A CHURCH’S bells will not be heard again “for the foreseeable future” after a building inspection found it was too dangerous to ring them.

Serious rot has been discovered in a 200-year-old oak beam that supports three of the six bells in the church tower at St Edmund’s Church, in the heart of Sedgefield village, County Durham.

The man charged with overseeing maintenance of the 900-year-old building, Durham’s Diocesan bell advisor Brian Mutch said it would not be safe to use the bells because of the state of beam – which is 12ft long, seven inches wide and more than nine inches deep.

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Emeritus warden Mr Mutch, who has special responsibility for maintaining the fabric of all churches in the parish of the Upper Skerne, said: “We want to have the beam replaced as quickly as possible but there is only one company in the country capable of doing the work.

"We are now waiting for them to give us a quotation but it is clear that the bells will not be rung again for the foreseeable future.”

The repair will be funded by the Friends of St Edmund’s who have only recently paid for remedial work to the roof of the east gable of the chancel where “holes you can get your hand into” were discovered during a recent drone survey and needed urgent repairs before the winter arrived.

The Friends have also agreed to pay for the long-overdue refurbishment of the two faces on the church clock and its striking system.

They are also providing bronze safety bars on the tower roof to enable visits, so people can look out over the village green and surrounding countryside, and are making good areas of the main building fabric and contributing to the lifting of the crossing floor.

Funds were also needed recently to repair the lychgate roof after it was damaged by vandals and tens of thousands of pounds have been raised over recent years following a spate of thefts which saw chunks of lead ripped from the roof, causing significant leaks.

Faced with a new significant fundraising challenge, the group is now inviting donations of any size via an online fundraising page at justgiving.com/fo-stedmundschurch.

Or people can contact Mr Mutch, who is the Friends’ membership secretary, on 01740-622302.


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