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 (Felstead Database)

  • Details of the Bells

    Bell Weight
    (most recent)
    Diameter Note Date Founder Canons Retuned
    1 0-2-21 14" G 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    Sharp 2 0-2-22 14½" F♯ 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    2 0-2-21 15" F 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    3 0-3-25 15½" E 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    4 1-1-5 17" D 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    Sharp 5 1-2-11 18" C♯ 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    5 1-2-24 19" C 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    6 1-3-17 20" B 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    Sharp 7 2-0-17 21" A♯ 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    7 2-1-26 22" A 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    8 3-0-9 24" G 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    Sharp 9 3-2-6 25" F♯ 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    9 3-3-3 26" F 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    10 4-0-17 27" E 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    11 4-3-10 29" D 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never
    12 6-0-10 32" C 1963 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Flat Never

    ꓕ- Hung dead

    Bellframes

    Frame Bells Year Maker Material Truss(es) Local
    Layout
    Resultant
    Layout
    1 Former 1,6 1874 Unknown Timber 6.S
    2.X1
    1.1 Former 8 1886 Unknown Timber 6.H
    1 3.3
    2 Former 3,5 1874 Unknown Timber 6.S
    2.X1
    2.1 Former 7 1886 Unknown Timber 6.H
    1 3.3
    3 Former 2,4 1874 Unknown Timber 6.S
    2.X1
    Inscriptions on the Bells

    Prior to 1963

    Bell Weight
    (most recent) *

    (As supplied in 1840, 1886 or 1874)
    Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
    Treble 4-1-27 4-1-27 26" F 1886 Mears & Stainbank Never Metal reused 1963
    2nd 4-2-21 4-2-21 28" E 1874 Mears & Stainbank Never Metal reused 1963
    3rd 5-0-17 5-0-17 29½" D 1874 Mears & Stainbank Never Metal reused 1963
    4th 6-0-16 6-0-16 31½" C 1874 Mears & Stainbank Never Metal reused 1963
    5th 6-1-19 6-1-19 33" B♭ 1840 Thomas Mears II Never Metal reused 1963
    6th 7-0-13 7-0-13 34" A 1840 Thomas Mears II Never Metal reused 1963
    7th 10-0-5 10-0-5 39" G 1840 Thomas Mears II Never Metal reused 1963
    Tenor 14-1-13 14-1-13 43" F 1886 Mears & Stainbank Never Metal reused 1963

    * Source of weight figures: WBF on scrapping 1963
    Prior to 1840

    Bell Weight
    (most recent) *
    Date Founder Retuned Fate
    1 (of 3) 4-3-24 Never Recast 1840
    2 (of 3) 5-2-12 Never Recast 1840
    3 (of 3) 6-2-4 Never Recast 1840

    * Source of weight figures: WBF 1840 as received
    History

    1552 Record of 3 bells that used to hang in the old church across the road from the present one. [1]
    1813 Church rebuilt by Joseph Gwilt, completed the following year
    1839 Church rebuilt by John Brown of Norwich, architect, completed 1941.
    1840 3 new bells were supplied by Mears & Stainbank with clappers, fittings and frame at the new church to replace the 3 bells in the old church (whose weights were noted). [2]
    1841 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 in foundry records of April 1841.
    1874 3 more treble bells were added by Mears & Stainbank to create a minor 6.
    1875 Church remodelled by James Brooks, architect.
    1886 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! [3]
    1895 The 8 bells were rehung.
    1956 The bells became very awkward to ring and were undermining the fabric of the church. They were last rung (it is believed) on 10th March.
    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. [6]
    1967 William Hughes from Whitechapel Bell Foundry wrote to David Cawley giving his recollections of the work at Lee. [7]
    1989 On 7 Apr, the Ringing World published a letter from Ernie Rowe, recalling the final ringing on the 8 bells. [8]
    2023 The tower was inspected by Bill Hibbert (9 Nov) when it became clear that bell No 9 (sharp 7th) was broken around the waist, caused by rusted bolts. A restoration is planned.

