Following the fire which gutted the building in 2014, the bells were removed and placed in storage. The bells are a complete set of six by Gillett & Johnson of Croydon, cast in 1927, although the history of five of the bells in the tower can be traced back to 1701, and prior to this there were four bells.
There has therefore been a long tradition of change-ringing in Ropley dating back well over 300 years and this will be lost if the bells are not placed back in the tower. The tower has already been repaired and strengthened in Phase 1 works, ready to receive the bells.
No ring of bells can sound out without a team of ringers to ring them. Some of our original team have been practicing at Bishops Sutton and Old Alresford, but we will need to recruit and train more new ringers to bring our team back up to full strength.
Therefore, we have allowed to fit out the tower with the facilities to act as a teaching centre, which will benefit not only Ropley, but also the surrounding parts of Hampshire.
We particularly want to reach out to young people. We plan to use our set of 32 handbells, saved and restored after the fire, with schoolchildren and their parents, to continue the tradition of tune-ringing in the village, particularly around Christmas.
We are very much looking forward to the day when the bells will ring out across the local area again. The costs of achieving this are:
Weld cracked 3rd bell
Recast badly cracked 6th bell
Heat treat & tune other four bells
New steel bell frame for six bells
Hang all six bells with new fittings in new frame
Simulator & CCTV camera for training purposes
Hand chimes for young people
Other training equipment and resources
In addition to these cash costs, various people and organisations have undertaken to give their time for free to help train new ringers, once the bells are installed.