'Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth...' Psalm 66:1
To commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Hurley Church Local Committee investigated the possibility of re-hanging the bells in the church tower to make a melodious peel of three bells that could be rung on special occasions.
'Dear bells! how sweet the sound of village bells when on the undulating air they swim!' Thomas Hood
The present situation is that the largest bell (cast 1602) is fixed and is only used to ring the hours on the clock. The other two (1510 and 1829) are swung, only one at a time, before services. Occasionally all three bells are rung together with fairly cacophonous results! The two older bells are listed as being of historic significance.
Whitechapel Bell Foundry carried out a study and advised that the bells are out of tune. To remedy, this two of them would need to be re-tuned. Unfortunately they also advised that there was no likelihood of the DAC (a committee that has to authorise changes to churches) approving any re-tuning of either of the listed bells.
Whitechapel, therefore, proposed that we continue to dedicate the largest bell for use with the clock, re-tune the 1829 bell and commission four new bells to make a chime of six bells in all. The term 'chime' is used in a technical sense since they also proposed that the bells should be fixed rather than swung and should be sounded by using internal electromagnetic hammers controlled electronically. The electronic control system allows for peals to be stored and activated at the push of a button.
The total cost of this project is estimated to be around £40,000 but four residents of Hurley have agreed to underwrite the total cost so none will fall to the Parish's general funds. Residents alongside the church have been consulted and the P.C.C has given its approval. We are now at the stage when an application for a Faculty has been made and if all goes to plan the project should be completed by Easter.
'Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be.' Lord Alfred Tennyson
Legacy from our generation
The building of St Mary the Virgin church has seen many changes over the centuries. Each generation has made its contribution and the feeling of the Hurley Local Committee is that this generation should be no exception. Although its congregation only forms a small part of the village population the church is still viewed by residents as an essential part of the village.
The last significant project was the building of the Priory Room Annex in 1989. So the timing seems right. The bells will be a vocal reminder on most Sundays that Christianity is alive
For bells are the voice of the church;
They have tones that touch and search the hearts of young and old.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
and flourishing in Hurley. The many visitors, drawn to Hurley by its close ness to the Thames, may be otherwise occupied, but at the back of their minds, they too will be reminded of this. The bells will also add a joyous note to the many weddings held at the Church. We are grateful to the four sponsors for their generosity in funding the project.