Brief History of Brookland Church Bell Tower
An open framework was built to take a large bell around the twelfth century for the purpose of warning against flood and invasion etc.
It was built around the same time as Old Winchelsea (a small town in East Sussex) was washed away in a great storm.
The framework was exposed to the Romney Marsh wind and rain for about 300 years, you can see the evidence of this if you look at the beams and note the smoothness of the wood.
In about the 15th century the Church Bells were put into the framework and the candle snuffer shaped roof was put on, this was made of weatherboard. Around 1936 it was shingled and was reshingled in 1990 because of the damage caused by the storms of 1987-88 that swept the country. There are approximately 11,000 shingles and 35,000 bronze nails on the tower and this restoration was carried out at the approximate cost of £20,000.
Until 1973 there were five bells in the tower and a lot of work was carried out at this time. One large bell was removed and melted down at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to make two smaller bells and this gave a ring of six bells.
The oldest bell in the tower is over 400 years old. (The fifth.)
The height of the tower is 75 feet and you will notice the unusual weather vane on the top as being in the shape of a Dragon (a Wyvern, a two-legged dragon).
Before buildings of any size were built on Romney Marsh a large mound of soil was made to raise the buildings out of the marshy ground and to give a firmer foundation.
Brookland Church was built by a creek which flowed to the sea. The mound being the highest point on the marsh, was an ideal place to build a warning tower.
| The weight of the bells are…|
A poem by Rudyard Kipling called the Brookland Road reads in part:
“I was very well pleased with what I knowed,
I reckoned myself no fool —
Till I met a maid on the Brookland Road,
That turned me back to school.
“O, stop your singing and let me be…
Let be, O Brookland bells!
You’ll ring Old Goodman out of the sea,
Before I wed one else.”
(See the complete poem words.)
Saint Thomas Becket Church, Fairfield
When visiting Brookland Parish Church, you are on the Walland Marsh so why not pay a visit to Saint Thomas Becket Church, Fairfield. The little church on its own in a field. It has a unique three tier pulpit, box pews and font. Enjoy the tranquillity for a while.
To get there, follow the road in the Rye direction and 1 mile outside the village, turn right at the Philippine Village and follow the road until you see the church on your right.
For more information on both these churches, please see the official guide books.
VISITOR NOTES:- Although Brookland Parish Church is normally open during daylight hours, it would be helpful if visitors wishing to visit could telephone Mr R Pegge on 01797 344 250 in advance of the planned date.
[The above lightly-edited details are taken from the Brookland Church Tower leaflet, May 2006 revision priced at 30 pence.]