CCC Forum Seminart

john.ketteringham john.ketteringham at n...
Sat Nov 8 15:52:12 GMT 2003

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I have been following the correspondence relating to the recent seminar
hosted by the Council for the Care of Churches with great interest.
Perhaps it would be best if I explained my own involvement with bells at
Diocesan level.

Since 1989 I have been concerned with the fate of bells from redundant
churches in the Diocese of Lincoln. After corresponding with the
Secretary to the DAC and the Diocesan Furnishings Officer and quoting
specific cases it became apparent that little interest had been taken in the
subject and that a number of bells had been scrapped by demolition
contractors or had remained in buildings which had been retained for
conversion for use as residences, stores or as monuments. Even bells
listed for preservation by the Council for the Care of Churches had been
allowed to disappear.

The number of bell ringers who are interested either in the history or
archaeology of bells or those bells which are not part of a ringing peal are
probably few. The appointment of a Bells Adviser to a DAC is the
responsibility of the Diocesan Bishop who usually seeks the advice of the
Ringing Society covering his area of responsibility. Therefore, in many
cases the person appointed to the DAC is concerned solely with the
preservation, maintenance and augmentation of ringing peals of bells and the
many important installations of less than four bells are ignored.

As a result of my concerns for bells from redundant churches I was asked to
join the Redundant Churches Uses Committee for the Diocese of Lincoln in
1994 and since that date I have acted as Bells Adviser to that Committee and
in particular to the Diocesan Furnishings Officer. Since then a very
close watch has been kept on bells in redundant churches and all have been
safeguarded. I have persuaded several churches that rather than use one of
the ring of bells for the daily services etc they should install a separate
Priest’s/Sanctus bell and in this way I expect to be able to preserve
important listed bells. A ring of three derelict for many years and
forgotten has been installed at a Roman Catholic church in the centre of
Lincoln and the bells are heard regularly. I mention these instances to
demonstrate that with enthusiasm much can be done to preserve bells but
would most DAC bells advisers have concerned themselves in this way?

The Bells Adviser to the DAC for the Diocese of Lincoln has never been
involved, as he has explained to me, ‘in decisions relating to redundant
churches’ and indeed it would appear that his brief is only to visit bell
installations as requested by a church through the DAC or in connection with
the issue of faculty. . How is the problem of bells from redundant
churches handled in other Dioceses?

The position with regard to DACs and bells is more complex than it might
seem. The Bells Adviser must be ‘a capable and experienced’ person.
Presumably this should be taken to mean that he has had practical experience
of bellhanging and is capable of assessing, in accordance with the Code of
Practice published in 1993 by the Council for the Care of Churches, exactly
what is permissible when a Faculty application is received. There will
always be grey areas and the Bells Adviser needs to be a good communicator
and willing to consult with, and seek advice from, others when necessary.

It is unlikely that one person can supply all the necessary expertise and in
the Lincoln Diocese, in theory, this is available through myself and the
Bells Adviser to the DAC. I have never pretended to have a great deal
of knowledge of bell fittings and the like but I have always had the ready
co-operation of those with much greater knowledge of bells than myself.
I would have like to have had the opportunity to speak at the seminar about
bells from redundant churches but the invitation to attend was sent to DACs
so I did not receive one. I was however invited to join a recent tour of
redundant churches in Lincolnshire by the Church Commissioners and I was
able to meet and talk about bells with a number of eminent people from the
Council for the Care of Churches, The Churches Conservation Trust, English
Heritage and the Council for the Care of Churches.

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