IT is believed to be 300 years since it last happened, but the bells of St Wilfrid’s Church, Grappenhall are currently silent.
In fact, they are not even in the village – they are away at a foundry in Loughborough being refurbished after a successful £175,000 fundraising campaign by the church.
When they return, probably in June, there will be 10 instead of the peal of eight bells which has served the parish for so many years.
Tower captain Mike Thomson said: “The extra bells will bring about a big improvement and will give us some smaller bells which will enable us to train younger ringers – we hope to be able to train some children from St Wilfrid’s Primary School.
“We can never have too many ringers and with two extra bells we will need more.”
The removal of the old bells was the focus of considerable interest during January as they were moved by a team of specialists and volunteers. Scaffolding was erected on the north face of the Tudor bell tower to enable the work to be carried out.
Mr Thomson said it had been hoped to trace relatives of a Grappenhall ringer who died during the Battle of the Somme in World War 1.
Second Lieutenant John Lancelot Smith, of the South Lancashire Regiment, died on August 8, 1916 and is commemorated on a plaque in the church.
“We would have loved to have heard from the descendants of John Smith – they could even have followed in his footsteps as bell ringers. But we have searched in vain and it doesn’t look as if we will trace anyone now. However, we would like to dedicate one of the new bells to John Lancelot Smith and the other Grappenhall residents who fell in the First World War.”
While the bells are missing, the ringers are keeping their hands in rehearsing at Stockton Heath and Stretton churches.
Anyone with information about John Lancelot Smith, or who would like to find out more about the bells at Grappenhall should contact Mr Thomson on. 07710 763603, or the Rev Jane Proudfoot on 01925 261546 or email her at email@example.com.