The BBC reports today that the bells of a (I assume now Anglican) Church dedicated to my holy patron, St Lawrence, are ringing once more and that they are the World's oldest circle of bells. For the first time in almost 25 years, 'Ipswich is waking up to a unique medieval sound'.
'The Suffolk town's St Lawrence Church houses the oldest circle of church bells in the world. The five bells have been silent since the 1980s, but now they are ringing out over the rooftops once again. The restoration of the church, its tower and the five bells, which date back to the 15th century, has cost more than £100,000.For full story with video click here. If the Anglicans can raise £100,000 to fix the bells of a Grade II listed building, the same current grade of St Mary Magdalen's, then that should give us in Brighton some hope! Unfortunately, it appears that the church has now been turned into a community centre.
The oldest were cast in the 1440s. For hundreds of years they rang out from the church's distinctive tower in the heart of Ipswich town centre. But when the parish at St Lawrence dwindled away the building fell into disuse, then disrepair. The tower was declared too unstable for the bells to be rung, and they have been quiet since 1985.
'...The bells are known locally as Wolsey's Bells. Henry VIII's most influential adviser, (before Henry went mental, that is, and caused the rupture that means the delightful Ipswich church is no longer Catholic) Cardinal Wolsey, grew up in the area and would have heard them as a boy.'
The Ipswich Lib Dems website confirms that, 'The medieval town centre church of St Lawrence will soon begin a new life as a 21st Century community facility for the people of Ipswich, when it reopens on Thursday 8th May. The project has been funded by Ipswich Borough Council and a Government Growth Point Status grant of £700,000.'
Oh, so that's how they get their money. By turning the church into a community centre! Cracking! Looks like another vintage once-Catholic-now Anglican church has been turned into a hall for yoga, tai chi and co-dependents anonymous. Nice one, Henry!