ARISHIONERS at a Furness church have raised £28,000 in 16 months to refurbish its bells and buy two new ones.

St Mary’s and St Michael’s Church, in Great Urswick, has been promised a donation for the final £1,500 needed to complete the scheme.

Two bells taken down in January were rung for the first time on Easter Sunday after being refurbished.

One of these, the Harrington Bell, dates to 1420 and is one of the oldest ringing bells in England.

The project began when the church decided that money needed to be raised for a new headstock and other essential work on the Harrington Bell.

Churchwarden Sonjie Marshall said: “We thought it would be great if we could also raise money for two new bells so we’d have six instead of the four.”

The Four Sisters Bell, which has already been cast, was funded by a family in Lower Urswick. There were four sisters in the family, and two have died. The other bell, yet to be cast, has been paid for by more than a year of fundraising.

It will be known as the Centenary Bell to commemorate the First World War.

Mrs Marshall said: “This has become a community scheme and it’s heart-warming to see people put their hands in their pockets for it when money is so short these days.”