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Title: Church Bells
Author: Walters, H. B.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Church Bells" ***

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    +--------------------------------------------------------------+
    | Transcriber’s Notes                                          |
    |                                                              |
    | Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_. Passages     |
    | in bold are indicated by $bold$. Passages in blackletter     |
    | are indicated by ~blackletter~. Passages in small caps are   |
    | shown in uppercase without explicit indication.              |
    |                                                              |
    +--------------------------------------------------------------+



                                ~The
                         Arts of the Church~

                            EDITED BY THE

                       REV. PERCY DEARMER, M.A.



    +--------------------------------------------------------------+
    |                   ~The Arts of the Church~                   |
    |                                                              |
    |                        Edited by the                         |
    |                   REV. PERCY DEARMER, M.A.                   |
    |                                                              |
    | 16mo. Profusely Illustrated. Cloth, 1/6 net.                 |
    |                                                              |
    | 1. $THE ORNAMENTS OF THE MINISTERS.$ By the Rev. PERCY       |
    |     DEARMER, M.A.                                            |
    |                                                              |
    | 2. $CHURCH BELLS.$ By H. B. WALTERS, M.A., F.S.A.            |
    |                                                              |
    | 3. $THE ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.$      |
    |     By A. G. HILL, M.A., F.S.A.                              |
    |                                                              |
    |                     _OTHERS TO FOLLOW_                       |
    |                                                              |
    +--------------------------------------------------------------+


[Illustration:                                           _Frontispiece._

KING DAVID PLAYING ON HAND-BELLS.

From a manuscript Psalter in the British Museum. This subject was often
selected for the heading to the forty-sixth Psalm, as here. (See page
6).]



                        The Arts of the Church

                             CHURCH BELLS

                                  BY
                      H. B. WALTERS, M.A., F.S.A.
                      Author of _Greek Art_, &c.

                   _WITH THIRTY-NINE ILLUSTRATIONS_

                       A. R. MOWBRAY & CO. LTD.
          LONDON: 34 Great Castle Street, Oxford Circus, W.
                        OXFORD: 9 High Street


First printed, 1908



EDITOR’S NOTE


The little volumes in the ARTS OF THE CHURCH series are intended to
provide information in an interesting as well as an accurate form
about the various arts which have clustered round the public worship
of GOD in the Church of CHRIST. Though few have the opportunity of
knowing much about them, there are many who would like to possess the
main outlines about those arts whose productions are so familiar to
the Christian, and so dear. The authors will write for the average
intelligent man who has not had the time to study all these matters
for himself; and they will therefore avoid technicalities, while
endeavouring at the same time to present the facts with a fidelity
which will not, it is hoped, be unacceptable to the specialist.



AUTHOR’S NOTE


Acknowledgements must be expressed to the following persons who
have assisted in supplying photographs or other materials for the
illustrations to this book: to the Rev. W. H. Frere, Mr. A. Riley, and
the Committee of the Alcuin Club for permission to reproduce in plate 4
a page of a MS. Pontifical; to Dr. Amherst D. Tyssen and the Rev. Dr.
Jessopp for blocks; to W. Watson, Esq., of York, and Miss Wilson of
Idbury for photographs; to Messrs. Wills and Hepworth of Loughborough,
Messrs. Mears and Stainbank, and Messrs. Taylor and Co. of Loughborough
for blocks, negatives and photographs.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                 PAGE

  I.   EARLY HISTORY AND METHODS OF CASTING                  1

  II.  THE ENGLISH BELL-FOUNDERS                            21

  III. BIG BELLS; CARILLONS AND CHIMES; CAMPANILES          43

  IV.  CHANGE-RINGING                                       67

  V.   USES AND CUSTOMS OF BELLS                            81

  VI.  THE DECORATION OF BELLS AND THEIR INSCRIPTIONS      105

  VII. THE CARE OF BELLS                                   139

       INDEX                                               157



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                          PAGE

