Serving God, Serving our Community

The Bells

Frittenden has a long record of bell ringing with some notable records and personalities.

In the 18th century St Mary’s had a peal of four bells.  These were recast into six bells, as noted by Edward Hasted in his history of Kent.

Two bells were recast in 1803 and four in 1804 and the Church records show a payment in that year for 6 new bells from Thos. Mears.  The cost of £353-18-11 was partially offset by the old bells which were valued at £216-8-0.  Two further bells, the tenor and the treble, were added in 1847, at the time of the rebuilding of the church.  These later bells have the inscription “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”.

KE clipping bellringing in 1861
Clipping from the Kentish Express in 1961, referring to bell ringing in 1861

Around 1879, Frittenden Church possessed one of the best Bob-major bands in the county, who were among the first ringers to join the Kent Association of Change Ringers.  The first peal of 5,040 changes of Bob-major was rung by the Kent Association at St Mary’s Church 31 October, 1881, in two hours fifty minutes.

 

 

 

There was a long tradition of tolling a bell to signify the death of a parishioner.  Mary Hallward’s Diary for Wednesday 7th  June 1916 records – “ To Ch at 8 with Eliza.  Tom Hope died, in the Union, so I rang the bell.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In June 1928 the bells were removed for tuning and general overhaul by the firm of Gillett and Johnston of Croydon.

Bells in frames 1928
Church bells in frames at Gillett and Johnston’s works, Croydon, where they were repaired in 1928

 

 

Church bells 1928
Church bells outside the entrance to the Bell Tower, August 1928, prior to being re-hung
Bells outside Tower
Church Bells outside the Bell Tower with two employees of Gillett and Johnston, August 1928

The cost of this and other essential work in the Church tower was borne by Admiral Sir Arthur Moore.  The bells were re-hung, after being recast, and dedicated by the Bishop of Dover in February 1929.

Clipping re bells dedication
Dedication of the new bells recorded

In 1934 the career of Mrs Baker as a leading campanologist in the county was the subject of newspaper comment as was the number of peals rung with her husband Henry, captain of Frittenden’s bell-ringers.

Mrs Bakers bell ringing record
Newspaper clipping recording Mrs H Baker’s bell ringing record

15 November 1942 the church bells were rung in celebration of the victory of the 8th Army over the Germans and Italians in Egypt and Libya.  This was the first time that the bells had been rung since the beginning of the War.

May 8 1945 at 6pm the bells were rung until 7.30pm to mark the end of WWII in Europe.

June 10 1946 was observed as Victory Day and a Victory peal was rung.

The information on this page has been kindly provided by the Frittenden Historical Society.

If you are interested in finding out more about bell ringing today, click here