Tunbridge Wells, St Peter

Photo: Dickon R Love, Jan 1994

  • 8 bells hung for full circle ringing
  • Tenor: 14-0-3 in G♭
  • Grid Ref: TQ593392
  • Complete ring cast at the same time
  • Rung from: Upstairs Ringing Room
  • Frame: 1919 Gillett & Johnson
  • Denomination: Church of England
  • Diocese (Anglican): Rochester
  • Kent County Association of Change Ringers District: Tonbridge
  • Peals rung at the tower (Felstead Database)

  • Details of the Bells

    Bell Weight
    (most recent)
    Diameter Note Date Founder Canons Retuned
    ® Treble 3-2-13 25¹⁄₁₆" G♭ 1919 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon (18) Flat Never
    ® 2 3-2-13 25½" F♭ 1919 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon (19) Flat Never
    ® 3 3-3-17 27" E♭ 1919 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon (20) Flat Never
    ® 4 4-2-9 29" D♭ 1919 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon (21) Flat Never
    ® 5 5-3-9 31½" C♭ 1919 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon (22) Flat Never
    ® 6 6-2-23 33" B♭ 1919 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon (23) Flat Never
    ® 7 8-3-8 37" A♭ 1919 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon (24) Flat Never
    ® Tenor 14-0-3 42¹⁄₁₆" G♭ 1919 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon (25) Flat Never

    ® - Hung for full circle ringing


    Frame Bells Year Maker Material Truss(es) Local
    1 All bells 1919 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon
    How the bells are tuned

    Earlier ring of eight

    Bell Weight
    (most recent)
    Diameter Date Founder Retuned Fate
    Treble 1885 John Warner & Sons Never Recast 1919
    2nd 1885 John Warner & Sons Never Recast 1919
    3rd 1878 John Warner & Sons Never Recast 1919
    4th 1877 John Warner & Sons Never Recast 1919
    5th 1877 John Warner & Sons Never Recast 1919
    6th 1877 John Warner & Sons Never Recast 1919
    7th 1877 John Warner & Sons Never Recast 1919
    Tenor 11-2-2 41" 1877 John Warner & Sons Never Recast 1919

    1874 The foundation stone of a new church on Windmill Fields was laid on 30 July. The architects were H. H. and E. Cronk. [1]
    1875 The church was consecrated on 4 Oct. [2]
    1876 Parish of St Peter created from Holy Trinity, Tunbridge Wells.
    1877 A ring of 5 bells was cast by John Warner with a tenor weighing 11-2-2. They were hung in a new frame for 8 bells. They were opened at special services on Thur 7 Jun. (It is possible that the bells were cast in 1875 as much later newspaper articles suggest this was the date, but this may be confused with the date of the opening of the church. If they were cast that early, they were languishing at the foundry in the intervening time.) [3] [4] [5]
    1878 A treble was cast by John Warner to augment the ring to 6. It was hung in January the following year and the six bells were first rung on Fri 17 Jan. [6]
    1879 A new clock was placed in the tower by Gillett, Bland & Co., given by George Jackman (local clock and watchmaker and silversmith). [7]
    1885 2 bells were cast by John Warner to complete the octave. They arrived on Tues 19 Jan 1886 and were due to be first rung on Sun 24Jan 1886. These 2 bells were the gift of ladies, and newspapers at the time remarked that this meant that all eight bells were the gift of ladies. [8]
    1919 The bells were recast and rehung with new fittings by Gillett & Johnston. The were rung for the first time on Peace Celebration Day, 19th July. The local musicologist and bell expert W W Starmer (organist at Broadwater Down) who had a very close relationship with Taylors, was asked to certify the quality of the bells. At the time he told the churchwarden that "surely he would not go to a clockmaker to hang bells!". But the parish went ahead with commissioning Gillett & Johnston with the job. Starmer in return just praised them as a matter of course to avoid controversy, but beyond that stayed tight lipped as the bells weren't from his beloved Loughborough. [9] [10] [12]
    1954 The bells were overhauled.

