Eric Pickles has blasted 'over-zealous' councils who silence church bells after noise complaints, claiming many local authorities 'need some common sense'.
The communities secretary equally hit out at residents who object to noises that have 'sounded for centuries', arguing they instead should 'consider the merits of double glazing'.
His warnings came after a spate of local action to quieten bells or town clocks, including measures taken on the Isle of Wight and Ash in Surrey.
Pickles said that while town halls should be able to take sufficient action to tackle noise pollution, the 'local character of a place should be taken into account during noise disputes'
'In recent years, too many town halls have been over-zealous in trying to silence church bells and village clocks which have chimed for decades, if not centuries,' he said.
'We need some common sense about such long-standing community uses, and recognise such sounds are part of the fabric of Britain's national life, rather than trying to white-wash all the character out of our heritage in some politically correct, 'elf and safety purge.
'If people don't like the chime of a church bell that has sounded for centuries, they reflect on whether they want to live next door to a church in the first place, or they should consider the merits of double glazing.'