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Campaigners lose fight to save traditional clock chimes at St Peter's Church in Sandwich

By Eleanor Perkins

A centuries-old tradition will come to an end early next year after the owners of St Peter’s Church in Sandwich have been ordered to silence its overnight clock chimes.

A noise abatement notice was sent out by Dover District Council on Monday requesting the Church Conservation Trust (CCT) silence or muffle the four-times-an-hour chimes between 11pm and 7am excluding on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

It comes after Dover District Council carried out decibel tests following a single complaint from a resident.

Due to a complaint to Dover District Council by one resident, the chimes will be silenced.
Due to a complaint to Dover District Council by one resident, the chimes will be silenced.

The Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Paul Graeme told KentOnline he is disappointed with the news, adding that the council will continue to support the Save The Chimes campaign group who had put up a strong fight to keep the tradition going.

He told the Mercury: “We are disappointed for many reasons and to that end we are trying to organise a public meeting at the Guildhall in the next week or so.

“There is an appeal process that goes through the courts that needs to be triggered within 21 days.

“I have had telephone conversations with the chimes group and they are fully aware of their obligation in respect of the cost of such appeals.”

About 150 residents attended a public meeting with only one in support of silencing the chimes
About 150 residents attended a public meeting with only one in support of silencing the chimes

The town council’s last correspondence with the district council was a formal complaint over the way it had handled the probe.

Town councillors felt that DDC’s investigation had not followed “best practice” or “taken into account the wider sensitivities” such as how many people were in support of the tradition.

Sandwich Local History Society and The Sandwich Society have conducted a survey which found that 85% of 277 people living in close proximity to the church do not want the chimes to end.

One resident Morag Hare said “they might as well stop the world” if they stop the overnight clock chimes at St Peter’s Church. (See video below)

However DDC has since replied saying its investigation had been fair and robust.

The CCT has been given 90 days to take action but is not commenting at this stage.

A DDC spokesman said: “We can confirm that a decision has been taken to serve a Noise Abatement Notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 with regard to church bells at St Peter’s Church in Sandwich.

"For more information, please see the Notice of Delegated Decision at http://moderngov.dover.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=2852&x=1”

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