Residents may be aware that a project has been underway for some time to raise funds to refurbish and re-tune the bells at St Mary’s Church. The last time such works were carried out was in 1923 and they are desperately in need of some TLC.
The tower at St Mary’s contains six bells, five of which were founded by Lester and Pack in 1765. The ring of five bells apparently came from an original ring of ten bells from another church.
The work needed has been recommended by Whites Bell Hangers, of Appleton, and the estimated cost is £34,000. To date, nearly £21,000 has been raised by the project team led by Julia Sargent. Some of this has been secured from the County Councillors’ Community fund and the bell ringers own fund, and several village groups have contributed including Wittenham Warriors, the Fun Run and The Friends of St Mary’s. The Safari Supper later in the year will also contribute and it is also hoped to have a fun Bingo Night.
Residents can also help and Tom Bowtell has set up a Just Giving page to make this as easy as possible. Go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/long-wittenham-bells-appeal and please give generously. The refurbishment will ensure that the bells can be rung for future decades, to celebrate services, weddings and national celebrations, and allow new ringers to be recruited.
Once the work starts, the village and school children will be invited to see the bells on the ground, which will be an unusual sight as they are huge, the largest bell, the tenor, being over a metre in diameter and weighing 9 cwt. When they are ready to be rehung it is hoped to have a celebratory event and service of re-dedication.
For more information contact Julia Sargent at firstname.lastname@example.org.