ST MARY THE VIRGIN, GAMLINGAY
TOWER & BELLS
Copy of letter to RINGING WORLD
Why two bellframes?
Mr Ewen's letter, RW p.692 July 17, regarding his troubles at Cranfield struck a resonance here at Gamlingay. We too have been seeking. over a period of at least 15 years, a means of restoring our bells in a manner acceptable to English Heritage, the ringers, the bellframe historians, the DAC advisors, architects, uncle Tom Cobbly and all. We thought we had discovered a means to keep everyone happy With a scheme, complex and expensive, but with the help of a 50% Millennium Commission grant, just possible.
This, however, was not to be: Like these other towers we are having to reappraise the situation; were we right to try and please everyone? Does a church really need two bell frames, one to use and one for historians to look at? Certainly the church tower designer never had two in mind. What is the heritage which we should be striving to preserve for our village, is it the art of bellringing or is it the art of 15th century bellframe design'? Since December of last year our bells have been silent and I know which priority the majority of Gamlingay residents would prefer.
Mrs Annison's letter, also on p.692, about the BBC's treatment of the Bells on Sunday broadcast helps to put things in perspective. The tens of thousands of bellringers in the country are regarded by the BBC as a minority interest group and therefore bellringing has been excluded from prime listening time. If bellringers are a minority group then what are bellframe historians, even though they may be 'reasonable chaps'? In the last 20 years our bellframe has had two visitations.
If it wasn't for our old bellframe we would be able to restore our bells, keep our bellringers and may even be able to celebrate the new millennium in an appropriate manner. Surely a more suitable place for these unused bell frames, if they are truly important to historians, is in a museum'?
We have an excellent foundry museum at Loughborough but perhaps the Arts Council could look to funding something on a larger scale such as a national bell, or architectural heritage, museum.