The Organ and Bells
The West Tower
Now at the west end of the north aisle, we pause at the back into the nave where we came in.
The first known organ in use here was in 1523 and there was a clock by 1536 – clearly, a prosperous parish.
In 1792, Miss Ann Farmer donated an organ worth £700 on condition that the parish provided an organist. In 1793 Richard Sharp was appointed. ‘He later made his mark on the swell middle C ‘R#’’ (‘#’ being the musical notation for a sharp note), which can still be seen on the preserved old keyboards in the right-hand display under the tower.
Many visiting organists who value its tone play this prized instrument.
Tower display (left)
The Great Bible
In 1538, Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540), Henry VIII’s chief minister, ordered that every parish church should have an English Bible and placed so that all parishioners could read it. This was a major turning point in English religious life, at least for those who could read, because before the Reformation all Bibles were printed in Latin, thus accessible only to those who were fully literate. This particular copy is much later, King James Authorized Version, published in 1613 – quite new really.
Here you can see a replica with the thirteenth-century original being in the display drawers in St Benedict’s. A burse is used to carry the cloth that covers the elements in the Eucharist. Photographs and details can be found by following the external link above.
Originally, the church had three towers: in the northwest and southwest corners; and in the crossing (the one that was replaced). Both of the former had bells, the south for the monks and the north for the parish. Following hundreds of years of conflict over bell ringing, an agreement was reached between the priory and the parish in 1446 for the building of this tower. It may well have been ready for bells in the 1490s.
In 1549, it was from this tower that Willam Kett was hanged; he was the brother of Robert, leader of Kett’s Rebellion, who was hanged from Norwich castle.
The tower now contains ten bells, which are regularly rung by our own ringers and by visiting teams.