Two new church bells at All Saints, North Moreton near Didcot, have been cast as the first in the country with the royal cyphers of their Majesties, King Charles and Queen Camilla.
Buckingham Palace granted permission for the two bells to bear the royal cyphers and will ring for the first time on the coronation on 06 May. The new bells were cast at the Royal Eijsbouts bell foundry in the Netherlands, tuned at Whites of Appleton, a local family-run business, the oldest and one of only a few bell-hanging companies in the country. The bells were hung and installed at the church in April in time for the coronation.
At the Grade I original Medieval parish church in Oxfordshire, the current six bells have a long history spanning the reign of six monarchs from Edward III in the Middle Ages to Elizabeth II in 2014. King Charles III will be the seventh monarch represented. The bells have been ringing for centuries to mark local events, and national moments, in history, including coronations, royal proclamations and VE Day.
In 2014, a successful project restored and augmented the peal of five bells to six. An elevated ringing gallery was also installed with a new vestry beneath, an oak screen, a kitchen and toilet and a new entrance path outside the church. The 2023 augmentation with the two new bells takes the peal of bells to eight, completing the musical octave.
The Revd Jason St John Nicolle, Rector of the church, said: “The congregation and community in North Moreton are delighted with the new bells and their royal significance.
“Church bells are a familiar sound in towns and villages across the country, playing a key part in Christian worship and our local and national history. We hope these new bells will be here for hundreds of years to come, continuing to mark events in the community and future coronations.”
Rob Nickless has been a bellringer at the church since he was a teenager and is now Tower Captain. He reflected on the significance of the bells to the local community, saying: “The church bells have been sounding at the centre of the community for many years.
“I can remember hearing them as a child, calling people to worship and celebrating the life events of local people. It is brilliant that we can continue to do this, and now with an enhanced set of bells creating a much nicer sound that can be heard across the village.”
Project Manager and bell ringer Richard Loyd shared more about bell ringing: “As local bell ringers, it’s a great privilege to be able to celebrate the coronation and ring in the King and Queen with the only bells in the country to bear both royal cyphers.
“We’re looking forward to keeping the ancient art form of bellringing alive in the village with the complete musical octave and to grow the community of bellringers.”