Since the early 17th century, the bells at historic St Michael’s Church in Aslacton have rung out across the village to herald the start of services.

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However, for the last three months the five bells have been silent due to a large crack which has appeared in the Saxon-era round tower, prompting fears the church, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book, 1086, may have to close in the long term unless the tower can be renovated.

Campaigners have set up the Aslacton Tower Repair Fund to try to raise an initial £15,000 to carry out the urgent repairs and then raise additional funds for other renovation and maintenance work needed around the church.

The action group has already had one meeting and will be holding a second meeting at the church on July 6 as the fundraising drive continues.

Janine Jarrett, a spokesman for the fundraising group, said: “It will close unless we get the tower renovated. The initial crack is making the bell tower unstable and if that continues to happen then we will have to get the bell tower closed.”

However, she said there had been a good level of interest from the local community after leaflets were sent round houses in the area to try to drum up support and 55 people attended the first public meeting.

The action group are also hoping to use the Royal Norfolk Show to gain interest, while the group’s members are set to take part in a number of fundraising events over the coming months, including a tractor run, treasure hunt and ploughing marathon.

Mrs Jarrett said further financial support could come from grant awarding organisations, such as the National Lottery, while other projects the church may want to raise money for include the installation of a stained glass window.

The Rev Irene Knowles, rector of the Pilgrim Benefice, which includes Aslacton, Bunwell, Carleton Rode, Great Moulton and Tibenham, said the bells, made by William Brend of Norwich, were quite unique in that they rang in an anti-clockwise fashion, which was rare as generally church bells rotated clockwise.

The church itself is believed to date back to 900AD and a south aisle was added in 1312 with a matching chancel arch in 1350.

She said: “I would like to thank the Aslacton churchwardens and church council for all the work done over many years keeping Aslacton Church open and welcoming.

“However, the task has become too great for worshippers only and I am grateful that the village have taken on the task together to repair and keep the church open for future generations”.

dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk

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