Village Robbed of it’s Bells!

(Excerpt from The Church Times 2nd November 2006)


TWO HISTORIC BELLS have been stolen from a Hampshire church, in a crime that police believe could be the work of experts.

The stolen bells, which were housed in a free-standing, open belfry at ground level, date from 1250 and 1636 respectively. A third bell, that was left behind, is dated 1905, when it was recast, but was originally hung in 168

The bells were stolen from St Michael and All Angels', Quarley, in the early morning, just before daylight.

Fields surround the church on three sides, and a road runs along the fourth.  The former rectory, the only house nearby, is screened from the church by tree.

Kit Hum, a churchwarden, said on Tuesday that the whole village was in mourning for the bells. "You have to remember that they were played each Sunday, and at weddings, not just for current residents, but of their parents, grandparents and beyond. The bells have been in the village since late-Saxon or early-Norman times."

The 13th-century bell bears the inscription "Sancta Maria ora pro nobis" and was made by Reading Foundry. The 17th-century bell bears the inscription "LOVGOD 1636 I D".

The police had told Mr Hum that if the theft was the work of experts, then it was very likely that they had a buyer from abroad already waiting. "We have been told that they were either stolen to order, or it could have been for scrap metal; but then, of course, why would they leave one bell? Mr Hum said.

The bells had been housed in a tower until the church was reordered century ago, when they were moved to ground level.

Mr Hum said that the church was now considering the options if the bells were not found. "We will have to contact the insurers and the bell-makers, and look into getting replacements."


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