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Church bells will ring for Halloween

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 October 2008 | UPDATED: 07:44 01 August 2010

CHURCH bells WILL ring out in Bungay at Halloween, despite opposition from Church leaders who say it should not be done to mark a pagan festival.

A snap decision was made to allow the bells of St Mary's Church to ring during the Pumpkin Night festival, after the bell-ringers pressed for an answer, saying they needed preparation time.

CHURCH bells WILL ring out in Bungay at Halloween, despite opposition from Church leaders who say it should not be done to mark a pagan festival.

A snap decision was made to allow the bells of St Mary's Church to ring during the Pumpkin Night festival, after the bell-ringers pressed for an answer, saying they needed preparation time.

Churches Together in Bungay, which represents Roman Catholic, Church of England and Methodist and United Reformed churches, had objected to the ringing on the grounds that Halloween was a pagan, not a Christian, festival.

Martin Evans, chairman of the Friends of St Mary's Church said: “We had an hour to make the decision so we did a phone poll of committee members to feel the temperature and there was a majority who felt it should go ahead and that it added to the historical medieval side of the event.”

He said that the bells would ring out for half an hour from 9pm on October 31, adding: “In the old days they rang all night but they are not going to do that. It's a token ring.”

Initially it was believed that the decision lay with the Churches Conservation Trust, which owns the redundant church, but Mr Evans said the Trust checked the legal position of who was to decide.

“They have quite clearly said it is the decision of the Friends. If it had been connected to a religious service in the church then decision would be with the incumbent vicar, but it's not a secular issue.

“We are certainly not supporting the idea of American trick or treat or witches parties - it is doing something Bungay does rather well, which is recall its medieval past and bring this back to mind.”

He added: “If we are asked by religious leaders not to do this we are not going to be intransigent but so far we feel that this should happen.”

Pumpkin Night organiser Deirdre Shepherd said: “I'm delighted that the situation has come to a happy conclusion, and that another old tradition has been revived.”

It is believed that traditionally at Bungay an evening church service was held on All Saints Day, November 1, and the church bells were rung from 7pm until midnight. On the following day, All Souls Day, there were prayers for local people who had died.

The St. Mary's churchwarden's register in 1539 reads: “Paid to ye bell man for All Sowles [All Souls]…1 penny.”

Nick Clarke, spokesman for the diocese of St Edmunsbury and Ipswich, said: “The Churches Together in Bungay think that it is most categorically inappropriate to ring church bells to mark a pagan festival and they feel very strongly that it should not happen.”

On Saturday, November 1 the Fisher Theatre in Bungay will host a Dead Famous ball, with “Oscars” for the best dressed dead stars.

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