The Bells & Bell Ringers of St Margaret's Church

by RW Standing


Part 1
Overview

"When one is buying while others around are selling there is something afoot".

It is well known that St Margaret's church acquired its peal of six bells in 1783, inscriptions on them (as shown below) state as much. What is not known, for records do not appear to exist, is what the occasion was for doing so.

'The Revd Wm Kinleside Rector  Jno Edmund  Jno Holmwood  Ch Wardens  
Chapman & Mears of London fecerunt 1783'

It is remarkable that in the late 18th century at least three local parishes sold bells to fund church restoration. Of these, both East Preston and Ferring sold two of the three they each possessed, leaving just one to summon parishioners.  Angmering went the opposite way and had its five old bells recast into a modern peal of six.  At least that is the reasonable deduction; it is much less likely that the old bells were sold and a complete new set of six purchased.  In that case a faculty from the Bishop would surely have been requested.

In 1915,  A.D. Tyssen [SAC 57] produced an excellent schedule of Sussex bells, and the years in which they were cast. In this, the second half of the 18th century stands out from previous centuries for the number of complete sets of six or more bells that were purchased.  Fifteen sets are listed, whereas previously single bells were usual.  The introduction of change ringing into Sussex was the clear incentive.  Ancient bells were heavier for their size than modern castings, enabling the five at Angmering to be recast as a useful peal of six, whereas those churches with only a two or three bells could not do this.  East Preston was paid over £45 for two bells, which is a measure of how much a new set of six would have cost.

Even more interestingly, there is anecdotal evidence for the character and interests of the Rector. In 1922 a book on church music noted that:

"Angmering once has a musical Rector for 61 years in the person of the Rev. Wm Kinleside, whose incumbency lasted from 1776 to 1836.  he played the cello himself and encouraged his church band in every way.  Often he drove in his chariot, a ponderous old coach with a pair of sleek horses, to Chichester to attend the concerts held there; and when we know that the coach probably took at least 2 ½ hours to do the 15 miles journey from Angmering to Chichester, we must indeed admire the musical enthusiasm of the worthy Mr Kinleside." [Sussex Church Music in the Past, K.H. Macdermott L.Th.  ARCM,  1922

Another anecdote recalled that, Rev. Orme, who succeeded Kinleside, possessed a cello which had been played in the church before the installation of an organ.  This bore a label to the effect that it was made by Henry Jay of London in 1783. A remarkable coincidence, if it was not the cello played by Rev Kinleside.  [St Margaret's Angmering, J.F. Forester Gardner, 1946]

Was there some special occasion celebrated in 1783?  Nothing is yet found that marks out the year in village life, or amongst its lords and masters. Nor was there any national celebration, unless the founding of the United States aroused a fervour in Angmering!  Or, even more unlikely, the gods of nature were propitiated by a superstitious parish in the 'year without summer'.  A great volcanic eruption in Iceland having darkened the skies of Europe.

Not at all.  Any believable celebration would have been recorded by the inscription. 

The reality is that Rev. Kinleside had come fresh from university to Angmering, as a young person of 25 years.  It then took him a few more years to serve his social apprenticeship, which he did so well that he married into the principal village family, Gratwicke of Ham.  His musical passion had by then enthused the village with schemes for improvement of the church band, and to take part in the new vogue of change ringing.  But what the resulting bell casting cost the parish is lost for ever, with no accounts surviving for the period.  It may indeed be the case that it was provided by private subscription.

There is however the intriguing possibility that one of the ancient bells belonging to Angmering did in fact survive, as the clock bell. It was observed in 1983, that "George Elphick, the Sussex Campanologist, and author of the book 'Sussex Bells and Belfries' thinks it might be so and suggests it could be the work of T. Bullisdon, the bell-founder who cast the tenor bell of East Dean because of the similarity, in both bells, of the 'heavy moulding wires', these being the raised bands which pass round the bell".  Unfortunately this bell, as with other 16th century and earlier bells, did not have a dated inscription, according to Tyssen in 1915.

