Untitled Document
  
Rochester
 

Rochester, Christ & the Blessed Virgin Mary


Photo:

Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned
Tenor 30-0-1453¾" D 1921 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon Never
9 20-0-1348" E 1921 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon Never
8 15-0-943¾" F♯ 1921 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon Never
7 11-1-2640⅛" G 1921 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon Never
6 9-1-2136½" A 1921 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon Never
5 7-1-1933¼" B 1921 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon Never
4 6-3-1731½" C♯ 1921 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon Never
3 6-1-2230" D 1921 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon Never
2 6-1-1929⅛" E 1921 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon Never
Treble 5-3-727½" F♯ 1921 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon Never

Inscriptions

How the bells are tuned

The ring of eight before the ring of ten

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
Treble (of 8)6-3-1431½"D1904Mears & StainbankNeverRecast 1921
2nd (of 8)7-2-632¾"C♯1904Mears & StainbankNeverRecast 1921
3rd (of 8)8-2-1535⅛"B1904Mears & StainbankNeverRecast 1921
4th (of 8)9-3-2037¾"A1904Mears & StainbankNeverRecast 1921
5th (of 8)12-0-1441"G1904Mears & StainbankNeverRecast 1921
6th (of 8)16-0-944"F♯1712James BagleyNeverRecast 1921
7th (of 8)18-2-547¾"E1904Mears & StainbankNeverRecast 1921
Tenor (of 8)26--52"D1834Thomas Mears INeverRecast 1921

The ring of six before the ring of eight

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
Treble (of 6)7-3-1734"1770Pack & ChapmanNeverRecast 1904
2nd (of 6)8-0-034½"UnknownUnknownNeverBlank. Recast 1904
3rd (of 6)10-2-1040"1635John WilnarNeverRecast 1904
4th (of 6)16-0-944"1712James BagleyNeverRecast 1921
5th (of 6)21-2-1848"1683Christopher HodsonNeverRecast 1904
Tenor (of 6)30-1-51683Christopher HodsonNeverRecast 1834

Some earlier bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
Treble (of 6)16-0-91695John WoodNeverRecast 1770

History

1154 Record of 3 bells being hung in the Gundulf Tower by Prior Reginald, one of them coming from a former cracked bell.
1251 - 74 Record that Richard of Waldedene made a bell called Andrew.
1343 Bishop Hamo de Hythe built up the central tower and hung 4 bells in it.
1545 Record of 6 bells in the central tower with the bells in the Gundulf Tower gone.
1635 3rd (of 6) recast by John Wilnar.
1683 5th and Tenor (of 6) recast by Christopher Hodson. [1]
1695 Treble (of 6) recast by John Wood of Chancery Lane.
1711 Richard Phelps gave an estimate to recast the 4th (of 6) although he never actually did.
1712 4th (of 6) recast by James Bagley of Cripplegate, who also quarter-turned the 2nd.
1770 Treble (of 6) recast by Lester & Pack.
1834 Tenor (of 6) recast by Thomas Mears. The tower was rebuilt to a pinaccled design by L. N. Cottingham. The 6 bells hung in a frame probably installed at this time but resting upon the much earlier trasswork which still fills the ringing chamber today.
1838 Some bells repaired and rehung by John Stedman.
1840 Some bells repaired and rehung by John Stedman.
1843 Some bells repaired and rehung by John Stedman.
1882 Bells rehung and Ellacombe chiming apparatus restored by H. Stokes of Woodbury.
1904 Cottingham's work was demolished and the present bell chamber and spire were built and the lower part of the tower refaced by C Hodgson Fowler. Treble, 2nd, 3rd and 5th of 6 recast and the ring augmented to eight by Mears & Stainbank at the expense of Mr Thomas Hellyar Foord. Dedicated 30th November, 1904, by Dr Randall Davidson, Archbishop of Canterbury, and formerly Bishop of Rochester.
1918 The idea of augmenting the ring of bells to 10 was first mooted. [1]
1919 The augmentation idea was followed up. [2]
1920 It was decided to have the bells recast into a new ring of 10, by Gillett & Johnston. The old bells were removed. [3]
1921 Whole peal recast into 10 by Gillett & Johnston. Two new pits were formed on the south side: lowside frames on RSJs. [4]
c 1935 The frame was braced by the erection of steel 'buttresses' at each corner.
1960 Bells rehung in a new frame by John Taylor.
1991 6 of the clappers were refurbished by John Taylor together with a number of pulley wheels.
. 2015 Some research pulled out a letter from Captain J W Todd of the US Navy to the Dean and Chapter which was reprinted in the Chatham News on 20 Dec 1920. It is clear they gave a substantial donation that allowed work to proceed on restoring the bells. This donation was acknowledged with the inscription "USS Pittsburgh" on the 3rd bell. In 1919, the Pittsburgh was prepared as flagship for the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in the eastern Mediterranean, for which she sailed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire on 19 June 1919. From here, she headed north to assist with relief assignments in the Baltic Sea, and it was here on the 9 September 1920 that she ran aground off of the coast of Latvia. She was escorted to the Royal Dockyard in sheerness, but subsequently moved up river to Chatham Dockyard to be put into dry dock. [5]
[1] The bells 1683-1816: Contract between Christopher Hodson of St. Mary Cray, bellfounder and the Dean and Chapter of Rochester for Hodson to recast the tenor and 4th bells, make a new treble, a new frame, wheel and stock, give the old treble a quarter turn, (Medway Archives: DRc_Dean_and_Chapter_of_Rochester_Cathedral_1541_1994/DRc_Emf_055_1 (26 June 1683))
[1] "The Dean mentioned that it had been suggested that two additional bells should be provided in the Tower. It was resolved that this should not be done except upon a report from the Cathedral Architect that the additional weight would not in any way endang (Chapter Minute Book, 25th Nov 1918)
[2] "The Dean reported that the Bellringers desired that two light bells should be added to the present peal, at an estimated cost of £270 by Messrs Mears & Stainbank if funds could be obtained. It was desired that the proposal must first be approved by the C (Chapter Minute Book, 25th Nov 1918)
[3] Chapter minute books [2nd Mar]: "Letter was read from the Dean to the effect that two additional bells had been promised by an anonymous donor. The Chapter Clerk was instructed to obtain particulars of the weight of the bells and to ascertain from Mr Tem (Chapter Minute Book)
[4] Chapter minute books [29th Jan]: "It was reported that new ropes were required for the Bells and that the leather cases required repair. It was ordered that an estimate be obtained from Messrs Gillett & Johnston." [28th Feb]: "Bellringers - Letter was re (Chapter Minute Book)
[5] OFFICERS AND MEN GIVE A BELL TO ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL The following letter sent this week to the Dean of Rochester, speaks for itself:- Dear Dr. Storrs, - Before the ship sails from Chatham, I wish to express to you our appreciation of the honour you have done us, in coming on board to address my officers and men, and for the special service which you held for us in your Cathedral. We are grateful for these kindnesses, and I beg you to thank Mrs. Storrs, and the ladies of Rochester, for their entertainment of our men in the Guildhall, Rochester. I hand you herewith a cheque for £52 10s, from Admiral Huse, the Officers and Men of Pittsburg, to cover the cost of re-casting a bell for the Cathedral chimes. I understand that it is agreeable to you to have the bell marked: U.S.S. Pittsburgh, 1920. Please accept this as a token of our great appreciation of kindnesses received, and of our sincere desire that our two peoples may always happily associate and feel as kindly toward each other, as we do, to our hosts of the last two-and-a-half months. May the Pittsburgh bell sound from the Tower of your ancient town a sweet tone, a note of goodwill from us to you. Sincerely and respectfully yours, J. W. TODD, Capt. U.S. Navy, Comdg. (Chatham News, 20 Dec 1920)

