Gillingham, St Mary Magdalene

Photo: Dickon Love, Jun 2005

  • 8 bells hung for full circle ringing
  • Tenor: 11-1-18 in F♯.
  • Grid Ref: TQ783688
  • Rung from: Upstairs Ringing Room
  • Denomination: Church of England
    Diocese (Anglican): Rochester
  • Kent County Association of Change Ringers District: Rochester
  • Building Listed Grade: II* Click for Heritage details.
  • Peals rung at the tower

Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)

(Recorded by Bowell 1912)
Diameter Note Date Founder Canons Retuned
® Treble 4-0-025¾" F♯ 1912 Alfred Bowell, Ipswich Flat Never
® 2 4-2-426¾" E♯ 1912 Alfred Bowell, Ipswich Flat Never
® 3 5-2-1229½" D♯ 1737 Richard Phelps, Whitechapel Removed 1912 Alfred Bowell
® 4 5-0-030¾" C♯ 1700 Philip Wightman, Clerkenwell Removed 1912 Alfred Bowell
® 5 6-0-732¾" B 1700 Philip Wightman, Clerkenwell Removed 1912 Alfred Bowell
® 6 7-2-034" A♯ 1700 Philip Wightman, Clerkenwell Removed 1912 Alfred Bowell
® 7 8-3-936⅝" G♯ 1912 Alfred Bowell, Ipswich Flat Never
® Tenor 11-1-1811-2-041¾" F♯ 1892 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel Removed 1912 Alfred Bowell

®  - Hung for full circle ringing


Frame Bells Year Maker Material Truss(es) Local
1 All bells 1912 Alfred Bowell, Ipswich Metal


How the bells are tuned

Earlier bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Treble (of 8)4-1-231811Thomas Mears INeverRecast in 1912.
2nd (of 8)4-2-191811Thomas Mears INeverRecast in 1912.
7th (of 8)1749Thomas LesterNeverRecast in 1912.
5th (of 8)1700Philip WightmanNeverAssumed. Recast in 1749.
Tenor (of 8)1700Philip WightmanNeverRecast in 1892

Prior to 1892

Bell DateFounderFate


1700 A ring of 5 was cast by Philip Wightman.
1737 A new bell was added to the ring of 5 to form a ring of 6 by Richard Phelps.
1749 5th (of 6) recast by Thomas Lester.
1766 The bell frame was repaired.
1811 2 trebles added to make 8 by Thomas Mears. The augmented ring was opened on Mon 27 May by 8 ringers from Gravesend. They attempted a peal in the morning, which was lost, then after lunch attempted another peal, which was scored. The ringers complained through the local newspaper that they had to buy their own lunch rather than receive a "generous treat" as was "usual on such occasions" from the parish! [1]
1912 Bells 1,2 and 7 were recast and the bells were rehung by Alfred Bowell. [2]
[1] RINGING - On Monday last (May 27, 1811.) was opened at the village of Gillingham, near Chatham, in this county, by a select band of eight change-ringing artists, from Gravesend, two new treble bells added to the old peal of six, to make them a complete ring of eight, by Mr. Thomas Mears, bell founder, White Chapel, London. The band performed in the morning part of the day, 5000 changes of Treble-Bob-Major; but by an unforeseen accident not the peal intended; they descended the tower, and at their own expence partook of an excellent dinner, (not by the parish invitation, which politeness is usual on such occasions to give a generous treat, with dinner, malt liquor, wines, punch, etc. etc.) then with a sober undaunted courage, ascended the venerable and gothic flinty tower again and rang a peal of 5,218 harmonious changes in the intricate and scientific method of Oxford-Treble-Bob-Major, which was brought round in three hours and 14 minutes, highly delighting a numerous assemblage of attentive hearers. Weight of the tenor. 14 cwt. Net bell metal. - N.B. This was the only company that attended on the occasion. (Kentish Gazette (Friday 31 May 1811))
[2] To recasting the 1st, 2nd & 7th bells and rehanging the peal of eight £162-12-6. Extras. To inscriptions on the recast bells £3. To timber supplied and left fixed in tower for lifting the bells 10/- To new clock hammer and connections and refixing clock weights, eyebolts, etc. £3. Total £169-2-6. Paid cq. 11 Jan 1913. (Bowell records, 30 Dec, 1912)


One of the bells being taken away. The photo is dated by Chris Pickford as 1912.
Photo: Bowell collection 1913

The 8 bells in their new frame in Bowell's bellfoundry in Ipswich, 1912.
Photo: Bowell collection 1912
Recent Peals
The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
2019-01-245056 Medway Surprise Major
2017-11-175184 Phoenix Delight Major
2016-07-115088 Cambridge Surprise Major
2015-05-225060 Earl Of Berkeley Surprise Major
2014-01-085056 Plain Bob Major
2006-04-215056 Bristol Surprise Major
2004-12-295152 Kashmir Delight Major
1996-03-095088 Yorkshire Surprise Major
1994-09-185024 Rutland Surprise Major
1977-09-245056 Rutland Surprise Major
1946-08-085024 Kent Treble Bob Major
1815-12-1710080 Plain Bob Major
1812-12-065040 Plain Bob Major
Recent Quarter Peals
The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
2019-12-221260 Grandsire Triples
2018-12-231260 Grandsire Triples
2018-11-111260 Plain Bob Doubles
2018-08-121260 Grandsire Triples
2018-06-151280 London Surprise Major
2017-12-131288 Grandsire Triples
2017-10-271260 Grandsire Triples
2017-07-141250 Superlative Surprise Major
2017-04-011260 Kent Treble Place Triples
2017-02-251260 Grandsire Triples
2016-10-031280 Yorkshire Surprise Major
2016-08-201260 Doubles
2016-04-211260 Plain Bob Triples
2016-04-161280 Ipswich Surprise Major
2015-12-201264 Plain Bob Major
2015-11-031260 Doubles (3 Methods)
2015-01-141288 Grandsire Triples
2014-12-211260 Grandsire Triples
2014-09-271260 Grandsire Triples
2014-06-121250 Pudsey Surprise Major
2013-12-221260 Doubles (2 Methods)
2013-11-281260 Stedman Triples
2013-08-011280 Superlative Surprise Major
2013-06-191250 Superlative Surprise Major
2013-06-081280 Spliced Surprise Major (8m)
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: 1 April 2016