St Mary’s church in Atherington is ancient, one of a few in the country with a rood loft remaining above the rood screen in the north aisle and is Grade I Listed. A steel bell frame was installed in 1904 with both the top and bottom members of the frame fixed into the tower walls, which transmits any of the vibrations and dynamic loads from bell ringing directly into the stone work (normally bell frames are independent of the stone walls, sitting on very solid foundation beams, lower down the tower. So small vibrations and movements are not transmitted directly to the tower stonework). By 1976 the bells had to stop ringing because the ends of the steel beams, had rusted and expanded, cracking the stonework around them. Repairs to fractures on the outside of the tower were carried out in 1986 with an English Heritage grant, but the bells could still not be rung. In 2000 the village wanted to get the bells ringing again and commissioned us to resolve the structural issues of the tower, so bells could be re hung. We firstly analysed the position and extent of cracking on the inside of the tower and related it to the repaired areas of cracks on the outside and concluded there were two areas of significant weakness, which corresponded to the spiral staircase (vice stair) which goes all the way up the tower in the thickness of the wall and the old flue position from an old pot-bellied stove, which has now been removed. The walls of the tower are over 4 feet (1.2 metres) thick at the bottom, but the chimney and staircase, formed weak points in the structure and was where the cracking was concentrated. There were further cracks in the top of the tower in the bell chamber, corresponding to rust expansion of the steel bell frames. In order for the bells to be rung again, the bell hanger suggested moving the bell frame further down the tower, where the resultant forces would have a much greater mass of masonry to absorb any vibration and is a much smaller lever affecting the stonework. It was then a question of what was enough repair to the stonework to adequately support the tower without going to the additional expense of repairing the whole tower, which may not be entirely necessary. In conjunction with conservation engineer Paul Carpenter, who did some very thorough analysis of the impact of the bell frame at the lower level on the structure, we concluded that the bottom half of the tower up to the top of the bell frame, should be repaired pretty thoroughly, the cracking around the staircase and the chimney rebuilt with additional reinforcement. Above the bell frame, the chimney and staircase were repaired, but only the larger and more significant cracks cut out and stitched as is was not structurally necessary to repair all of the smaller cracks. The work was completed in 2010, but left for 6 months before the bells were rung, to allow the lime mortar to stiffen and gain greater strength. The historic clock and its mechanism, was protected and kept in situ. The following year we helped the church apply for and get an English Heritage HLF/repair grant for the re slating of all the roofs where the nails had corroded through. The slates and roof structure beneath was generally in very good condition.