||Excerpt from "A history of the abbey church of Minster, Isle of Sheppey, Kent : with a description of the monuments, and other matters relating to this ancient parish 1896" (Rev'd William Bramston)
The church belfry being part of the Church, access to it cannot be had, nor the bells rung, without the permission of the incumbent, who is responsible. In 1862 a case was tried, in which the church ringers, backed up by the churchwardens and the parish clerk, had broken open the belfry and rung the bells, because there had been a meet of hounds in the village, and this when they had been forbidden to do so by the vicar. The judge condemned them, and the ringers were admonished, and ordered to pay the costs. Being unable to do this, they remained in prison five weeks, until other persons had paid them. We mention this, because sometimes bells have been used very wrongly as, for instance, at times of general elections, or to commemorate the triumph of one party in a town or village over another when really they ought only to be used for purposes of harmony, and to declare peace on earth. Their sweet sounds, so melancholy in the ears of some, should never be connected with any earthly divisions. They should only speak to every one, rich or poor, Conservative or Liberal, of the faith necessary in One who came for the eternal good of all. May our bells ever do this, and may they never sound un-worthily, or appeal to any of our baser passions !
So far as we can ascertain, the history of Minster bells is as follows : Canon Hilton, rector of Milstead some years ago, when rural dean, had rubbings taken of these bells. Dr. Francis Grayling, of Sittingbourne, also took note of their size and weight. In the island, Minster takes the place of honour with a ring of five bells, in good order for ringing, and heavier than any other peal. All of them were dated alike " 1663." The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bells have in small letters, " William Hatch made me, 1663"; and the 4th and tenor in capital letters, "WILLIAM HATCH MADE ME." The 3rd bell has the letters " I.P." The 4th bell, "T.D., T.M. C.W."; and the tenor " S.S.," with the same letters as the 4th bell. These two bells have also a little seal, with three bells, one placed over the others, impressed on them. The treble was cracked for a few years; but was recast in 1883, and now carries the mark " Gillett, Bland & Co., Croydon, recast A.D. 1883," and has " 625 " impressed under its cannon. Dr. Francis Grayling took upon himself the whole cost of the recasting. Mr. S. Snelling carried out the whole work of rehanging. The weight of the tenor is 12 J cwts., and the diameters are 29, 31, 33, 36, 39J inches respectively. ("A history of the abbey church of Minster, Isle of Sheppey, Kent", Rev'd William Bramston 1896)|