[Bell Historians] Re: Bixley, Norfolk

David Cawley dcawley at w...
Thu Feb 24 00:56:28 GMT 2005

Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

In reply to Neil's question:

The publication in which the photographs which he has was "The Kent Messeng=
er"; they sent me the offprints.

For those who may be mystified, it is worth noting that there is a village =
in Kent called Burham, not far west of Rochester. The medieval church becam=
e pastorally redundant in 1881 when a new church was built in the village. =
The three bells (see the appropriate pages on http://kent.lovesguide.com ) =
were transferred, frame fittings and all to the new church. The latter deve=
loped serious structural faults and was demolished in 1981.=20

In November 1978 I prepared at the request of Rochester DAC a report on the=
three bells (the oldest of which had been rehung by WBF in 1973). I sugges=
ted that the whole lot be transferred back to the old church, by then in th=
e care of the then Redundant Churches Fund. My report was discussed by its =
officers (including Christopher Dalton) who decided that it was "not worth =
fighting for the 18th century Phelps bells" but would like the ancient bell=
and the frame returned to the old church. I put this scheme forward to the=
Diocese and also forewarned the KCACR.Eventually the Diocese agreed to sel=
l the ancient bell to the RCF, the treble to the KCA and the largest bell t=
o St Michael & All Angels Maidstone as a Service Bell.

The bells were lowered from the tower of the new church under Diocesan Auth=
ority on 1st March 1980. Present were RCO, myself, Sean Smith, David Joyce =
and Catherine Cullis of the RCF. Fr Paul Gibbons, Vicar of St Michael & All=
Angels Maidstone arrived in a transit, and first took the two smaller bell=
s, three clappers and an ancient font down to the old church, then returned=
and collected the largest bell for Maidstone.

The frame was left in the tower and was unfortunately destroyed during the =
demolition. The clock was purchased by G&J.

Delays at the RCF end were occasioned by the unavoidable length of time bet=
ween Trustees' meetings and by the several requirements of the architect, a=
gentleman well-known to Kent's bell advisers of the time. The Kent CA was =
concerned enough to require the treble to be removed to a safer place (the =
Vestry of St Nicholas, Dover). Richard has described the journey accurately=
enough, though I am sure that the clergy present uttered nothing stronger =
than "Good Heavens!" The work was done with the full authority of the Dioce=
se of Rochester and with the knowledge of the Diocese of Canterbury's bells=
adviser - Richard.

As Neil has given two dates - 11th July 1980 and 11th July 1981 for the dat=
e of his rubbing the inscription on the de Wymbis bell, when he states the =
other one wasn't present, I suggest that the removal as described by Richar=
d took place between them (or else he spent a year rubbing the inscription)=
! I don't have the date, but it was I think the autumn of 1981.

So we left the ancient bell on the ground on a place described to me by the=
Fund as "stronger than Fort Knox". Meanwhile the architect carried on a l=
eisurely correspondence with the Fund and the Foundry, all being set to han=
g it in April 1982. It was not to be, the bell being reported stolen on Mar=
ch 1st, and never having been recovered.

The happy end to the saga is that the Phelps bells did survive: the largest=
was duly hung as a service bell in St Michael's, Maidstone and the treble =
was finally hung at St Mildred, Preston-by-Wingham to augment to six the Ph=
elps ring of five there. The aforesaid Kent Messenger carried a further pic=
ture showing Richard and myself in a tight squeeze with the bell in the new=
treble pit. We did the job in one day in January 1983.

It was the third time the vestry had been home to a visitng bell. It receiv=
ed the 1701 bell from Ham, Sandwich in the summer of 1977; the visitor deci=
ded to stay, replacing a cracked Mears bell in the November. The following =
year the Llewellins & James bell from Christ Church Dover arrived, departin=
g later for recasting as the treble in ten at Ash, Sandwich.

So there you have it.


----- Original Message -----=20
From: Neil Skelton=20
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com=20
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 11:41 AM
Subject: Re: [Bell Historians] Re: Bixley, Norfolk

It may be that the two Phelp's bells were stored temporarily in Burham Ol=
Church after removal from the 'new' church which was demolished 1981.
Certainly they were not there on 11th July, 1980 when I photographed and
took a rubbing of the de
Wymbish bell on 11th July, 1981.

At the time of the theft I was TCCT Field Officer for Kent. I discovered
the theft of the de Wymbish bell in 1982 after the church been broken int=
within a day or two of my visit. The tragedy of this was that after
pressing, what was then the Redundant Churches Fund, to get the bell hung=
the tower and had been doing so for two years, it was stolen a matter of
days before it was due to be hoisted back to its former home.

I am in possession of a set of photocopied newspaper cuttings relating to
the removal of
the bells showing one of the Phelp's bells being lowered by Richard Off=
and Sean Smith. Anotations by DLC give the date of this operation as 1981=
This date does not tie in with earlier date on which the de Wymbish bell =
returned to the old church which was definitely there in 1980! The name o=
the publication(s) and dates are missing. As any
historian should know it is essential to include the name and date of
publication! Quite apart from the interests of accuracy, it does aid a
failing memory!

Neil Skelton.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Offen" <richard at s...>
To: <bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 4:52 AM
Subject: [Bell Historians] Re: Bixley, Norfolk

> --- In bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com, "George Dawson" <George at d...>
> wrote:
> > Your garage?????
> >
> > GAD
> Probably not on this occasion, but you should have seen the pair of
> us struggling, many years ago, to get the future treble for Preston-
> next-Wingham (ex-Burham treble) into the back of a Ford van I'd
> borrowed and up the steps into the vestry of DLC's church in Dover!
> It was an extremely wet and stormy night and I seem to remember the
> reverend gent uttering some most unclergymanlike oaths about the
> design of Ford 5 cwt vans and vestry steps!
> As usual, it was one of those rush jobs. Contrary to what it says
> on the Burham New Church page of Dickon's CBOK, the two Phelps' bells
> did not go directly to their new homes, but went to be stored at
> Burham Old Church. Alas, not long after the transfer, the Richard
> de Wymbish bell was stolen and we feared for the safety of the other
> two bells, the treble being the earliest example by Richard Phelps
> (http://kent.lovesguide.com/burham_new.htm). Manhandling nearly 4
> cwt of bell on such an appalling evening was neither of us idea of
> fun, but we were the only two available at short notice!
> Happy days!
> Richard
> Yahoo! Groups Links

Yahoo! Groups Links

a.. To visit your group on the web, go to:
b.. To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
bellhistorians-unsubscribe at yahoogroups.com
c.. Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service=

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.ringingworld.co.uk/pipermail/bell-historians/attachments/20050224/2fd3b7ec/attachment.html>

More information about the Bell-historians mailing list