Our four bells (tenor, third, second, treble) are hung in the belfry in a straight line east-west, so that they swing in a north-south direction. They have an early history: when the Collegiate church at South Malling was dismantled in March 1554 one of its six bells was given to St Thomas at Cliffe together with the ceiling of its Lady Chapel, its seats, the stone of its walls and the case of a pair of organs. The bell is still in the tower weighing 7cwt 2qrs 17lbs (418.9kg) It is indistinctly ornamented and inscribed: I H S ini ano d mccccclxvi.

When the ring of four bells was re-installed, after extensive and expensive repairs in the late 1990s, one was connected to the clock so that it would once again chime the hours. These bells had previously been restored by the Whitechapel Foundry in 1906 when all the seventeenth century fittings, headstocks, pulleys, clappers and wheels were replaced.

The tenor bell, bearing the inscription ‘TG 1619’, was cast by Thomas Giles, who moved from Chichester to Lewes in 1614 to take over his brother, Edmund’s, foundry. The original treble, which was recast in 1906 at the London foundry of Mears and Stainbank, and the third, are inscribed with the names of churchwardens John Russell and Edmund Newborough and ‘LULHAM MADE MEE 1649’. Two years later John Lulham of Chiddingly cast a new peal for Eastbourne’s church.

Historic ring

St Thomas a Becket parish church of Cliffe, Lewes bells
The ring of four bells at the parish church of St Thomas a Becket at Cliffe, Lewes, East Sussex
Before each of our weekday services, morning and evening, the Tenor bell is rung 17 times in memory of the Protestant martyrs who died at the stake during the reign of Queen Mary.