  KING DAVID PLAYING ON HAND-BELLS              _Frontispiece_

  SAXON TOWER, EARL’S BARTON                                 3

  A PERFORMER ON HAND-BELLS                                  7

  TOWER OR TURRET WITH BELLS                                11

  BLESSING TWO BELLS NEWLY HUNG                             15

  LATE NORMAN BELL-TURRET AT WYRE                           19

  INNER MOULDS FOR CASTING BELLS                            23

  OUTER MOULDS FOR CASTING BELLS                            27

  MOULDS READY FOR CASTING                                  31

  FORMING THE MOULD                                         35

  RUNNING THE MOLTEN METAL                                  39

  THE MORTAR OF FRIAR TOWTHORPE                             42

  BELL BY AN EARLY FOURTEENTH-CENTURY FOUNDER               47

  BLESSING THE DONOR OF THE BELL                            51

  STAMPS USED BY LONDON FOUNDERS                            54

  BELL BY ROBERT MOT OF LONDON                              59

  A RING OF EIGHT BELLS                                     63

  THE 9TH BELL OF LOUGHBOROUGH CHURCH                       66

  TENOR BELL OF EXETER CATHEDRAL                            73

  “GREAT JOHN OF BEVERLEY”                                  77

  THE GREAT BELL OF TONG                                    83

  “GREAT PAUL”                                              87

  THE OLD “GREAT TOM” OF WESTMINSTER                        91

  THE BELFRY OF BRUGES                                      94

  THE CAMPANILE, CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL                       99

  THE OLD CAMPANILE OF KING’S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE           102

  THE “BELL HOUSE” AT EAST BERGHOLT                        107

  DIAGRAM SHOWING METHOD OF HANGING A BELL                 110

  PEAL OF EIGHT BELLS, ABERAVON CHURCH                     113

  RINGERS AT S. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL                           119

  RINGING THE SACRING BELL                                 123

  SACRING BELL HUNG ON ROOD-SCREEN                         126

  ANCIENT SANCTUS BELL                                     129

  TOWER OF WALTHAM ABBEY CHURCH                            133

  SYMBOLS OF THE FOUR EVANGELISTS                          137

  BELL BY JOHN TONNE                                       141

  GOTHIC INITIAL LETTERS, ETC.                             145

     „      „       „                                      149

  PART OF A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY BELL                       153



~The Arts of the Church~

CHURCH BELLS

[Illustration]



CHAPTER I

_Early History and Methods of Casting._


The origin of the bell as an instrument of music is, one may almost
say, lost in antiquity. Its use is, moreover, widely spread over the
whole world. But I do not propose to enlarge on its early history
here, or on its employment by all nations, Christian or heathen. Space
will not permit me to do more than trace its history and uses in the
Christian Church, and more particularly in the Church of England.

The word “bell” is said to be connected with “bellow” and “bleat” and
to refer to its sound; the later Latin writers call it, among other
names, _campana_, a word with which we are familiar, not only as
frequently occurring in old bell inscriptions, but as forming part of
the word “Campanalogy,” or the science of bell-ringing. The French and
Germans, again, call it _cloche_ and _glocke_ respectively, the words
being the same as our “clock”; but that is a later use, and they really
mean “cloak,” with reference to the shape of the bell, or rather of
the mould in which it is cast. Modern bell-founders, it is interesting
to note, speak of the mould as the _cope_, which again suggests a
connection with the form of a garment.

It is not known exactly when bells were introduced into the Christian
Church; but it is certain that large bells of the form with which
we are familiar were not invented until after some centuries of
Christianity. The small and often clandestine congregations of the ages
of persecution needed no audible signal to call them together; but
with the advent of peaceful times, and the growth of the congregations,
some method of summons doubtless came to be considered necessary.
Their invention is sometimes ascribed to Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, in
Italy, about A.D. 400; sometimes to Pope Sabinianus (A.D. 604), the
successor of Gregory the Great. At all events, from the beginning of
the seventh century notices of bells of some size become frequent. The
Venerable Bede in 680 brought a bell from Italy to place in his Abbey
at Wearmouth, and mentions one as being then used at Whitby Abbey.
About 750, we read that Egbert, Archbishop of York, ordered the priests
to toll bells at the appointed hours. Ingulphus, the chronicler of
Croyland Abbey, mentions that a peal of seven bells was put up there in
the tenth century, and that there was not such a harmonious peal in the
whole of England; which implies that rings of bells were then common.
If any doubt on the matter still remained, it would be dispelled by
the existence to this day of some hundred church towers dating from the
Saxon period, and evidently, by their size and construction, intended
to hold rings of bells (Plate 1).