Apart from the latter details, the definitive history of St Margartet's bells is to be found in the 1983 publication by Miss Audrey E. Davis, the tower captain. Her research cannot be improved on by the present writer. [See - Part 2 (below)]

[It may be noted that the author of this piece has viewed the staircase and turret, together with the bell ringers chamber, in the tower, but has not yet viewed the peal of bells, and cannot confirm the present existence of the seventh 'clock bell'.]


Part 2
Notes on and Extracts from "The Bells and Bellringers of The Church of St Margaret, Angmering" by A. E. Davis, 1983

The definitive history by Miss Audrey Davis (Tower Captain in 1983) begins with a schedule of the six bells, cast by Chapman & Mears in 1783.

                        Diameter                       Approx Weight               Approx Note
Tenor                43in to 44in                   18 ¾ cwt                      F
5th                    39in                              10 ½ cwt                       G
4th                    36in                              8 ½ cwt                         A
3rd                    33 ¾ in                         7 ½ cwt                         B
2nd                   32in                              6 cwt                             C
Treble               30 ¼ in                         5 ¼ cwt                         D

These details were provided by a representative of the Whitechapel Foundry at an inspection in 1970. The weights calculated from the diameters.

There was a discrepancy in the weights calculated and those recorded elsewhere including "those previously recorded in the framed list in the Tower."  If this was so in 1983 it is no longer true, the framed list in the bell ringers chamber is exactly the same.  But there is a series of certificates in the tower for 1889-90 from the Sussex Association of Bell Ringers, which provide the estimated weight of the tenor, and in most instances this is only 12 cwt.

As related elsewhere the tower was built in 1507, and undoubtedly it was intended to provide space for several bells.  There is no record of when these were obtained, apart from incidental references in wills to bequests for providing and repairing bells.  

John Brownysburry of Horsham, 1522 July 18
"I gyve and bequethe to the parishe churche of West Angmering, to the bying of a Bell xxs."

This is the bell that George Elphick suggested might be the one surviving ancient bell in the tower, at that time the clock bell.  However, there would have been other bells obtained in that period of which no record remains. 

In the customary way various other wills left small sums to the church including repair of the bells and of the tower, with 12d was the usual amount.  Some of the original bells would crack and require re-casting, as reported by the churchwardens in 1626.

Deanery Visitation Bills
Angmering         We have a bell burst & wanting casting.

Little more is known other than the terse report in the 1724 Church Inspection Book that there were five bells at Angmering.  Miss Davis assumed these were in working order, there being no contrary comment by the churchwardens, and these were probably melted down by the Whitechapel Foundry in 1783, to make the present six.  A fire at the foundry in 1850 destroyed records including any relating to Angmering.

"This tendency to increase the number of bells in rings of four or five arose in response to the spread of 'Scientific Change-ringing' from its place of origin in the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge to other Churches up and down the country, probably through Incumbent who had graduated from one or other of the Universities.  It was hoped that the increased mental demands made upon ringers would attract into the belfries a more responsible type. [St Margaret's] ... may already have been ringing methods on the earlier ring of five."

The church accounts provide occasional reference to the ringers, and Miss Davis quotes instances.
1840     the repairing of the bells £9
1840     paid for new ropes £2 8s
1855     paid to the ringers for half-year salary £2

In 1853 the whole church bar the tower was rebuilt, and in 1854 "the bells were fitted with new frictional parts and rehung."  As mentioned elsewhere some work was done to the tower in 1853 or soon afterwards, including an altered window, but what this work amounted to in total is not yet known.

Bell Chamber, 2007. Photo: Ray Whitehouse

Bell Chamber 2007

***

[The remainder of the history by A.E. Davis is quoted verbatim]

THE CHURCH HANDBELLS AND HANDBELL RINGING

In 1853 the Angmering ringers began using a set of handbells belonging to William Cheeseman, landlord of the Red Lion (situated at the bottom of High Street). This must have helped to compensate them for the temporary loss of use of their tower bells, and provided them with comfortable warm surroundings where they could ring handbells on their normal practice evenings. Tune ringing on handbells was a very popular Victorian pastime, closely linked with the local Inn. Some ringers were content to ring Carols and Hymns but the more ambitious went on to Chamber Music and popular classics. There is no evidence to indicate what tunes were rung on the bells or whether or not change-ringing as on tower bells was practised.

