Southfleet, St Nicholas

Photo: Dickon Love, 15th May, 2005

Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Canons Retuned
® Treble 4 cwt approx29½" E♭ 1705 Richard Phelps, Whitechapel Conventional Never
® 2 4¾ cwt approx31¼" D 1794 Thomas Mears I, Whitechapel Conventional Never
® 3 5½ cwt approx32¼" C 1610 William Carter, Whitechapel Removed Never
® 4 7 cwt approx35" B 1705 Richard Phelps, Whitechapel Removed Never
® 5 8¾ cwt approx38¾" A♭ William Chamberlain Conventional Never
® Tenor 12 cwt approx.41½" G 1736 Richard Phelps, Whitechapel Conventional Never

®  - Hung for full circle ringing


How the bells are tuned

Earlier tenors

Bell DateFounderFate
Tenor (of 6)1731UnknownRecast 1736
Tenor (of 5 or 6)1671UnknownRecast 1705 or 1731 depending on whether this was the tenor of 5 or 6.


1552 Record of 4 bells. [1]
1610 Present 3rd cast. This was bell was given as recorded by a document in latin housed in the Medway Archives.
1672 -3 Tenor bell cast. There is a list of contributors in the Medway Archive.
1705 At this time there was a ring of 5 with a tenor of about 18 cwt in a timber frame. The tenor was recast into 2 trebles by Richard Phelps who also converted the tenor pit into 2 pits for the 2 bells. He also recast the then 3rd of 5 (present 4th of 6).
1712 Work took place on the treble bell.
1731 Tenor bell may have been recast. The churchwardens accounts references to the 'five lettell bells' and casting the 'tenner bell'.
1736 Tenor recast by Richard Phelps.
1794 Present 2nd cast.
1832 Vestry minutes record the repair of the bells.
1887 4th recorded as being cracked.
1926 3 bells were recorded as being cracked (the 3rd, 4th and tenor), They were welded by Barrimar. The canons were removed from the 3rd and 4th. Bells rehung by Samuel Goslin with partly second hand fittings (probably from the recently demised Warner foundry) and new brass plain bearings. Ranald Clouston (in 1945) wrote "At the rededication some experienced ringers came over from Northfleet and rang Grandsire for 10 minutes but could not manage more." In those days the bells were rung from the ground floor. The Ellacombe was added after the dedication and the bells were considered unringable for full circle ringing after that.
1930 3 bells were recorded as being cracked. They were welded by Barrimar. Bells rehung by Samuel Goslin on 1 level (they were on 2). This work was unsatisfactory as they were shortly condemned as being unringable. The Ellacombe was added after the dedication.
1945 Ranald Clouston inspected the bells and said "The bells are in plain bearings in the old frame which has been redesigned. All the bells except the treble swing E-W and where 3, 4 & 6 hang great quantities of masonry have been dug out of the walls to allow the bells to swing [actually it appears to be 1,3,4,6; work probably by Phelps in 1705]. The job has been done as badly as I have ever seen."
1973 D. Paul Smith inspected the bells and said of the fittings generally "a very poor job resulted which is why the bells are in an unringable condition". Of the frame he wrote "the frame is considered to be at the end of its useful life, the joints all being loose and the foundations very poor". Paul was accompanied by Richard Offen.
1992 Easter Day Bells rung full-circle by a group of maverick ringers after attending to the belfry the previous day. They managed half a course of Plain Bob Minor before "something went very wrong" and ringing stopped. Since a kitchen and toilet block had been built on the ground floor, the bells were rung from the new first floor vestry build behind the organ.
2005 7th May The belfry was inspected by members of the Kent CACR, organised by Dickon Love, and a clearer picture of the state of the bells was provided. After a certain amount of work in the belfry (including the temporary removal of some of the ellacombe hammers), it was made possible to ring the bells in rounds, although the roping on the 4th did not permit changes. After more work, the bells were then rung the following Sunday morning for the Rector's last service (ringing which included a full plain course of Plain Bob Minor) before the bells were returned to chiming by Ellacombe only pending further restoration.
2006 Major restoration took place on the tower masonry.
2009 Members of the Kent CACR returned to the tower and did enough work to make the bells ringable again. In the process, the 4th was dropped through the 3rd rope hole (which was directly beneath it) which helped the go of this difficult bell. A new 3rd rope hole however meant that bells 2, 3 and 4 are close together. The bells are therefore only ringable by the most expert handlers.
[1] Item iiij bells of brasse suted in the steple and ij handbells of brasse. (Edwardian Inventory, 1552)


Samuel Goslin's brass plaque on the Ellacombe apparatus.
Photo: Dickon Love, 6 May 2005

A view in the intermediate chamber looking up.
Photo: Dickon Love, 6 May 2005

The William Carter 1610 3rd. The remains of the 3-petalled shape can be seen on the waist.
Photo: Dickon Love, 6 May 2005

The old William Chamberlain 5th.
Photo: Dickon Love, 6 May 2005

Photo: Dickon Love, 6 May 2005

The 2nd in the foreground. The treble at the back.
Photo: Dickon Love, 6 May 2005

The 5th and the 4th at the back.
Photo: Dickon Love, 6 May 2005

The treble in the former tenor pit, since adapted with an additional frame side and a gauge out of the wall behind the bell.
Photo: Dickon Love, 6 May 2005
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