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 1._

  _Photo by_]                              [_C. Law._

SAXON TOWER, EARL’S BARTON, NORTHANTS.

A tower built in the first half of the eleventh century and intended to
contain bells. (See page 5.)]

I speak of “rings of bells”--and that is a more correct term than
“peal,” which refers to the sound they make--but it must be remembered
that in those days bells were not rung as in modern times. At best they
were “chimed,” i.e., sounded without being rung up; but change-ringing,
which implies the full swinging round of the bell through a complete
circle, so that the clapper strikes twice in each revolution, was only
introduced in the seventeenth century, and moreover has always been
peculiar to this country.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 2._

A PERFORMER ON HAND-BELLS.

From a MS. Missal in the British Museum.

(See page 5.)]

Several ancient manuscripts have pictures which throw light on the
use of bells in early times, as, for instance, one which depicts a
performer on a row of small “hand-bells” suspended from an arch, which
he strikes with a hammer (Plate 2). Another portrays King David engaged
in a similar act (Frontispiece); and others give representations of
church towers or turrets with bells hanging in them, apparently without
wheels or ringing arrangements (Plate 3). In the Bayeux tapestry
there is a representation of the funeral of Edward the Confessor, in
which the corpse is accompanied by two boys, each ringing a pair of
hand-bells.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 3._

FROM A MANUSCRIPT IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM.

Two bells hung in a church tower or turret; the method of hanging not
shown. (See page 6.)]

Ancient bells were invariably dedicated with elaborate ceremonies, and
were baptized with the name of the saint or other person after whom
they were named (Plate 4). The bells at Croyland, just mentioned, were
named Pega, Bega, Turketyl, Tatwin, Bartholomew, Betelin, and Guthlac.
There is, however, much disputing as to the exact ceremonies employed,
some authorities maintaining that bells were neither baptized nor even
“washed,” but merely blessed and consecrated, so as to be set apart
from all secular uses.

In the Norman and early Plantagenet period the use of bells must
have been generally recognized. In London we hear of one Alwoldus,
a _campanarius_ (1150), which can only mean “bell-founder.” And as
early as the reign of Richard I the Guild of Saddlers were granted the
privilege of ringing the bells of the Priory of S. Martin-le-Grand on
the occasion of their bi-weekly masses in the church. The priory was
also entitled to claim the sum of 8_d._ for ringing at the funeral of
deceased members of the Guild. Some of the bell-cotes of our smaller
parish churches, as at Northborough in Northants and Manton, Rutland,
appear to date from the Norman period (Plate 5). In the twelfth century
Prior Conrad gave five large bells to Canterbury Cathedral, and in 1050
there were seven at Exeter; to ring the former no less than sixty-three
men were required!

But these are all mere historical records, and it may be of more
interest to know whether any bells of this remote date still exist
in England. With one or two exceptions, bells did not begin to bear
inscriptions until the fourteenth century, and even then we do not
find dates upon them. The only early-dated bells in England are at
Claughton, in Lancashire (1296), and Cold Ashby, Northants (1317).
There are, however, here and there bells of a peculiar shape which it
is possible to assign to a period previous to the fourteenth century.
They are long and cylindrical in form, with hemispherical or square
heads, and usually very unpleasing in tone, as the straight sides check
vibration. One such bell, formerly in Worcester Cathedral, and now in
the possession of Lord Amherst of Hackney, must belong to the ring put
up by Bishop Blois in 1220 in honour of our LORD and His Mother. Even
more remarkable is a bell at Caversfield in Oxfordshire, dedicated “in
honour of S. Lawrence,” a long inscription on the edge showing that it
was given by Hugh Gargate, Lord of the Manor in the reign of King John
(about 1210), and Sybilla his wife. Such an inscription is very rare
at this early date; and it is interesting to note that it is in plain
Roman or Saxon capital letters, whereas all the later inscribed bells
have what are known as Gothic or Lombardic letters, which came in about
the end of the thirteenth century. Most counties possess examples of
these long, narrow bells; they are specially common in Shropshire and
Northumberland.

       *       *       *       *       *

The earliest bells were probably not cast, but made of metal plates
riveted together, like the modern cow-bell. Not a few bells of this
kind have been unearthed at different times, but they are all mere
hand-bells of very remote date, i.e., before the Norman Conquest, and
the process of casting must have been introduced in very early times
into England.

