Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches

History and Architecture


The original meaning of belfry was a moveable tower, of the sort used by armed forces besieging a castle. By the medieval period the term had come to mean a watch tower, or tower used to house an alarm bell. The term gradually came to be used for a church tower, and then specifically that upper part of the tower where church bells hang. It is still sometimes used to refer to the entire bell tower, but more often to the bell chamber within the tower. From the exterior, the location of this chamber can be determined by the location of louvered window openings which allow the sound of the ringing bells to carry over the surrounding area.

Related: Bell Tower  

Attraction search

English Heritage

English Heritage membership

English Heritage membership

Free entry to English Heritage properties throughout England, plus discounted admission to Historic Scotand and Cadw properties in Scotland and Wales

Membership details

About English Heritage

Name the mystery historic attraction
See larger image

This ransom was first paid during the reign of Aethelred the Unready to prevent Danish attack

21 March, 1282

Dafydd ap Gruffudd launches revolt

Dafydd is reluctantly joined by his brother Llewelyn. The rebellion signalled Edward I's second invasion of north Wales

This king confronted Wat Tyler during the Peasant's Revolt of 1381

Passionate about British Heritage!