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How Did The Ancient Bell Get To Kettins

VERY soon now the kirk session of Kettins Parish Church will be faced by a most unusual problem.

Should they allow the old church bell, which has been in the village for almost 300 years, to be taken back to its original home in Belgium?

The story is a long one, and with all the dates involved looks like something from a fifth-form history book.

But first of all, an explanation why after all these years a claim should be made for this ancient bell.

It happened several weeks ago, when a party of Flemish students visited the minister of Kettins Church, the Rev. R.M. Boys Scott.

“They asked me if the bell they described was at our church and I told them it was,” said Mr Boyd Scott this week.

“They then asked me if they could take it back with then to Belgium.”

Rebuilding

“The students explained that they were helping to rebuild the ancient Abbey of Grobbendonk - Maria Troon, as it is known and as our bell at one time was on the abbey they would like to replace it there.”

Mr Boyd Scott had to tell the students that he couldn’t make such a decision and that it would have to go before his kirk session.

The present position is that no action can be taken until the next session meeting. Since Kettins is predominantly an agricultural parish, no meetings are held until work on the farms is complete before the winter months.

The bell in question no longer stands above Kettins Church. In 1892 a new tower and vestry were built and at that time a new bell was installed.

The congregation were obviously so attached to the old one, however, that it was removed, with belfry, to a site beside the church, where it has stood ever since.

Kettins Church is one of the oldest in Perthshire dating back to 1245. The first mention of the bell in the records is not until 1691.

“How the bell got here and who brought it are mysteries,” said Mr Boyd Scott. “Although evidence isn’t completely conclusive, it almost certainly did come from the Belgian abbey.

“In fact, it carries the name ‘Maria Troon.’”

The abbey has a shorter history than Kettins Parish Church. It was built around 1519, but in 1578 it was attacked and sacked. Presumably the bell disappeared some time later.

Now the abbey is being rebuilt - but as a tourist attraction.

The kirk session’s decision will be awaited with great interest in Kettins.