TWO new treble bells have been cast for Great Malvern Priory, as part of a £220,000 fund-raising project that is nearing completion, five years after it started.

A decision to look into either replacing or restoring the ailing bell frame was taken in 2009, when the diocese ruled out replacing it and went for restoration as a more satisfactory and cost-effective option.

Now the long awaited dream of the Great Malvern Priory Tower Captain, John Clements and his wife Gladys, to stiffen the bellframe and add two new bells, has moved one stage closer to reality. Last Friday they travelled with other Priory members to witness the casting of the two new treble bells by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London.

Maggie Smith, Priory Bellringer said: "It was an historic and momentous day for Great Malvern Priory."

When the new bells are in place, the Priory will be able to ring the changes with a ten bell peal.

Fund-raising is still ongoing, but it has been helped by a generous donation £90,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and £5000 from Malvern Town Council.

The bells were cast by pouring molten metal into a mould formed by two halves clamped together – the cope is the outer mould and the core is the inner mould. This method of bell production has remained largely unchanged for centuries.

The bells will stay in the foundry until early next year when all the current Priory bells, together with the frame and fittings, will be dismantled and sent to Whitechapel to meet up with the two new bells, which will then be tuned.

Steel supports will be built into the tower and the bells, fittings and stiffened bell frame reassembled in the tower.

Mr Clements said: "Rehanging the bells is a big project but without this work the bells will become un-ringable."

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the “Bell Project” can send a cheque to Great Malvern Priory “Bell Project”, Priory Office, Church Street, Malvern, WR14 2AY.