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Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 15:55 UK
Canewdon church bells chime again
Bells at St Nicholas church
St Nicholas church tower now has 15 working bells

After an absence of over a century, the bells at St Nicholas church in Canewdon are ringing out once again.

The ancient church's bells have been silent for over 100 years, when its bells were taken away because of fears over the safety of the building.

However, a bequest from a parishioner enabled them to install 10 new bells and restore the original five.

The bell tower also has a new ringing gallery, whilst the floor beneath the bells has been sound-proofed.

Reverend Tim Clay, vicar at St Nicholas, said the local community was already noticing a difference.

The only way we could make them quiet enough was to put in a lot of insulation, because up there they are very loud
Brian Meldon

"It's been a such a boon to the church... just in the few weeks that the ringers have been ringing regularly numbers have been boosted and it's made the church more noticeable in the village," he explained.

"It's been something the village has been working at for many many years," added Brian Meldon, the Joint Tower captain at St Nicholas.

"Even as far back as the 1920s there were appeals for funding, but because the church was in a bad condition the bells took second place."

The thousands of pounds left by parishioner John Mitchell have enable the bells to be made at the world famous Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Two of the central bells have been engraved in memory of Mr Mitchell and Ken Smith, who campaigned for years to bring back bells to the church tower, but sadly passed away halfway through the project.

Inscription on a church bell
Two bells are inscribed with benefactors name

"The only way we could make them quiet enough was to put in a lot of insulation, because up there they are very loud," says Brian.

The area in and around Canewdon, north of Southend, has important historical links.

Old entrenchments that once existed between the village and the river are believed to mark the site of Canute's camp before his victorious battle over Edmund Ironside in 1016.

The 14th century church of St Nicholas lies at the western end of the village. It is set 128-feet above the marshes, and its massive tower is widely thought to be the site of Canute's minster.


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