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Page last updated at 12:54 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010

Church bells may return to Chile

Rev Keith Evans with the three bells at All Saints Church in Mumbles
The bells were taken down from the tower at All Saints Church in 1964

A set of church bells which have been kept in a church in Mumbles near Swansea for almost 150 years could return to Chile to form a memorial.

Before arriving at All Saints Church they were shipped from Santiago after a cathedral they were initially housed in burned down, killing 2,500 people.

Now the Chilean government has asked if they could return to South America.

Members of All Saints Church council said it was "right and proper" that they return home.

The three bells were initially housed in the Jesuit Church of Le Compana in the Chilean capital.

But it was hit be a terrible fire in 1863 and were sold for scrap before being shipped to Swansea.

Parish priest Rev Keith Evans said: "[We had] a letter requesting that they go back from the Chilean ambassador.

"Apparently the Chilean president is very keen that they go back to form a memorial for the 2,500 who died in the Jesuit Cathedral in Santiago."

The bells of Santiago cathedral have been kept in All Saints Church in Mumbles, Swansea for the last 140 years

They are currently displayed on a metal frame in the porch at All Saints but used to ring out across Mumbles.

They were taken down from the tower in 1964 as it could no longer support their weight.

The parish church council has voted without that, in principle, they should return to Santiago.

Council member Katherine Williams said: "Thinking of the Christian point of view and the terrible tragedy that led to them being disused there we felt it was the right and proper thing for them to go back.

"They have nothing there at the moment to remember them by."

The council has now entered a period of consultation with parishioners.

Mr Evans said they would need the consent of the diocese and the bishop.

"It could take a few months yet but we anticipate maybe in the autumn we will have some sort of handing over ceremony."



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