Lee, Good Shepherd

Photo: Andrew Wood (London Churches in Photographs) londonchurchbuildings.com 2019

  • Single bell hung on bracket and clocked
  • Tenor: 4 cwt approx.
  • Former tubular chime of 5, destroyed 1941 with the old church.
  • Grid Ref: TQ396745
  • Denomination: Church of England
    Diocese (Anglican): Southwark

Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Canons Retuned
Single Bell 4 cwt approx.27" 1964 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Never

 - Hung dead

Earlier Tubular Bells

Bell Date Founder Fate
1 1887-1908 Harrington, Latham & Co, Coventry Destroyed 1941
2 1887-1908 Harrington, Latham & Co, Coventry Destroyed 1941
3 1887-1908 Harrington, Latham & Co, Coventry Destroyed 1941
4 1887-1908 Harrington, Latham & Co, Coventry Destroyed 1941
5 1887-1908 Harrington, Latham & Co, Coventry Destroyed 1941


1881 The church was originally built as a chapel of ease for St Margaret's, Lee. It was built at the sole cost of the Lord of the Manor, Lord Northbrook. It was designed by Ernest Newton and consecrated on 12 Dec. [1]
1888 The parish was created from those of St Margaret and Christ Church, Lee. At some point between the building of the church and the 1908, a set of 5 tubular bells was installed in the open turret at the top of the church. The precise date of installation is not known.
1908 The Kentish Mercury published a series of "Letters to the Editor" complaining about the tubular bells and the the frequency and time of day of their ringing. The bells were blamed for the increasing number of vacant properties in the area. However other letters were submitted by those in defence of the bells and the vicar. The row broke out as writers aimed their ire at other local churches. The Vicar promised to reduced the duration and number of bells rung at a time, but not the frequency. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]
1941 The church was hit by an incendiary bomb in the blitz and fire raged through it just leaving the bare structure. However services continued in the temporary hall next to the church. The tubular bells were almost certainly destroyed in the fire.
1950 The first edition of "Dove's Guide" records 5 tubular bells, although this must be an outdated reference.
1957 The church was rebuilt on the original foundations.
1974 George Elphick's Southwark Survey (Nov) noted only 1 bell in a steel frame bolted to the west wall and clocked, which he determined was a recast bell. There were no sign of any tubular bells.
[1] CONSECRATION OF A NEW CHURCH AT LEE. On Monday afternoon last, in the presence of a large congregation, the Bishop of Rochester, assisted by the Rev. and Hon. canon Legge (vicar of Lewisham and Rural Dean), the Rev. F. H. Law (rector of St. Margaret's, Lee) and the Rev. R. Rhode Bristow (vicar of St Stephen's, Lewisham), consecrated the new Church of the Good Shepherd, situate [sic] at the end of Handen-road, Burnt Ash-road, Lee. The church was built at the sole cost of the Lord of the Manor, Lord Northbrook, who also gave the site and surrounding ground, consisting of 2,555 square yards to be used for ecclesiastical purposes for ever. The edifice is of plan appearance, built of red brick with red tiled roof, and a bell tower, and the fittings of the interior plain but substantial ... The works were executed by Messrs. Maides and Harper, of Croydon, from the designs of Mr. Ernest Newton, of Hart-street, Bloomsbury. (Kentish Mercury - Sat 17 Dec 1881)
[2] THE EMPTINESS OF LEE. SIR,- I have read with interest your repeated remarks on the emptiness of Lee. It is still a burning question, and one which should receive careful attention. I would point out one special road where the number of empty houses is becoming positively alarming, viz., the Handen-road. I believe this is very largely due to the bells of the Church of the Good Shepherd in that thoroughfare. These bells are, I believe, of the tubular kind and the aggravating noises they make are sometimes quite unbearable. They arise from ineffectual efforts to render various hymn tunes, such as "The strain upraise, Hallelujah!" on the five tubes, as well as the nerve-racking peals which announce the services. This takes place on nearly every day of the week, and on Saints' days there are special demonstrations; but on Sunday, the "day of rest and quiet," it is truly terrible. They commence very early on Sunday morning, and people in the Handen and Micheldever-roads