    [1] LAYING THE FOUNDATION STONE OF A NEW CHURCH AT TUNBRIDGE WELLS. Last (Thursday) evening the foundationstone of the proposed new church in Windmill Fields, Tunbridge Wells, which is intended as a thank-offering for the recovery of the Rev Canon Hoare from his recent serious illness, was laid, and the proceedings were of a most interesting description. The circumstances which have rendered the erection of the church necessary are as follows:- Windmill Fields is a suburb of Tunbridge Wells which of late years has gone on increasing in size until it has now a large population. Some fifteen years ago the Rev Canon Hoare and the congregation of Trinity Church erected a schoolroom in the locality, in which service was held every Sunday evening, but this room became too small, and four or five years ago a larger room was added, and this room is not adequate for the accommodation of the congregation. The site of the proposed new church is on the St. Mary's Hill Estate, at a point opposite the road leading to Hall's Hole. The building, which is to be constructed of native stone, with tiled roof and traceried windows with bath stone dressings, is after the Decorative style of architecture, and the plans have been prepared by Mr H. H. Cronk, architect, of Tunbridge Wells. The extreme length of the new church will be 92 feet, the dimensions of the nave being 72 feet by 32 feet, and the chancel 25 feet by 17 feet, and when finished it is expected that it will seat about 450 persons. The design is such that aisles may be added on either side when they become necessary. Messrs Willicombe and Oakley, the well-known builders of Tunbridge Wells, are the contractors. There was a very large attendance, and amongst those present we may mention the Rev Canon Hoare, the Rev J. J. Saint, rural dean, Rev J. F. Cobb, Rev. J. Fry, Rev. T. E. Franklyn, Rev A. J. Robinson, Rev A. Coote, W. F. Browell, Esq, James Walker, Esq, J. D. Bourdillon, Esq, Colonel Rawlings, Col. Aylmer, Mr J. M. Richardson, &c. The Rev J. Fry read the service appointed for the occasion, after which he delivered a brief address, in the course of which he stated that it was the intention of the trustees to nominate as minister of the new church a man of decidedly evangelical principles.—John Deacon, Esq., of Mabledon, the patron of the living of Trinity parish, laid the foundation stone, and in the course of a brief address, pointed out the great increase which had taken place in the church accommodation in the parish of Tonbridge during the last fifty years. The great desire of the Committee was to erect the church for the glory of God, and the salvation of souls. —The Rev. Canon Hoare also spoke, and traced the course of events which had taken place during the last fifteen years in the hamlet of Windmill Fields. He said that when they had completed the church they should not have to look for a congregation, as there was one already found, and he had reason to believe that there were many then before him who had realised the blessings of true religion by attending the services in the schoolrooms at Windmill Fields. -At the conclusion of the service a collection was made, and the Rev. A. Coote announced that he had received a cheque for £50, which he handed in, and the Rev. Canon Hoare stated that he had received a cheque for -The collections amounted to £210 11s.' ('Kent & Sussex Courier - Fri 31 Jul 1874)
    [2] CONSECRATION OF ST. PETER'S CHURCH, WINDMILL FIELDS. Monday last was a day which will always be looked on with interest by the residents of the Windmill Fields district, inasmuch as it wimessed the secondreation of the new church of St. Peter's, a structure which is much needed to meet the growing spiritual requirements of this rapidly increasing and populous district. [description of church and service]' ('Kent & Sussex Courier - Fri 8 Oct 1875)
    [3] ST. PETER'S CHURCH.- Special services will be held to celebrate its completion and the opening of the bells of the above church on Thursday next, particulars of which will be found advertised in another column. There is a debt still remain on the Church of over £50, and with a view of wiping this off, collections will be made after each service.' ('Kent & Sussex Courier - Fri 1 Jun 1877)
