Virtual Tour

of St John's Tower

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Welcome to St. John's Tower! We hope you enjoy our short virtual tour.

We are just a few minutes walk down Church Lane from Leytonstone Underground Station (Central Line) and a few hundred yards down Leytonstone High Road from the Green Man Roundabout. You can normally park in the church car park in the front of the churchyard.

You approach the tower from the church car park by climbing the steps to the front door of the church, at the base of the tower. If the door is locked on practice nights just rattle the door loudly and someone will come down to greet you.

Just inside the porch, in the right-hand corner, is a door opening onto the spiral staircase ...

An old bell rope serves as a bannister. Don't worry if you are not very fit. The stairs are in reasonable condition and it isn't very far up to the belfry, or ringing chamber. There is also a curious mirror placed on the stairs. I've no idea why it's there.

Somebody had left some old tat on the bottom step when I was photographing for this page. I didn't notice until too late - but managed to air-brush it out ...

The rather "gothic horror" view of the entrance to St John's tower staircase

The belfry, or ringing chamber, is a comfortable room just over the porch. This picture on the left shows the view from the staircase through the doorway. The door in the background leads out onto the gallery at the back of the church. It is mainly used for storage now - including our collection of hard hats. We may ask you to wear one if you want to venture further up the tower.

Photo of our ringing chamber at St Johns

A labelled diagram of a bell

If you would like to know how English church bells work, some kind soul may show you the principle on our working model. It isn't quite as elaborate as in the illustration on the right, but it is a very effective model.

If you are feeling energetic we will take you up, past the clock chamber, to the bell chamber and up to the battlements.

Postcard of the two Gillett and Johnson bells

The postcard above shows how our treble and no. 2 looked when they left the manufacturers back in the 1930s.

The picture on the right shows the view of the bells from the doorway.

OK - So they didn't always look as dirty as they do now! But they still make a lovely sound.

They are quite nice to ring too.

View of No. 3 Bell at St John's
If you carry on up the staircase for a few more revolutions you reach the top of the tower. Hold on tight to the parapet if, like me, you suffer from vertigo. But do admire the view before you descend. We'll point out sights visible from the top. There are views of our local bit of Epping Forest and you should be able to see Canary Wharf and the Millennium Dome.
On a fine day it is possible to see the dome of St Paul's cathedral on the far horizon. In this photo it is just visible - to the left of the skyscraper which is itself to the left of the three skyscrapers.

St John's and St Paul's are aligned on the solsticial line. From here the midwinter sun sets behind St. Paul's - and, seen from St Paul's, the sun rises behind St John's on St John's Day - Old Midsummer Day!!

Photo of view from top

Please mind your head on the way down again - you are more likely to bang it on the low ceilings going down than coming up.

We hope you enjoyed this short virtual tour of our tower and that you will come on a real visit some time.

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This page last updated 2/2/1999.