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Barnham Broom Bells Restoration 

The aim of the Barnham Broom Bells Restoration Appeal was to restore the peal of five bells at the Church of St Peter & St Paul in Barnham Broom in time to join the rest of the nation on 11th November 2018 in pealing the restored bells as a tribute to the men and women of Barnham Broom who served in the Great War.

The Church of St Peter & St Paul in Barnham Broom has had a peal of five bells since at least 1893 but ringing ceased in 1973 due to concern about cracks developing in the west wall of the tower and in the stair turret.  The bell fittings are also in poor condition.

At The Barnham Broom Family Festival at the Old Hall in August 2014, Richard Jewson launched the Barnham Broom Bell Appeal. This was a four year project in which the aim was to re-furbish, re-hang and restore the five bells in time to join the rest of the nation on 11th November 2018 in pealing our restored bells as a tribute to the men and women of Barnham Broom who served in the Great War.

We were delighted to announce shortly afterwards that our Barnham Broom Church Bells Restoration Appeal was awarded a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). In order to attract HLF, the scope of our Appeal was extended to embrace the community, the village primary school and the history of the village. The new target was £74,000 of which £28,200 was awarded from the HLF. 

The project grew to include campanology at the local school, CCTV camera technology in the bell chamber and the ringing chamber, a pageant of the history of the Church and the bells in 2018. Our involvement with the Barnham Broom C of E Primary School began with a school visit to the church, a Campanile display at the school and the purchase of a set of tone chimes allowing a group of children to take lessons on these. 

In November 2017, our bells were lowered and taken away for restoration. It took two days and a team of volunteers, led by Graham Clifton from Whites of Appleton Ltd. Church Bellhangers, to lower the five bells, making good use of both the new hatches and lighting in the bell tower. 

The following day, the bells were on display both at the school and village hall, before being transported to the foundry. Gig House Films were on hand to capture the events of the three days as part of the restoration project film they are making for us. Our thanks to Graham Clifton and to all the volunteers and helpers. 

Pictures can be found in a display at the church as well as on our blog and Facebook page: 

In February 2018, we enjoyed a visit to Whites of Appleton Ltd. Church Bellhangers in Abingdon, Oxfordshire to see where our church bells were being renovated. The free coach travel and guided tour were made possible thanks to our Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

At the start of July 2018, our bells were returned to Barnham Broom after refurbishment. A team from Whites of Appleton Ltd. Church Bellhangers were joined by volunteers to help raise and fix the bells into place. After a visit to the school, all five bells were raised. By the end of the work, the bells, wheels, clappers, pulleys and Ellacombe Chime frame and hammers were all in place. The wooden rope guides in the silence chamber were fitted, and work on the frame for the rope guides in the ringing chamber was well underway. The muffles, needed for Remembrance Sunday, were also handed over. 

While work was going on in the bell tower, other volunteers helped with refreshments and lunches, cleaning and polishing around the church, making room for the Bells Appeal Marquee, raising the Heritage Lottery fund banner and decorating the church with the bells and bell frames created by the schoolchildren ready for the school service.

Meanwhile planning took place for the rededication of our bells on Sunday October 14th at 10am with Bishop Graham in the church, which was a great success. Our thanks to all the volunteers for their help and support, without whom this project could not have succeeded. 

The re-enactment of the history of the Church and bells was held on Saturday 3rd November at 4.30pm in the church and was enjoyed by all. This was a free event made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Going from Roman times to the First World War and beyond, it told the story of when our five bells were hung. The audience was welcomed by the sound of the bells ringing and they rang again afterwards as refreshments were served. Our thanks to everyone who organised, participated in and supported the evening, and to the Maddermarket Theatre for the loan of the costumes.

The aim of our Project has always been to restore our five bells to full working order in time to ring on Remembrance Sunday 2018. The introduction of an afternoon service at the new Community Memorial Garden, as well as a morning service at the church and joining with the nation in ringing at 7.05pm gave us the opportunity to hear our bells three times that day! Our new bell ringers all had the opportunity to ring in Barnham Broom at least once.

A huge thank you to everyone for your support during the whole project with donations, contributions to our collection boxes and for planning, help and support at our events. 

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