    [1] Item iij bells in the steple.Item a long ladder and a shorter in the belfry.' ('Edwardian Inventory, 1552)
    [2] Three bells (weights 6-2-3, 7-0-7 and 10-0-4) supplied with clappers, fittings and frame. Three old bells taken in part exchange, 17 April 1841 (weights noted as 4-3-24, 5-2-12 and 6-2-4)' ('Whitechapel Day Book, 26 Dec 1840)
    [3] New treble and tenor (4-2-3 and 14-1-5), supplied with two clappers and 2 pairs of gudgeons and shields, £110.15.6' ('Whitechapel Daybook, 19 Feb.1886)
    [4] RECTOR OF LEE AND CHURCH BELLS DISPUTE. PARISH MAGAZINE ARTICLE. In the King's Bench Division, on Tuesday, Mr. Justice Ridley and Mr. Justice Bankes refused to grane a rule nisi against the Rev. RIchard Meddings, Rector of St. Margaret's, Lee, to show cause why he should not be committee for alleged contempt of Court by having commented upon certain proceedings during their progress in the High Court. Mr. R. I. Simey, who moved ex-parte for the rule on behalf of Mr. Simmonds, formerly bellringer at St. Margaret's, explained that his client was defendant in the action by Mr. Dewes and another, the churchwardens, for delivery of certain handells. Defendant claimed that the bells were his property, and that they were given to him by the previous Rector. Of course, the present Rector back the churchwardens. [The rest of the report is quite amusing, saying how the Rector had put a paragraph in the parish magazine. The judge said it was foolish, but did not permit the application.]' ('Sydenham, Forest Hill & Penge Gazette, Fri 23 Jan 1914)
    [5] LEE CHURCH BELLS DISPUTE. RE DEWES AND WHATLEY v. SIMMONDS. Sir,- In view of the local interest excited in this case by paragraphs in St. Margaret's Parish Magazine, and by the report in your last issue of the proceedings in the High Court in reference to the Rev. Richard Meddings, we think it only fair to our client that you should publish the fact that the churchwardens have served formal notice of discontinuance, consequently the handbells that have caused all the trouble will remain as heretofore the persaonl property of Mr. George Simmonds and his colleagues, the late bell-ringers of St. Margaret's. Yours, &c. James and Charles Dodd, Solicitors for the Defendant.' ('Lewisham Borough News, Fri 30 Jan 1914)
    [6] Faculty application: Lee, Saint Margaret: installing 16-chime electrically controlled bells' ('London Metropolitan Archives, 1963 DS/F/1963/091B])
    [7] 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))
    [8] 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))
    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 the bells on 10th March, 1956) and Chris Berry (Loughborough).
    Photo: David Cawley, 2001
    Other photos of the church


    An image of the old church in 1795.
    Photo: David Cawley collection
    Photographs from Bill Hibbert inspection Nov 2023


    The chime stand, installed by Whitechapel in 1963. The access from the top of the spiral stair can be seen behind, and the trapdoor in the floor in front of the stand.
    Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 Nov 2023

    This case has pegs for 36 handbells, though only 22 remain.
    Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 Nov 2023

    The bellframe and the lowest ring-beam rest on four stone corbels at the level of the top of the clock chamber. In this picture, part of the ring-beam can be seen, and one of the sills of the lowest tier of the frame.
    Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 Nov 2023

    This picture (taken in the lowest tier of the frame) shows the truss design. A cut-out for a bearing can be seen, and to the left of it, a hasp which would have located the cover over the plain bearing. Behind the main truss can be see two of the octagonal ring beams and one of the vertical timbers between them.
    Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 Nov 2023

    This picture shows a view up the frame from the level of the base timbers. I estimate that the frame is 5.2m or 17 feet tall from the lower side of the base timbers to the top of the uppermost member. Visible in this picture are the middle and uppermost ring beams, tie bolts between the ring-beams, the roller bars for the chime transmission, and the steel mesh floor above the frame that supports the mobile phone equipment.
    Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 Nov 2023

    This picture shows the side of the pit added to house the 7th bell outside the original frame. The lower members of this pit have been sawn away, no doubt to allow removal of the bells. These members rest on the middle octagonal ring beam and at their other ends were jointed to the main frame. The upper members between this frame side and the main frame were probably iron bars. Cut-outs and coach-bolt holes for them can be seen at either end of the upper member. The cast-iron housing for the plain bearing looks to be a later design than the cut-outs in the main frame. Behind this cross-braced frame side can be see the cross-bracing between the vertical posts supporting the uppermost octagonal ring beam, and tie bolts between the upper and middle ring-beams. The frame-side is bolted at various places to the vertical posts and cross bracing behind it.
    Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 Nov 2023

    This picture shows the middle and upper octagonal ring beams, and a vertical post and tie bolts between them. On the left can be seen some of the roller-bars for the chiming bells.
    Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 Nov 2023

    This picture shows the uppermost tier of the frame, immediately below the floor supporting the mobile phone equipment. The uppermost octagonal ring-beam can just be seen at the lower left. The upper frame members are at the level of the second set of louvres in the octagonal upper stage of the tower. Four of the chiming bells can be seen, hung from steel beams across the old frame timbers. An additional vertical steel support added to the frame when the chiming bells were installed can be seen on the left
    Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 Nov 2023

    The Mears foundry stamp on one of the bells.
    Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 Nov 2023

    This bell (the sharp 7th in the top tier) has become cracked due to rusting of the mounting bolts and is to be recast.
    Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 Nov 2023
    Peal boards

    Timber Performance Board dated approx. 1888

  • Nov 1887 : 5040 Grandsire Triples (Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria)

  • Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 November 2023

    Timber Performance Board dated approx. 1899

  • Nov 1898 : 5040 Grandsire Triples (25 years of Ministry: Revd Frederick Henry Law, Rector)

  • Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 November 2023

    Timber Performance Board dated approx. 1907

  • Oct 1907 : 5040 Grandsire Triples (7 years of Ministry: Revd E Louis Clapton, Rector)

  • Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 November 2023

    Timber Performance Board dated approx. 1911

  • Jun 1911 : 5040 Grandsire Triples (Birthday of King George V.)

  • Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 November 2023

    Timber Bell/Restoration Detail Board dated 1963


    Photo: Bill Hibbert, 9 November 2023


    Page updated: 27 November 2023