An entry in an inventory of Church goods dated 1918/19 reads "12 handbell bought of the late Mr. William Cheeseman and presented to the Church by Mr. & Mrs. Orme" ; until recently they hung on the walls of the tower but have now been removed for safe keeping. For many years these bells have been rung round the village at Christmas time; in 1936 the Secretary of the P.C.C. praised the "competent team of handbell ringers under the leadership of Mr. Hammond". There is a photograph in "The Sussex Review - the County Illustrated", showing St. Margaret's ringers with the handbells: Ian Weeks aged 17 years, Peter Cox and Roy Green 16, Ron Rumsey 15, and at the bottom of the scale 14 year old David Reene. Mr. Hammond was a ringer at St. Margaret's for 52 years, then arthritis set in and he had to give up ringing. His wife was Vergeress for 34 years and a tablet to her memory is to be found at the back of the Church behind the Verger's pew.

THE TOWER GALLERY

Towards the end of the 1870 's a gallery was erected in the tower to accommodate the organ, work for which, for some reason, no faculty appears to have been obtained from the Bishop. The West door was boarded up and a small entry left for the ringers. The organ, we are told, was shortly afterwards moved to its present site in the North wall of the Chancel and the ringers moved up from the ground floor to ring from the gallery. A very poor photograph of this gallery can be seen at the Diocesan Record Office in Chichester.

It was while ringing from the gallery that the ringers achieved their greatest success, becoming for two consecutive years the leading peal band in the County. It was at a time when the art of change ringing was spreading and bell-ringing was part of village life. The Rev. Orme, himself a ringer and member of the first Committee of Management of the Sussex County Association of Change Ringers, must have been of great encouragement. He was a much loved and respected figure in the village; he always wore a top hat, a long coat with, being a Scot, a green plaid across the shoulder and sported a long white beard.

We read in "Bell News and Ringer's Record" that by 1883 St. Margaret's ringers had taken "a step in the right direction". This comment was made after two ringers from London had visited the Church one Sunday afternoon accompanied by the Vicar of Arundel, whose guests they were. There they found "a well appointed ringing room and abundant evidence of Grandsire Doubles and Minor being carried on". Five years later E. Parsons, C. Clear and F. Finch rang their first 5040 changes (peal); it was also the first peal to be rung on the bells. Other members of the band were C. Hills and two ringers from Steyning, one of whom conducted.

The Sussex County Association of Change Ringers was formed in 1885 with a view to improving the status of ringers in the Church's hierarchy, the conditions of the belfries in which they were called to ring, the behaviour of the ringers while in the belfry and encouraging the art of change-ringing throughout the County.   It was thought that this would encourage and attract into the belfries those who enjoyed some mental as well as physical activity. Nearly one hundred years later the Association can rightly claim a good measure of success in achieving its aims, for which it continues to work today. St. Margaret's ringers have much for which to thank
the Association..

Two years after its formation the Association was presented with a working model of a bell, by the Cripplegate Founders Messrs Warner & Son, to be awarded annually to the team of ringers gaining the highest number of points for the number and complexity of peals rung during the year. In 1889 St. Margaret' s ringers became the proud holders of this trophy, which success they repeated in 1890; this they celebrated at the Red Lion with a "well prepared supper ... served up in great style by Host Cheeseman ...given to the Angmering branch by Mr. J.N. Tompkins for winning the challenge bell ... They were accompanied by members of the Arundel and Goring branches ...about twenty sitting down". These ringers deserve an honourable mention in this story and their names are given below:-

