Hanslope bells were taken down from the tower by White’s with the help of the bell ringers and local people in September 2019, and they were put into the church so that the people were able to in come and see them. We held a very successful “Goodbye to the Bells” evening which was extremely well supported and amazingly raised several thousand pounds.
The bells were then collected by White’s and taken to their premises in Appleton to begin work on them, and with a planned return date to Hanslope of December 2019 / January 2020. However, when they took the headstocks off they discovered that the 7th and tenor bells had too many holes in the crown so they needed to be sent away for welding and then re-drilled. There was also a delay due to a backlog of work at the company where they were casting the frame.
By this time it was March 2020 and, as we all know, the start of coronavirus which impacted further on the work at White’s.
The bells were eventually returned to Hanslope in August 2002 and once again were put on display in the church for villagers and others to visit, but under very controlled conditions and wearing masks due to the imposed restrictions of the virus. We had envisaged another big money making event to welcome the bells back to the church and hopefully raise a few more thousand pounds.
In the event, we had a very low key Service of Dedication of the Bells on Sunday 16 August, with a socially distanced congregation. Again, it was nothing like we had imagined.
The following week White’s returned to put the bells back up into the tower with the assistance of several branch members (to whom we were very grateful) and villagers. Over the next few weeks White’s completed the installation, it was not easy for them with all the Covid restrictions, especially as it was not possible for them to ring all eight bells together.
The bells were finally inspected and signed off by Alan Marchbank at the beginning of October, well over a year from when we had stopped ringing. Following this we received the grants from the ODG Bell Fund and the North Bucks Branch, for which we thank you and are extremely grateful.
We have still not been able to ring the bells. We had been scheduled to ring some of the bells for the first time on Remembrance Sunday, but the second lockdown scuppered that. So as things stand, we’ve had no ringing at Hanslope for fifteen months. The villagers keep asking “When are we going to hear the bells again?” but only Boris knows the answer to that!
As a result of the extra work required on the bells and an increase in the cost of the building work, we still have an amount of £12,500 outstanding to be found and no prospect in the near future of being able to hold any money raising events.
White’s also mentioned that we might need some sound proofing between the floors, but until we are able to ring and try out the bells we won’t know for certain if this will be required.
Finally I must say that the installation and the bells look magnificent – all the beautiful new wood fittings and the blue metalwork. It’s just so frustrating that we cannot ring them. Some of our ringers haven’t even seen them yet, due to restriction on access allowed into the church.
Report on Hanslope Bell Restoration Project, as given by Sheila Blenkhorn to the North Bucks Branch Half Yearly Business Meeting on Sat 5 December 2020 (held via Zoom)