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Treble 6-1-1431¾" D 1744 Thomas Lester, Whiechapel 1966 Mears & Stainbank 2 7-0-032¼" C♯ 1744 Thomas Lester, Whiechapel 1966 Mears & Stainbank 3 8-0-2235⅛" B 1744 Thomas Lester, Whiechapel 1966 Mears & Stainbank 4 10-1-038⅜" A 1744 Thomas Lester, Whiechapel 1966 Mears & Stainbank 5 13-1-442⅛" G 1764 Lester & Pack, Whitechapel 1966 Mears & Stainbank 6 13-2-444" F♯ 1966 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Never 7 19-0-948½" E 1764 Lester & Pack, Whitechapel 1966 Mears & Stainbank Tenor 25-0-754¼" D 1764 Lester & Pack, Whitechapel 1966 Mears & Stainbank

The 1744 Thomas Lester octave

Bell Weight
(most recent)*
(Current weight)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
Treble (of 8)6-3-146-3-1431⅜"1744Thomas Lester1966 Mears & StainbankCurrent Treble
2nd (of 8)7-2-147-2-1432½"1744Thomas Lester1966 Mears & StainbankCurrent 2nd
3rd (of8)9-0-249-0-2435½"1744Thomas Lester1966 Mears & StainbankCurrent 3rd
4th (of 8)11-0-1911-0-1938½"1744Thomas Lester1966 Mears & StainbankCurrent 4th
5th (of 8)14-2-1514-2-1541½"1744Thomas LesterNeverRecast 1764
6th (of 8)15-0-2315-0-2343½"1744Thomas LesterNeverRecast 1764
7th (of 8)20-1-1620-1-1647¾"1744Thomas LesterNeverRecast 1764
Tenor (of 8)28-0-2628-0-2653¾"1744Thomas LesterNeverRecast 1764

* Source of weight figures: WBF Peals Book 1743

Prior to 1744

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
Treble (of 6)1588Robert MotNeverRecast 1744
2nd (of 6)9½ cwt approx.1589Robert MotNeverRecast 1744
3rd (of 6)UnknownNeverRecast 1744
4th (of 6)UnknownNeverRecast 1744
5th (of 6)UnknownNeverRecast 1744
Tenor (of 6)UnknownNeverRecast 1744


1418 A new aisle (dedicated to St Katharine), a new chapel (dedicated to St Mary) and a tower were added to the church, all donated by Robert Burford, who was a bellfounder and wealthy man in the parish. He quite possibly provided bells at the same time. [1]
1548 Church property was sold to raise money to buy a row of church houses. There was so much opposition to the sale of the bells that the houses could not be bought.
1551 Vestry approval was given to the sale of church plate and bells to purchase certain houses at the end of the churchyard. A later minute records that "some would not consent to the sale of the bells" and so there was not enough money for the purchase.
1552 Record of 5 bells, a sacring bell and a clock bell. [2]
1553 The bells were rung for the accession of Queen Mary. The year after they rang for her wedding to Philip of Spain. There were probably five in number at the time.
1554 Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth was released from the Tower of London to a less severe prison in Essex. She is known to have heard the bells on her release. Four years later, on her accession, the bells rang again. Remembering her release and the ringing that accompanied it, she presented the church a set of silken bell ropes.
1574 The tenor rang for the burial of Thomas Kempe, bellfounder.
1587 The bells rang for the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots.
1588 On 20 Jun the treble bell was "changed by Mr.Mott" (Robert Mot at Whitechapel).
1589 On 30 July the second had become cracked, so it was recast by Robert Mot at Whitechapel. The new bell was hung by William Underell, sexton, for 12s.
1592 Tenor clapper repaired.
1666 The church escaped the Great Fire.
1740 The church had become very dilapidated. George Dance the surveyor was called in and he advised that it would be better and cheaper to rebuild the church rather than repair it.
1741 The old church was pulled down.
1744 The new church and tower was consecrated after £5,536 2s. 8d. had been spent on it. A frame for 8 bells was installed in the tower together with 4 bells cast by Thomas Lester to form the front four of the octave.
1764 Four bells were cast by Lester & Pack to occupy the empty back four pits. A clock bell was also cast.
1836 On 26 Feb "The Times" printed an article (following the fire at Spitalfields): "A fine bold peal of eight bells; tenor 28 cwt. In same key. Sexton the steeple-keeper, who appoints a deputy in the person of the gravedigger. These bells would, with the addition of two small ones, make a beautiful peal of ten; they are not rung by competent persons."
1890 John Warner & Co. provided new wheels, a new headstock for the treble and quarter turned the 5th, 7th and tenor bells.
1958 The 7th fell out of its pit and was damaged. After this, the bells were only chimed, although the tenor was rung up on rare occasions.
1965 The church was severly damaged by fire, and as part of the work of restoration, the bells were retuned and rehung in a new frame. The 6th had to be recast.
[1] We may gather some Knowledge what this Church of St. Botolph was about 300 Years ago, and how enlarged, from an ancient Will, bearing Date Sept. 5. 1418. in the Registrary of the Bishops of London, viz. That there then was an Ile added to it, called the new Ile of St. Katharines, and a new Chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, made equal and like to the said St. Katharines Ile; and also a new Steeple. The Donor was Robert Burford, a Bell Founder, a wealthy Man, as it seems of this Parish, and charitably disposed; who by Will gave 40l. towards the building the new Ile of St. Katharines, and towards the making and raising of St. Mary's Chapel to the same Height and Form of the new Ile of St. Katharines 40 Mark; and towards the building of a new Steeple 40l. more. And left it to his Executors, to see the whole Covering of the new Ile of the Chapel of St. Katharines in the said Church to be compleatly finished, in the Carpentary, at his proper Cost and Charges. All which appear by the Words of the Will. Rob. Burford Civis & Campanarius condidit Testamentum, sepeliend. in Capell. be. Mariæ in Eccels. S. Bothi. extra Aldgate, juxta tumulum patris, &c. Lego Ecclesiæ x Marc. Item, Lego ad construction. novæ Insule sancte Catharine in dict. Eccles. xl l. Item, Lego ad opus Capelle be. Mariæ, ad eandem Capell. faciend. & exaltand. consimili forma adinstar nove Insule prædict. xl. Marc. Item, Lego ad constrution. novi Campanil. xl. l. Item Volo quod totum tectum nov. Insule Capell. sancte Catharine in dict. Eccles. ut in Carpentaria ad custus meos per Executores meos perficiatur. Probat. 3io Calendar. Octobr. 1418. (A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, John Strype 1720)
[2] Item v Belles datyde [blank]. Item a sacring Bell. Item A Clocke Bell (Edwardian Inventory, 1552)


