Dover, St James the Apostle (New Church)

Photo: David L Cawley collection

  • Church demolished, formerly ring of 6 steel bells, 12 cwt approx
  • Formerly ring of 6 steel bells, 12 cwt approx. Scrapped.
  • Grid Ref: TR320417
  • Rung from: Upstairs Ringing Room
  • Denomination: Church of England
    Diocese (Anglican): Canterbury
    Archdeaconry (Anglican): Ashford
  • Peals rung at the tower

Prior to 1953

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Treble4 cwt approx.29"1862Naylor Vickers & Co.NeverScrapped in 1953
2nd4½ cwt approx.31"1861Naylor Vickers & Co.NeverScrapped in 1953
3rd6 cwt approx.35"1862Naylor Vickers & Co.NeverScrapped in 1953
4th7½ cwt approx.39"1862Naylor Vickers & Co.NeverScrapped in 1953
5th9 cwt approx.41"1861Naylor Vickers & Co.NeverScrapped in 1953
Tenor12 cwt approx.45"1861Naylor Vickers & Co.NeverScrapped in 1953


1860 Foundation stone of the new church was laid in 10 Aug. It was built with a north-western tower and spire. [1]
1861 The church was built with a north-western tower and spire, opened the following year. A ring of 6 steel bells was cast by Naylor Vickers. It cost £54. 2s. 8d. [2]
1862 The church was consecrated on 20 Aug by the Bishop of Sierra Leone. [3]
1935 Bells rehung by Gillett & Johnson. The ringers practised at St Mary's while the work was being carried out. [4] [5]
1944 The church was damaged by shelling during the War.
1952 The Diocesan Registrar investigated selling the bells, either as bells or as scrap. They received a letter from Gillett & Johnston making it clear there was little value in recycling these as either. [6]
1953 The church was demolished. The bells were thrown over the edge of the tower and scrapped. One was so corroded it had a hole in it. One bell was kept for St Alban's, Old Park, Dover (now demolished).
[1] NEW PARISH CHURCH OF ST. JAMES.- On Tuesdsay last the foundation stone was laid by J. P. Plumptre, Esq., Deputy Warden of the Cinques Ports, of the new parish church of St. James, Dover, in a field known as Tinker's-close, at East-brook. A large number of visitors were present to witness the ceremonial; and the Mayor and corporation attended with the customary officers and emblems of civic authority. The style of architecture for the intended new building is the "Decorated," as it prevailed in the 14th century. It is to consist of a nave 93ft. long by 24ft. wide, with side isles each 76ft, in length by 20ft. in width. The chancel is 30ft. by 23ft. 6in., into which an organ chapel opens on the south side, and is in extent 20ft. by 16ft. The vestry is at the east side of the north aisle. The principal entrance to the church is by the tower, which is situated at the north-west angle of the building, and the design of which, as well as of the west front, will form a striking feature, and will be seen from the surrounding district. The altitude of the tower and spire will be 140ft., and the top of the gable of the west front will be 60ft. high, in the coroner of which will be a rich traceried window of six lights. The other entrance to the church is by a porch on the south side. At the west end of the building a large and commodious gallery has been provided for childen; while with the view to increase the number of sittings, galleries have to be introduced over the north and south aiseles, with staircases at the entrance end of the building. The number of sittings which the church is intended to hold is 1,400, being an increase of more than 800 over that in the present building. The architect is Mr. Talbot Bury, and the builder Mr. W. Moxon, of Dover. The estimated cost of the whole is about £7,000, but as the subscriptions received are at present considerably short of that amount, it is intended as yet to finish only the carcass of the edifice, and complete the several details of the design as funds shall be received hereafter. The proceedings of the day afforded the greatest interest throughout the town and neighbourhood. (South Eastern Gazette, Tues 17 Apr 1860)