Charles Hills was their Conductor and undoubted leader. Born at Upper Ecclesden Farm, one of a large family, he rang at St. Margaret's for fifty years, a record beaten only by Mr. T. Hammond who rang for fifty two years.   One of his last services to St. Margaret's was to dig over the newly acquisitioned land South of the Churchyard and to plant the line of trees marking the Southern border of the Cemetery; we are led to believe that he did not want to be buried in this new extension, "the ground is. too cold". He lies just North of the ground he dug in the nice warm soil.. Silence was observed at the next County meeting, members sent a wreath and representatives attended his funeral. So passed a well respected and, no doubt, colourful character of old Angmering. The names of the ringers he so successfully led are:- Frederick Finch (1885 - 1920), Christopher Clear (1887-1891), Thomas Linfield (Lindfield) (1888-1920), Thomas Parsons (1885-1927) and James Hills, younger brother of Charles (1885-1895).

It has been disappointing to look through subsequent issues of "Bell News and Ringer's Record" only to find no further references to "peal" ringing achievements by these ringers and one finds oneself wondering if, for one reason or another, the band broke up; but this is not so. There is evidence to show that they continued ringing together for several years after winning the Trophy but their performances are not claimed as "peals". The answer to the question probably lies in a decision taken by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. This body was founded in 1891 by the affiliation of local Diocesan and County Guilds and Associations. Quite early on in its life it undertook the task of making standard among ringers the meaning of certain words used in the Art of Change-ringing and the word "peal" came in for early attention. A peal, they said "...should consist of not less than 5,040 changes in length on seven. bells and not less than 5,000 on eight or more".. There are technical reasons for this ruling, but such was the angry response from six-bell ringers that it had to be modified to allow for "peals" to be rung on six bells as well as on seven, eight and more.

REMOVAL OF THE TOWER GALLERY

In 1927, at a cost of £162. 0. 0, the tower gallery was removed. The reasons given in the Faculty application were mainly aesthetic:- the gallery was said to be unsightly; it obscured the West window; it partially hid the Memorial tablets on the side walls of the tower and it destroyed the internal proportions of the Church. At the same time the West door was unblocked and an inside door was added to make a porch with two steps down to ground floor level of the tower. It would seem, on looking back, a pity that the gallery was removed most ringers agree the advantages of the shorter draft of rope a gallery would afford. General disappointment at the "poor attendance of the ringers" was expressed at the November P.C.C. the following year. There was some complaint at the Annual Church Meeting in 1935 about the "squeaking and rasping" of the bell ropes and Mr. Bentley was commissioned to remedy this. There is still a certain amount of noise at the back of the Church from the movement of ropes through the guides. It is thought that wooden guides might lessen it. A set of six "mufflers" costing 10/- was bought in 1936 and the bells were rung half muffled for the funeral of King George V.

A MAJOR OVERHAUL

By 1936 the bells were in need of attention and the Whitechapel Foundry was called in. Their estimate of £200.0.0 was accepted, the money raised, and work started in 1937. New headstocks were fitted, all frictional parts replaced, the oak frame strengthened and treated for beetle infestation which, the Foundry
representative reported, was not serious, and the bells rehung. In July 1937 a "peal" was rung to mark the completion of the work.

In 1955 the Death Watch Beetle was heard. It is reputed to be so called because of the tapping noise, thought to be a mating call, which can be heard in the dead of night sounding particularly eerie to those watching over a sick bed. The condition was treated but while the clock chimes were being repaired in 1960 the beetle was heard again and successfully treated with the installation of Aero-Vac.

Apart from routine maintenance involving the replacement of ropes as necessary and the tightening up of the frame in the summer months there has been no further work on the bells. A set of six ropes was bought in 1972 at a total cost of £96.00. These were of Italian hemp below the sally and of synthetic fibre above. While these ropes are reputed to be long lasting they were giving the ringers insufficiently precise control of the bells, so important in change ringing. More recently two ropes have been bought with only the top ten feet being of synthetic fibre but there is still a certain amount of springiness.

In 1977 it was noted that the iron girders in the clock room supporting the bell. frame were rusting at their points of entry into the tower walls. They were suitably treated at these points and supporting girders placed below them and tie-bolted to the bell frame. Since then the bells have been inspected and serviced annually by Mr. Cox of the Sussex County Association, to whom the ringers extend their thanks.

