The Guild’s Bell Restoration Fund is a registered charity and has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for work on maintaining, repairing, restoring and augmenting rings of bells around the Diocese.
One of the aims of the Guild is to assist in the proper care and use of bells and belfries. To help this the Guild established a BELL RESTORATION FUND in 1979 (Registered Charity No 278025). Download a BRF leaflet here.
What is the fund for?
A ring of church bells is a complicated mechanical installation. Bells are heavy – some weigh over a ton – and periodically need new bearings, ropes, clappers and pulleys. A new bell installation ought to last 100 years, but interim maintenance is essential, and at some stage major work on every bell installation is likely to become necessary. In addition, the towers in which bells are hung and which are often much older than the bell installation may need repair to allow the bells to continue to be rung. The Bell Restoration Fund provides large and small grants and loans to contribute towards the costs of such work.
How can I apply for a grant?
Grants may be available for work on bell installations and towers within the Guildford Diocese, in terms of the Fund’s rules. For guidance on eligibility and how to make an application, please contact the Guild’s Bell Restoration Adviser. Most work other than minor routine maintenance on bell installations will require a Faculty. Please see our separate guidance on what this entails.
Where does the money come from?
About two thirds of the income to the fund comes from the ringers themselves: from their annual membership subscription, donations, collections and fundraising efforts. The other third comes from the generous support of Parochial Church Councils of the Diocese without which we would not be able to make such significant contributions to projects as we have done in recent years, and from interest on deposits.
Bequests are another source of income, sometimes with money being given for individual bells which are often inscribed with the donor’s details.
If you would like to find out more about the Bell Restoration Fund, to make a donation, or to make a legacy under a will, please write to the Guildford Guild’s Treasurer at:
The Guildford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers’ Bell Restoration Fund, Diocesan House, Quarry St, Guildford. GU1 3XG (Registered Charity No 278025).
How is the money spent?
The first major project, the rehanging of the bells at St Nicholas, Thames Ditton, received a grant of £1,250. More recent projects have seen quite substantial sums being spent. Some of the more recent beneficiaries have been:
- All Saints, Witley (£2,500) where the spire supports had collapsed; and (£10,000) to rehang the eight bells, recasting three which were of poor tone.
- All Saints, Crondall (£11,000) where the heavy and difficult six bells were rehung lower in the tower and augmented to eight.
- St Peter, Farnborough (£25,000) where the ancient wooden tower required major strengthening and stabilisation.
- At St Nicholas, Alfold (£10,000) the three bells became unringable in 1913. They were augmented to six and hung in a new frame lower in the tower.
- St John the Baptist, Puttenham (£8,000) where the wooden frame was strengthened and the six bells were retuned and rehung on new bearings.
- SS Peter and Paul, Godalming (£7,000) where the eight bells were rehung in the existing frame with new wheels, clappers and bearings
- SS Mary and Nicholas, Leatherhead (£4,000) where the ten bells were rehung in the existing frame with some new fittings
The fund has given a range of smaller grants for repairs, e.g. refurbishment of clappers and pulleys at St Andrew, Cobham (£1,500), similar work at St Bartholomew, Haslemere (£1,300) and refurbishment of bearings, clappers and pulleys at St John the Evangelist, Merrow (£2,500).
Over the years, 53 of the 65 towers in the Diocese have benefited from grants ranging from £25 to £25,000, with 15 grants being £5,000 or greater. The total of £267,000 had been granted up to the end of 2017. The towers and yearly totals are shown here. More details of the work done are given here: GDG Bell restoration – milestones
How much money do we need?
Over the last few years average income to the fund has been around £12,000 per year. Routine inspections and special projects lead us to believe we are going to need a similar sum over the next few years to meet anticipated demand.
In 2015, the late Bridget Gordon, a ringer at Send, left a legacy in the order of £180,000 to the BRF in 2015, and this is currently being distributed to major bell projects within the Diocese by means of a competition. This is described here. The first completed project is a new ring of eight bells at Godalming, which has received a grant of £40,000.
What else does the Guild do for bell restoration?
Knowledgeable ringers (some of whom are professionally qualified) will carry out inspections of bell installations, and, if required, draw up a full written report including recommendations on an appropriate course of action.
Many ringers assist on a voluntary basis in the practical aspects of maintenance and restoration work. This can save a parish thousands of pounds.
What else can you do?
Do you have a practical skill which could be utilised on a restoration project? Most of the work is done by ringers and other volunteers under the professional guidance of the bell founders and hangers.
Alternatively, you can support the Bell Restoration Fund. If you enjoy the sound of bells, you can help us by making a donation or even remembering us in your will.
For further details, advice or information, please contact our Bell Restoration Adviser.
Please send any donations to our Treasurer.
Cheques should be made payable to the Guildford DG Bell Restoration Fund. All donations will be acknowledged.