Lee, St Margaret

Photo: David Cawley

  • 16 bells hung dead with clavier chime (formerly a ring of 8)
  • Tenor: 6-0-10 in C.
  • Formerly ring of 8, tenor 14-1-5. Scrapped in favour of a new chime.
  • Grid Ref: TQ391757
  • Rung from: Upstairs Ringing Room
  • Denomination: Church of England
    Diocese (Anglican): Southwark
  • Peals rung at the tower

Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date FounderRetuned
1 0-2-2114" G 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
Sharp 2 0-2-2214½" F♯ 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
2 0-2-2115" F 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
3 0-3-2515½" E 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
4 1-1-517" D 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
Sharp 5 1-2-1118" C♯ 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
5 1-2-2419" C 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
6 1-3-1720" B 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
Sharp 7 2-0-1721" A♯ 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
7 2-1-2622" A 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
8 3-0-924" G 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
Sharp 9 3-2-625" F♯ 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
9 3-3-326" F 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
10 3-3-1727" E 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
11 4-3-1029" D 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever
12 6-0-1032" C 1963 Mears & Stainbank, WhitechapelNever

 - Hung dead


Prior to 1963

Bell Weight
(most recent)*

(As supplied in 1840, 1886 or 1874)
Treble4-1-274-1-2726"F1886Mears & StainbankNeverMetal reused 1963
2nd4-2-214-2-2128"E1874Mears & StainbankNeverMetal reused 1963
3rd5-0-175-0-1729½"D1874Mears & StainbankNeverMetal reused 1963
4th6-0-166-0-1631½"C1874Mears & StainbankNeverMetal reused 1963
5th6-1-196-1-1933"B♭1840Thomas Mears IINeverMetal reused 1963
6th7-0-137-0-1334"A1840Thomas Mears IINeverMetal reused 1963
7th10-0-510-0-539"G1840Thomas Mears IINeverMetal reused 1963
Tenor14-1-1314-1-1343"F1886Mears & StainbankNeverMetal reused 1963

* Source of weight figures: WBF on scrapping 1963


1552 Record of 3 bells that used to hang in the old church across the road from the present one.
1813 -14 Church rebuilt by Joseph Gwilt.
1839 -41 Church rebuilt by John Brown of Norwich, architect.
1840 Dec 3 new bells were supplied by Mears & Stainbank with clappers, fittings and frame at the new church.
1841 April The 3 old church bells were taken by Mears & Stainbank in part exchange for the work they had done the previous year. Weights of two of them were listed as 5-2-12 and 6-2-4.
1874 3 more treble bells were added by Mears & Stainbank to create a minor 6.
1875 Church remodelled by James Brooks, architect.
1886 19th Feb Whitechapel Daybook records new treble and tenor supplied with two clappers and 2 pairs of gudgeons and shields, £110.15.6. The bells hung in a FIVE tier frame!
1895 -6 The 8 bells were rehung.
1956 10th Mar The bells became very awkward to ring and were undermining the fabric of the church. They were last rung (it is believed) on this date.
1963 The bells were recast into a chime of 16 in memory of Mildred Hunter who died at Lee in 1962. The bells were hung from the old frame. A clavier room was set up in the old ringing room where old peal boards are still preserved. [3]
1967 William Hughes from Whitechapel Bell Foundry wrote to David Cawley giving his recollections of the work at Lee. [1]
1989 On 7 Apr, the Ringing World published a letter from Ernie Rowe, recalling the final ringing on the 8 bells. [2]
[1] They were a ring of three with a tenor of C10, cast at this foundry in 1840. In 1874 we provided a double 2-tier frame for 8 and added three smaller ones to make six, and then finally in 1886 we made a new treble and tenor to make the peal of eight. The whole installation was a stupid one I fear as the peal was much too heavy for the tower and caused considerable damage. In 1963 we broke them up and cast a most musical chime of 16 bells, a diatonic twelve in C with four semi-tones. (Hughes, W A (Letter to David Cawley, 13 Jun 1967))
[2] The last time these were rung as an eight was, according to my tower book, on 10th March 1956 at a London County meeting when, during the first touch, GrandsireTriples, the 2nd wheel collapsed and the remains collapsed onto the back six. Whether they were rung again I doubt, but there was a sequel when, years later, I was given the task of removing these bells. They were a front six in three tiers with the 7th above the 8th swinging the other way (similar to those at Camberwell). A ringer whose name I now forget but who was, so he claimed, a person of some means, told me he had offered to defray the cost of recasting the ring into a lighter one. This however, was turned down by the Vicar, who wanted nothing to do with practices, peals and the inevitable complaints. Later I installed a chime of 16, as all are now aware. (Rowe, E (The Ringing World, 7 Apr 1989))
[3] Faculty application: Lee, Saint Margaret: installing 16-chime electrically controlled bells (London Metropolitan Archives, 1963 DS/F/1963/091B])

The layout of the 5 tier frame

North, Central & South Elevations: Central (main) frame 1874 for 6 bells; Side frames 1886 to accommodate 2 extra bells. Adapted 1963 to hold 16 chiming bells.
Photo: Sketch taken from a visit made by David Cawley in April, 2001.

East Elevation of bell frame as existing Main braces removed East Side only. Steel centre-posts inserted 1963 Transmission frame and bars fitted outside for 16 bell chime. West elevation mirrors original elevation of central 6-bell frame.
Photo: Sketch taken from a visit made by David Cawley in April, 2001.

Sketch plan of bells in frame. North is to the left. Top tier (originally holding 3 & 4 of 6) Centre tier (originally holding 2 & 5 of 6) (added on augmentation beneath; 6th bell moved) Base tier (originally holding 1 & 6 of 6) (added on augmentation
Photo: Sketch taken from a visit made by David Cawley in April, 2001.

The belfry

A better view of the old 5-tier timber frame.
Photo: David Cawley, 2001

The transmission frame and rods and some of the chiming bells, hung in the old bell frame.
Photo: David Cawley, 2001

Some of the chiming bells.
Photo: David Cawley, 2001

The ringing room

Peal boards and details of the former ring of bells (commissioned as a condition of the faculty to recast the bells).
Photo: David Cawley, 2001

The clavier at work in the old ringing room of the tower. John Knox, Secretary of the British Carillion Society is at the clavier, watched by Clive Smith, Captain of Lichfield Cathedral and co-carilloneur at Saltley (who was in the band which last rang th
Photo: David Cawley, 2001

Other photos of the church

An image of the old church in 1795.
Photo: David Cawley collection

Love's Guide to the Church Bells of Kent Page updated: 28 March 2020