Borden has a long tradition of bell making and ringing. John Wilnar was a local Borden man
and bell maker and his bells date from the early 1600s and some of his originals survive in other
churches around Kent, the nearest being in the bell tower in Bredgar (St John The Baptist Church) which has two John Wilnar bells (number 4 and 6). Borden's original
Wilnar versions were fired in a foundry believed to be sited somewhere in Oad Street and at that
stage he made only six bells for the tower. This was the era marking the demise of William
Shakespeare so it may have been a case of “alas poor Will”, but was “a glorious summer” for the
ringers of Borden!
The current eight bells are made from the metal from that original peal of six which were melted
down and recast in 1802 by the Whitechapel foundry (still in production today) into those you'll see
and hear today. The original six bells were transported by horse and cart to Milton Quay and up
river by boat to Whitechapel making the return journey later as eight. The largest, the tenor
weighing in at over 22 hundred weight, just over a ton.
One of the features of the Borden Tower is that the bells, frame and mechanisms have in fact
remained largely unaltered since they were
re-hung in 1802. Only a couple of the headstocks were
changed in the late 1880s so it's clear that, apart from the modern ropes, the men of the Borden
band circa 1900 were using exactly the same mechanism you can see today. So here at
Borden we are one of only a few towers which can bring the past quite so up close and personal!
The Ringing Room restoration project hopes to continue to preserve the past whilst providing a
great experience for the new generation of
The current clock replaced an original
eighteenth century mechanism in 1897 to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.