Church bells will be silent this Christmas for the first time in centuries after their ropes were eaten by squirrels. St Erth Parish Church in Cornwall has held a festive service since the 1500s but this year it will be a lot quieter because of rodents in the belfry. Church bell-ringers discovered its long pulling ropes lying on the floor after the tops were chewed through by squirrels.
Verger Peter Pascoe, 71, said that now the church will not be able to perform the annual tradition.
Peter has since installed a guard in the window to stop the squirrels getting in but they have beaten it before and he fears the few remaining ropes may also be destroyed.
He says after finding the ropes he climbed the bell tower to closer inspect the damage and when he emerged at the top he noticed a grey squirrel dart out of the window.
Birds often nest in the bell tower but this was the first time that Peter had seen a squirrel had got in and quickly realised that it had entered through a broken grille.
The squirrel had caused £400 worth of damage to the ropes dangling from the tower.
He said: “I noticed a muffle laying in the floor, and went up the tower to investigate.
When I got up there I saw a squirrel darting out the window, it was moving so quick I barely got a look at it.
“It had chewed the rope up quite a bit, and had cause about £400 worth of damage. I don’t know why it chose to nibble the rope, maybe it was making a nest.
We’ve had to repair the grille that was broken, so that nothing else can get through the window.
We had to otherwise they would have come in and gone for the other ropes.
The bells have been ringing out for hundreds of years, it is a shame we aren’t able to ring them this year.
Animals do get in there, usually birds, but I have never seen a squirrel in there before.
They are a real menace.”