beith parish church
Google Maps

A council has recently silenced a church bell that sounded every hour for over 200 years after one noise complaint. Beith Parish Church in Ayrshire, Scotland, won’t sound around the clock anymore, as one resident said their sleep was disturbed. Now, The Church of Scotland has stopped the bell between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The resident, who had recently moved to the town, contacted session clerk Gordon Isbister, urging the church to silence the bell as he and his wife were unable to sleep because of the hourly chimes. Some church elders suggested the couple should ‘put earplugs in’ to muffle the noise, but others felt it was not an unreasonable request.

However, over 900 people have signed a petition to restore the chimes to 24 hours as they say the bells represent Beith’s “history and heritage.” Bryan McWilliams, who’s lived next to the church for 24 years, started the petition as he thinks the tradition is “ingrained in our community for generations.” North Ayrshire Council asked the Church of Scotland to consider silencing the bell overnight after the noise complaint.

The church’s Kirk Session said members were “empathetic” and recognized it could be disturbing for some people. A spokesperson said, “The Kirk Session took Environmental Health’s suggestion on board, embracing the Bible teaching of love thy neighbor as thyself.” However, in speaking to the BBC, Mr. McWilliams said, “The chiming clock is more than just a timekeeper. It serves as an audible connection to our history and heritage and has been chiming for 200 years.”

McWilliams continued, “Many townsfolk have shared stories about how they’ve relied on these chimes throughout their lives – from knowing when it was time to head home as children playing in the streets to relying on them during power outages. We understand that everyone’s comfort is important. However, we believe that one person’s discomfort should not outweigh a tradition loved by many and ingrained in our community for generations.”

Beith Parish Church was built in 1810. Church archivist Tom Hart said there were previous discussions about the bell in the 1990s. However, the 24-hour tradition continued. North Ayrshire Council said that the church was advised that, when assessing for nuisance, environmental health inspectors would consider the fact that the noise was for long-established cultural or religious reasons.

North Ayrshire Council confirmed the church had contacted it for advice but stressed ‘no formal action’ was taken by officials. A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said, “We are aware of the situation at Beith Parish Church, but this is not a common problem across our parishes.”

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad