St Leonard’s Upper Deal

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Bell ringing at St Leonards

When St Leonards first had bells is not known (the current building dates to around 1180 and was originally built with a Steeple, so could have had bells then) but the first mention of bells we can find is in the church wardens accounts, where the following entries appear:
For 2nd January 1636 - Ite for a raope for the wakering bell 00.03.00
For 5th March 1636 – Ite for a basericke for the third bell 00.2.06
For 8 October 1637 - Ite to Saffery for work about the third bell wheele and otherwise 00.05.06
There is no mention of more than 3 bells at this period, but that is not to say there were not more.

It is likely that these bells had been in place for some time as reports on the condition of the church and in particular the tower before this period and over the next 20 years suggest that it was in poor repair generally and so new additions would have been unlikely. These bells were probably damaged when in 1658 the steeple fell as when the tower is rebuilt new bells are cast. Two years later there is an entry in the church wardens accounts as follows:
Deale this 14th September 1660. We whose names are hereunder written doe promise to pay the churchwardens of the parish toward the building of a steeple our respective sums hereunder expressed as follows:
John Parker for Capt Andrew Rande ….. 5.0.0
Thomas Rande ………………………… 5.0.0
Mary Parker …………………………… 2.0.0
Mary Elwood ………………………….. 1.0.0

The tower was eventually rebuilt into the current Caroline Tower with Cupola by recasing the remains in brick, in 1684 in a form ready to take a peal of 5 new bells which bore the following inscriptions:

Treble: “C.H. made me 1685”
and the other 4 all bearing the inscription “Christopher Hodson made me 1685”  

These bells rang for just over 200 years from 1685 to 1887. At Easter of that year, G Coleman Esq. offered to have the bells of the parish recast and rehung at his expense as a Jubilee gift to the town (at this time the 3rd bell was apparently cracked and so could not be rung). This was rapidly carried out with the metal from the five bells being recast into 6 bells with a lighter tenor (with the addition of just under 4�cwt of metal) by Mears and Stainbank of London. The old frame from 1685 was retained with slight alterations to accommodate the 6th bell. They were dedicated at a special service held on the 13th October of 1887.

These same bells still hang in the tower now forming a peal of six in the key of G major and apart for the periodic replacement of ropes and stays have as far as records show only had work carried out in 1951 when bearings and other frictional parts were replaced along with some fittings

The Tenor now bears the inscription:

Mears & Stainbank, Founders London
This peal of six bells was recast and rehung at the sole expense of
George Coleman of Rosway, Deal
In commemoration of the Jubilee year of the reign of
Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria

Thomas Llewelyn Griffiths, Rector
Daniel Clarabut } Church wardens
Thomas Fredrick Woodruff }

The original Peal of Five bells being cast by Christopher Hodson, 1685
Edward Smith} Church wardens
George Knowler }

The other five bear the inscription : Mears & Stainbank, Founders, London. 1887 Weights and tuning:

Tenor: 9-2-0 tuned to the note of G

Fifth: 7-1-16 tuned to the note of A

Fourth: 6-0-15 tuned to the note of B

Third: 5-1-20 tuned to the note of C

Second : 4-3-16 tuned to the note of D

First: 4-1-16 tuned to the note of E

Contact details: Steve Goodsell on 01304 369220 or email

Ringing takes place regularly on Sunday mornings from around 9.00 until 9.25

We practice on Thursday evenings from 7.30 until 9pm.

Visiting ringers whatever their skill level, are welcome to come along to our practice sessions but we would suggest you contact us before making a long journey just in case ringing is cancelled at short notice.

We also welcome enquiries from anyone interested in ringing with us on a more regular basis, whether they have experience or are complete novices - tuition is available from experienced ringers..
if you would like more information, please contact as above