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South Holland's church bells won't ring in 'celebration' of the UK's departure from the EU

Most clergy in South Holland - the second biggest ‘Vote Leave’ constituency in the UK - are not supporting a call to ring church bells of celebration on February 1.

Leave.EU’s campaign to “let the bells ring for Brexit” struck the wrong chord with church leaders who say bells have in the past been rung at times of national celebration or as a warning.

The Vicar of Spalding, the Rev John Bennett, said: “This topic was raised at our Clergy Chapter meeting last week and we noted the advice of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers who have said that as a principle they do not endorse bell ringing for political reasons.

The Vicar of Spalding, the Rev John Bennett, believes it would be "insensitive" to ring bells to celebrate Brexit
The Vicar of Spalding, the Rev John Bennett, believes it would be "insensitive" to ring bells to celebrate Brexit

“My own view is that it would be equally insensitive to ring bells in celebration with those who are pleased that the UK will be independent of the institutions of the European Union or in mourning with those who feel sad to be losing their rights as members of the EU.

"Healing the divisions in our country will need all of us to recognise the positive and negative effects of the changes that will come with Brexit, both for ourselves and for our neighbours."

Bells will be silent in Holbeach too as the Rev Canon Rosamund Seal said: “No one here has asked me about it and I am content to let the matter rest.

The Rev Ian Walters would be happy for bellringers to mark the UK's departure from the EU
The Rev Ian Walters would be happy for bellringers to mark the UK's departure from the EU

“Historically church bells were rung both at times of celebration but also as a warning and call to arms in times of war so I am not sure how appropriate it would be to be honest.”

The Rev Ian Walters, from Gosberton and Quadring, would be happy for bellringers to mark the moment of Britain’s departure.

He said: “I’d be happy for them to do it, as I’ve never been happy about us being in the EU and therefore most content at the thought of Brexit.”

There are no bells at Gosberton Baptist Church but, if there were, minister Steve Weatherly-Barton says wouldn’t be ringing them.

Mr Weatherly-Barton, also chaplain at Spalding’s Johnson Community Hospital, says: “My own personal response is that whilst the EU has plenty of scope for improvement, Brexit appears to offer no obvious advantages other than a vague assurance that we shall be ‘free’, and that we may see some benefits in 30 years time.

"First-rate immigrants, including teachers, nurses and doctors, have been driven out of the country because they fear for their safety if they remain in Britain; and I wonder if our farmers will have an adequate supply of overseas workers in years to come.

"I notice too that economic assessments suggest that the UKsGDP (gross domestic product) could be as much as seven per cent lower, in a decade, than if the country stayed in the EU.

"Companies in Britain’s aerospace, automotive, chemical, food, and pharmaceutical sectors have all expressed deep concerns about the future. And recent opinion polls show a clear change of heart among many who genuinely thought they were voting for a better future.

"So if we had any bells I wouldn’t be ringing them.

The Rev Gareth Atha, vicar of the Elloe Stone Parishes, said: "We wont be ringing our bells to mark the UK leaving the EU.

"Although we are aware that we are in a highly leave supporting area, we also recognise that Brexit has been and remains a very divisive issue.

"I believe that the Church's role is to be politically neutral and be available to all, regardless of their feelings on Brexit."

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