Christmas morning bells will not ring at Baldock church

CHURCH bells which have rung out for centuries in a market town will not be heard early on Christmas morning after a member of the public complained they were too loud and rang too frequently.

The traditional ringing of six bells for the 8am service on Christmas Day at St Mary’s the Virgin Church in Baldock will cease following a complaint made to North Herts District Council (NHDC).

Revered Andrew Holford will ring a single bell at 8am for about 45seconds instead of the traditional 20-minute toll.

The traditional ringing of six bells will be conducted later in the day. Rev Holford said: “Many people will feel this is a pity but it seems with compassion balanced against public opinion this is a reasonable option.

“There was a request to silence the Westminster chimes which ring every quarter of an hour but we have not agreed to this and are highly unlikely to do so in the future as the almost universal view of the people of Baldock is they are a major constituent of the identity of the town.”

The complaint took issue with the clock bells chiming every 15 minutes from 7am to 10.45pm each day.

Rev Holford said: “The letter addressing the complaint stated the person affected would personally love the bells to stop altogether.

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“This emphasises the seriousness of the situation and just how much the person feels affected so we felt we had to investigate the view of the town.”

A public meeting was attended by more than 40 people, with most wanting the bells to stay as they are.

Rev Holford said: “A few people living close to the church said the early and late ringing of the Westminster chimes affected their family’s ability to sleep and it is this we have tried to address.

“Living in a community is about living with the needs of all the individuals that make up the community and whereas one or two people should not be able to dictate community changes that affect the whole town, there is a need for compassion to help those affected live bearable lives,” he added.

The chime will now sound between 9am and 7pm, as well as for services and campanology practice.