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Church News

Decision to re-tune church bell strikes wrong note with conservationists

by Sophie Drew

An out-of-tune church bell has caused division amongst church organisations.

Some argue the off-key peals emanating from the Hartlepool church are a nod to the past - others want to see the correct tune restored. 

Conservation group Church Buildings Council (CBC) wanted the All Saints bell to remain in the manner to which it had fallen - "caked in grime from industry, salt and sand."

However, church authorities argued that the bell had already been re-tuned in 1907, and works would "achieve a significant improvement in the musical qualities of the whole peal".

The debate was taken to the Consistory Court, where it was ruled that the bell would be re-tuned. 

The Chancellor of the Diocese of Durham, Adrian Isles - who was acting as judge of the Church of England's consistory court - said that the changes to the bell would be "slight, and outweighed by the benefits to the church and local community."

When forming their argument for the trial, and submitting their statements, the CBC said: "The presumption against tuning listed bells is to conserve listed bells in as near to their original state as possible. It is especially intended to maintain the sound of the bell.

"As some of the country's oldest sounding musical instruments, they are a rare link back to sounds experienced in our communities over centuries.

"The bells are part of the aural history of the place, experienced by generations in Stranton. Actions that do not have a material impact on the sound of a listed bell, such as removing cast in crown staples and the addition of new headstocks, are therefore not part of the consideration of its tuning."

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