    [4] St. Peter's Church, Tunbridge Wells. On THURSDAY, June 7th, SPECIAL SERVICES will be held in this Church, in connection with its Completion and the Opening of the Bells. The Services will be as follows: Morning - ll a.m. - Preacher The Rev. W. BOYD CARPENTER, Vicar of St. James', Holloway. Evening - 7 p.m - Preacher: Rev. Canon HOARE. Collections will be made after both Services, to defray the debt incurred for necessary internal alterations and expenses during the past 18months. Changes will be rung on the Bells during the day by the Speldhurst Ringers.' ('Kent & Sussex Courier - Fri 1 Jun 1877)
    [5] ST PETER'S CHURCH. - Special services were held yesterday, at St. Peter's Church, Windmill Fields, in connection with its completion and the opening of the bells. The Rev. W. Boyd Carpenter (Vicar of St. James' , Holloway,) preached in the morning and the Rev. Canon Hoare in the evening. During the day the Speldhurst Ringers rang several changes on the bells in a very creditable manner.' ('Kent & Sussex Courier - Fri 8 Jun 1877)
    [6] THE BELLS OF ST PETER'S - We are pleased to anounced that, through the munificent liberality of a kind lady (recently deceased), another bell has been added to the above peal of bells, making a present total of six. There are, however, places reserved for two more, which will make, when added, a very excellent peal of eight. It is to be hoped that through the kindness of some friends, or friends, those vacant places may soon be occupied. Last Friday evening the six bells were rung together for the first time, and the additional musical capacity evinced, in consequence of the addition of another bell, gave very pleasing effect and hearty satisfaction. Then the peal of eight is complete they will be of the following notes, respectively:- 1st F sharp; 2nd, E; 3rd D (the recent addition); 4th C; 5th, B; 6th A; 7th, G; 8th (tenor), F flat. [sic]. Few people are aware what a great difference the addition of one bell makes in the possible number of changes. This the number which could be rung on five bells, all changing, would be 120, requiring five minutes; on six, 720 changes, requiring 30 minutesl on seven, 5,040 changes, requiring about three hours; on eight, 40,320 changes, requiring 28 hours; on nine, 362,880 changes requiring ten days, 12 hours; on ten, 3,628,000 changes, requiring three years and sixty days; and on twelve bells (the number recently hung at St. Paul's Cathedral), 479,001,600 changes, requiring 37 years and 355 days' continuous ringing to get through them. We congratulate our fellow townsmen generally, and the residents near St Peter's in particular, on this recent acquisition, and hope it may soon be our pleasing duty to record that the peal of eight bells is complete. St. Peter's bells are always rung (not chimed) for Divine service, a very old custom forming the theme of frequent poetical allusions. Cowper's lines suggest themselves:- "How soft the music of those village bells, Falling at interval upon the ear, In cadence sweet! Now dying all away, Now pealing lous again, and louder still, Clear and sonorous." We understnad a clock, to chime the quarters, has also been presented to St. Peter's, which will, doubtless prove a great convenience to the immediate neighbourhood.' ('Kent & Sussex Courier - Fri 24 Jan 1879)
    [7] THE NEW CLOCK AT ST. PETER'S CHURCH.- In our edition of Friday last we briefly announced that a new clock had been placed in the tower of the Church of St Peter's, and we now give a description of it. It is a turret clock sufficiently powerful to strike the hours upon a bell of 12¾ cwt., and to chime the quarters on four other bells in due proportion, and shows the time upon a 3ft. 6in copper dial, with gilt figures and minutes on a black ground, on the west side of the tower. The clock frame is on the improved horizontal plan of solid cast iron, so constructed that any wheel can be taken out separately without disturbing the other parts. All the wheels are of the best hard brass, turned, cut, and polished in an engine. The escapement is "Graham's" dead-beat. The clock has also all the other improvements which have of late been introduced, and amongst other things it is so arranged that the hammers are pulled up fromthe bells before ringing is commenced. The clock is probably the finest ever introduced into this district, and all who have heard it stroke and chime are highly delighted with it. The clock, including the fixing, has cost close upon £250. It was manufactured by Messrs. Gillett Bland, and Co., of the celebrated Croydon Steam Clock Factory, and it was supplied by our fellow townsman, Mr George Jack man, the well-known clock and watchmaker and silversmith, of the Broadway.' ('Kent & Sussex Courier - Fri 23 May 1879)
