Ipswich bells

‘World’s oldest’ church bells returned home

The five bells of the church, which date back more than 500 years, will soon be heard again after a £100,000 restoration project. It is said that they were heard regularly by a young  Cardinal Wolsey, a former Archbishop of York and adviser to Henry VIII.
But they have not sounded for two decades because of the poor condition of the tower they are housed in. A new steel and cast iron frame was installed eight metres lower than the previous frame in July.
As the restoration project took place the bells were taken to be cleaned at Whitechapel Bell Foundry in east London. The oldest of the bells date back to 1450 and together form what experts claim is the oldest Middle Ages full circle set of their type in the world.
The restoration was funded by cash raised from a public appeal by The Ipswich Historic Churches Trust last year.
John Blatchly, chairman of Ipswich Historic Churches Trust, said: “It certainly is a happy day and we’re all delighted to see the bells back. We are very excited to think that these bells are coming back to be installed in a new frame.
“They were previously in part of the tower built in 1883 which was very pretty but flimsy. They will now be moved to a sturdier part dating back to the 15th century. The bells will be rung from a floor visible from the body of the church so everyone going through the doors will be able to see them through a glass screen.
“We estimate that they will be being rung as early as September 10.”
Mr Blatchly said the Whitechapel firm was the best they could find and the oldest active firm in London.
“We received enormous help from the borough and the Elizabeth Walter Trust and also the  Suffolk Guild of ringers and the public of Ipswich and Suffolk,” he said.

Wolsey’s Gate, Ipswich

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