The tower is 95 ft 4 in high, which is rather an odd figure, however it seems likely that it was once 100 ft high. This is because the tower used to be furnished with pinnacles, but three of them fell down in about 1730. One fell in the churchyard, one on the south aisle and one through the roof of the nave. Not surprisingly, the fourth one was hastily removed.
At the base of the whole of the west façade, including the tower there is some excellent flint ‘proudwork’.
The most outstanding feature of the tower is its huge bell openings. On the south side is a fine clock
The tracery in the west window of the tower is, like that in the west windows of the two aisles, of high quality, but a little later than that in the east windows of the aisles (see Window Tracery).
The clock had a narrow escape in 1898 when the tower was struck by lightning. The parish magazine reported that:
“The clock was also struck, the electric fluid severing the steel-wire rope which carries the weights, and these in consequence fell into the church and broke into pieces the oak Parish Chest, scattering its contents in all directions.”
In his guidebook to the church, Martial Rose says that
the silence chamber in the tower houses a turret clock, which was fully restored, complete with electric auto wind, as a farewell gift from RAF Swanton Morley in 1993. It is a cast iron four-poster with two gear trains, one to keep the time and one to strike the hours on the bell. The pendulum beats at one and a half seconds and is controlled by a pinwheel escapement, whilst the strike is controlled by an outside count-wheel.
It is thought that the clock was probably bought from
one of the London manufacturers and was installed by Palmer of West Tofts on behalf of the Reverend Augustus Sutton (1825-85), of West Tofts, who possibly financed the project.
At the beginning of the twentieth century the bell installation was in poor condition, so a new oak frame was made and the bells rehung. However in the 1980s one of John Draper’s bells developed a dangerous
crack. A replacement was found in 1990 when Erpingham church was disposing of redundant bells, but this was never satisfactory.
In 2000 the five existing bells were taken to the bell-foundry of John Taylor & Co at Loughborough for retuning. At the same time a new treble bell, funded by the Friends of All Saints, was cast to match the five heavier bells. So the church now has a full peal of six bells, and this has attracted an enthusiastic group of ringers.
You can find out much more about the bells and ringers of All Saints by clicking here
We do not know what bells the church had in medieval times, but we do know from an inventory compiled in 1552 that at that time there were just two bells.
It’m one steple bell weyeng by esttymacion xijcwt at xv the cwt..(worth ixli )
It’m one lytle bell callyd the gabreyell weyeng by estymacion lvjli after xvs the cwt
……………………………………………………………………(worth viijs )
The ‘Gabreyell’ was the little sanctus bell (see Sanctus Window)
Sadly, this inventory was taken during the reign of Edward VI, for a visitation by the Earl of Northumberland’s agents. Their main purpose was to remove anything of value, and you can see that two bells were just valued as scrap metal.
In 1623 the churchwardens deemed it safe to replace the bells and commissioned John Draper of Thetford to cast a new ring four new bells. Three of these remain and they all bear the inscription “John Draper made me 1623.
A fifth bell was added in 1730. This was cast in Norwich by Thomas Newman and it bears the inscription “Tho: Newman made mee 1730 Peter Rix, William Ingledow C.W.”
Features of All Saints' Church Swanton Morley
Features of the Tower
Page Updated: 26/07/10
All Saints' Church