Visitors to Appledore cannot fail to notice the beautiful and ancient church nestled at the end of The Street. What they may not hear on a quick visit are the beautiful bells that ring out and celebrate the village and its history on important occasions.
The history of the Appledore church bells has also been recorded on a fascinating website:
Each bell, both before and after they were re-cast in 1900, is documented on the Appledore page in Loves Guide and further highlights how unique and spectacular the bells in the church are.
The following extract from the Appledore Parish Magazine January 2001, tells the story of the bells in the early 1900’s and will give the reader a flavour of the bells in the Appledore church and how remarkable they truly are:
Appledore Bells Centenary
Early on in the year 1900 Rev. Clifford Berney Hall was inducted as the new vicar of SS. Peter & Paul, Appledore. Sadly, one thing would have been lacking on this day of local celebration; the sound of the bells summoning all from the straggling village and over the canal across the flat marshlands to the special service. The six ancient bells in the tower had been silent for the last few years with the largest bell badly cracked and the others out of order.
Within a few months, the enterprising new clergyman had set up a committee to look into the restoration of the tower and bells as a project for the forthcoming centennium, and the Bell and Belfry Restoration Fund was formed to raise over £400 for the complete refurbishment which would involve recasting 5 of the bells with additional metal) into a new ring of 8, rehanging in a new frame and installing new floor in the tower. Through a generous donation by Dr Cock, the ancient St Nicholas Bell, no 3 in the old ring and cast about 1460, was preserved for use with the clock which had been provided a few years earlier in 1895.
Fund raising got off to a good start with a generous donation of £100 from Mr Thomas Chennel to add to the legacy of the late Mrs T. Boon. Besides the vicar the principal fund raisers were Mr E. B. Terry, Mr F. G. Wright, Mrs F. W. Cock and Mr R. J. Ferguson and the entire amount seems to have been raised by February 27th 1902 when a financial statement and list of donations was issued; the latter looked particularly impressive for the small village with almost 250 contributions ranging from £15 to 6d.
By October the work had been completed by the foundry of John Warner & Sons of Cripplegate; London, and the bells were recommissioned at a Dedication Festival on November 2nd 1900 when the special preacher was Rev A W. Crockett, senior curate at Leyton Essex and a former curate of Appledore. After the dedicatory prayer, the newly trained local ringers attempted to ring some rounds but the long draught of rope and their lack of experience made this a difficult task and they were not very successful However, at the end of the service the visiting change ringers rang 336 Grandsire Triples in fine style, conducted by Sidney Saker from Hastings. After adjourning for refreshments, the change ringers returned to the tower to attempt the opening peal of 040 changes but this came to a sudden end after nearly 2 hours when the ringer of the 5 got his rope entangled around his wrist. Then a 504 was rung and a short touch of Stedman Triples after which the founders’ representatives entered the belfry and warmly congratulated the band on their ringing, while the ringers were able to convey an excellent opinion of the bells to the satisfaction of all concerned.
Undeterred by the failure, a further attempt for the first peal was arranged for January 19th January 1901. The band included many of those from the earlier attempt and comprised Frederick Burden from Rolvenden, Sidney Saker from Hastings. George Johnson from the local Appledore team, with Edgar Burden, Robert Edwards, Charles Tribe Alfred Hinds and George Neve from Tenterden. This time they were successful after 3 hours and l1 minutes, the peal of 5040 Grandsire Triples being conducted by Robert Edwards and credited to the Kent County Association of Change Ringers.
Over the last 100 years the bells have given good service. They were rehung with partial renewal of the fittings in 1968, the ringers doing much of the site work including painting the bellframe. 30 years later a new ringing floor was provided, also involving a local initiative, which makes for an easier arrangement as the tower is the main processional entrance to the church and ringing in the gangway was always a slightly hazardous undertaking, particularly for weddings.
To celebrate the centenary of the first ringing, an anniversary peal will be attempted on the morning of Saturday, January 20th 2001. The method, as in 1901, will be Grandsire Triples and the band will once again be drawn from local towers including Tenterden. The conductor will be the Ashford district ringing master, Richard Edwards who is the grea-newphew of Robert Edwards the 1901 conductor, and the band will include Frank Wenham from nearby Stone whose grandfather was an active ringer in both towers during that same period. If successful, the peal will be credited to the Kent County Association of Change Ringers which itself is celebrating its 120th year.
Left is an extract from the local paper dated January 1932 which shows Appledore was very much part of the local bell-ringing community.