Prince Charles is backing an appeal to restore two of Norfolk’s oldest church bells in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

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The parish council at Anmer, near Sandringham, hopes the twin bells at the little church of St Mary the Virgin, on the edge of the village, can be rung during the Jubilee celebrations, in June. But the bells - which were cast in the 15th and 16th centuries - will cost £12,000 to return to working order.

An appeal was launched at a village carol service, when villagers were given a presentation on the history of the bells.

Church warden Nick Coleman said Prince Charles had agreed to be the patron of the appeal, while the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation had also made a donation towards the appeal fund.

“We sincerely hope we can raise this sum and we are confident we can with the goodwill and help of local people and everybody who knows this lovely village and its delightful church,” he said.

“The bells are a special project which began to excite our attention last year. Why? Well, I think we felt that they were almost certainly important features of the church, that it would be a significant addition to the sound of the village and village life and, well, we all love to hear the church bells ringing, don’t we.”

Prince Charles’s interest in Norfolk’s churches is well-known. The Prince is also a patron of Music in Country Churches, which stages concerts to raise money to conserve historic places of worship.

Work on the bells is expected to take three months. Mr Coleman said it could begin as soon as enough money had been pledged.

“Now the Prince of Wales has agreed to be patron of the appeal, we hope it will give some extra impetus to the fund raising,” he said.

Peter Trent, principal adviser on bells to the Dioceses of Norwich, said: “The smallest one, the treble bell, dates from the early 15th Century.

“That’s not as early as some bells, but they’re not commonplace. The younger one is 1573, that’s quite an age.

“There was a bell founding tradition in Norwich from the 12th century. There would originally have been three bells in the tower, all from the Norwich foundry.”

The two surviving bells are the first and third members of a ring of three. The middle bell is believed to have been sold for scrap in 1803.

Donations to the appeal can be made at the HSBC Bank, to the Anmer Bells Jubilee Appeal, sort code 40 26 11, account number 31740482.

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