Ss. Peter & Paul, Scarning has a fine ring of six bells, which are listed as being of historic significance. With a tenor weighing 14 cwt, the bells could perhaps be described as ‘heavyish’, though they are far from the heaviest. The tenor at St. Nicholas, Dereham, for example, weighs around 22 cwt. Note that bells weights are still quoted in Imperial measure, and most bell ringers would give you an odd look if you told them that the Scarning tenor weighs around 700 kg. The bells produce a mellow sound, but with plenty of volume. The ringers stand at ground floor level rather than in a ringing chamber higher up, and the base of the tower is open to the nave of the church. This is appreciated by visitors and congregations, who enjoy seeing the ringing taking place.
The church was built entirely in the 15th century, though not all at the same time, the tower being constructed last. An inventory carried out in 1553 records that there were three bells, plus a ‘sacring’ (sanctus) bell. There is still a sanctus bell and it is worth looking at if you visit the church.
Five new bells were cast at the end of the following century but it is not known for certain what happened in the meantime. One account says that the original three were still there and were broken up to provide metal for the new ring of five, but it is also possible that they were removed and sold much earlier, as happened frequently at the time of the Reformation. The five new bells were cast by Charles Newman, the tenor in 1703, probably at Horstead, and the others in 1697, probably at Blakeney. It seems likely that five bells were cast in 1697 and that the tenor was recast six years later as a result of cracking or being faulty in some other way. This was quite a common occurrence, particularly with larger bells, which are difficult to cast. Most surviving Charles Newman bells exist as singles and a complete set of five is rare, so we are fortunate to have these.