The Bells

The Bells

The tower holds a ring of eight bells, which are rung from the ground floor.  The bells have a tenor of around 9 cwt. Until 2010 the bells were hung in an oak frame dating from the early 19th century, part of which had been replaced in the late 1990s with a cast iron structure where the oak frame had become unsafe. Further deterioration of the remaining oak frame meant that by 2005 the entire structure required replacement. This is when fund raising was started to allow to bells to be rehung in the present steel frame and augment from six bells to eight.

The back five were all cast by John Draper of Thetford around 1630 and we believe that they may form the only complete ring of five that remains by this founder. John Draper was son of Thomas Draper, bell-founder, of Thetford, who flourished 1577 to 1595. Bells cast by John Draper are frequent in West Norfolk and Suffolk. He died 1644, and with his death the Thetford Bell-foundry came to an end. The third was cast in 1807 by William Dobson of Downham Market and the two new trebles were cast in 2010 by John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough.

The full details of the bells are as follows:

1. 4 cwt John Taylor & Co 2010

Remembering Frank & Joyce Young

2. 4 cwt John Taylor & Co 2010


4. 4 cwt IOHN DRAPER NHOI ME 1629 *

5. 5½ cwt IOHN DRAPER MADE ME 1630

6. 7 cwt IOHN DRAPER MADE ME 1630

7. 7 cwt IOHN DRAPER MADE ME 1630

8. 9 cwt IOHN DRAPER MADE ME 1626

* The third word in the inscription on the 4th bell should be MADE, but is actually the word IOHN, cast upside-down!

The Tower

The lower part of the tower is typical Suffolk flint-work dating from the 14th and 15th century. The top stage, however, is an unusual 18th century addition with flint "checkerboard" patterning and round-arched bell-holes. The church originally had a spire, which was blown down and the remains of which are now built into the churchyard wall. The remains of an earlier church can be seen in the narrow 13th century tower arch.  

The bells are rung from the ground floor, open to the church.  A fine old door gives access to a stairwell that leads to the first floor although, strangely, there is no spiral staircase, only a ladder, in the empty stairwell.  Access to the higher levels of the tower, including the clock (which is owned by the village rather than the church) and bells, is by a series of ladders.

Thanks for visiting the Hopton Bells and Tower Ap-peal Web Site (© Simon Frost 2011