Pictures from the belfry


The bells in the Croydon foundry, 1921.
Photo: Gillett & Johnston archive.

The treble.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Front of the 3rd.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Back of the 3rd.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Front of the 4th.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Back of the 4th
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Front of the 5th.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Back of the 5th.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Front of the 6th.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Back of the 6th.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Front of the 7th.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Back of the 7th.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

The 8th.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Front of the 9th.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Back of the 9th.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Front of the tenor.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Back of the tenor.
Photo: Dickon Love, 2009


Photo: Dickon Love, 2009


Photo: Dickon Love, 2009


Photo: Dickon Love, 2009

Tenor bell.
Photo: Gillett & Johnston archive.

Pictures from 1921


The bells arrive from Croydon, with the 3rd is in the foreground.
Photo: Medway Collection (Roger Smoothy, via the Dean of Rochester)

Posing with the tenor bell.
Photo: Medway Collection (Roger Smoothy, via the Dean of Rochester)
Recent Peals
The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
2015-10-105040 Yorkshire Surprise Royal
2015-08-295093 Grandsire Caters
2012-11-245040 Cambridge Surprise Royal
2011-03-125080 Cambridge Surprise Royal
2010-11-065040 Yorkshire Surprise Royal
2009-12-125055 Stedman Caters
2009-05-255007 Stedman Caters
2009-02-145040 Bristol Surprise Royal
2007-12-085043 Stedman Caters
2007-05-285040 Cambridge Surprise Royal
2007-02-025040 Yorkshire Surprise Royal
2006-10-285000 Cambridge Surprise Royal
2005-03-285040 Cambridge Surprise Royal
2004-11-105003 Grandsire Caters
2004-09-255040 Grandsire Triples
2004-01-105040 Yorkshire Surprise Royal
2003-02-015067 Stedman Caters
2002-09-285088 London Surprise Major
2002-06-015003 Grandsire Caters
2002-02-025024 Double Norwich Court Bob Major
1997-04-125040 Rochester Surprise Royal
1927-12-265043 Stedman Caters
Recent Quarter Peals
The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
2017-12-091259 Grandsire Caters
2017-12-031260 Grandsire Triples
2017-11-121263 Stedman Triples
2017-10-081263 Stedman Triples
2017-09-101282 Yorkshire Surprise Royal
2017-07-301264 Plain Bob Major
2017-05-141282 Yorkshire Surprise Royal
2017-04-231260 Reverse Canterbury Pleasure Place Doubles
2017-04-091259 Grandsire Caters
2017-03-191280 Plain Bob Major
2017-02-191280 Cambridge Surprise Major
2017-01-291272 Minimus (5m)
2017-01-081259 Grandsire Caters
2016-12-241259 Grandsire Caters
2016-12-221280 Cambridge Surprise Major
2016-12-211260 Grandsire Triples
2016-12-171260 Julie McDonnell Doubles
2016-12-121260 Plain Bob Doubles
2016-11-271260 Julie McDonnell New Bob Triples
2016-10-231284 Cambridge Surprise Royal
2016-10-011259 Grandsire Caters
2016-09-111263 Stedman Triples
2016-09-031439 Grandsire Caters
2016-07-091296 Cambridge Surprise Minor
2016-06-251280 Kent Treble Bob Major
Full list of peals here
Full list of quarters here

Love's Guide to the Church Bells of Kent Page updated: 1 April 2016