Church bell at centre of court case over whether it should be retuned

What a ding-dong! Out-of-tune 400-year-old church bell is at centre of court battle over whether it should be retuned or not as campaigners say it should be left untouched as an ‘aural’ link to the past

  • A centuries-old church bell is at in a court case controversy in Hartlepool  
  • The bell at All Saints Church, Stranton, was cast in 1599 and last retuned in 1907
  • People living near were worried a retuning would change their experience of it
  • However,  a church court ruled the 432-year-old bell was in need of a retuning 

A centuries-old church bell has been at the centre of a court case as conservationists argued whether or not it should remain out of tune.

The 432-year-old bell in All Saints Church, Stranton, Hartlepool, was created in 1599 but has only been out of tune since 1907, when it was last retuned.

People who live in the town rallied against retuning it again because it would mean the bell would different to generations of people living there.

The 432-year-old bell in All Saints Church, Stranton, Hartlepool, was created in 1599 but has only been out of tune since 1907, when it was last retuned

People living near the church were worried retuning would make an audible difference to their experience of the bells

Conservation group the Church Buildings Council said the bell’s out of tune sound was a key ‘aural link to the past’.

Yet Andrew Frost, one of the Hartlepool Guild of Bellringers, said the bells needed retuning.

He said: ‘They were tuned as well as it was thought possible at the time, but there’s much better tuning these days.’

He said they would still sound like the bells people living in the area were used to.

A church court has now decided the retuning should go ahead.

Adrian Iles, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Durham, acted as a judge for the case and said although ‘historic bells form a rare and important link with the past,’ this one was ‘caked in grime’.

He added: ‘Any harm caused by retuning is slight and outweighed by the benefits to the church and community.’ 

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