The ring of bells in St Peter’s began with one bell in 1608. Three others were added in the 17th C, one in the 18th and one, the Memorial Bell for the men of Codford who gave their lives in WW2, in 1946. The four oldest bells are ‘listed’ by the Church Buildings Council as protected ‘ancient artefacts’ and may not be substantially altered.
Like all musical instruments, church bells need care and attention, or their performance will deteriorate. Ours have received none since 1946. The Friends of St Peter’s having agreed to underwrite the majority of the cost, and contributions having been gained from several charitable bodies (including the Diocese of Salisbury’s own bell restoration fund), the PCC gave their approval to a major programme of refurbishment.
So, down and out the bells came! Starting on 17th June they were lowered from the tower of St Peter’s into the baptistery, rolled into the light of day on Thursday 20th and taken on a low loader to the John Taylor and Co bell foundry at Loughborough. There they will be refurbished, with new headstocks and bearings, new clappers, wheels and stays. The children of the Wylye Valley School came to look and be amazed at the bells, as did many parishioners and villagers. Some of the schoolchildren will be writing projects on the bells next term.
Next month the bells will return and be rehung in the tower - after many interested people from across the Team have again come to see them, we hope, in their pristine glory. Our hope is that they will be consecrated by one of the priests before they are removed from sight. Please look out for announcements as the date approaches.