BELL RINGERS AND BELL RINGING

We know absolutely nothing about St. Margaret's ringers until 1883; the known story really begins when the County Association was formed and began to publish yearly reports on ringing events in the County and a list of members under the name of each affiliated Church. Earlier information is to be found in "Bell News and Ringer's Record", the forerunner of the present publication "The Ringing World". The information given below has been drawn from these two sources with additions from the minutes of the various Church Annual and P.C.C. meetings. There is no guarantee of the accuracy of the information given in-so-far as the source is concerned. Some St. Margaret's ringers may never have been County members and on the other hand some may not have notified the Association when they ceased to ring. The writer apologises should any such inaccuracies be detected.

The Award-winning band stayed together for many years after their success. It is important to remember this because their failure to ring peals suggests the contrary. J. Hills moved to Westbourne in 1895 and that same year the name C. Clear is discontinued in the County records, and that of F. Finch in 1905. However, this name appears again in 1919 and 1920, but this may be an inaccuracy spoken of earlier. T. Linfield ceases to be a member in 1921, T. Parsons in 1927, the year the gallery was removed, and C. Hills continued until within a year of .his death in 1934.

But St. Margaret's bells kept ringing, the following taking their place:- E. Parsons, J. Parsons, W.H. Abbott, H. Finch, G.A. Brooks, A. Child, R. Linfield, T. Hammond, H. Green, L. Shepherdson, A. Parsons, C. Smith.

THE FIRST WORLD WAR

During this period the activities of the Association were severely restricted and bands of ringers heavily depleted, most of the young men of the villages having joined the forces. Yearly reports were still published in which those still ringing were told to "Keep the Church bells ringing until the boys come home". In 1917 "the bells of the County were, in general, still being rung". Regulations with regard to ringing restrictions varied with the different localities, some being more severe than others. In 1917 Camberwell ringers were allowed to ring up to 9 p.m. but were advised to notify police beforehand "to make sure they know".

The names A. Parsons and F. Finch appear on the Roll of Honour; both names appear in the County membership lists for 1919/1920 but these may have been taken from pre-war lists and in the aftermath of war had not yet been sorted out. The F. Finch, member of the Royal Veterinary Corps, who was buried in St. Margaret's Churchyard in 1917 with full Military Honours was a worshipper at the Baptist Church and not a St. Margaret's ringer. In 1921 new names were added:- C. Smart, W. Wadey, L. West; and between 1928 and 1939:- A.F. Birchfield, S. Cheeseman, A.G. Heasman, M.W. Howick, H.W. Parsons, Rev. T.L. Palmer (perhaps to try the ropes after removal of the gallery the year before), H. Bentinck, F. Bentinck, E. Elliott, L. Smith, Hilton Ungless, L. Green, W. Ungless, J. Head, Ron Mills, Ted Squibb, J. Baker, D. Ungless.
 
THE SECOND WORLD WAR
 
Following the declaration of war the young men of the village joined the forces and the older ones undertook local military and civil duties such as Air Raid Precautions and fire fighting. The fall of France in 1940 and the ensuing threat of an air-borne attack on this country led to a ban on tower bell ringing throughout the Country, and it was made known nationally that the ringing of the bells would mean that the invading forces had landed. The writer believes that there were isolated cases of bells being rung by mistake, causing no little consternation in the particular locality.

As the danger receded the regulations were gradually relaxed so that victory peals were rung to celebrate the victory at El Alamein and open ringing on Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday was permitted in 1942, to be followed by the entire lifting of the ban in 1943. In 1944 the Secretary of the Sussex County Association was able to write "the damage to the towers and bells in the Diocese has been very light, and we extend our sympathies to our neighbouring Guilds in their losses".
 
