Beds, Herts & Bucks

Ashwell church bells 'could be muffled' in compromise

St Mary's Church, Ashwell
Image caption The St Mary's Church bells in Ashwell have rung since 1896

A church at the centre of a row over noise complaints could have its chimes muffled overnight rather than being silenced.

Ashwell, in Hertfordshire, has been split between people who say the quarter hour chimes keep them awake at night, and others who like them.

In December it was announced the chimes at St Mary's would be silenced between 23:00 and 07:00.

Lovers of the chimes have now been given time to provide another option.

The St Mary's bells have been ringing for more than 100 years, but were silenced while repairs were carried out two years ago.

Alternative solution

Following the repairs, complaints led to an investigation by North Herts District Council, which decided the chimes were "prejudicial to health".

Ashwell Parish Council took the decision to stop them chiming every 15 minutes overnight, but said they could still ring on the hour, to avoid being issued with a noise abatement notice.

But campaigners Save the Chimes called for a referendum, claiming it was not what most of the village wanted.

The group has now been given "at least six months" to develop an alternative solution to reduce sound levels at night, prove it works and raise the required money.

Ashwell Advocates, which complained about the noise, said it would "welcome any long-term robust solution which solves the noise problem".

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