Bicknor, St James

Photo: Dickon R Love, 1990

  • 4 bells hung for swing chiming
  • Tenor: 2 cwt approx. in G.
  • Grid Ref: TQ860588
  • Tuned approx. 1,3,4,5 of 5
  • Rung from: Ground Floor
  • Frame: Timber frame for 5 bells.
  • Denomination: Church of England
    Diocese (Anglican): Canterbury
    Archdeaconry (Anglican): Maidstone
  • Building Listed Grade: II* Click for Heritage details.
  • Peals rung at the tower

Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Canons Retuned
҂ 1 ¾ cwt approx.14⅞" D 1862 Naylor Vickers & Co., Sheffield (3222) Peg Never
҂ 2 1 cwt approx.17⅝" B 1862 Naylor Vickers & Co., Sheffield (3062) Peg Never
҂ 3 1½ cwt approx.19½" A 1862 Naylor Vickers & Co., Sheffield (3068) Peg Never
҂ 4 2 cwt approx.20⅞" G 1862 Naylor Vickers & Co., Sheffield (3145) Peg Never

҂  - Hung for swing chiming


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


1760 Record of 1 small bell.
1859 An appeal was launched for the restoration of the church. The report mentions the single bell that was not hung in the tower, but in a tree outside. [1]
1862 A set of steel bells was cast for the London Exhibition and later hung in Bicknor church.
1990 2 of the bells lowered to the ground by vandals.
1993 Bells rehung by Brian Butcher and Dickon Love.
2002 Some ringers managed to break the tenor wheel while vigorously pulling the bell. The tenor and treble were rehung (again!) by the KCACR, but with the proviso that it be chimed only.
2020 The bells were inspected by Matthew Higby, who prepared a report.
[1] THE RESTORAION OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH OF ST. JAMES'. BICKNOR, KENT. TOTAL SUM REQUIRED, £700. With the Sanction and Supportof His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury. AN APPEAL FOR THE RESTORATION OF THE CHURCH OF ST. JAMES, BICKNOR, KENT. On the northern slope of the chalk range, and over looping at a distance of some miles the Medway on the left, the Thames and the Swale with the Isle of Sheppey in the centre, and the German Ocean on the right, stands almost surrounded by woods, the small and very ancient church of Bicknor. It is somewhat more than a mile from the top of Hollingbourne Hill, a little way to the right of the direct road from Sittingbourne to the Weald - and immediately upon that which separates the Eastern and Western Divisions of the County, through the parishes of Frinstead, Wormshill, Bicknor, and Stockbury. The parish is not extensive, and is poor in quality of soil, but has for some years made rapid progress in cultivation, and the land under tillage has much increased. The number of inhabitants is very small, but has latterly increased; and there are more populous portions of surrounding parishes which are far nearer to the church of Bicknor than to their worn - which practically, in fact, belong to it - and which must, with others, at no very distant day, form an ecclesiastical district round it. The living is in the gift of the Crown - of the average net value of about £115 a year. There is no Rectory House, but the present Incumbent resides about a mile from the church. He appears to have been the first resident Incumbent for a long series of years. There have been no resident proprietors or gentry in the parish for some time past; but the registers bear witness that such was not the case at more remote as well as at more recent periods - a fact which is indicated also by the existence of a broken domestic cake-basket of the age of Elizabeth, bearing the inscription, "Bickner, A.M.," now used as a patten at the Holy Communion; and of a very beautiful tomb, appearently of the 13th century, but not yet carefully examined, as it has by some ignorant person been built into the foundation of a wall. It was somewhere about this date - viz., about 600 years ago, and not improbably by the very person whom this tomb was intended to commemorate, that the church which was then a very ancient building, and had undergone previous alterations, was "modernised" into the state to which it is now attempted to restore it. It is impossible to decide with any degree of certainty when the present building was first erected. The exterior walls, in parts, appear to be much older than the piers and arches; and yet, these must date back nearly to the Conquest, and probably to a somewhat earlier period. But, old they are, upon the capitals, when the whitewash is removed, the tool marks of the workmen, and the trace of the compass which set out he curves, are discernible to this hour. The present condition of this scared and most interesting building, which thus has hanging upon its walls the echoes of at least eight hundred years of workship, is more deplorable. The massive piers and arches of the interior appear to be substantially sound; but every other part of the edifice is going rapidly to ruin. The change walls are split, and must of necessity be rebuilt; and the east window has been removed at a comparatively recent period, and filled in with batten and plaster, holding a square stable-lattice in the centre. The roofs have been depressed, as the feet of the timbers became unsound, and their after decay has been accelerated by a heavy under-drawn plaster ceiling. The western lancets have been cut out, and a hideous three-light window replaces them, whose brick-and-plaster jambs and mullions are now falling into ruin. The tower has been lightened by the removal of its upper portion, and a stage of thin brickwork raised upon it; having only a small narrow slit in the western and eastern face, to let out the voice of the bell - an arrangement which causes it to be almost inaudible, except in the interior of the church - and which probably gave rise to its being hung in the branches of the yew tree outside; from whence it has not been long removed. The walls of the church and tower require extensive repairs. The porch must be entirely rebuilt. And there is not a window in the church which must not be wholly renewed. The state of the interior, both in fittings and furniture, corresponds with the ruinous condition of the structure - a fact which is to be attributed more to the peculiar circumstances of the parish, and the neglect of past generations, than to the fault of the present occupiers of the soil. The whole building has been examined by an able Ecclesiastical Architect, and plans have been prepared for its retoration. The estimate for putting it into complete and comely repair - structurally sound throughout, and decently prepared for divine worship, is £700. The exterior is designed to be restored, as nearly as possible, to its condition in the 13th century - care being taken to avert by the application of modern science the future progress of decay. The interior it is desired to restore to its full beauty at that period - with such simple ornamentation only, as will require no attendion or outlay to preserve it, - and such adaptation of arrangements as our present English Services and feelings and habits necessitate. ... etc. Rev. Walter Blunt, Cooper's Farm, Hollingbourne-hill, Maidstone. Followed by list of those from whom donations are already received or promised. (Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, Tues 18 Oct 1859)


  • "Steel Bells of Bicknor", Cawley, David L (The Ringing World) 1 September 1967
  • "Britain's only steel four ringing once more", Love, Dickon R (The Ringing World) 26 January 1996
  • The Belfry

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 1993

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 1993

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 1993

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 1993

    Love's Guide to the Church Bells of Kent Page updated: 7 April 2022