It was not until 1953, however, that the names of ringing members are included in the report:-
[A long list of names by Miss Davis, some still ringers in 1983]

Towards the end of 1971 the capable band of young lady ringers was falling victim to the ravages of courtship, marriage, motherhood and exciting careers so new recruits had to be found and trained. David Smith, who had recently moved to Rustington from Horsham, on being approached, agreed to take over the Captaincy of the Tower and to train new recruits, thirteen year olds drawn from the Pathfinders. Unfortunately within the year David moved back to Horsham and at the same time two of the learners moved to Ferring; there were insufficient numbers remaining and ringing was discontinued. The bells were, however, kept going for some time with the help of ringers from neighbouring towers, notably those of St. Botolph's, Heene, to whom we are grateful. We have other reason to thank Peter Wood, Tower Captain at Heene; when a new band was started in 1977, Peter, for several weeks, tied the clappers of the bells at Heene and supervised a special silent practice for St. Margaret's ringers. The name of the Rev. Ivor Reith must be mentioned in connection with this history; he it was who initiated the second attempt to get the bells ringing again. Five who joined the following year, 1978, are still ringing regularly for Sunday services. In recognition of the encouragement and support given to the band in these early days, when handling a rope was difficult for everyone, the Rev. Ivor and Mrs. Reith were presented with an engraved jug on his retirement in 1980. We thank also the Rev. Jos and Mrs. Nicholl for their support and help in the organisation of our celebration.

Finally our thanks are due to Colin Spencer, a well known ringer, Ringing Master at Chichester Cathedral, Tower Captain at St. Mary's Walberton. Colin has travelled from Bognor, each week when the band first started, less frequently now we are able to take a few steps on our own, to take our practice sessions and to teach our new learners. Colin is a life member of our St. Margaret's Ringing Society as is Miss Oliver, mentioned earlier.

The writer's thanks are due to. her brother, to Mr. Hare, Mr. Pizzey and Mr. Baker who so kindly read the earlier texts and gave their opinion and advice; also to Patrick Wills who has made arrangements to have this reproduced; to all those in the village who talked to me about bygone days and who could write a much better account of ringers of the past; .and finally to Bonnie Appleton, daughter of Hazel Bradley, a regular worshipper at St. Margaret's, who wrote our Bicentenary Poem.

During the Bicentenary Thanksgiving Service on July 18th, at which service the Right Revd Colin Docker, Bishop of Horsham and Vice-President of the Sussex County Association of Change Ringers will be preaching the sermon, we shall be thanking God for all the blessings our Church and bell ringers in particular have received in the past and pray for His continued blessing in the future.

AE Davis, Tower Captain, 1983


Bellringers 2006.  Photo: Ray Whitehouse

Angmering Bell Ringers - 2006

(L/R) Kevin Pritchard, Alan Neal, Caroline Jones, Peter Smart , Barbara Harbut, Michael Nott


Part 3
Additional Material

Some notes by Alan Tettmar (c1990)

Since 1983 there have been further changes in the tower, and a leaflet with information provided by Audrey Davis outlines work done in 1989.

The fact that the bells have been kept ringing is really a tribute to the devotion of Angmering ringers in the past.  In modern times, up to 1986, they were led by Miss Audrey Davis, who not only learned to ring after retirement but encouraged others to learn and so keep a band at St. Margaret's.

Some fifteen years ago Miss Davis, with small support at first, fostered the idea that the reinstatement of a ringing gallery would benefit the ringers and the church.  In 1986/7 the PCC, led by our new Rector, Anthony Wells, decided to make serious investigations into ways to improve the church.

More room was required for the congregation , the organ was 100 years old and badly needed attention and the font was in such a position that the Rector needed to be left handed to handle the baby with safety!

The whole project was to cost approximately £92,500, the money was raised by donations. Incredibly £103.800 was raised in six weeks and builders were appointed to commence the work which was completed in 1989.  A dedication service was held on Sunday 22nd July 1990 when the bells were rung before and after the service and in the afternoon a peal of 5,040 changes of Plain Bob Minor was rung in 2 hours 45 minutes.

The new ringing room is now complete and much appreciated by all who ring there.

