A detailed report about the Fire at Ropley is scheduled to appear this week in the Ringing World, but the tower captain has written this message of thanks to all the ringers who have been so supportive since the fire last Thursday.
It looks like we’re still many years off of ringing the bells again, and at the moment we’re stuck with the heartbreaking scenes of seeing the 5 and the 6 exposed through the remaining charred beams of the tower. Trying to keep positive, we’re excited about recreating that dedication service when the church has been restored, again remembering Mariana Sophia Hagen, linking the past while using the opportunity to get a new generation of people involved in ringing.
The damage could have been worse, our practice was due for that Thursday night, when the bells would have been left up, ready for a wedding on the Saturday. We’ll never know, but If the fire had been a day later, we suspect the bells might have come down, pulling much of the tower with them.
The response from villagers contacting us to let us know how much they loved the bells, how much comfort it brought them, reminding them of loved ones who are no longer with us, as well as the bell ringing community, has meant so much through these tricky first few days. As anyone who runs a tower knows, it can be a struggle to keep the belfry chiming week after week, getting enough ringers together when modern life can so easily get in the way. To see all those years of hard work literally go up in smoke was devastating, so it means an incredible amount that others understand the loss, and are standing by us, offering help of storing the bells, places to keep practicing, we don’t know how much help we’ll need yet, but we couldn’t have asked for more support from the bell ringing community.
Jason, and Lucy Clements
In case the you would like any extra information, there’s this web page written about the last restoration of the church, including what is inscribed on each of the bells, and a poem written by M.S Hagen, who was responsible for their restoration, and gifting a new treble bell: