Tower and Bells

The Bell Tower was built in 1912.

The Bell Tower, built in 1912, houses the bells which are believed to be the heaviest chime of five bells in England, with the bass bell weighing 40 cwts, in a total weight of 117 cwts.

In the old church, prior to the re-building in 1794, it is recorded that there was a square tower with two bells suspended in a square wooden chamber at the top, painted white, and perforated with circular sound holes.

When the modern church was built in 1794, the two small bells were recast in London into a single bell, weighing about 2 cwts. and this became known as the “Warner” Bell, taking the name of the London bellfounder. This bell was first hung in the bell turret above the west gable until the Tower was built. During this time, when it was the only church bell, it was a village joke that only a single bell was rung at a funeral, but all the bells were rung at a wedding!

The building of the Tower and the provision of the five bells contained therein was made possible by the generosity of the Reverend Charles Kerry, who died in 1908.

In his Will of December 1906 he set out in great detail how the five bells were to be purchased from John Taylor & Company of Loughborough immediately after his decease.

He listed the inscriptions which were to appear on each bell and these are as follows:

Bell No 1 (Treble)
To the Glory of God, these five bells were given to this church of St John the Baptist, Smalley, by the Revd Charles Kerry, AD 1908.
Revd D B Phelips, Vicar 1912

Bell No 2

If any of us be cast again
We ought to bear our donor’s name
To ignore his gift would surely be
A grievous breach of courtesy.

Revd. Charles Kerry, Donor, AD 1908

Bell No 3
In memory of his beloved father, Samuel Kerry, of the Old Green Farm, Smalley. AD 1908

Bell No 4
Given by the Reverend Charles Kerry in memory of his mother, Elizabeth Kerry. AD 1908

Bell No 5
Given to this church of his native village by Charles Kerry (late Rectory of Upper Stondon, Beds.) who died AD 1908, aged 74 years.

In 1907 he added a Codicil to his Will providing that if the Vicar and the Churchwardens did not accept his bequest of tower and bells, then the whole of the estate so bequeathed should go to augment the income of the almsmen of the Parish of Smalley residing in almshouses at Morley Moor, providing that they were members of the Church of England.

The building of the tower necessitated the removal of the porch originally built on the west end. The porch was therefore moved to its present position.

The foundation stone for the new tower was laid at the northwest corner of the church by Mrs A Swingler of Smalley Hall on 23rd May 1912.

The walls of the tower were built of Morley stone, with dressed stone from the Coxbench quarries.

The new bells arrived at the church on Tuesday 20th August 1912, having rested overnight at the Rose & Crown Public House. The five bells were on a large trailer with iron wheels, towed by a steam engine.

On the Tuesday morning, each bell was dressed with a garland of flowers ready for the procession later in the day.

The Vicar (Reverend Phelips), church officials, parishioners and school children accompanied the bells in procession for the mile from the Rose & Crown, led by the Mapperley Colliery Band.

At the church there was a short service at the grave of the Reverend Charles Kerry, folllowed by tea at the Church Hall (then situated close by the Vicarage) and the band played popular tunes of the day on the vicarage lawn.

The small bell tower on the western gable of the church became structurally unsafe and it was removed in 1967.