Bells fall silent at York Minster for first time in over 600 years on Christmas day

The York Minster bells fell silent for the first time in over 600 years for the York Minster Solemn Eucharist of Christmas Day service. Pic: James Hardisty.

The York Minster bells fell silent for the first time in over 600 years for the York Minster Solemn Eucharist of Christmas Day service. Pic: James Hardisty.

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The bells of York Minster fell silent on Christmas Day for the first time in over 600 years following the controversial break-up of their bell-ringing team.

Visitors and worshippers at the world-famous cathedral had been warned to expect a silent Christmas after the move in October which saw the Minster’s Chapter disband its 30-strong ringing group due to safeguarding concerns.

The York Minster bells fell silent for the first time in over 600 years for the York Minster Solemn Eucharist of Christmas Day service. Pic: James Hardisty.

The York Minster bells fell silent for the first time in over 600 years for the York Minster Solemn Eucharist of Christmas Day service. Pic: James Hardisty.

The Dean of York Minster Vivienne Faull and the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, who supported the decision, were both in attendance at the service.

York Minster’s governing body became involved in a dispute with its former bellringers earlier this year, which culminated in the team being disbanded in October.

The Chapter of York Minster had defended its decision to disband its bellringers earlier this week, saying the controversial move was made due to safeguarding concerns surrounding one of the team.

A detailed statement issued by the Chapter explained how it disbanded the team after the ringers refused to accept its decision not to reinstate one of its members.

The York Minster bells fell silent for the first time in over 600 years for the York Minster Solemn Eucharist of Christmas Day service. Pic: James Hardisty.

The York Minster bells fell silent for the first time in over 600 years for the York Minster Solemn Eucharist of Christmas Day service. Pic: James Hardisty.

The ringer had been suspended following a police investigation into allegations of sex offending against children which did not lead to a prosecution.

And the Chapter also suggested efforts to find temporary stand-ins to ensure the bells ring out over Christmas were being thwarted by “intimidation”.

It said many of the people who had offered to help were subjected to intimidation on social media and in the local press, including a member of the clergy who was threatened with legal action.

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