RESIDENTS of Blockley and neighbouring villages packed the parish church to celebrate the return of its refurbished bells and the addition of two new ones.

The event marked the culmination of an 18 month project costing £140,000.

Nearly two hundred people from the parish and beyond donated towards the restoration of the bell frame and bells. Further donations were received from all over the world and from a number of charitable trusts.

The bells were returned from the John Taylor Foundry in Loughborough and arranged in the chancel of the church for Friday’s dedication service during which Bishop Christopher Hill blessed the bells and committed them back to Blockley’s tower captain Ann Bourne.

The restoration of the tenor bell – the largest of the peal – was financed by resident Barry High who celebrated his 100th birthday this year.

The bell now bears an inscription acknowledging Mr High’s contribution.

All 10 bells were on display in the chancel, offering visitors a rare opportunity to see them before they are re?hung in the bell tower.

When back in position, the bells will form one of the largest peals in the north Cotswolds.

The reputation of the Blockley bells attracted a large contingent of campanologists to the dedication service.

Blockley’s vicar reverend canon Dana Delap said: “The restoration of the bells has been a real community project.

"Nearly 200 people in the area and from all over the world contributed to the bell fund, and member of the church contributed in all sorts of ways, from fundraising to writing the Book of Bells.

"The church wardens and the PCC have worked so hard to make this happen, and it has been a joy to be part of such an

exciting project.

"The bells will be here long after the present congregation, and not only ring at national and religious celebrations, but mark the passing of time in this timeless village.”