The Bells

Whitechapel Bell Foundry records show that there were four bells in the tower of St Alfege in 1552, the tenor (the largest) having a diameter of 43" and weighing about 13 hundredweight. There is little further information about the bells until the church was rebuilt (between 1712 and 1714).

The tower now contains a ring of 10 bells hung in a heavily-constructed oak frame that dates from 1731. Eight bells were originally cast by Richard Phelps in 1731 and two more in 1734. The original 4th bell bore an inscription

‘The Gift of our gracious Queen Caroline, 1731, R Phelps fecit’

The new tenor bell weighed 23 hundredweight and was in the key of D. In 1954 the Whitechapel Foundry was due to clean, tune and rehang all the bells. However, after cleaning, six of the bells were found to be cracked, and it was decided to recast all the bells except for the tenor which had been recast more recently, in 1824, by Thomas Mears II.

The Meridian bell ringers ring at three churches: St Alfege in Greenwich; St Mary in Woolwich and St John in Deptford. Each church has a ring of bells for full circle ringing.

St Alfege, Greenwich has a ring of 10 bells - the tenor weighs 23-2-14 and the key is D.

St Mary, Woolwich has a ring of 8 bells - the tenor weighs 12-3-6 and the key is F#.

St John, Deptford has a ring of 8 bells - the tenor weighs 14-0-18 and the key is F.

Additional information