Bells and Clock

The church currently has a ring of eight bells dating from the 18th century. Cast in 1718 by Abraham Rudhall, the bells predate the current church building by nearly twenty years. They were repaired and hung on a new frame in October 1735 by Mr. John Williams during the building of the current church, having new clappers and ironwork installed. In 1738, a sanctus bell (28 ½ inches in diameter) was added and made by Richard Phelps and Thomas Lester. The bells have been restored and rehung many times. They were restored in April 1894 and on January 23rd 1936, the bells were removed for restoration by John Taylor Co, Bell Foundry, Loughborough. They were rehung on April 26th 1936.

During the Second World War, the area and the church were severely bombed. In December 1942, due to vibrations caused by explosive bombs landing nearby, the spire was cracked and immediate repairs were needed to stop it from collapsing. The weather vane was taken down and, due to safety concerns, the bells could no longer be rung. This was the case up until 1947. In 1947, restoration began, and the bell ropes and frames were cleaned and repaired by Norman Bagworth. However, by 2000 the bells were not in use until further notice due to structural defects. These defects were addressed in the 2005-07 restoration, allowing access to the tower and bells again. Currently, as of 2018, the church has a bell ringing group which is open to the public and practices once a month.

The eight bells are inscribed with the following:

  1. A.R. 1718
  2. Peace and good neighbourhood 1718
  3. Prosperity to all our benefactors
  4. God preserve this Church
  5. Prosperity to this place
  6. Mr William Budger (Bridger?) Churchwardren
  7. Alex Rudhall of Gloucester Bell Foundry 1718
  8. Tenor bell: The living I to Church do call and to the Grace I summon all

The current clock is the third since 1736. The first clock was installed in 1737 and was made for £90 by George Clarke of Whitechapel. The present clock dates from 1868. It was wound by hand, and in 1884 a Mr. Tree was paid £5 per annum to do this. It was originally illuminated by gas, with only three sides being illuminated due to the price. A story circulates around the lighting of the clock faces (perhaps apocryphal) stating that as the unlit clock faced towards Bermondsey, the poorest area of the parish in the 19th century, the parishioners couldn’t afford to pay the rates to have it lit. Damaged in the Second World War, the clock was repaired by Borough Council in 1959, with the War Damage Committee replacing the dials. It was repaired again in 1964 an in 1978-79, when the belfry was restored to the cost of £600.

The clock is inscribed with the following:

Beriah (?) Drew of Blackman St Esq being renter warden of this parish and he considering the importance of having a day and night reliable time indicator in lieu of the then defective old clock and considering the important and conspicuous position of the Parish Church had the matter before the Vestry and there upon liberally voted the money to provide and fix the present clock with all the recent improvements and is considered to be of superior workmanship and construction. It was made and fixed by Messers. Smith and Sons of Clerkenwell, Church and (illegible) clock makers under the able and gratuitous superintendence of Alfred Gailt (?) of Union Street Southwark Surveyor and Engineer as also were the illuminated dials,  copper drums and gas fittings. The whole completed and set going January 1868.  Rev. Hugh Allen D.D Rector, John Adderley Rector’s Warden, Charles Taylor (illegible) Warden, Alfred Guilt Renter’s Warden.

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