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The bells at All Saints' Church, Boughton Aluph

J Back & Son c1918.jpg

Sadly the All Saints' bells are long gone, sold with the pews in the nineteen fifties to pay for essential structural work to the building.  In this picture, taken perhaps around 1900, you can still see the ropes hanging from the great tower although even by then the bells hadn't be rung for years.  Nonetheless the bells were well documented as you can see here.             

The bells at All Saints’ Church by Angela Berrie

(source - Love’s Guide to The Church Bells of Kent and from notes and correspondence of Boughton Aluph and Eastwell PCC provided by Reverend David Cawley)

Formerly five bells hung in the tower for full circle ringing. The earliest ones date from the 16th Century with additional bells added in 17th and 18th Centuries. The frame was a three-bell frame with the second and treble added on the south side with their gudgeons in the south wall.  Details of the bells present in the tower up to 1952 are given in the Table below.

The earliest record of a bell is 1510 with a tenor of four cast in 1540.  In 1552 there is a record of four bells in the tower.  In 1552-3 the bells were augmented to five with two new bells from William Hatch.  In 1702 the 4th of five bells was re-cast by Richard Phelps and in 1757 there is a record of five bells in the tower.  They were last rung in 1880. 

By 1887 Stahlschmidt reported the bells as being dilapidated and the treble being cracked.  A report by Mears and Stainbank, of Whitechapel Bell Foundry, London in March 1912 to the reverend J Halloran of Eastwell Rectory, stated that nothing had been done to the belfry since 1887.  Also, the treble, third and tenor bell were cracked and needed re-casting.  The 2nd and 4th bells were sound but the latter was badly out on the edge (possibly done to sharpen it) and the tone was spoilt.  The report recommended re-casting. In addition, the fittings and framework and belfry floor were in poor condition and if the bells were to be rung all must be renewed at an estimated cost of around £282. There is no record of any repairs carried out. 

In 1940 the church tower was damaged by a fire bomb.  In November 1947 the church was visited by F C Eeles, who described All Saints as one of the finest churches in Kent, but reported that the church was in a poor state of repair due firstly to war damage and secondly to long standing neglect.  Only temporary repairs had been done to the war damage to the tower with no explanation from the vicar as to why no report on the damage had been made and no war damage compensation applied for.  Failure to carry out tasks such as roof gutter cleaning and tile replacement had allowed water into the roof resulting in the roof woodwork being in a poor state.  In October 1951, a builder carrying out repairs reported that the masonry was unsafe and the church was in a much worse state than originally thought.  So in 1951 the church had to be closed due to the danger of collapse of the main tower.  In December 1951 the bells were inspected by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon and they reached similar conclusions on the state of the bells and belfry (which had deteriorated further due to the war damage) as the earlier report in 1912 and stated that the only value of the bells was as scrap at £10/cwt.  In January 1952 the sale of the bells to Gillet and Johnson for scrap was approved by the Canterbury Diocese Advisory Committee for the care of churches and the proceeds went to raise funds for the church restoration.  Subsequently there was much discussion as to how this disposal of the bells had been allowed as two of the bells were pre-reformation and of great interest historically.

The tenor was broken up in June 1952.  Part of the tenor (the Gabriel bell) inscription band was saved by Ranald Clouston and was later presented to the Royal Museum and Art Gallery in Canterbury (Later Canterbury Heritage Centre and now The Beaney) for display in March 1994.  Most of the metal of the bells was used for the augmented St. Nicholas Aberdeen carillon.  Coronation bells cast as souvenirs of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth ll by Gillett and Johnston were said to be made from bells cast around the reign of Elizabeth l, possibly from the All Saints tenor bell.  The bell framework was repaired in 1954 although no bells have hung in it since. 

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