Bells to ring out across Westham after ten years

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The bells of St Mary’s Church as ringing out across the village of Westham once again, after more than a decade of silence.

Ringing of the bells stopped at the oldest Norman church in England when vicar Gary Barrett banned the bell ringers from the belfry in May 2003.

St. Mary's Church Westham nr. Eastbourne August 28th 2012 E35078N_corrected

St. Mary's Church Westham nr. Eastbourne August 28th 2012 E35078N_corrected

The dispute made the national press as the disappointed bell ringers were unable to practise their hobby in the village.

However, the vicar who locked the bell ringers out of the tower has now left and bell ringing has returned.

Many of the old bell ringers moved to different churches but some of the old faces have returned to St Mary’s.

They recently held a successful open day.

Visitors enjoyed cakes and were able to access the tower and hear the bells being rung.

Valerie Macrae, who started bell ringing as a hobby in the late 90s, said she was delighted to be back at St Mary’s Church.

Valerie said, “It is a great hobby and really good fun.

“It is also good for you health as it is quite a good way to keep fit. It gives you quite a good cardiovascular workout. “

Valerie explained the church was looking for new people to join the current bell ringers and newcomers were more than welcome.

She said, “Some people take about three months to learn and other up to six months but it is great fun.

“And when you have mastered the art, you can go anywhere in the world and do bell ringing.

“If you are on holiday in the UK and you hear bells ringing , you can go in and you can be sure of a warm welcome.”

Valerie said she had done bell ringing while on holiday in New Zealand.