[2] For the building of new St James' Church we read that the expenses in laying foundation stone were £3. 11s. 4d. Some of the main expenditure in the building of the church was as follows: July 1861, and 1862: W.Moxon contractor for work executed under Contract for building church up to the time of his failure: £4,398. 1s. 9d; Works executed subsequently in completing Walls and Roof of the church £1707. 7s. 4d; Messrs Fry and Pepper contract for pewing, galleries etc £2071. 4s. 8d; Fry and Pepper for enclosure walls £310. 6s. 3d; Hart & Son for Gas Fittings, Iron fencing etc: £580. 2s. 8d; Carver: £152. 9s. 6d; Holmes for Painting and Staining £178. 11s. Clerk of Works £338. 12s. 8d; East window expenses: £41. 15s. Architect, commission etc £788. 9s. 7d. Warming contract £200; Naylor & Co. Bells etc £54. 2s. 8d; …. Etc. (Church accounts)
[3] CONSECRATION OF ST JAMES'S CHURCH, DOVER. The ceremony of consecrating the new church of St James's parish was carried out on Wednesday last with the formalities unsual on such occasions. In the absence through illness of His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, the solemn rite was performed by the Bishop of Sierra Leone ... The tower is a commanding feature in the west front and with the spire and ironwork on the top rises to the height of 150 feet. The width is 20 feet. (Kentish Gazette, Tues 26 Aug 1862)
[4] PREPARING FOR THE JUBILEE. In the near future, the bells of St. James' Church will be pealed, instead of being chimes as they have been previously. A few minor repairs are necessary, however before this can be done, but it is hoped to compete these in time for the Silver Jubilee celebrations in May. By making this alteration it is expected to increase the interest of the young bell-ringers of the Church in this ancient art. They are being instructed on the bells of St. Mary's, which is at present the only Church in Dover where the bells are actually pealed. When a bell is pealed, the whole bell is moved by the ringer. When it is chimed, only the clapper is moved. Pealing thus produces a very much superior tone. The following records on tablets in the belfry are interesting:- On Saturday, September 27th, 1891, was rung on these bells 720 changes, Bob minor 14 singes, 4 Bob, in 28 minutes. On Saturday, October 24th, 1891, 720 changes, Bob minor, 18 Bob and 2 singles in 28 minutes, and 720 of Grandsire minor, 38 Bob and 22 singles, in 28 minutes, being a call every treble lead. lead. On Thursday evening, August 7thm 1902, a peal of Bob minor, 720 changes, 18 Bob and 2 singles was rung on the bells of this tower, being the first peal rung on the bells by a local band. Time taken 28 munutes. (Dover Express, Fri 25 Jan 1935)
[5] In January, at St. James; Church Dover, repairs were undertaken to the bell loft to enable the bells to be pealed again instead of only chimed, the forthcoming Silver Jubilee being in mind. (Dover Express, Fri 27 Dec 1935)
[6] Dear Sir, St James' Church Bells, Dover In answer to your letter of 7th July, for which we thank you, we are frankly very doubtful if the six steel bells are of any value as bells. The manufacture of steel bells was discontinued many years ago - they were made by one of the Sheffield steel firms we believe - mainly because of their inferior tonal quality in comparison with those of bell metal. We ourselves have never made steel bells and we regret they would be of no value to us as we do not use cast steel in any of our work. If St James' Church Authorities cared to advertise them in one or other of the church periodicals it is just possible they might receive an offer from some church of limited means but we feel that the chances are not very hopeful. It would be advisable to mention the diameter and approximate weight of the tenor (largest) bell. We imagine, also, that the scrap metal value would not be very large as the purchaser would have to take into consideration the cost of breaking them up. Regretting that we cannot by more encouraging in this instance. (Letter from Fred Steveson, Gillett & Johnston to J G Pembrook, Diocesan Registrar, 9 Jul 1952)


Photo: David Cawley collection

Photo: David Cawley collection

Photo: Old post card

Peal Boards

Performance Board dated approx. 1891
27 Sept 1891: 720 Plain Bob Minor

Performance Board dated approx. 1891
24 Oct 1891: 720 Plain Bob Minor

Performance Board dated approx. 1902
07 Aug 1902: 720 Plain Bob Minor (1st peal by a local band)

Love's Guide to the Church Bells of Kent Page updated: 7 April 2022