have already made loud complaints about their disturbed slumbers. Before the usual morning service the bells go for a long while, often after service; again in the afternoon and in the evening. I have heard that in consequence of the noise many people have been warned against taking homes in the vicinity. I am creditably informed that some of the present residents are determining to move away on the first favourable opportunity. Is this right? Is this fair to the house owner who has great difficulty in letting his houses? If this sort of thing were done in connexion with theatres, music-halls, &c., to attract audiences it would sson be voted a public nuisance and stopped. I believe the vicar of the Good Shepherd has already received many complaints on the matter, but as these remonstrances have not produced the desire effect I thought it would be advisable to bring the power of the Press into play. The origin of ringing church bells was to frighten demons away. Most of us have outgrown such superstitions, but the church bells are certainLy driving away residents from the vicinity of the Good Shepherd and they surely are not all of a demoniacal variety. - I am. Sir, &c.. NEURA. (Kentish Mercury - Fri 06 Nov 1908)
[3] THE EMPTINESS OF LEE SIR.- I feel that your correspondent "Neura" does not quite grasp the situation. He must not compare our churches, no matter how spectacular the services, with music halls. The poor incumbents may not publish their attractions with effective posters and they have only their bells to advertise themselves to the general public. The parson at the Good Shepherd gives us something out of the ordinary. He cannot make a custom of perambulating the streets in his costume else the boys make rude remarks, so he has to fall back on bells, and, being a man of inventive ideas, he has installed a set of special startlers. According to "Neura" these must have had the contrary effect to that desired; no doubt when the churchwardens find a falling off in the attendances and, more particularly, contributions, we shall be relieved fo the nuisance and some other "draw" instituted. - I am, Sir, etc., A RESIDENT (Kentish Mercury - Fri 20 Nov 1908)
[4] THOSE NOISY BELLS. SIR., - Yes, it is not only possible that the so-called tuneful bells of the Good Shepherd Church in Handen-road, Lee, can cause annoyance, but an actual fact they do. I have the misfortune to live exactly opposite the church, and consider that the amount of times per diem and the extraordinary hours at which these bells are rung is nothing less than an intolerable nuisance. I have before now complained to the vicar, who was gracious enough to tell me that I should consider myself lucky that I did not live near the Parish Church, as the bells were rung more often there. I quite agree with your correspondents that a single bell should be quite sufficient, and as little as possible of that. - I am, Sir, etc., C. L. HEMMERDE. (Kentish Mercury - Fri 20 Nov 1908)
[5] SIR., - I was very glad to read "Neura's" letter in reference to the bell ringing nuisance. I unfortunately moved near Holy Trinity Church, Genton-road, Lee, and the bell ringing on Sundays for the four services is unbearable. Cannot something be done to abate this nuisance? _ I am, Sir, &c., RESIDENT. (Kentish Mercury - Fri 20 Nov 1908)
[6] THE EMPTINESS OF LEE. SIR.- In a recent issue of your paper there appeared a letter headed "The Emptiness of Lee," and your correspondent pointed out especially the dearth of tenants in the Handen and Micheldever Roads, suggesting as the cause the sweet melody of the fine bells in the belfry of the stately Church of the Good Shepherd. The following letter, written to the owner and occupier of a house adjoining the pictureseque churchyard with its fine poplars, may possibly explain the harassed vicar's position in the matter. It is dated October 11th, 1904, and reads as follows - "In reply to your letter of 8th inst. I can assure you that I have no desire to annoy in any way, and in future there shall be one bell only at 7.40 to 7.45 a.m., and the same at 7.55 to 8 a.m., except, of course, on the great festivals of the Church. I hope this arrangement will meet the case, as I cannot do more than this in fairness to those who gave the bells and like to hear them ... and I sincerely trust you will not again raise the question. - Yours faithfully, J. Arthur Owen." Personally, I am surprised that anyone should object to being roused at 7.40 on Sunday morning; furthermore, I feel sure that those who like to hear the (alleged) bells are in a huge majority. - I am, Sire, etc. ERNEST H WARD. (Kentish Mercury - Fri 27 Nov 1908)
