Church of England Diocese of Chichester Cowfold

St Peter's Church Bells

Church bells serve to summon the faithful to the Divine Service. They can be heard from miles around. Many poets throughout the centuries have been inspired by the sound of bells ringing out as a celebration, or alternatively sounding a death knell. Since the days of Moses, they have been a reminder of entering into a holy space. In some churches a bell is rung from the church tower when the gifts are consecrated upon the altar, to announce the Lord coming among his people to be their spiritual sustenance.

The Church Tower which dates from the 15th Century contains the Clock and Bells.  There is a mention of a frame for three bells in 1440. In 1447, a new frame was made by Clark of Thakeham, the carpenter, who was paid 30s 1d. Wyllelmvs Smyth de Warmyngled supplied the clappers. Two wheels were mentioned in 1476, and four bells in 1724. Of the existing bells, the two oldest and heaviest are dated 1629. Five of the six bells were cast, or recast, in Whitechapel, where firms such as The Whitechapel Bell Foundry operated (it finally closing in November 2017, after more than five-and-a-half centuries in continuous business).

The first peal on the bells was rung on 14 December 1890 and the most recent on 12 October 1991 (no.28). There are three plaques on the ringing room walls, commemorating peals rung for the ordination of Bernard G. Moore as Deacon at York Minster (12/6/1960), the first peal by a local band for 60 years (12/11/1950) and the 750th anniversary of the church (11/12/1982).

The bells and their dates are as follows:

No.             Note     Weight     Diameter     Date of casting

1 (Treble)   F            3-3-24      66 cm           1905

2                  Eb         4.5 cwt     70 cm           1789

3                  Db        5 cw          76 cm           1789

4                  C           5-2-11      78 cm           1634 (recast same metal 1905).

5                  Bb         6-1-7        84 cm           1629 (recast same metal 1905).

6 (Tenor)    Ab         8.5 cwt     93 cm           1629  (Clock hammer hourly).