St Peter & St Paul: the bells and the bellringing team 

The bells in Tonbridge Parish Church are rung twice each Sunday – for morning and evening services, and on Friday evenings which is practice night.  In addition we ring them for special occasions such as weddings and to mark national events.

 
The St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Change Ringing Society was formed in 1886 and 10 or 12 members ring regularly.  Our Tower Captain, Hamilton Woods leads our band and our Tower Keeper, Gavin Knight, is in charge of maintenance.
We have 8 bells in our tower, plus a tiny sanctus bell which is no longer in use.  The smallest bell, the Treble, weighs 5cwt.2 quarters and 2lbs., whilst the heaviest, the Tenor, weighs in at 19cwt. and 1 quarter, very nearly a tonne. They are tuned to the key of E.

Bells numbered 4, 5 and 6 date back to 1774.  The others have been recast since, with the whole peal tuned and rehung by Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1952.  The Whitechapel Bell Foundry took over Messrs Mears & Stainbank who originally cast the bells, whose Senior Partner, Alfred Silva Lawson, was a Past Master of the Skinners’ Company and a Governor of Tonbridge School.

The ringers are members of The Kent Association of Change Ringers and belong to its Tonbridge District whose 29 towers extend to Sandhurst. Various ringing meetings are arranged for training and social purposes and these also generate much needed funds for bell restoration projects throughout Kent.

Much support is given to us from ringers at neighbouring towers, a support given by bell ringers country wide.  The ringers at Tonbridge often go on to ring for services at other churches after Tonbridge on Sundays.
We are always seeking new recruits to join our band – ringing is fun, good exercise both physical and mental, and a means of joining a country wide activity.  Unfortunately, our bells are rather heavy and therefore not suitable for the very young – from age around 15 to 90 is ideal.  

The bells now need some attention – nothing has been done on a large scale since the 50s and we are seeking to have some work undertaken by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.  The church have always been most supportive and we will continue to be the audible message throughout the town that the church is here.

Please do come to visit us in the “Room at the Top” we would love to demonstrate our ringing and show you the bells.  Any Friday evening, or on Sundays.