HISTORY OF EAST GRINSTEAD.
distance round the town, and the cloud of dust raised by it was beyond description, insomuch that the spectators could not distinguish an object a foot distant from them. Five of the bells lay on the top of the rubbish, only covered by the lead of the roof, but the fourth bell was buried some distance, and has since been dug out, and they are whole to appearance, but whether any of them are cracked cannot be determined till they are hung up to give their sound.
John Bridgland and Avis Austen, the grandparents of Mr. R. Bridgland, who now lives in the East Grinstead Timber Yard, were married in the church in the morning before the tower fell.
" Nov. 12th, 1785. The steeple of East Grinstead church this day suddenly gave way and falling upon the body of the church utterly demolished it." Thus was this sad misfortune described in a petition presented to Parliament on March 4th, 1790, by the owners and parishioners of East Grinstead. They stated that since the tower fell there had been no religious services, and though they had exerted their utmost endeavours they could not raise money sufficient, by voluntary means, to re-build the church. They begged Parliament to pass a Bill enabling them to make a rate for the purpose. The House acted very expeditiously. Parliament referred the matter to a Committee, who had Mr. Gibbs Crawfurd, of Saint Hill, before them, and on his evidence they found the allegations proved, and recommended that a Bill should be brought in. This was done on March 12th and by the 29th it had been read a second time and sent to another Committee. Several amendments were made in it and it finally passed the Commons on April 26th and the Lords on May 18th, the Royal Assent being given on June 9th.
The secret of this expedition possibly lay in the fact that Mr. Abbot was then Speaker of the House of Commons. He resided at Kidbrooke and took a deep interest in the matter. He declared, " I will have a tower I can see and a bell I can hear at Kidbrooke," and in complying with his wishes it was said that the last 20 feet of the tower cost as much as all the rest put together. By the measure referred to it was enacted that it should be lawful for the trustees or any five of them to cause