Tudor bell of Lewes set to star in movie

Date at the Market Tower ... keen amateur film maker Alex O'Connor
Date at the Market Tower ... keen amateur film maker Alex O'Connor

A film featuring the Lewes town bell ‘Gabriel’ in the Market Tower is due to be made on Saturday.

It is being shot by Alex O’Connor during the ceremony to mark the third and final armistice in the wake of the First World War.

The keen amateur film maker, 35, of Alexandra Road, Uckfield, is the son of Chailey author Beverley O’Connor.

She said: “We want to bring Gabriel back into the public consciousness. Very few people who live in Lewes have ever actually seen it inside the Market Tower.

“It would be wonderful if the bell could be rung more regularly to mark all the joyous occasions Lewes has to celebrate.”

Alex will accompany town bell-ringer Dave Middleton on Saturday when Gabriel will toll from 10.50am to mark the centenary of the third prolongation of the armistice on February 16, 1919.

It will be followed at 11am by a short ceremony led by Mayor Cllr Janet Baah at Lewes War Memorial where a bugler will sound The Last Post.

The completed film will later be gifted to the town.

Gabriel was cast by the Frenchman John Tonne between 1529 and 1536. It bears a large shield with the royal arms of King Henry VIII, a figure of St Catherine, a medallion of Henry VIII, a crown and a Tudor rose. It is inscribed in Latin ‘Gabrielis menti dedens habio nomen’ (I have the name of Gabriel) and has a later inscription cut upon showing 1792 as the date of its removal to the Market Tower.

Gabriel is the largest pre-Reformation bell in Sussex; it may have been cast for Lewes Priory, because it seem unlikely that any Lewes parish church would have been able to have borne the cost of such a large and expensive bell.

It had hung in the partly ruined church of St Nicholas that stood at the top of School Hill until it was demolished in 1761.