The Sharpe Trust

1. The late Frederick Sharpe, FSA, was one of the world's leading authorities on the history, technology, and music of bells. For many years he was a consultant expert on the subject and inspected many hundreds of towers and belfries. He also researched and wrote books on the church bells of Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Herefordshire, Cardiganshire, and Radnorshire, and was a frequent lecturer to professional, learned, and other bodies. Frederick Sharpe died in February 1976. Inter alia, his Will provided a sum of money and nominated a group of Trustees (the "Sharpe Trustees") to hold and use the capital and income "in their sole discretion for the maintenance, repair, and restoration of Church Bells situate anywhere in England and Wales".

2. This document describes the Sharpe Trustees' current policy and has been prepared for the guidance of those making application for grants. It also describes the Trustees’ GDPR privacy policy.

3. Applications must be addressed to the Grant Secretary of the Trustees and should be made by, or on behalf of, the relevant authority of the Church concerned. A special form is provided to ensure that a minimum of relevant information is presented, but it is the responsibility of the applicant to provide as much supporting information as is necessary for the Trustees to make a decision against the policy outlined herein without any further correspondence. When photographs are provided, the tower name should be written on the reverse of each. Applications will normally be acknowledged within one month of receipt, but are only considered at the twice-yearly meetings of the Trustees (usually mid-March and mid-October). For consideration at a particular meeting, an application should be in the hands of the Grant Secretary six weeks in advance (ie, 1st February or 1st September). Advice of the Trustees' decision is normally despatched no later than one month after the meeting. Where there are circumstances which necessitate a decision by the Trustees by a given date, those circumstances and the appropriate date should be made clear in the application. Applicants are advised that pressing for a quick decision may well prove to be counterproductive. In relation to the programme of work to be undertaken, an optimum time for an application to be considered is after an order has been placed for the work to be done but not more than 12 months before the expected completion date.

4. The Trustees endeavour to consider each application in the light of their knowledge of Mr Sharpe's predilections. Thus, when rehanging is involved, special attention is paid to any intention to retain canons, for Mr Sharpe felt strongly that canons were an integral part of a particular founder's craftsmanship. Another example which merits favourable consideration is that of welding in order to preserve a bell from a particular foundry, especially if few other examples are still in existence, for Frederick Sharpe was anxious to discourage the needless destruction of items of antiquarian value or interest. Administratively, he was scrupulous in encouraging those concerned with bell restoration to follow the necessary ecclesiastical procedures (such as obtaining a Faculty). In the supporting information, therefore, applicants are encouraged to draw the Trustees' attention as to how these various aspects have been addressed, and to provide the requested summary of the existing installation.

5. When assessing what grant to make, if any, the Trustees also wish to take into account:

the financial situation prevailing (eg, how much money has been raised so far, what other sources of funding are being investigated) and the demonstrable commitment to the project by local people (such as the incumbent, Church Council, band of ringers, local ringers' Association);

the size of the community;

the historic significance of the total installation;

the precise details of the work to be done (supported by copies of specifications by possible and preferred contractors);

the reasons for the choice of preferred contractor, or if only one has been approached, the reasons for so doing.

6. The Trust is a registered Charity (number 277727). Its governing instrument implicitly precludes certain categories of work on bells. Consequently, the Trustees are not empowered to make grants towards:

restoration, etc, of bells outside England and Wales;

restoration, etc, of bells housed in secular premises;

the casting of new bells even, for example, to augment an existing ring;

work to achieve sound-control;

tower strengthening, unless it is done in association with rehanging, re-casting, or welding.

7. The first grant awarded from Trust funds was paid in 1982. Since then, over 100,000 pounds has been made available for bell restoration work. Grants have ranged between 50 and 700 pounds, the average being approximately 150 pounds.

8. The Trustees reserve the right to revoke any offer of grant should they have reason to believe that the work has been carried out other than in accordance with the original application. Grants will not be paid until the work has been completed to the Trustees' satisfaction, and this may necessitate an inspection. Any offer of a grant will lapse if it is not claimed within three years of the Trustees' decision.

9. Under no circumstances will the Trustees enter into correspondence or discussion about the reasons for their decision on any particular application.

10. The Trustees request that any grant made from The Sharpe Trust be recorded in the Church's own files and also acknowledged in, for example, the rededication service leaflet.

11. The Trustees are very willing to accept donations, bequests, or legacies, with the aim of increasing the funds at their disposal, so long as donors are prepared to have their gift used for grant-making against the policies laid out in this document. The Secretary of the Trustees will be pleased to discuss details with potential donors.

Churches which have been awarded grants in the past year

October 2023



Brympton d'Evercy, Someset - St Andrew

Bath & Wells

Burton Dassett, Warks - All Saints


Eling, Hants - St Mary


Burton Pidsea, East Yorks - SS Peter & Paul


Bethersden, Kent - St Margaret


Hovingham, North Yorks - All Saints


Melksham, Wilts - St Michael & AA


Hinton St George, Somerset - St George

Bath & Wells

Much Wenlock, Salop - Holy Trinity



March 2023




Patrington, Hull – St Patrick


Watlington, Oxon – St Leonard


Southoe, Cambs – St Leonard


Tilton on the Hill, Leics – St Peter


Sefton, Liverpool – St Helen


Hardwicke, Glos – St Nicholas


Pembroke – St Mary V

St David’s

Marahchapel, Lincs – St Mary V


Harrington, Northants – Ss Peter & Paul


Hatherleigh, Devon – St John Bapt


Mordiford, Hereford – Holy Rood


Witney, Oxon – St Mary V


Hough on the Hill, Lincs – All Saints