Untitled Document

Rochester, Christ & the Blessed Virgin Mary


Details of the Bells

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


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
4th (of 6)20-2-16UnknownRecast 1683
Tenor (of 6)29-0-10UnknownRecast 1683


OF 0
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, put the whole ring in tune and provide a new set of bell ropes. (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 endanger the safety of the tower or the bell frame." (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 Cathedral Architect. " (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 Tempole Moore whether such weight together with the vibration were likely to affect the stability of the Tower. He was also to ascertain the exact cost and to submit the same to the Donor for his approval. " [29th Mar]: "The Archdeacon reported that an estimate had been received from Messrs Gillett & Johnston to supply two new bells with cast iron and steel frame on steel joists, and to supply two sets of ringing fittings for £318, and that Mr Charles Willis was prepared to pay for these. They submitted a further estimate of £127 for eight steel shanks to strengthen the existing frame and to tune the existing bells Nos. 1, 2 and 3. For this the Ringers were prepared to guarantee the expense. It was ordered that these estimates be accepted subject to Mr Temple Moore being satisfied that the structure was sufficient to carry the additional weight. The inscription for the Bells submitted by Mr Charles Willis was approved. " [7th Jun]: "It was reported that the Cathedral Architect had decided that the proposed struts to support the new bells were not necessary and that the Ringers were anxious that the old bells should be tuned and re-cast where necessary at an estimated cost of £248, which sum they hoped to be able to collect. It was ordered that the Chapter cannot consent to the expenditure being incurred unless the money is actually in hand." [6th Sep]: "Letter was received from Messrs Gillett & Johnston, Bell Founders, to the effect that the cost of tuning the 8 bells, 5 of them being recast, would be £439, and that there would be a loss of 6 cwt of metal in the process. The Chapter desired to know the reason for the increase in the estimate from April last when the amount was £248 - they also desired to know the reason for the loss of 6 cwt of metal. The Archdeacon kindly undertook to obtain information as to the proposed method of tuning the bells. " [6th Oct]: "Mr W W Harmer (or it could be Starmer) attended the Chapter by invitation and gave his opinion on the proposals of Messrs Gillett & Johnston and on their estimates. He advised the Chapter generally that it would be wise to have all the bells recast and tuned if it was decided to take that course with regard to any of them and he undertook to obtain from Messrs Gillett & Johnston an estimate of the cost of this which the Chapter would consider together with the estimates already received." [23rd Oct]: "The question of recasting the Bells was further considered and Mr Harmer and Mr Johnston explained their views to the Chapter. It was ordered that a statement of the position be drawn up by the Dean and Archdeacon and made public in order to give possible donors an opportunity of offering a war memorial in connection with recasting the bells. That Messrs Gillett and Johnston be informed that the Chapter are not in a financial position to give an order, but are making their needs publicly known, and that they be asked to give a separate estimate for recasting each bell for purposes of appeal." [17th Dec]: "It was reported that the Bells had been taken away to be recast and the Chapter Clerk was instructed to ascertain whether a bell could be borrowed from Messrs Johnston to sound the hours of service and to take the strike of the Clock." (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 read from the Bell Ringers to the effect that they desired to give their salary received by them for the period during which the bells were not in use to the Bells Fund, for which the Chapter desired to record their thanks to the Ringers." [7 Apr]: "Messrs Gillett & Johnston's estimate of £2.10.- for 10 Indian rubber sleeves for the chiming rope and £24 for extending the chiming apparatus to take in the new bells and supplying and completing all necessary attachments and completing were accepted." [10th Jun]: "The account of Messrs Gillett & Johnston in connection with the Bells was produced and examined by the Chapter and it was ordered that the account be paid." (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)


  • "Gillett & Johnston Press Cuttings. Cathedral Memorial Bells", Buswell, Alan A J (The Ringing World) 11 August 1978
  • "Rochester - 1400 years of Ministry, 100 years of Ringing", Jones, Neil W (The Ringing World) 8 October 2004
  • Peal Boards

    Framed card Performance Board dated approx. 2007
    28 May 2007: 5040 Cambridge S Royal (Birth of Yana Jones and 40th birthday of Neil Jones.)

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 29 December 2018

    Ceramic Performance Board dated approx. 1905
    21 Oct 1905: 5024 Plain Bob Major (Centenary of Lord Nelson's victory at Trafalgar.)

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 29 December 2018

    Timber Performance Board dated approx. 2005
    25 Sept 2004: 5040 Grandsire Triples (Centenary of Rochester Cathedral Company, 1400th anniversary of the cathedral, birth of Ellen Jones.)
    10 Nov 2004: 5003 Grandsire Caters (1400th anniversary celebrations attended by the Prince of Wales and the Archbishop of Canterbury.)

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 29 December 2018

    Framed card Photograph Board dated approx. 1961

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 29 December 2018

    Framed card Bell/Restoration Detail Board dated approx. 1834

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 29 December 2018

    Framed card Bell/Restoration Detail Board dated 1921

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 29 December 2018

    Recent Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2019-12-275039 Grandsire Caters
    2019-04-065040 Black Sheep Surprise Royal
    2018-08-275040 Cambridge Surprise Royal
    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
    1993-06-195000 Albanian Surprise Royal
    Recent Quarter Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2019-12-241259 Grandsire Caters
    2019-12-221302 Plain Bob Triples
    2019-12-211282 Cambridge Surprise Royal
    2019-11-101259 Grandsire Caters
    2019-09-011403 Grandsire Caters
    2019-06-301600 Kent Treble Bob Royal
    2019-06-171260 Plain Bob Doubles
    2019-04-281260 Plain Bob Triples
    2019-04-211376 Plain Bob Major
    2019-02-031260 Plain Bob Triples
    2019-01-061259 Grandsire Caters
    2018-12-291259 Grandsire Caters
    2018-12-241280 Yorkshire Surprise Major
    2018-12-221282 Yorkshire Surprise Royal
    2018-12-211259 Grandsire Caters
    2018-12-141282 Yorkshire Surprise Royal
    2018-12-021260 Grandsire Triples
    2018-11-111287 Grandsire Triples
    2018-10-071260 Plain Bob Triples
    2018-09-021282 Yorkshire Surprise Royal
    2018-07-221260 Grandsire Doubles
    2018-06-101260 Plain Bob Royal
    2018-05-191250 Lincolnshire Surprise Major
    2018-04-141260 5x Doubles
    2018-04-011259 Grandsire Caters
    Full list of peals on Bellboard here
    Full list of quarters on Bellboard here

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