_____________________________________

A series of certificates in the tower record the prowess of the Angmering ringers in 1889 and 1890, as noted in the history.  The following is a sample.

St Margaret's, Angmering, Sussex
The Sussex Association of Change Ringers
On October 12th, 1889, a true and complete Peal of
5,040 Changes In Seven different Minor Methods, on Six Bells,
Being - 720 each of the following - Oxford and Kent Treble Bob, College Single,
Yorkshire Court, Canterbury Pleasure, Oxford Single Bob and Plain Bob.
Was Rung by the Angmering Branch of the Association in 2 hours
and 47 minutes, in order as follows:
P Finch             Treble                           C Clear             4
J Hills                  2                                 T Parsons         5
T Lindfield          3                                  C Hills               Tenor
Conducted by C Hills
Weight of Tenor 12 cwt
No 227

____________________________________

PHOTOGRAPHS AND BELL CHAMBERS

A good set of photographs by Ray Whitehouse has now been provided. The whole set of six bells, their frame, and some part of the bell chamber is illustrated by them, together with the present team of bell ringers in their chamber below.  The names of the churchwardens and rector,  in 1783, can be clearly read on the tenor bell [see photo right]
Tenor Bell.  Photo: Ray Whitehouse

The set of six bells hang in a framework of heavy timber, that occupies the entire chamber.  Two rows of three, swinging east to west.  Bells 1 to 3 from north to south on the east side, under the clock.  Then bells 4 to 6 [VI], on the west side.  The tenor VI, in the north west corner, is pictured close up to show the inscriptions. The small spare bell, or 'clock bell' stands on a ledge against the wall.

It is immediately evident that the interior of the tower has been extensively repaired and rebuilt, largely in brickwork.  The interior jambs of the louvred windows are now strengthened in brickwork, obscuring the original splayed stone jambs.   The roof has obviously been restored, with brickwork inside the parapet.  But the most substantial changes have been to the various chambers and floors, with floors inserted and taken out at various times to suit current requirements. A closer investigation of the tower is needed to be certain of the sequence of events, but until then the following is perhaps a reasonable deduction.

At present the tower has three floors above the ground entrance.  At the top is the bell chamber, with louvred windows in the side walls.  Directly below a chamber occupied only by the clock machinery, in a cabinet against the east wall.  This chamber is lit by a single window on the south side.  Below that is the present bell ringers chamber, the floor of which is at the sill level of the large west window, and on the east side the tower arch is now blocked and occupied by the organ.  All of these chambers are accessed by doors on the north side, opening from the spiral staircase or vice.

The assumption is that originally there would only have been two upper chambers.  The bell chamber, and below that,  what is now the clock machinery chamber, was the bell ringers platform.  At a later date they may have found it more convenient to ring from the ground floor, despite the draft of rope required.  The tower arch was intended to be open to the nave with the splendid large west window clearly visible and lighting through. 

After the Reformation, probably in the 17th century, a west gallery was inserted in the nave for the church band.  This partly blocked up the tower arch, and a new door from the vice had to be cut for access.  When the church was rebuilt in 1853, the west gallery no longer existed, but a gallery was installed in the north aisle. This required a door to be cut in the north side of the vice, but when this gallery also was removed the door was altered to an internal window.

Then in 1860 the first organ was obtained, and evidently installed on a platform that had to constructed in the tower arch, more or less on the same level as the former west gallery.  Twenty years later when the organ was moved to the chancel, the newly founded band of bell ringers were able to take over the floor as their ringing chamber, until 1927.  The 1990 bell ringers chamber now occupies the same approximate level, accessed by the door from the vice originally inserted for the west gallery.

 

RW Standing
August 2007

 

Photos: 2007 Ray Whitehouse

(Note: Angmering Village Life has attempted to locate Miss Davis or her family, without success, for permission to reproduce extracts from her booklet. If there are family objections to the inclusion of the extracts on this webpage, we would sincerely apologise and will remove the extracts on request)

Page first uploaded: 20 July 2007. Revised page uploaded: 10 Aug 2007