Ring Out Those Commemorative Bells!

Thanks in part to grant funding from the Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund, a 13th century church in Lancashire has been able to ring out a peal of bells for the first time in over seven years.

The tower of St Cuthbert’s Church in Over Kellet near Carnforth has housed bells for over 500 years, but in 2016 the existing three bells were condemned as unsafe. The installation of replacement bells, sourced free of charge from a closed church in Lancashire, was originally backed by the local community as the village’s preferred project to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022. Of the eight bells donated however, only five were suitable for use, requiring the casting of three additional new bells to complete the peal.

IN 2023, while fund-raising was already underway, it was decided that one of the new bells should carry a ‘dual’ inscription, commemorating both the Platinum Jubilee of the late Queen and the accession of King Charles III. The 35-inch commemorative bell was cast on 5th October 2023 and installed in December 2023 in time to ring out on Christmas Day. A formal service of celebration and thanksgiving, conducted by The Right Reverend Philip North, Bishop of Blackburn, and The Reverend Rev Matt Guilder, Vicar of St Cuthbert’s Church, Over Kellet, will be held in February 2024.

The Over Kellet Jubilee Bells Project has been led by a small group of six volunteers from the village, led by local resident Nick Ward. They now hope to develop St Cuthbert’s as a centre for learning, encouraging children over the age of nine, young people and adults from the surrounding area to take up the ancient art of bell-ringing as a lifetime hobby. Bell-ringers from across the country are being invited to take part in the weekend of thanksgiving and celebration in February, when over 20 local churches will also be opening their bell towers to experienced campanologists as well as enthusiastic amateurs keen to get involved.

The village of Over Kellet sits approximately six miles to the north east of the city of Lancaster and still forms part of the Lancaster Parish. The church of St Cuthbert’s is a Grade II listed building, the earliest surviving parts of which date from around 1200 AD, although most of the structure is 16th century.

The Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund supports community projects and local good causes across the historic County Palatine or linked to the Duchy’s rural and commercial estates across England and Wales.