Bell-metal is a compound of copper and tin, in varying proportions, but
usually three to four parts of copper to one part of tin. The former
metal adds strength and tenacity to the bell, the latter brings out
its tone. The popular superstition that silver improves the tone of
bells is not only entirely baseless, but in point of fact it has just
the opposite effect! The numerous stories which are current, of silver
being thrown into bells at their casting, of which Great Tom of Lincoln
is an example, must therefore be discredited. In recent years steel
bells have been made by one English firm, but they are only one degree
less objectionable than the tubes of metal which are sometimes also
dignified by the name.

The process of casting a bell, as employed both by ancient and modern
founders, may be described somewhat as follows:--The first business is
the construction of the core, a hollow cone of brick somewhat smaller
than the inner diameter of the intended bell, over which is plastered a
specially-prepared mixture of clay, bringing it up to the exact size
and shape of the interior of the bell. This was usually modelled with
the aid of a wooden “crook,” something like a pair of compasses; but
is now done with an iron framework called a “sweep,” which revolves on
a pivot and moulds the core by means of metal blades. This clay mould
is then baked hard by means of a fire lighted within it. The next
stage was the construction of the cope or outer casing of the mould,
which used to be also made in hard clay, its inner surface following
the _outer_ shape and dimensions of the bell. The “thickness” of the
bell itself, i.e., the part to be occupied by the molten metal, was
formed in a friable composition which was laid over the core and then
destroyed. In modern times the “thickness” has been dispensed with,
the cope being formed by lining a casing of cast iron with clay shaped
to the external form and dimensions of the bell. The mould is now
complete, except for providing for the cannons or metal loops which
attach the bell to the stock, and the loop to which the clapper is
suspended inside. Every care having been taken to adjust the respective
positions of the cope and core with exactness, the molten metal is
then poured in through an opening, and left to cool, after which the
bell comes out complete. The process is analogous to that known as
_cire perdu_, employed by sculptors for the casting of bronze statues.
Illustrations of the moulding processes are given in Plates 6-10.

Inscriptions and ornaments are produced in relief on the bell from
stamps, also in relief, which are pressed into the mould, making a
hollow impression in it. Copies of coins were often produced in this
way by the older founders. Down to about the end of the seventeenth
century each letter, or sometimes each word, was placed on a separate
_patera_ or tablet of metal. The usual place for the inscription is
just below the “shoulder”-angle; but modern founders prefer the middle
or “waist.”

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 4._

THE BLESSING OF TWO BELLS NEWLY HUNG IN A CHURCH TOWER.

From a MS. Pontifical of the fifteenth century. (See page 6.)]

A very interesting illustration of these processes is given in the
famous bell-founder’s window in the north aisle of York Minster, dating
from the fourteenth century, part of which is here reproduced. The
window is divided into three lights, each having five compartments, and
in each light is a large principal subject surrounded by ornamentation
in the form of bells, grotesque animals, and other devices, with two
rows of bells hanging in trefoil-headed arches above. In the central
compartment of the middle light (Plate 13) the subject is the blessing
by an archbishop of the bell-founder, who kneels in a supplicating
attitude; in his hands is a scroll inscribed with his name, RICHARD
TUNNOC, and under the canopy above the group a bell is suspended.

The other two lights have as their main subjects scenes from the actual
processes of bell-founding. In the left-hand light (Plate 9) we have
the forming of the inner mould or “core,” as already described. One
figure is turning it with a handle like that of a grindstone, while
another moulds the clay to its proper form with a long crooked tool.
The core rests on two trestles, between the legs of which two completed
bells are seen; above are a bell and a scroll with the founder’s
name. In the right-hand window (Plate 10) are three figures engaged
in running the molten metal, which is coloured red. The metal is kept
heated in the furnace by means of bellows, worked by two boys, while
the chief workman watches the molten stream running into the mould.