[7] To the Editor of the Kentish Mercury. SIR.- As a resident in the immediate vicinity of Handen-road, Lee, and within sound of the "tubular bells," may I be permissed to state that they do not disturb me in the slightest? I have recently come to live in the Burnt Ash-road, and on the first Sunday morning afterwards was awakened by them, but not since, as I soon became accustomed to them. I have made the acquaintance of a gentleman who has lived in the Handen-road and an adjoining street for 20 yearsl this fact will count for something both in the recommendation of the road and against the suggestion that the bells are a source of annoyance to anyone excepting, perhaps, the nerveless. It will need a great deal of direct evidence to convince the practical business man that it is the bells which cause any of the houses to be vacated. One cannot but regret that the Nonconformist churches do not also adopt the same "up-to-date," simple, and very charming system of calling the people to praise and prayer in God's House. Your correspondent is to be congratulated upon his discovery of a remedy for empty houses, and the wonder is he has not patented it! Will he explain why all the newly built houses in the same neighbourhood are let and the older houses are left, notwithstanding the reduction in the rents? What about the houses all around the South of London and, indeed, in every suburb of London? I can refer him to a road in Barnes, Surrey, where there is no church bell within ear-shot yet 20 houses are vacant. I feel sorry for the man who cannot appreciate the bells and the cause for which they ring. - I am, Sir, etc. NINETY-THREE. (Kentish Mercury - Fri 27 Nov 1908)
[8] THE EMPTINESS OF LEE. To the Editor of THE KENTISH MERCURY. SIR,- Week by week we have read with interest the correspondence with regard to the so-called tuneful bells of the Church of the Good Shepherd, and, in stating that we endorse the views of "A Resident," we feel confident that we are heartily supported by our clients who have the misfortune to own houses in proximity to this church. A short while previous to the installation of these melodious tubes it was by no means a difficult matter to find tenants for property in Handen-road, notwithstanding the bad state of the local property market. Is it possible that those responsible will persist in this nuisance until the available houses - which already total seventeen - in are increased still further in number? - We are, Sir, etc., BELL & RAINER. Lee Green (Kentish Mercury - Fri 04 Dec 1908)
[9] To the Editor of THE KENTISH MERCURY. SIR,- I have read with surprise the letters in your recent issues attributing "the emptiness of Lee" to the church bells - those of the Good Shepherd and Holy Trinity churches being the special objects of attack. One can scarcely imagine anyone, in these days of mutual toleration, objecting to what is really the "voice of the Church" calling the people to worship. As a resident in Glenton-road, Lee, for more than nine years, I always rejoice to hear the bell at Holy Trinity, although I admit that it is not quite so beautiful as the silver-toned chimes at the Good Shepherd, whose delightful music ones hears wafted across the field that used be. I should like to ask "Resident" why, with so much "emptiness in Lee," he selected a spot so near to the church bell? I would remind him that it has been there for 44 years - while he apparently has just arrived! Would he like to present Holy Trinity with a set of "tubular bells"? If so, possibly the vicar might be induced to accept them. I should strongly advise him not to lie in bed and grumble, but to obey the call and "come to church." - I am, Sir, etc., EDWARD HALL (Kentish Mercury - Fri 04 Dec 1908)


A very early postcard of the old church which appears to be before the tubular bells were installed.
Photo: Running Past, South East London History on Foot

A later postcard. I believe you can see the tubular bells in the turret.
Photo: Running Past, South East London History on Foot

The single bell hanging on the west wall of the church.
Photo: Andrew Wood (London Churches in Photographs) londonchurchbuildings.com, 2019

Love's Guide to the Church Bells of Kent Page updated: 21 April 2020