Note:We are now Crowd Funding to raise the final £2500 towards the total cost of the project of £46,500 at JustGiving https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ja-coney
Latest News: 30th April 2021
St Peter & St Paul Church, Belton secures funding from the NATIONAL LOTTERY HERITAGE FUND for their project: Belton Bells, Ringing for the Future
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded Belton Parochial Church Council a grant of over £31,000. Further Grant funding from the Lincoln Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers and other smaller grant bodies has enabled the project, which has been planned for the last 18 months, to proceed. The total cost of the work will be in excess of £46,000, a sum which does not include considerable voluntary work by Church members and the Belton Band of Bell Ringers.
The project will enable the Belton Church Bells to be restored and rehung, and at the same time the opportunity will be taken to enhance the visitor experience to the Church. Installation of an internal private broadband system will allow visitors to virtually gain information on their own mobile phones as they tour the Church. A new beginning after Covid-19 will bring the Church to life again as we are excited to be able to digitally interact with our visitors for the first time as they progress around the Church.
The restoration of the five Church Bells, some of which date back to the year 1500 will be carried out by a national specialist firm but with support from the bell ringing team assisting in the lowering and rehanging process and also the transport of the bells. After the bells have been removed considerable timber restoration work will be carried out by local volunteers to bring the tower back to order ready to receive the restored bells. All of this work will be photographically recorded and progress reports made on our Church website, other social media and hopefully in the Church.
The Belton Band of Bell Ringers, all who have only learnt to ring in the last 2 years are keen not only to enhance their own skills and knowledge but also to assist in increasing the understanding of campanology, bells and their heritage. They very much hope to sustain this knowledge by assisting in the training of other new and young ringers and by holding heritage and tower visits to the newly restored bells.
Belton, as perhaps the name may suggest, seems to have had a long association with Bell Ringers. The Octagonal stone Norman Font just inside the main Church door has one panel carved depicting a man tolling two bells. Three of the Church bells are historical bells which are over 500 years old. The bells were last lowered from the tower and then rehung in a new oak frame in 1872, the frame is still in good order and will be reused again this time.
Tower Captain Michael Coney says that “after 18 months of planning and working to attain the necessary funding and a year with only limited ringing because of Covid-19 we are extremely excited to know that the bells will be lowered shortly and should be back in full working order before the end of the year. We are hugely thankful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the other partner grant bodies for the support which they are giving to this project.”
It seems that Belton Church has had a long association with bells, the Norman font in the church having one side panel depicting a man ringing with ropes two bells or the name Belton is often taken to mean town (or settlement) of Bells. We know that the tower was significantly restored in 1632 but three of our five bells predate this restoration, these dating from c1500, c1540 and 1606. It is presumed that, as was the norm at that time, that the tower existed as a three bell tower until major restoration of the bells in 1872. In 1872 Mears and Stainbank installed a new oak frame and enhanced the ring from three bells to 5 with the addition of a new treble and a new Tenor weighing just over 10 cwt (10-1-13). At the beginning of the 20th century in 1901 work was carried out to strengthen the frame, since that time the bells have been largely untouched and from the 1990 became virtually silent, the being very difficult to ring with the bearings, bushings and all major fittings showing their age.
In 2018 as part of our plans to commemorate the ending of WW1 it was suggested that we should ring the Church bells as has happened in the past at such great events. Unfortunately none of our group had ever rung before, however it was quickly decided that this should not be a barrier to our quest – we would ring the bells. After due consideration it was thought prudent that perhaps we should have a couple of lessons before the main event! 30 training sessions in two months and a host of dedicated instructors and we made a decent job of ringing rounds for the commemoration on the 11th November 2018. For the bells to be safely rung, they had hardly been rung for 30 years, we had to carry out emergency repairs however it soon became clear why the bells had not been rung, there were numerous faults through 100 years of use since they were last rehung. Basically the brass bearings are worn out, the headstocks cracked and twisted, the wheels are in very poor condition and the bells are very “odd struck”. Talking to old hands who had rung the bells in the past they shook their heads in despair and vowed not an experience they wished to repeat.
However, the Belton Band of Ringers had already demonstrated that they are not easily put off and decided that this is our Tower and our Bells. So we decided that we would work to get the bells restored to their former glory.