On his death in February 1976, the campanological collection of material collected by Mr Sharpe was bequeathed under his Will to Trustees. It was his often-expressed desire that the Collection should be kept together as far as possible rather than that the books should go to a library and the other material to a museum, as he rightly believed that for research purposes they are complementary to each other. But above all it was his wish that other people engaged in the study of bells should be able to use all his material as freely as possible without endangering it, and this purpose is embodied in the wording of the Will. The Trustees are not empowered to dispose of the Collection absolutely, either by sale or by gift.
Not all the material in the Collection is suitable for research or study, as a certain amount of it was designed specifically for exhibition or lecture purposes. The Trustees have retained this material for these purposes in their own hands. This includes the blocks used in Mr Sharpe's published books.
Mr Sharpe also often expressed the wish that the musical set of handbells should be used rather than locked in a glass case, and as long as the Launton Handbell Ringers remain active it is the Trustees' intention that they should look after them and use them. For the rest of the Collection, the Trustees have attempted to follow Mr Sharpe's wishes by finding a home for it in a museum or similar institution where it will be (a) safe, (b) kept together, (c) available to those who wish to use it for bona fide research and (d) complemented by and complementary to the material in the institution's own collections.
To this end the Trustees negotiated an arrangement with the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford whereby the Collection would be on long term loan to the museum. All the material was kept in one place except that some of it was used for special exhibitions from time to time. It is the Trustees' intention to continue to add appropriate material to the Collection. To this end the Trustees will be pleased to receive any gifts which they reserve the right to accept or reject. Such material will be housed with the rest of the Collection.
The Collection was housed in the Museum's premises at South Parks Road, Oxford where it was in the care of Mr Jeremy Coote, Joint Head of Collections. However, the loan arrangement with the Museum has now come to an end and the Collection has been moved into temporary storage pending its relocation to other premises.