Theresa May announces church bells will toll in ‘solidarity’ after Notre Dame blaze
Churches and cathedrals across England will ring out this week to express "solidarity" with France after the devastating fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral, Theresa May has announced.
The bells of Westminster Abbey will toll at 5:43pm on Tuesday, exactly 24 hours after the fire started at the Parisian monument.
A number of other churches and cathedrals across the country will also join in the tribute later in the week.
Onlookers wept last night as the spire and roof of the cathedral collapsed in the inferno, but firefighters managed to save the main structure and iconic two towers.
The devastating blaze spread quickly to the roof of the cathedral before being declared under control some nine hours after it began.
Announcing the plans on Tuesday evening, the Prime Minister said: "Notre-Dame is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world – a symbol of France and the French people, and cherished across the globe. The images of destruction we saw last night were truly heart-rending.
“To underline our solidarity with France and her people, the bells at Westminster Abbey will toll at 5:43pm this evening to mark the moment the fire began yesterday.
“And later this week, on Maundy Thursday, bells will ring at cathedrals and churches across England."
The Prime Minister also said that experts from Historic England could be offered up to provide assistance after President Macron vowed to rebuild the stricken holy site.
Over €600m has already been pledged by French business tycoons to assist with the major reconstruction.
UK 'STANDS BY'
“President Macron has pledged to rebuild the cathedral and I have conveyed to him that the UK will support this endeavour however we can," Mrs May added.
“As we saw last night in the swift and heroic action of the first responders, France has huge professionalism in dealing with emergencies of this kind. I pay tribute to the firefighters and all those involved.
“When it comes to the task of rebuilding, French craftsmen and women are among the finest in the world.
As they prepare to embark on this daunting task, we stand ready to offer any UK experience and expertise that could be helpful in the work that lies ahead to restore this magnificent cathedral.”
The move came after MPs from across the political spectrum expressed their grief at the tragedy.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the blaze was “heartbreaking for the millions who love this great cathedral and great city across the world”.
His Labour counterpart Emily Thornberry meanwhile said she was “so very shocked and saddened to see the terrible fire at the great Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame”.
She added: “What a terrible loss at the heart of a wonderful city.”
Her colleague Tom Watson was one of many MPs who broke into French, with his message translating into English as: “My thoughts for the Parisians tonight. I know that the British will gather to provide all their support for the restoration of the Cathedral #Notre-Lady of Paris.”