You will have heard the wonderful news that St Peter’s been awarded a grant of £62,287 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to rehang the bells in the tower. We still have a small amount of funding to raise, and the Friends are helping with this. There are also a few formalities to complete, but we hope to be able to place an order with our bell-hanger to commence work by the end of January.

One of the bells was badly cracked as a result of the fire and needs to be completely recast. The other five bells are sound, and once the new bellframe has been made, we expect the bells to return during the summer or autumn of 2024, when they will be put on display in the nave for everyone to see.

It will take about two weeks to hoist everything up the outside of the tower and be ready for the test ring. As the bells have not been rung for ten years, and new people have moved in nearby, we will then be very careful to make sure that we are good neighbours.

We will need to spend a lot of time training up new ringers to bring our local team at Ropley and Bishops Sutton back up to full strength, and like any other musical instrument, it will need a lot of practice before it sounds good!  Therefore, the Lottery bid includes for a wireless sensor system to be used for the training sessions. Rubber muffles will be fitted to the clappers and a battery-operated sensor on each bell will send a signal to a laptop, which will produce a bell sound in the ringing room. Outside only a muffled hum will be heard.

Once the bells have been tested, we will also hold an open evening or Saturday morning session where members of the local community can come and meet the ringers. They will be able to find out more about the bells, and their history, and even have a go themselves.

Our plan is that St Peter’s bells will be rung once a week for about 30 to 40 minutes before the Sunday morning service, and for up to 90 minutes on a practice night (probably Thursdays) finishing at 9pm. There will also be ringing for special occasions such as weddings, which will be publicised within the village in advance.

As a rule of thumb, a local band needs twice the number of ringers to bells, if the bells are to be rung regularly each week. To bring the Ropley team back up to full strength will require a lot of tuition, but the Winchester District of the Diocesan Ringers Guild has a lot of experience, and a group of teachers who  have offered to assist our local ringers with the training.

The Heritage Fund grant also includes a number of activities to ‘engage new audiences with heritage’.  We plan to work with the Ropley History Network and Archive and local school children to help us research the history of bells and bellringing in Ropley and the surrounding area, and to mount an exhibition. We will also hold annual open days and provide talks to local groups. We also plan to establish an after-school handbell club each autumn term, with a performance each Christmas.

We are currently looking for people who can help with publicising the project in the press and on social media, as there will be many media opportunities when the bells return and the first ringing on them takes place. We are also looking for volunteers who would like to learn to ring either the tower bells or the handbells, or even both. We’re not ready to start lessons yet, but will arrange a course of lessons either just before or after the bells return. It will take an initial course of 8 – 12 one-hour lessons for the first few weeks, and then a regular weekly practice thereafter, so that you can join the rota of ringers to ring for Sunday morning services and special occasions at St Peter’s and St Nicholas.

If you would like to help with this exciting project, please contact us at

Roger Booth

By editor