  • "St Botolph's Aldgate", Cook, William T (The Ringing World) 28 April 1972
  • Old engravings

    The church as it appeared in 1739.

    Photographs from the restoration of 1966

    The tenor in 1966.
    Photo: DLC collection

    The bells in the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1966.
    Photo: DLC collection
    Recent Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2019-11-195040 Pontefract Surprise Royal
    2019-11-195024 Vicissitudinous Delight Major
    2019-11-195040 Spliced Surprise Minor (22m)
    2019-11-195088 Danesburgh Surprise Major
    2019-11-195005 Stedman Caters
    2019-11-195088 Falmouth Surprise Major
    2019-11-185040 Avon Delight Maximus
    2019-11-185024 Yate Delight Major
    2019-11-185040 Surprise Minor
    2019-11-185040 Surprise Minor (7m)
    2019-11-175004 Stedman Caters
    2019-11-175040 Grandsire Triples
    2019-11-175040 Spliced Surprise Minor (41m)
    2019-11-1710240 Spliced Surprise Major (40m)
    2019-11-175184 Ytterbium Surprise Major
    2019-11-175088 Yorkshire Surprise Major
    2019-11-175152 Cambridge Surprise Major
    2019-11-175002 Triton Delight Royal
    2019-11-175130 Grandsire Caters
    2019-11-175040 London No 3 Surprise Royal
    2019-11-175088 Yorkshire Surprise Major
    2019-11-175152 Barnes Surprise Major
    2019-11-175152 Turramurra Surprise Major
    2019-11-175100 Centennial Alliance Major
    2019-11-175040 Cambridge Surprise Minor
    Recent Quarter Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2019-11-191296 Cambridge Surprise Minor
    2019-11-191272 Kingston Treble Bob Minor
    2019-11-191280 Mixed Doubles
    2019-11-191320 Arley Surprise Minor
    2019-11-191260 Plain Bob Minor
    2019-11-191282 Woodspring Surprise Royal
    2019-11-191320 King Edward Surprise Minor
    2019-11-191260 Minor (3m)
    2019-11-191296 Hitcham Delight Minor
    2019-11-191320 Danbury Delight Minor
    2019-11-191260 Grandsire Doubles
    2019-11-191280 Bristol Surprise Major
    2019-11-191344 Plain Bob Major
    2019-11-191260 St Clement's College Bob Minor
    2019-11-191280 Spliced Minor
    2019-11-191260 Doubles
    2019-11-191280 Ealing Surprise Major
    2019-11-191344 Plain Bob Major
    2019-11-181280 Yorkshire Surprise Major
    2019-11-181260 Plain Bob Minor
    2019-11-181296 Cambridge Surprise Minor
    2019-11-181260 Doubles (2m)
    2019-11-181260 St Simon's Bob Doubles
    2019-11-181259 Grandsire Caters
    2019-11-181280 Painswick Surprise Major
    Full list of peals on Bellboard here
    Full list of quarters on Bellboard here

    Love's Guide to the Church Bells of Kent Page updated: 19 November 2019