The next process, in the case of a “ring” of bells, is the tuning which
is generally necessary, though sometimes the founder is fortunate
enough to turn out what is known as a “maiden peal.” Formerly this was
done by chipping the inside of the bell or cutting away the edge of the
lip. But it is now more effectively accomplished by a vertical lathe,
driven by steam. The modern bell-founder can attain to much greater
exactness in this respect, because it is now recognized that there is a
regular ratio between the weight of a bell and its diameter, and that a
certain size or weight implies a certain musical note. Thus for a ring
of eight in the key of F, the weight of the tenor would be 14 cwt., and
its diameter at the mouth reckoned at 42 inches, the treble 5 cwt., and
its diameter 29 inches.

The frames are made separately, and the bells hung on them in the tower
with their headstocks already attached[1]; until recently all these
fittings were made of wood, and iron or brass were only used for the
smaller parts, but it is now the custom of some founders to employ
iron frames, and even iron stocks, which may be an improvement in
lightness and stability, or for ringing purposes, but are hardly so in
appearance.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 5._

  _Photo by_]                  [_J. Glover, Pershore._

LATE NORMAN BELL-TURRET (ABOUT 1180) AT WYRE CHURCH, WORCESTERSHIRE.

There are openings for two bells, but only one is now used. (See page
8.)]



CHAPTER II

_The English Bell-founders_


In early mediaeval times it is probable that bell-founding was largely
the work of the monastic orders. It was regarded rather as a fine
art than a trade, and ecclesiastics seem to have vied in producing
the most ingenious and recondite Latin rhyming verses to adorn their
bells. S. Dunstan, whose skill as a smith is familiar to all, is
known to have been instrumental in hanging, if not in casting bells;
and at Canterbury he gave careful directions for their correct use.
S. Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester 963-984, cast bells for Abingdon
Abbey. In the museum at York there is a mortar of bell-metal cast by
Friar William de Towthorpe, with the date 1308 (Plate 11); but this
belongs to later times, when a class of professional founders had
sprung up, and is therefore exceptional. We read, however, of Sir
William Corvehill, a monk of Wenlock Priory, who died shortly after its
dissolution, in 1546, that he “could make organs, clocks, and chimes,”
and was “a good bell-founder and maker of the frames for bells.” It has
not been possible to trace his work in any existing bells.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 6._

INNER MOULDS OR CORES FOR CASTING A RING OF EIGHT BELLS.

(See page 14.)]

From time to time, however, we hear of professional bell-founders, as
they may be termed, and even in the thirteenth century foundries appear
to have been started in London, Bristol, Gloucester, and York. The
London “belleyeteres,” as they are called, early attained a position of
importance. Many of them are mentioned in contemporary records of the
fourteenth century; of others we have the existing wills, which enable
us to trace the succession from one generation to another; and again
the names of several occur on bells of this period, contrary to the
usual mediaeval practice. In the days when work for the Church was a
labour of love, less importance was attached to self-advertisement;
though the student of the past may regret this in some measure if it
deprives him of information he wishes to acquire.

The first London founders of note were a family of the name of Wymbish,
residing in Aldgate, which was always the bell-founders’ quarter, as
the still existing name of Billiter (or Belleyetere) Street implies.
There were three Wymbishes--Richard, Michael, and Walter--covering
the period 1290-1310. Richard cast bells for the neighbouring Priory
of the Holy Trinity, and has left his name at Goring, in Oxfordshire,
and on other bells in Essex, Kent, Northants, and Suffolk; Michael
cast five bells still remaining in Bucks; and Walter, one in Sussex.
Other important founders of this century are Peter de Weston, William
Revel, and William Burford.[2] John and William Rufford, who may have
had their foundry at Bedford, were known as “Royal bell-founders,” and
placed upon their bells the heads of the reigning King, Edward III, and
his consort, Philippa. These stamps have a very curious history; and
were successively the property of founders at King’s Lynn, Worcester,
Leicester, and Nottingham. At the latter place they remained in use
from about 1400 down to the end of the eighteenth century; and their
last appearance is in 1806, on a bell at Waltham Abbey, cast by Briant
of Hertford.

Between 1370 and 1385 there was a founder in Kent whose name was
Stephen Norton; he used very richly-ornamented letters, which may be
seen on one of the old bells of Worcester Cathedral, cast by him when
the tower was rebuilt. The other principal foundries of this century
were at King’s Lynn, Gloucester, and York.

