A CROWDFUNDING effort is raising money to restore a 500-year-old set of church bells in the Eden village of Brough.

Around £30,000 is needed to get the bells at St Michael’s Church ringing in unison once again.

Judy Dobson, church warden and lay reader, was first made aware that they needed repairing when a retired bell-ringer came in and had a look at them one evening.

Later on that night, a bell engineer - Matthew Higby, based in Bath - happened to turn up on a passing visit. He looked at the bells and later put together a report on them. This included proposals to restore them, to make them easier to ring, and to tune them to make them sound better, along with estimates for the work.

“I believe it was the Lord that brought that man that night,” said Mrs Dobson, 74.


There were to be further surprises when, at Christmas, Mrs Dobson received a card from a lady - Gillian Parsons - whom she had not heard from for 28 years.

According to Mrs Dobson, God had told Mrs Parsons to get in touch.

Indeed, upon hearing about the bells, Mrs Parsons volunteered to fill in the application forms for monetary grants (to run alongside the crowdfunding effort) to help restore them.

Mrs Dobson said: “She [Mrs Parsons] said ‘That’s why the Lord told me to contact you’. She said: ‘I’m a professional fundraiser’. She said: ‘I will apply for the grants for you.’”

The bells themselves date back to the 1500s. According to Mrs Dobson, a local farmer - John Brunskill, of Stainmore - sold his bull and cattle to buy them for the benefit of the parish.

Unfortunately, the fittings have deteriorated over time and the bells can no longer be rung together. They were last restored in 1880 when two of them were recast and hung in a new frame.

On the bells, Matthew Higby said: “They are alleged to be the heaviest set of four bells [hung for full circle change ringing] in the world. People don’t know the accurate weights of them so it’s a bit hypothetical. From the size of the bells and the tone we can get an approximate guess of their weight.”

Visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/savebroughbells to donate to the bell restoration fund.