Stanion bells sent to London

Church bells dating back to Henry VIII's reign could soon be rung in Stanion for the first time in 70 years.

Restoration work on four bells at St Peter's Church got under way yesterday when they were lowered from the belfry.

Electrical retailer Comet's distribution contractors Wincanton offered to transport them to Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London for free where they will be retuned and two new ones will be made.

Churchwarden at St Peter's, David Lafferty said: "The village has never seen so much excitement.

"It's taken so long for us to get to this point. It's going to be a major change. At the moment, we use a tape recorder with bells on before the Sunday service."

Two of the bells are listed as being of historical significance, the earliest having been cast around 1510 –- at the beginning of Henry VIII's reign.

Worshippers at the church, villagers and pupils from Stanion Primary School turned out to watch the fascinating spectacle.

As each bell was lowered, bell hanger from Whitechapel Peter Scott knocked a plank of wood against them to test the sound.

Then, Mr Lafferty and three Wincanton employees carefully positioned the bells onto a carrier, supported by wooden beams.

After loading all four onto a Comet lorry, they were transported down to the capital.

Peter Tyler, from Wincanton, said: "The churchwarden got in contact with the Comet director. He said Wincanton would be very pleased to help out and he asked us to do it.

"We normally deliver fridges and TVs to Mrs Jones at number 42. This one's a bit different."

Mr Scott said: "Two new bells are going to be cast later this week. These ones will be tuned so that they are in line with the others."

The work has been funded thanks to a generous bequest from the estate of former churchwarden, the late John Robinson.

It is expected to cost between 55,000 and 60,000.

Two new bells will be cast at the foundry in London on Friday.

Whitechapel is Britain's oldest manufacturing company, having been established in 1570. Its most famous bell is Big Ben.

One will be inscribed with Mr Robinson's name while the other will have Sir John Smith of Shottesbrook Park – the late founder of the Manifold Trust that has assisted many bell projects in the past – written on it.

When the work is complete in the autumn, it will be the first time bells have been rung by rope for at least 70 years ago, although they have been rung by people hitting them with a stick since then.

They had to be removed from their rotten oak frame in the mid 1980s.