Sandwich, St Peter

Photo: Richard Offen, May 2004

  • 8 bells hung for full circle ringing but only the tenor is ringable
  • Tenor: 15-2-9 in E♭.
  • Grid Ref: TR330581
  • Complete ring cast at the same time
  • Rung from: Upstairs Ringing Room
  • Frame: 1727 unknown, adapted 1779.
  • Denomination: Church of England
    Diocese (Anglican): Canterbury
    Archdeaconry (Anglican): Ashford
  • Kent County Association of Change Ringers District: Canterbury
  • Building Listed Grade: I Click for Heritage details.
  • Peals rung at the tower

Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Canons Retuned
® 1 4-2-2727½" E♭ 1779 William Mears Conventional Never
® 2 5-0-1330" D 1779 William Mears Conventional Never
® 3 5-3-1532" C 1779 William Mears Conventional Never
® 4 7-1-2434½" B♭ 1779 William Mears Conventional Never
҈ 5 7-2-2336" A♭ 1779 William Mears Conventional Never
® 6 9-2-138½" G 1779 William Mears Conventional Never
® 7 11-3-1342" F 1779 William Mears Conventional Never
® 8 15-2-1946½" E♭ 1779 William Mears Conventional Never

®  - Hung for full circle ringing
҈    - Unhung


Frame Bells Year Maker Material Truss(es) Local
1 All bells 1727 Oak


How the bells are tuned

Prior to 1779

Bell DateFounderRetunedFate
1 (of 5)1625Joseph HatchNeverRecast 1779
2 (of 5)1625Joseph HatchNeverRecast 1779
3 (of 5)1625Joseph HatchNeverRecast 1779
4 (of 5)1625Joseph HatchNeverRecast 1779
5 (of 5)1727Samuel KnightNeverRecast 1779


