Death knell?

THE origins of many urban legends are lost in time, but a few WA yarns can be traced back to travelling storyteller Glenn B Swift.

Travelling from town to town, conjuring yarns based on the area’s history, the modern day bard has been telling tall stories, often for school kids, for more than 30 years.

He’s been asked many times by teachers and librarians over the years “Where can we read some of your stories?”, so he decided to finally release his debut book, The Ghost in the Belltower.

The tale of a tragic figure named “Noisy Jack” who haunts the tower, is a mix of history and Swift’s imagination.

And there’s a rich past to plunder: 12 of the 18 bells are from the London church, St Martin’s-in-the-Field, and date back to at least the 1300s.

• Professional storyteller Glenn B Swift gets a surprise visit during a photoshoot at the Bell Tower. Photo by Steve Grant

They were recast at the order of Queen Elizabeth I in the 1500s and eventually shipped to WA in the 1980s.

Characters Zachariah Pearce, the first incumbent priest of St Martin’s, and poor John Saucer, who would eventually haunt the bells as “Noisy Jack”, are inspired by real-life figures from the 1700s.

Mr Swift found their names inscribed on the bell and let his imagination run riot.

He says he hopes that “long after I’m dead people will be telling the story”, just like any good campfire tale.

While the story gets a touch grisly, Mr Swift says it’s suitable for kids from age 10.

The book’s available at, or at a bunch of bookshops around town, including Oxford Street Books, Paper Bird, Elizabeth’s, New Edition, and Saga Bookshop in Fremantle.


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