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Couple who moved to village and complained its church clock tolling was ‘waking us up at night’

Couple who moved to a Devon village and got the 121-year-old church bells silenced after complaining they ‘woke us up at night’ are locked in a battle with locals threatening to take their fight to save the bells to court

  • Chris Deacon complained about the dongs at All Saints Church in Kenton, Devon
  • Mr Deacon called for understanding after his complaint sparked fury with locals
  • The clock has been there since 1910 but the complaint meant it has been muffled
  • Council said it was deemed a nuisance and threatened a noise abatement notice

A single complaint that muffled a church bell for the first time in more than 120 years was from a couple new to the village.

Chris Deacon complained about the dongs at All Saints Church in Kenton, Devon, because it was ‘waking us up’ at night.

Mr Deacon, who moved the area four years ago, appealed for understanding after his initial anonymous complaint sparked fury.

The church has housed its clock since 1910 but the solitary grumble to Teignbridge District Council meant steps were taken to muffle the noise.

Councillors said that after the complaint they decided the church could be served a noise abatement notice if they did not subdue it.

An environmental health team had earlier measured the sound and deemed it was louder than legally permitted.

Locals have been incensed by Mr Deacon’s complaint and the backing down of the council and threatened to take their battle to court.

Chris Deacon (pictured) complained about the dongs at All Saints Church in Kenton, Devon, because it was ‘waking us up’ at night

Mike Adams (pictured), captain of the bell ringers, said he had looked after the clock and kept it ticking over in good order for decades without any complaints until now

Mike Adams (pictured), captain of the bell ringers, said he had looked after the clock and kept it ticking over in good order for decades without any complaints until now 

The church (pictured) has housed its clock since 1910 but the solitary grumble to Teignbridge District Council meant steps had to be taken to muffle the noise

The church (pictured) has housed its clock since 1910 but the solitary grumble to Teignbridge District Council meant steps had to be taken to muffle the noise

The history of Kenton’s All Saints Church

The church of All Saints’, a 14th century parish at the centre of the Devon village of Kenton, has provided a service to families for over six centuries.

The church was built in around 1450 with the clock added into the church in around 1910.

It is believed to be one of the largest village churches in the country.  

Inside the church are plaques dedicated to Reverend Harry Drew and his wife, the daughter of Prime Minister William Gladstone.

Mr Deacon, has now come forward and said he would be happy if the chimes were within legal limits.

He added: ‘My wife and I had gone through a difficult period. She had been signed off work, and [had] a lack of health, a lack of sleep.

‘It was during the night it was waking us up, and it was difficult for us.’

Mr Deacon said his wife was upset when she read comments on social media and he said it was ‘disappointing that people have become angry at the situation, as opposed to reaching out with empathy’.

Reverend John Williams said the clock has been fitted with pads to ‘try to dull the sound’ and further measuring would take place.

He said: ‘While some residents of Kenton don’t mind hearing the clock striking at night and find it comforting, we are nonetheless obliged to comply with the law.’

And the diocese said it was now hoping to raise about £2,000 to have a mechanism fitted that turned off the clock chimes at night.

He said the church would work with council’s environmental health team and local residents ‘to resolve this matter and look forward to the time when regular bellringing can resume again.’

Councillors later confirmed following the complaint it was deemed a noise nuisance and could be served a noise abatement notice. Pictured: Bell ringers

Councillors later confirmed following the complaint it was deemed a noise nuisance and could be served a noise abatement notice. Pictured: Bell ringers 

The church of All Saints', a 14th century parish at the centre of the Devon village of Kenton, has provided a service to families for over six centuries

The church of All Saints’, a 14th century parish at the centre of the Devon village of Kenton, has provided a service to families for over six centuries

Mike Adams, captain of the bell ringers, said he had looked after the clock and kept it ticking over in good order for decades without any complaints until now

Mike Adams, captain of the bell ringers, said he had looked after the clock and kept it ticking over in good order for decades without any complaints until now

Mike Adams, captain of the bell ringers, said he had looked after the clock and kept it ticking over in good order for decades without any complaints until now.

He said: ‘They have complained that the clock striking at the quarter and the hour is detrimental to their mental health.

‘They have gone to the environmental health officer at Teignbridge District Council who have put a monitor in and said we are above the level they find acceptable.

‘What I have now done is slightly muted the quarter striking part of the clock and asked the environmental health officer to come back and measure again.

‘On my post I have 87 people commenting and not one has said to stop the clock. There has been outcry in the village as just one person has complained and threatened to stop it.

‘Where is the democracy in that? We are supposed to live in one. As far as I know this was only complaint in that 78 years.

‘It is crazy. The church was built in around 1450 and it is a massive building. It is one of the largest village churches in the country. If you buy a house in the village it is fairly obvious the church is there – and it came before all of us.

‘Whoever complained has moved to the church – the church has not moved to them.’

Teignbridge District Council said: ‘We have a duty to investigate noise complaints and we are working with the church to find a satisfactory solution. No notice has been issued.’

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