In his “From the Vicarage” letter in the August issue Simon Garwood recalled the many contributions to village life made by the late John “Skip” Papworth. One such contribution not mentioned was Skip’s role - in his younger days - as an accomplished bell ringer at St Mary’s Parish Church.
Sadly, in the same month as Skip’s funeral - at which a solitary bell was tolled - St Mary’s current 4th bell (originally cast by John Briant of Hertford in 1803 and weighing around 7 cwt,) became cracked beyond repair. However, it can be recast using the existing metal and, as a fitting memorial to a great Kelvedon man, the bell ringers and the Parochial Church Council (PCC) have agreed to work towards that goal.
It is customary for church bells to be given names and, with the backing of Skip’s family, it is proposed that the recast bell should be named “Skip’s Bell”.
Church bells are cast from a mixture of copper and tin (“bell metal”) by a process which has changed little in over 400 years. The renowned John Taylor & Co bell foundry at Loughborough have quoted for this complex task which involves removing the cracked bell from the tower, transporting it to their foundry for recasting and tuning, returning the recast bell to Kelvedon for dedication and then rehanging it in the tower (at which time various improvements to the supporting bell frame can also be completed).
The same foundry also cast the hand bell rung by Skip in his Town Crier duties so it seems especially poignant that “Skip’s Bell” should continue to ring out over his beloved village for centuries to come.
The cost of this specialist work will be approximately £13,000 + VAT. To raise this substantial sum, the bell ringers and the PCC - with the support of Skip’s family - have launched an appeal in Skip’s memory to which everyone who knew him is invited to contribute. The money will be held in the PCC’s restricted Bell Fund and, if the amount ultimately raised exceeds the cost of this project, the surplus will be held available to meet future maintenance costs of St Mary’s and its bells.
Donations of any amount will be most welcome. If you would like to contribute, please send your donation (by way of cash or cheque payable to Kelvedon Parish Church) to the Bell Tower Treasurer, Robert Wood at 21 Heron Road, CO5 9NE.
If you are a tax payer, a donation with Gift Aid makes your contribution even more valuable – Gift Aid envelopes in which to remit donations (or ongoing Gift Aid Declarations) are available at the church or from the Bell Tower Treasurer.
We hope that this appeal will receive widespread support to honour a remarkable man who gave so willingly to our community over so many years and represented so much of what is best in Kelvedon.