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Have You Heard the Church Bells?
When St. Maryís tower crumbled in 1753, the 5 bells, together weighing over one and a half tons, survived. The parishioners needed £225 (over £1 million in todayís money) so the bishop gave them permission to sell four bells, probably to Tibenham. This enabled them to repair the west wall using brick, cheaper than flint.
The smallest, treble bell was hung in a bell-cote at the west end of the roof. It was made at Darbieís bell foundry in Ipswich, and is inscribed: ďJOHN DARBIE MADE ME 1683Ē.
Arthur Ford, a Burston wheelwright, who rebuilt the bell-cote in 1906, also rehung the bell and erected the cockerel weathervane, but without compass points. Unfortunately Mr Fordís expertise was in wheels, not bells. He used Iron to suspend the bell and positioned the clapper to strike the bellís side instead of the rim which both increased the risk of cracking.
When the church was restored in 2016, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, a serious crack was found in the bell. Special scaffolding, with a pulley to lower and raise the bell, was needed. Extra funds had to be found. It was repaired at Newmarket, one of two remaining bell foundries in England. The other is in Whitechapel, London. Both have a waiting list so repair was delayed. Also the bell-cote had rotted and was in danger of crashing down bringing the bell with it.
The bell-cote rebuilt by Richard Rumsby. The bell was rehung by the bell-hangers Kevin Baines and his son in January 2017. Pete Hyde kindly restored the weathervane. He found a date 1892 punched into the cockerelís tail. Our thanks go to all who contributed to this project. We are also grateful to the English Heritage Lottery Fund, the Paul Cattermole Fund for a grant of £1000, and the Friends of Burston Church who funded the scaffolding.
The bell now rings out clearly and should do so for many years to come.
Author: Parish Planet, Autumn 2011
Uploaded: 07 October 2017