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Six blessed bells to ring out on Christmas Day as Kensal Green church celebrates 175th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 14:51 16 December 2019

Russel Grant, centre, amongst the congregation celebrating St John the Evangelist church's 175 birthday. Picture: Fr David Ackerman

Russel Grant, centre, amongst the congregation celebrating St John the Evangelist church's 175 birthday. Picture: Fr David Ackerman

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Six new bells will ring out across Kensal Green on Christmas Day following a special blessing celebrating the church’s 175th anniversary.

Six new bells were made and blessed as part of St John the Evangelist church 175th anniversary. Picture: Fr David AckermanSix new bells were made and blessed as part of St John the Evangelist church 175th anniversary. Picture: Fr David Ackerman

The bells for St John the Evangelist Church, in Kilburn Lane, were commissioned to mark the special birthday and were blessed on December 6, the feast of St Nicholas, by the Bishop of Fulham, Jonathan Baker.

The bells were washed with holy water, anointed with oils, presented and named and then censed by the bishop and clergy. Simon Adams, from John Taylor and Co, the foundry where the bells were made, was the first to ring them.

Vicar David Ackerman said: "The history of the church in 1916 mentions the tower which 'awaits' its bells because 'something cheerier is needed to 'call' the good folks to church'. Over one hundred years after these words were written and one hundred and seventy years after the church opened that desire will be fulfilled.

"The waiting ends when on Christmas Day 2019 the Bishop of Fulham returns to hear the bells ring from the tower for the first time."

Jidenna Ikemefuna and older brother Dubem Ikemefuna play a king in a St Nicholas Pageant at St John the Evangelist church. Picture: Fr David AckermanJidenna Ikemefuna and older brother Dubem Ikemefuna play a king in a St Nicholas Pageant at St John the Evangelist church. Picture: Fr David Ackerman

Kevin Traverse-Healy, representative deputy lieutenant for the City of Westminster, said the service was "a splendid and close to unique occasion".

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In a letter to Fr David he wrote: "Magnificent, and you and yours had obviously put both heart and body into making it such a memorable day."

Astrologer Russell Grant gave the church a print of Middlesex at the time of the Domesday Book.

The next day young parishioners performed a St Nicholas Pageant. In a play based on the names of the six bells, two-year-old Jidenna Ikemefuna played the infant king while his older brother Dubem Ikemefuna played the same King restored to the throne eight years after his exile.

Fr Ackerman said: "The pageant was based on the experience of the Church in Russia during the Soviet years when most church bells were destroyed and the revival of the Church in recent years has seen massive casting of bells. The bells were made possible owing to a generous donation of Tony Fernandes."

The year will end as it began - with a £1,000 donation. In January it was given to a community and sports hub and in December to the Aid to the Church in Need charity.

Over the year the community donated £100,000 to the church.


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