I decided for my first post, I would start with a piece of home. Beccles, is known for it’s free standing bell tower to be separate from the main church building. It may not be tucked away, as it’s pretty much centred within the town, and many pass it throughout the day, it is one of the most stunning buildings in the area. With St Michael’s the Archangel dates back to around 1350, with long before that a there was a Saxon church which would of stood on the same site. Construction started around 1500’s on the bell tower, and was completed in 1540, and the style of the buildings is Perpendicular Gothic.
In 1582, the interior of St Michael’s was badly damaged by a fire.
Bell towers are normally to be built at the western end of a church, which is the opposite end of the alter. As the site is on a cliff edge and the weight of the tower, which is approximately three thousand tons, made it clear it should be built on the eastern side, as a free standing tower. Which makes it unique in itself.
3 sides of the church have clocks, and the Norfolk facing side, in the picture above, doesn’t. According to old tales, this was due to the fact that they didn’t want to give Norfolk people the time of day. Not sure how true that is, but that’s what people brought up in Beccles are told.
Originally there were eight bells, in 1762 it was replaced with 10 bells. In 1909, all ten of the bells were completely restored and hung on a new steel frame. The bells sound on each quarter hour and ring out the time on the hour. Which is great to hear when you are in the town centre.
You are still able to climb up to the top of the tower, which I have done a couple times, it has 122, steps and the view at the top is breathtaking, on very clear day you can see all the way to Lowestoft!
One of the most famous connections associated with the church is with Lord Admiral Nelson, his parents Catherine Suckling and Edmund Nelson, who was a priest, got married in 1749 at the church. Also George Crabbe, a famous Suffolk poet married wife Sarah Elmy, at the church in 1783.
All in all, it is great to have such a wonder piece of architecture, sitting right on my door step, in my younger years I didn’t appreciate what my eyes can see today, which the beauty church and the bell tower had to offer. One of my favourite areas to sit down and soak the view is on the benches behind the church, over looking the cliff onto the river.
I defiantly recommend anyone reading this to come to Beccles, and see it for yourself.
Thank you for reading!