    [8] THE BELLS OF ST. PETER'S.-The two additional bells to complete a peal of eight for the belfry of St. Peter's, arrived on Tuesday last from the foundry of Messrs Warner, London, where they have been on order some little time. As our readers are aware, the bells are the gift of two ladies and were given in response to an appeal at the recent close of the Rev. A. H. Smith's ministry in this town. A singular fact is that the other six are all the gifts of ladies. They were cast by the same firm and the two present bells are trebles and complete the octave. There were five bells cast in 1876 and one in 1878. The weight of the tenor is 14cwt. The only inscription on the new bells is "Cast by John Warner Sons, London, 1885.” They arrived with their timbers, etc., all complete, and as places had originally been provided in the framework for the bells, it only remained to fix them. On Wednesday some hands from London followed the bells down and the work of hauling them up into the belfry was commenced. The bells bad been deposited on the floor at the foot of the tower staircase and sliding doors being removed from the upper floors, the work of hauling them up was performed in two or three stages by means of a patent pulley and chain apparatus which was used for almost the first time. By means of this the men can rest on their haul and the weight does not slip back. A number of those interested in the matter visited the belfry during Wednesday and Thursday to inspect the progress made. The bells which were both cast at the same time and are of a special amalgam of copper and tin and of considerable weight, will no doubt prove a great acquisition. It is hoped to have all finished so that a complete peal may be rung on Sunday. The belfry is fitted with all the latest apparatus and we may mention that the chiming gear for the clock was also supplied by the same firm. The peal will probably be equal to any in the county around, and as the only peal in Wells, may be looked a great acquisition.' ('Kent & Sussex Courier - Fri 22 Jan 1886)
    [9] THE BELLS OF ST. PETER'S. The following details of the peal of eight bells which have been re-hung at St. Peter's will be of interest:- Each bell bears an inscription, giving the date of re-casting and the names of the Vicar and Churchwardens. The total weight of the peal is 51 cwt and 11 lbs. The weight of each bell varies from 3 cwt. 2 qrs. 13 lbs. to 14 cwt. and 3 lbs., and the diameters from 25 to 42 inches. The peal was originally cast in 1875.' ('Kent & Sussex Courier - Fri 25 Jul 1919)
    [10] THE BELLS OF ST. PETER'S. Dear Sir.- Will you of your courtesy kindly permit me to make an announcement concerning the debt on the St. Peter's Peal of Bells. The bells, since their renovation, are a public and important asset to the Borough of Tunbridge Wells, and much appreciated by the inhabitants of the immediate neighbourhood. The cost of the restoration, including alterations to the tower, was £485, of which £260 has been contributed, leaving a debt of £225. A special effort is being made by a house-to-house collection in the St. Peter's district, which, together with a congregational offering on Advent Sunday (30th November), will, it is hoped, further reduce this debt, and an urgent appeal is now made to the generosity of the public for financial help. Contributions will be thankfully acknowledged by the Churchwardens, the undersigned, or may be paid direct to the London County, Westminster and Parr's Bank, Tunbridge Wells. Yours faithfully, WM. H. FERGUSON' ('Kent & Sussex Courier - Fri 21 Nov 1919)
    [12] You know well that I have never written a single word re bells save to recommend Taylors of Loughborough and they will ever have the first chance in every thing I can get within my grasp. There is only one bellfounder for me. I am just unfortunately placed here re Gillett and Johnston but I could not help myself. Johnston is a very decent harmless fellow. He know something but not very much re bells. In our way. I have not written a word re old St Peters Bells. I have simply praised them as a matter of course. and studiously avoided any thing controversial. I gave my authority for the bells to be created etc but no certificate what ever. and if they want it, it will have to be dragged out of me and that will be a long a difficult process as I can be stubborn when necessity arises I assure you. and you may bottom dollar that in the end I shall be on top. This is a very egotistical statement but I believe it to be true.' ('T338 (Taylor's, Folder 11/4) W W Starmer to Denison Taylor, 7 May 1920)

    Page updated: 6 May 2020