Bells ring out in Harting parish

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For more than three months there was silence in the bell tower at Harting parish church which stood empty for the first time in more than 100 years.

The bells were dismantled in March last year and taken down to Bridport for a major overhaul in a restoration project which cost just over £30,000.

They eventually returned complete with their smart new scarlet headstocks all set for another century of ringing out across Harting. Now the story of the restoration is told in a new book entitled Ring In The New, which has been written by Harting villager John Sladden.

John’s brother Humphrey is a member of Harting bellringers and was a leading member of the project to carry out the restoration.

The book is told through a series of some 70 pictures taken by local photographers who recorded every part of the project.

A year earlier a detailed survey of Harting’s bells and belfry had been carried out by Geoffrey Rix, the bells adviser to Chichester Diocese.

In his book Mr Sladden recorded: “He found a number of serious shortcomings wanting urgent improvement and came to the conclusion the bells had become taxing even to a very experienced team, and to the average ringer they were extremely difficult to handle.”

Things came to a head in November 2010 when a full peal was rung with 5,040 changes without a pause. “This took exactly three hours, an exhausting task,” said Mr Sladden, “The visiting team of experienced ringers confirmed that major work was essential as our bells were extremely difficult to ring.”

With huge financial support from the Friends of Harting Church and a grant of £7,000 from the Sussex Bells Restoration Fund, the work began. It took three days to take the six bells down, working in the confined space of the belfry, and each step of the way is graphically recorded in Mr Sladden’s book.

Ring In The New, designed and compiled by Peter Hayman and illustrated by Margaret Dale, is to be launched on Sunday in The Law Room at Harting parish church at 11.15am.