A ding-dong argument over a church clock’s chimes has finally been resolved amicably.
Wrington Parochial Church Council and North Somerset Council have come to an agreement which means the hourly bell at All Saints Church, Wrington, will continue to ring the hour during the night – but the Westminster chimes of the faceless clock will not sound again after the 10.45pm chime until 7am.
The bell and clock chimes will continue to sound normally at all other times, it has been agreed.
Newcomers Jonathan Apps and Tina Hallett’s initial complaint about the late-night chimes led environmental health officers to visit the church and go on to serve a noise abatement notice on the vicar, the Reverend Nicholas Maddock, ordering him to switch off the chimes between 11pm and 7am or face prosecution. The chimes are on an automated system and at first the church was forced to silence them completely, to the outrage of villagers.
Mr Apps and Miss Hallett had bought Priory House, their £587,000 home in the village in October 2011 when the chimes were temporarily switched off while an £85,000 refurbishment of the church tower and bells took place. But when the noise notice was served they said they had not wanted their complaint to cause such a problem, wished they could turn back the clock, and withdrew their complaint.
Town hall bureaucracy meant that the church still had to comply with the order, or win an appeal.
Meanwhile, a method was found of adjusting the mechanism so that the bells and chimes could ring during the daytime. Until last year they had sounded at the 15th century church for 100 years.
The final resolution allows the hourly bell to strike through the night. Churchwarden Mrs Margaret Barker said yesterday a further small adjustment to the mechanism may be needed to achieve the decoupling of the two chimes.
Former churchwarden John Ledbury, who resigned over the issue, said: “I am delighted that the bells will be heard again on the hour.”
In a joint statement the PCC and the council said they were “very pleased” that the issue had been amicably resolved and added:“The process of resolution was conducted carefully and diplomatically by both sides.
“Both parties wish to thank all those involved for their co-operation in bringing this matter to a conclusion.”