Ring a ding ding, who has stolen this thing? Christchurch bell disappears

Patsy Restieaux, 89, was baptised, confirmed and married at St Mary’s Anglican Church, and misses...
Patsy Restieaux, 89, was baptised, confirmed and married at St Mary’s Anglican Church, and misses the sound of the bell ringing as she walks into the Sunday service. Photo: Star Media
The ring of the 154-year-old bell was a familiar sound to Patsy Restieaux, who was baptised, confirmed and married at St Mary’s Anglican Church in Halswell.

However, with a police investigation yet to yield results six weeks after the bell was stolen, the church’s oldest parishioner is doubtful it will be returned.

“We’re ever-hopeful, but I doubt it really. We’ll probably have to get a new one,” the 89-year-old said.

The 100kg bell was cast in bronze with a wrought iron clapper.

Patsy had enjoyed its sound as she walked into the Sunday service, and said stealing it was irreverent.

“We’re all devastated.”

Made by J. Warner and Sons, London, the bell is inscribed with the words “St Mary’s Halswell, gift of friends at home 1868.”

A police spokesperson said the matter remained open, but there were no immediate lines of inquiry.

A 50kg cast iron bell was also stolen from St Mary’s Anglican Church in Springston in mid-February.

“Police would keep an open mind as to any connections between similar thefts in the area around the same time,” the spokesperson said.

Parish administrator Lynda van Barneveld said the theft of the bell was very odd.

“Obviously it was very carefully executed, you don’t just drop a 100-kilo bell off the roof without thinking that through.”

The 100kg bronze bell stolen last month had been a feature of St Mary’s Anglican Church in...
The 100kg bronze bell stolen last month had been a feature of St Mary’s Anglican Church in Halswell for more than 150 years. Photo: Star Media

At least 10m high, the roof was undamaged.

“There was just one very sad looking azalea bush at the bottom that the bell landed on.”

Although Barneveld was unsure if the theft was connected to the one in Springston, she found the timing strange.

“Ours had gone missing pretty much the same week.

“It’s not something you hear of every day, that church bells go walkabout.

The bronze bell before it was stolen last month. Photo: Supplied
The bronze bell before it was stolen last month. Photo: Supplied

“We’re just waiting for hopefully the police to track it down or tell us that they can’t find it so that we can acquire another one, which I’m sure is not going to be an easy thing to do.”

The ideal outcome would be for the bell to be returned, and she encouraged anyone who could help to solve the mystery to reach out.

Police can be contacted by phoning 105 and quoting file number 220220/9488.

If the bell had not been melted down, it could suddenly turn up somewhere, Barneveld said.

“Someone might be trying to sell it or take it to the scrap merchant.”

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