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West Ham church bell to toll in show of solidarity with Notre Dame

PUBLISHED: 12:14 18 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:21 18 April 2019

A fire fighter makes his way on a balcony of Notre Dame cathedral. Pic: PA/AP Photo/Francois Mori)

A fire fighter makes his way on a balcony of Notre Dame cathedral. Pic: PA/AP Photo/Francois Mori)

A single bell is to toll as a mark of respect following the blaze which devastated Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

All Saints in Stratford. Picture: ISABEL INFANTESAll Saints in Stratford. Picture: ISABEL INFANTES

The show of solidarity with the French landmark is due to ring out at All Saints Church West Ham opposite Stratford Park at 7pm tonight.

Bell ringer, Matthew Rayner, said: “We want to say we as a country are supporting France in its hour of need and that we are right behind them.”

Just one of All Saints' 10 bells will ring for seven minutes – the same kind of ringing that accompanies a funeral march – in the run up to the Easter weekend, a time when it is usual for churches to remain silent.

“Normally churches go silent in Holy Week to mourn Christ's passing. Then they ring again to mark the resurrection,” Matthew explained.

Stained glass windows visible within the remains of the Notre Dame. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA WireStained glass windows visible within the remains of the Notre Dame. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

“It's unusual but we are doing it as a mark of solidarity with the people of France,” the 32-year-old added.

Bells in churches across the UK will toll following the blaze on Monday which saw just under 400 firefighters battle through the night to save the 850-year-old cathedral.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has promised it will be rebuilt within five years. Fifty people are investigating the cause.

Matthew explained that Notre Dame's 10 bells would have been at risk of cracking had cold water rained down on them after being heated by flames.

Firefighters in the remains of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA WireFirefighters in the remains of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

He estimated it could take 30 to 40 years to rebuild what has been described as a masterpiece of gothic architecture.

Three ringers from the West Ham Bells group of 13 are to take part at All Saints, one to ring and two more on hand to keep the bells pealing in case of any accidents.

All Saints itself is one of the few Grade I-listed buildings in Newham with parts dating back to the eleventh century. It is recognised as being one of the oldest churches in the area, Matthew said.

It used to be part of Stratford Langthorne Abbey before King Henry VIII dissolved the country's monasteries between 1536 and 1541.

Most of All Saints' bells were cast in 1978 but one dates back to 1958. They pealed on Armistice Day last year to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War ending and in honour of the 1,400 bell ringers who died in the conflict.

For more information about bell ringing at All Saints visit westhambells.org.uk or follow them on Twitter @westhambells

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