Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Monday, 15 September 2008 15:00 UK

Absent bells at 'Austen' church

Bell being removed (Pic: Bernard Hawkins)
The church bells have been taken to a foundry for repair

The Devon church immortalised in a film adaptation Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility is without its bells after they were condemned as "too dangerous".

St Mary's Church, Berry Pomeroy, was used as the setting for a wedding scene in the 1995 film starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.

The eight bells, some of which date from the 16th Century, were banned from use after an architect's inspection.

They have been sent for repairs, which should be completed by Christmas.

Word has got around that the bells are being done and we're already getting wedding bookings for next year
Bernard Hawkins, church warden

Church Warden Bernard Hawkins said: "Because of the film we usually get about 15 or 20 weddings a year here.

"This year there have only been three, but now word has got around that the bells are being done and we're already getting wedding bookings for next year."

He said the church had considered using a recording of bells instead of paying for repairs but decided "electric bells weren't suitable for a church like Berry Pomeroy".

"The bells are part of the tradition of the church and village," he added.

The repairs, which are being carried out at a foundry in Loughborough, will cost about 55,000.

Work is also being done to the bell tower to make sure the floor and beams are strong enough to support the bells when they come back.

The church features in one of the final scenes of the film version of the classic novel, when heroine Marianne Dashwood finally marries Colonel Brandon.


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