[Bell Historians] west toft norfolk

Revd David Cawley davidl.cawley at btinternet.com
Thu May 26 09:53:02 BST 2022

Very good to have Paul Cubitt's image of the rope guide at West Tofts. 
As can be seen, it is one of Bowell's wrought iron ones, and perhaps 
dates from 1934 when two Bells were rehung by him.

I first visited West Tofts some 55 years ago !  At that time the eight 
Bells were standing in the Estate Offices occupied by H. M. Forces, 
along with the six from Tottington and a small Bell from Langford. The 
single Bell from Stanford had already been recast by Taylors to be the 
tenor at Kilifi in Africa.

The West Tofts eight and the Tottington six were subsequently returned 
to the Church and stood in the base of the tower. There was a 
substantial gothic screen across the tower arch. There was no ringing 
gallery, and they had been a ground floor ring. On the first floor was a 
fine clock (which is, I think, now at East Dereham), the dial of which 
is now (I think) at Quidenham. Above this is the Bell chamber which 
still contains the wooden two-tier frame of 1849 / 1856.

I remember too hearing much about West Tofts from ringers in the King's 
Lynn area, notably Claude and Walter Cousins, who had both rung at West 
Tofts, and Ernie Mastin who wished he had! I know they were pealable 
right up until WW2 and were regarded as a popular ring, despite the lack 
of a local band in this tiny village.

My next visit was with Ranald Clouston in 1968, largely to collect data 
on the Tottington Bells, long unringable, the front five  of which were 
subsequently given to St Alphege, Whitstable, Kent. These Bells were 
collected on 31st January 1969. The West Tofts eight and the Tottington 
tenor were left in the base of the tower. Despite the presence of the 
Military, these nine bells were stolen in two daring raids within a 

A very sad story. However, although West Tofts Church remains in the 
Stanford Practical Training Area (STANTA), the Church has been restored 
and many of its furnishings have been reinstated. By far the best time 
to see it is the annual service, usually held in July, which is held 
under the auspices of the Guild of All Souls, which remains the Patron. 
There remain two small Bells, Taylor 1856, hung for swing chiming over 
the Chancel Arch. Note that access is restricted.

It is some time now since I was last there, so please excuse me for 
adding E & OE !


Revd David Cawley
2B St John's Hospital
Canterbury CT1 1BG
01227 479871

------ Original Message ------
From: "Andrew Bull via Bell-historians" 
<bell-historians at lists.ringingworld.co.uk>
To: "'Bell Historians Mailing List'" 
<bell-historians at lists.ringingworld.co.uk>
Cc: "Andrew Bull" <a_m_bull at yahoo.co.uk>
Sent: Wednesday, 25 May, 2022 At 17:48
Subject: Re: [Bell Historians] west toft norfolk

From: Bell-historians 
[mailto:bell-historians-bounces at lists.ringingworld.co.uk] On Behalf Of 
oliver Lee
  Sent: 25 May 2022 17:24
  To: bell-historians at lists.ringingworld.co.uk
  Subject: [Bell Historians] west toft norfolk

I was wondering if anyone might know when the old eight at west toft 
where last rung, judging by my own research I get the impression that 
they never rung that much and they where almost certainly unringable by 
the time the place was abandoned in the 1950s, However what I am curious 
to find out is where they ever a gallery ring? (as I can remember 
reading this somewhere) and was there ever a local band here ?.
Many thanks
Oliver lee

It seems likely that the bells were rung from a gallery, and that they 
were still ringable when the village was closed in 1942 when the area 
became the Battle School Area. There had been a peal rung there on 25 
July 1936. The bells were stolen in two raids during 1969. RW 1969 p505, 
546, 703, RW 1998 p519, p619 refer. I’m sure David Cawley can add much 
more information.

Andrew Bull

Bell-historians mailing list
Bell-historians at lists.ringingworld.co.uk

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