Village church bells could be silenced after more than 100 years

St Mary's Church

St Mary's Church - Credit: Archant

VILLAGE church bells which have been ringing for more than 100 years may be silenced after a handful of complaints from residents.

The clock on St Mary’s Church, Ashwell, has chimed on the quarter since 1898 but a small group of villagers are now calling for them to be halted.

The bells were the subject of a public meeting with Ashwell Parish Council in January, where it was decided they would be allowed to continue ringing.

But since then, four complainants have applied to North Herts District Council (NHDC) for a noise abatement order which, if granted, would overrule the decision and see the bells permanently shut off.

Joan Huggins, who lives in the village, hit out at the residents concerned.

She said: “There is a timing mechanism which would allow the clock to chime outside of the night hours but the parish council does not have the funds to put it in place. The people of Ashwell are up in arms about the situation.

“It is beggars belief that people could move here and then complain about the noise from the church clock.”

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The bells did cease to ring through the village for 18 months due to repairs. It is believed those who have complained moved to the village during that time.

Parish councillor Christine Schwick, who is responsible for the church clock, said: “This issue is very close to people’s hearts. The chimes were out of action for 18 months and many people wanted them fixed as soon as possible, but those who moved to the village in that time got used to the quiet.”

A spokesman for North Herts District Council (NHDC) said: “NHDC has received a number of complaints from local residents about St Mary’s Church bells in Ashwell and we are seeking to work with the parish council to resolve this matter informally.”

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