Fresh ‘appeal’ for local church bell

The bell in St James as it was discovered
The bell in St James as it was discovered

An exciting plan to re-create history is being proposed by St James’ Episcopal Church in Stonehaven.

The project will be launched at a special service on Mothering Sunday, March 11.

During work last autumn to deal with the dry rot in the roof, an historic bell was discovered rusting at the top of the church’s bell tower.

The bell itself – carrying the date 1788 - was in good condition, but the mountings had nearly rusted away and were in a dangerous state.

A steeplejack managed to retrieve it safely in a delicate operation, and now the church is planning to restore it to its rightful place in the bell tower.

Documents show that the bell was originally hung in the belfry of the Episcopal Chapel in the High Street - now demolished - and was moved to the new church when it was built in about 1885. It has been rung within living memory.

The project will be particularly appropriate as it is hoped to have the bell in place in time for Remembrance Day on November 11, 2018, which is the 100th anniversary of the Armistice at the end of World War 1.

Bell-ringers throughout the UK are planning to replicate the occasion when all the church bells in the land were rung at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

This year, the host for the Town Commemoration Parade in Stonehaven is St James Church, so ringing the bell during the service will be fitting.

The money to re-install the historic bell is being raised, at least in part, by crowd-funding, and the appeal will also be launched on March 11.

Buildings convener at St James, David Fleming, said: “We were very lucky that we managed to get the bell down before it fell of its own accord and did serious damage.

“It weighs over one hundredweight. It will be fantastic to get it back in working order again. I am really looking forward to Stonehaven, with its iconic Black Hill War Memorial, joining the rest of the country in this way.”