It was almost 100 years in the planning and delivery, but finally Bundaberg’s Christ Church has a complete set of ‘Peace Bells’ following the blessing by the Archbishop of Brisbane the Most Rev’d Dr Phillip Aspinall on Sunday.
Bundaberg’s Christ Church recently took delivery from Europe of the additional five bells, which joined the original lone bell (weighing 748kg) that was installed in 1935.
The Peace Bells were dedicated by Archbishop Aspinall during Sunday’s Armistice Day Centenary Service, which was attended by over 150 people. The bells commemorate those who served our country in the First World War and rang out 100 times at the conclusion of Sunday’s service.
Work on Christ Church, Bundaberg started soon after the Great War and the church was opened and consecrated in 1927, including the construction of a War Memorial Bell Tower, which was originally designed for six bells.
Christ Church Parish Councillor Russell Cobb said the War Memorial Tower was always intended to house, and sound the peal, of six bells.
“The Parish founders had a vision for the War Memorial Tower which included six bells as part of the design. For reasons that have been lost in the mists of time, the remaining five bells were never ordered or installed,” Mr Cobb said.
“Construction of the walls, roof and tower commenced shortly after the end of the First World War to honour our servicemen and women, so it is fitting that The Peace Bells be dedicated on the Armistice Centenary exactly 100 years later.
“With the centenary of the Armistice approaching, we saw an opportunity last year to dovetail the completion of the project with honouring those who served and died in the Great War.”
The five new bells were funded as part of a Queensland Anzac Centenary grant project called The War Memorial Tower – a Thank Offering for Peace, which was organised through the Corporation of the Synod of the Diocese of Brisbane. Funding was also provided by the Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs, as well as parish and church supporters and donors.
Mr Cobb said the bells were important to the Bundaberg community and were a symbolic and meaningful way to honour the region’s servicemen and women on the Armistice Centenary.
“It was an ambitious project, but one that the community got right behind. We did a feasibility study on the cost and as we were doing that, people also came forward with pledges of $5,000 or $2,000, which combined with the main funding from government, paid for the project,” he said.
“Five bells will be moved in the new year into the bell tower, five stories up and operate as English-style full circle ringing. It will be only the fourth of its kind in Queensland, along with St Paul’s in Maryborough, St Andrew’s at South Brisbane and St John’s Cathedral in the Brisbane CBD.”
The design of the bells was done in the Netherlands, the hot metal work was done near Milan, Italy, and then they were shipped back to the United Kingdom for machining and tuning. Interestingly, the smallest of the bells was acquired ‘second-hand’ after being found and moved from a church in Hove, Sussex.
The six bells are all individually and symbolically named – Peace; Love; Faithfulness; Joy; Patience & Self-Control; and, Goodness, Gentleness & Kindness.
“We’re hoping the peal will become a treasure of Bundaberg when they are officially installed into the bell tower in early 2019,” Mr Cobb said.
“They’ll ring out every Sunday as a call to worship and they’ll ring out at all of the important civic events like funerals, weddings and even at the start of the turtle season at nearby Mon Repos.”
The Armistice Centenary was also celebrated in other Anglican communities around Queensland joining Bundaberg in marking the Armistice Centenary, with the ringing of bells also occurring at St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane; St Andrew’s Anglican Church, South Brisbane; St Peter’s Anglican Church, Gympie; St Mary’s, Kangaroo Point; St Barnabas, Red Hill; St Paul’s, Samford; St Paul’s, Maryborough; and, St Paul’s, Rockhampton.