The Bells of St Leonards

When St Leonards first got its 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 in the church wardens accounts, 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 and these were probably silenced when in 1658 the steeple fell. 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 by recasing the remains in brick, into the current Caroline Tower with Cupola in 1684 in a form ready to take a peal of 5 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” 

bells.jpg (12917 bytes)

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 Jubillee 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 4cwt of metal) by Mears and Stainbank of London. They were dedicated at a special service held on the 13th October of 1887

(The picture to the right shows the current bells)

These same bells still hang in the tower now and  form a peal of six in the key of G major:

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

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 Magesty, Queen Victoria

Thomas Llewelyn Groffiths, 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