A month of celebrations is planned to mark the centenary of the town’s church bells.

The eight bells in St Mary’s Church, Bridport, have been ringing for 100 years since they were fully recast in 1924.

To mark this milestone, there will be various celebratory events taking place throughout May.

The first event will take place on Saturday, April 20 with the church bell tower being open to the public from 10am.

Exhibition stands and refreshments will be laid out across the tower and visitors will be given the chance to see the ringing chamber and the clock as well as ringing the bells themselves with the Ellacombe apparatus.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Workers at St Mary's Bell tower

The church and tower will also be hosting exhibitions for the Bridport Community Charter Fair on Saturday, May 18 from 10am.  

The main celebration day will take place from 10am on Saturday May 25 with an exhibition at St Mary’s Church followed by a 3pm quarter peal by a Dorset Bell Ringing Team.

There will also be a 7pm evening concert at the church with Bothenhampton hand bell ringers, the choir Local Vocals and the band Hat Trick.

On Wednesday, May 29, an East Dorset ringing team will gather at 12.30pm at the tower for a full peal - a ringing performance which typically lasts around 3 hours. A brand-new bell ringing peal has been created in honour of the special occasion, and formally named as Bridport Delight Major. 

While these specific bells have only rung for 100 years, the tower has housed bells since 1552, when an inventory revealed that Bridport only had three bells. By 1774, this increased to five bells with a clock.

A further bell was added in 1843 and the final two added in 1887.  All eight bells were recast in 1924.

Each bell has an inscription from the families who were part of that recasting and renewal of the bells 100 years ago.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: No 7 Bell of St Mary's Church

Bob Hardwick, tower captain, has announced plans to renovate the bells to prepare them for the next 100 years, which will include checking the bearings and clappers and replacing them if needed.

He said: “The work is now needed, and most importantly, work done now will protect the bells as they ring in the future.

“It is estimated that it will cost £25,000 to do that full upgrade, and once again, the church and the bell ringers will need the help of the people and families of Bridport.

“The project will prepare these 100-year-old bells, as best we can, for the next 100 years.”