THE arrival of four new bells has made one Southampton church the first in the city to have a ring of 12.

The ancient art of bell-ringing is being brought into the 21st century at the Church of the Ascension, in Bitterne Park, where years of fundraising by the local ringers has paid for four bells to add to the existing eight.

It gives the church the lightest set of 12 bells in the world and is expected to attract national and international interest.

The new bells, which were cast in Holland, each weigh between 100 and 130 kilograms.

More than £35,000 was raised by the Southampton City Ringers to pay for the augmentation project and the Reverend Sarah Chapman gave the new bells a blessing on Easter Sunday.

They have now joined the existing eight bells, one of which dates back to 1380, up in the belfry and be the subject of an official dedication service at the church before regular ringing takes place on them.

Mark Place, project manager and Southampton ringing master, said: "We wanted to give Southampton a ring of bells equal to those in other cities of a similar standing.

"A ring of 12 opens up the possibilities for change ringing. It means we can push the boundaries in the city and challenge the ringers who live here, as well as producing a much more musical sound for the people within earshot of them."

The Southampton City Ringers are also keen to recruit learners.

For information on learning to ring and to get in touch, visit