – thanks to a number of individuals and organisations.

This scheme is part of the church’s wider Tower Project which was launched three years ago and also includes plans for a new roof for the tower which was last replaced in 1746 and the preservation and display of interesting ‘graffiti’ – some of which is considered to be quite rare.

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