Canterbury, St George the Martyr

Photo: Dickon Love, 2006

  • Tower only remaining, formerly ring of 5 bells, tenor 12 cwt approx
  • Formerly ring of 5 bells, tenor 12 cwt approx.
  • Grid Ref: TR151577
  • Rung from: Upstairs Ringing Room
  • Denomination: Church of England
    Diocese (Anglican): Canterbury
    Archdeaconry (Anglican): Canterbury

Prior to 1942

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Treble (of 5)4¼ cwt approx.28"C♯1616Joseph HatchNeverDestroyed 1942. From St Mary Magdalene, Canterbury
2nd (of 5)4¾ cwt approx.30"B1627Joseph HatchNeverDestroyed 1942
3rd (of 5)6½ cwt approx.33"A1325William le BelyetereNeverDestroyed 1942
4th (of 5)8½ cwt approx.36"G♯1664Thomas Palmar INeverDestroyed 1942
Tenor (of 5)12 cwt approx.40"F♯1623Joseph HatchNeverDestroyed 1942


c 1325 2nd (of 4) cast by William le Belyetere.
1586 There is a record of an annual stipend from the City Council of 11. 6s. 8d. paid to a person to ring the tenor for 15 minutes every morning at 4am. [1]
1616 A bell was cast for St Mary Magdalene, Canterbury by Joseph Hatch.
1623 Tenor (of 4) and a clock bell cast by Joseph Hatch.
1627 Treble (of 4) (re)cast by Joseph Hatch.
1664 3rd (of 4) (re)cast by Thomas Palmar I.
1788 Base of turret pierced to allow for a pedestrian walk.
1791 The turret was demolished as it was unstable. It had contained a clock bell. A spire was placed on the tower.
1836 A new clock was put on the church striking on the tenor bell. (This is the existing projectory clock.)
1871 Parish united with that of St Mary Magdalene. St Mary's was demolished and its treble bell was transferred to St George to be the treble of a ring of 5 in F sharp minor.
1872 Church was extended following the merge of parishes.
1887 Stahlscmidt recorded 4 bells and a clock bell.
1925 Bells rehung with chiming fittings in the old frame by Mears & Stainbank.
1942 The church was gutted by fire during an air raid on 1st June. The clock stopped at 2:18 am). The bells crashed and partly melted - they were subsequently "lost". The Rector requested the September PCC that "Any bell metal should be sent to Mears & Stainbank as there might be enough to cast two bells for the new church". It is not known if this was done.
1945 The parish area of St George's was united with St Martin with St Paul and St George's Rectory in Ersham Road became the Rectory for the new parish. It still has the "George and Dragon" external mural from its pre-war days. A new church was to be designed by Mr Curtis Green, Architect, with a tower.
1951 In April, following the collapse of Eastwell Church, Mr Curtis Green applied for the bells and frame to be made available for the new St George's. In December the Diocesan Registrar was told by Gilllett & Johnston that it was highly unlikely that "the Eastwell Bell and Frame would fit into any other tower". On the Registrar's advice, the Vicar and Churchwardens of Eastwell sold the bells for scrap. Mr Curtis Green expressed himself "very disturbed by this action."
1952 Eastwell bells were taken out and sold in January. In October the church was levelled apart from the tower which stands in the pedestrian precinct as the St George's Clocktower.
1953 It was decided not to build a grand new St George's on Barton Estate, but a Mission Church, dedicated to Queen Bertha.
1955 May The clock dials were restored with 2nd hand movement and set going.
2009 Following failure of the dials the clock eventually stopped. It was decided by the City Council to remove it and restore it to its pre-war appearance.
2010 21st January The clock having been replaced on the tower to the 1836 designs was again set going.
[1] MINUTES, from the ancient Records and Accounts, in the Chamber of CANTERBURY, of Transactions in that City, between the Years 1573 and 1609: 1586. An annual stipend of 11. 6s. 8d. is paid to a person, who shall every morning, at four o’clock, ring the great bell, in St. George’s steeple for one quarter hour. (Kentish Gazette (Tuesday 28 October 1800))


  • "Ancient foundry remains", Author unknown (The Ringing World) 20 September 1985
  • Gallery

    This picture was taken a few days after the church was damaged by the air raid of 1st June, 1942. The tower was largely intact.
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    However, just under a fortnight later, the demolition gangs moved in to pull the church down. Part of the tower was dismantled (as can be seen above) before concerned citizens could intervene to save it.
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    Another picture of the burnt out church.
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    Scaffolding went up to protect the tower of the church as the authorities were persuaded to maintain and rebuild the tower. (Photo 2nd July 1942.)
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    By 30th July, the scaffolding was complete.
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    The St George's Clocktower was finally restored after the war as a free standing tower, although alas, the bells had gone. The tower may well be strong enough for bells to be returned to the belfry - it would be a fitting Civic Ring, and were the bells to
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    St George's Church as it appeared before the War.
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    Photo: David Cawley collection

    Photo: David Cawley collection

    The new clock set going in 2010 harks back more faithfully to the original clock on the bombed out church.
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    Another view of the bombed out church.
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    Woodcut of the late steeple in 1825 edition of Gosling's "Walk around Canterbury"
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    Love's Guide to the Church Bells of Kent Page updated: 22 May 2016