The magic of Christmas came early to a village with the arrival of three splendid bells.
Chearsley people raised £55,000 to pay for the new bells to create a peal of six in St Nicholas Church.
Church warden Joy Payne said the arrival of the bells from the historic Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London was a magical experience for the whole village.
She said: “It was just magical, it brought people to tears. People were opening their doors to listen to them.
“We are thrilled to bits to have the bells for Christmas, and we have had so many messages from people in the village to say how happy they are.”
The additional bells will enable a much greater repertoire to be played by the bell ringers at church services and on special occasions.
The bells arrived by lorry early in the morning to enable schoolchildren to see them before leaving on the school bus, then they were lifted over the church gate with the help of farmer Michael Haybrook.
The bells were left outside the church for an hour and a half to enable villagers to come and view them before they were hoisted into the bell tower by volunteers, including church organist Jeremy Pratt.
Mr Pratt was instrumental in getting the new bells created and hung.
He is a regular bell ringer at Westminster Cathedral and performed at Prince William’s wedding.
The bells are all slightly different sizes and weights, have inscriptions on them and have been named Oliver, Nicholas and Elizabeth R.
The largest bell weighing 280 kilos is the Oliver bell funded by family, friends and customers of The Bell in memory of Oliver Babington, the former landlord who tragically died two years ago at the age of 38.
Mrs Payne said: “Mr Babington’s family came to see the bells. His two little boys had a couple of hours off school to see the bells and to touch them.”
The second bell, weighing 240 kilos, is the Nicholas bell named after the patron saint of children and the church. The inscription reads: ‘The Children of Chearsley, Past, Present and Future’.
The smallest bell, weighing 210 kilos, is the Elizabeth R with an inscription noting this is the 63rd year of the Queen’s reign. The inscription also names the vicar, the Rev John Wynburne, and the two churchwardens, Mrs Payne and Alicia Howard.