1546 A man was killed while ringing the 3rd.
1641 Tower described as cracked.
1663 Upper portion of the tower blew down in a gale.
1727 6 bells were purchased from Canterbury Cathedral. The tenor was recast by Samuel Knight and all 6, known as the "Oxfords" were hung in the tower.
1760 Fausset records 5 bells in the tower, 4 by Joseph Hatch dated 1625, and a tenor by Samuel Knight, dated 1727. [1]
1779 The 6 bells were recast into 8 by William Mears.
1795 Record of 8 bells in the tower. [2]
1800 Record of 8 bells. [3]
1815 A new headstock was provided for the treble.
1823 The only peal to have been rung here was rung by the Quex Institution. The bells were reported to be very difficult to ring. "The amazing vibration of the tower, coming in contact with the beat of bells, rendered the peal a most difficult task, so as to need the assistance of Mr J. White, in the latter part of the peal."
1892 The 4th was repaired. A meeting of the KCACR was held here in this year.
1898 New clock and chimes fitted by Gillett & Johnston.
1913 Bells last rung, for a wedding when "dust seemed to fall" (local inf. Per Mr J. Bowles, formerly Secretary of the RCF).
1932 The bells were inspected by Gillett & Johnston and a quotation was given for rehanging in a new frame. Money raised for this but it was misappropriated leaving just enough to rehang the tenor.The tenor was quarter-turned, rehung and fitted with ball bearings by Mears & Stainbank at a cost of £33.15s. Fundraising seems to have continued after this time with references in 1936. [5]
1948 Church ceased to be a parish church and was used as the Chapel of Sir Roger Manwood's School.
1973 The church was declared redundant on 22 Feb.
1974 The KCACR made proposals for rehanging the bells to the RCF. The tower was subsequently underpinned, the clock rebuilt, new steps put in - and the bells left in their dereliction. That year, on 16th Oct, the Redundancy Scheme Church was vested in the Churches Conservation Trust.
1979 Estimates for restoration were again sought but the work was vetoed by the church architect. The belfry was cleared of rubbish and fragments of old wheels, etc.
2011 The tenor was rehung on new ball bearings by Whitechapel.
2015 The Friends of St Peter's and the Churches Conservation Trust devised a 'tower climbing experience' called Haven Heights. This involved access in the form of a wooden spiral stairway from the floor of the ringing chamber to the tower parapet. The star attractions were the clock, the curfew (tenor) bell and the view over Sandwich from the top of the tower. To make way for the stairs the 5th bell was lifted out of its bearings and stood down on top of the 6th pit. All this was done without informing the Diocesan Bells Adviser or the KCACR.
[1] "This Church consists of The Chancell, Body, and N. Isle. It had formerly a S. Isle, wch. is now demolish’d, the Ground where it stood making a Part of the Church Yard. At The East End stands the abovemention’d Chantry, or St Peters School. The Tower which is of more modern Workmanship than ye Church, and is built of Brick, stands between the Chancell and the Body. In it hang 5 Bells. The 4 Smallest were made by Joseph Hatch 1625 and the Largest, or Tennor, by S. Knight. 1727." (Rev’d Bryan Faussett, 1760)
[2] It now consists of two aisles and a chancel, with a square tower, containing a peal of eight bells, in the middle. Formerly there was a South aisle, but it was destroyed by the falling on October 12th 1661, though the walls of it still remain, about breast high. The 13th of October 1661 St Peter’s church fell down. That day the same year was a Sabbath day; there were two sermons preached there that day, and it fell down within six or seven hours after the people were gone home, presently after one quarter of an hour past eleven o’clock at night. Had it fell at the time when the people were there, the chiefest of the town and parish would have been killed, and buried under the rubbish, and stones, and timber; but the Lord was so gracious as to show a miraculous mercy in that judgement, for there was no man, woman or child killed or hurt, and very few heard it. The rubbish was three fathom deep in the middle of the church, the bells underneath it; two or three rods long it lay. 1st. I mean to make it understood/That tho’ I’m little yet I’m good/. Mears & Co. Fecit 1779. 2nd. To honour both of God and King/Our voices shall in Consort ring/. Wm. Mears & Co. of London Fecit 1779. 3rd. Whilst thus we join in Chearful sound/May Love and Loyalty abound/. Wm. Mears & Co. of London Fecit 1779. 4th. Music is Medicine to the mind. Mears & Co. 1779. 5th. In Wedlock Bands all ye who join With Hand & Hearts unite/So shall our tuneful Tongues combine To laud the Nuptial rite/. 6th. Peace and Good neighbourwood (sic). Wm. Mears & Co. Fecit 1779. 7th. Ye Ringers all that prize your Health & Happiness/Be sober merry wise & you’ll the same possess/. Wm. Mears & Co. Fecit 1779. 8th. The Revd. Mr J Conant A.M. Rector. W.W. Bradley, W. Brice. Ch. Wardens. Forbes 1779 (Zechariah Cozens, 1795)
[3] The rubbish was three fathom deep in the middle of the church, the bells underneath it. There are eight small but musical bells, cast in 1779; they cost 430l. 12s. 6d. which expence was in great measure defrayed by the metal of the former six old bells. ('The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent. Vol 9', Edward Hasted)
[4] On Saturday last, a band belonging to the Quex Institution of Change Ringers, made an excursion to Sandwich, and rang at St. Peter’s church a true and complete peal of 5040 grandsire triples, in 3 hours and 1 minute (being the maiden peal on those bells). J. P. Powell, Esq., Patron of the above Institution, expressed his high approbation on hearing the above performance. The performers were- Elijah Emtage treble James Carter 2 William Clarke 3 George Francis 4 John Beer 5 William Shipway 6 Stephen Homans 7 Stephen Carter tenor Conducted by W. Shipway The amazing vibration of the tower, coming in contact with the beat of bells, rendered the peal a most difficult task, so as to need the assistance of Mr J. White, in the latter part of the peal. (Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal - Tuesday 30 December 1823)
[5] SANDWICH. Hospitals' Benefit. £100 has been forwarded to both Canterbury and Deal Hospitals from the proceeds of Sandwich Fayre, 1934. There is still a small surplus which will be disbursed later. It will be remembered this event was organised for the rehanging of the bells of St. Peter's Church Sandwich. (Dover Express - Friday 04 September 1936)


  • "Town of Silent Towers, Part 3", Cawley, David L (The Ringing World) 15 September 1967
  • Gallery

    The tower rises above the Sandwich skyline.
    Photo: David Cawley, 2005

    The peal board in the tower for the one and only peal on the bells.
    Photo: David Cawley, 2005

    David Cawley rings the curfew (tenor) bell.
    Photo: David Cawley, 2005

    3 of the curfew ringers showing the new rope on the tenor, the peal board, the remains of the 4th rope, and the hat pegs.
    Photo: David Cawley, 2005

    Peal Boards

    Timber Performance Board dated approx. 1832
    27 Dec 1832: 5040 Grandsire Triples (1st peal on the bells.)

    Photo: David L Cawley, 1 January 2005

    Recent Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    1832-12-275040 Grandsire Triples
    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: 27 May 2020