The Gloucester foundry was successively in the hands of “Sandre of
Gloucester” (1300-1320) and “Master John of Gloucester” (1340-1350).
The latter’s reputation apparently extended to East Anglia, as in 1347
he was commissioned to cast six new bells for the Cathedral at Ely,
which were conveyed thither from Northampton by way of the Nene and
Ouse. The largest bell, called “IESVS,” weighed nearly two tons, and
the fourth was named “Walsingham,” after the famous Prior Alan who
constructed the central octagon of the cathedral.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 7._

OUTER MOULDS OR COPES FOR CASTING A RING OF EIGHT BELLS.

(See page 14.)]

Of the York founders, the most famous is Richard Tunnoc, commemorated
in the remarkable “Bell-founder’s window” already described (Plate 13).
He was M.P. for the city in 1327, and died in 1330. The names of other
known founders of this city extend from Johannes de Copgrave, in 1150,
down to the time of the Reformation. A bell at Scawton, in the North
Riding, has been thought to be the work of Copgrave, and, if so, is
by far the earliest existing church bell in England, if not in Europe.

In the fifteenth century (with which we may include the whole period
down to the Reformation) the bell-foundries increase not only in
importance but in numbers; and those already mentioned find rivals
springing up at Reading and Wokingham, Exeter, Bristol, Leicester,
Norwich, Nottingham, Bury St. Edmunds, Salisbury, and Worcester. The
character of the inscriptions now changes, and in most cases (though
not invariably) we find “black-letter smalls,” with initial capitals,
substituted for the old Gothic capitals used throughout. There is
also a great increase in the number and variety of the crosses and
other ornamental devices used by the founders, and many introduce
foundry-shields or trade-marks, with quasi-heraldic or punning devices.

The London foundries, however, still maintain their place at the
head of the craft, and their bells are found all over England from
Northumberland to Cornwall. Two founders of the fifteenth century,
Henry Jordan and John Danyell, whose date is about 1450-1470, cast
between them about two hundred bells still existing. These are adorned
with some beautiful and ingenious devices, such as an elegant cross
surrounded by the words ~ihu merci ladi help~ (Plate 14) and the Royal
Arms surmounted by a crown. Jordan’s foundry-shield bears, among other
devices, a bell and a laver-pot as symbolical of his trade, and a
dolphin with reference to his membership of the Fishmongers’ Company.
Another remarkable device (Plate 14) is that used by William Culverden
(1510-1523), with a rebus on his name (_culver_ = “pigeon”). Thomas
Bullisdon is remarkable as having cast a ring of five bells for the
Priory of S. Bartholomew in Smithfield about 1510, all of which still
exist there.

To tell of the works of Roger Landen of Wokingham, Robert Hendley of
Gloucester, John of Stafford (a Leicester founder), Robert Norton
of Exeter, or the Brasyers of Norwich, would require a volume. I can
only note some interesting features of their work. The Brasyers seem
to have been the most successful workers outside London, and no less
than one hundred and fifty of their bells still exist in Norfolk.
Their trade-mark was a shield with three bells and a crown, which
after the Reformation went to the Leicester foundry, and some of their
inscriptions, in rhyming hexameters, are very beautiful. A Bristol
founder of about 1450 used for his mark a ship, the badge of his native
city. The Bury founders were also gun-makers, and place on their
trade-mark a bell and a cannon, with the crown and crossed arrows of S.
Edmund.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 8._

MOULDS READY FOR CASTING.

The inner and outer moulds clamped together; the molten metal is poured
in through an aperture at the top. (See page 14.)]

Very few bells of this period are dated; but we find examples at
Worcester, perhaps cast by the monks there, with the dates 1480 and
1482; and at Thirsk (1410), on a bell which is said to have come from
Fountains Abbey. There are also some bells in Lincolnshire, dated 1423
and 1431, by an unknown founder, but remarkable for the extraordinary
beauty of the lettering (Plate 36). Dated mediaeval bells are more
commonly from foreign sources, as at Baschurch, in Shropshire, where is
a Dutch bell by Jan van Venlo, dated 1447, which is said to have come
from Valle Crucis Abbey. At Whalley Abbey, in Lancashire, is a Belgian
bell of 1537, by Peter van den Ghein, and at Duncton, in Sussex, a
French bell dated 1369.

The period of the Reformation, down to about 1600, was, as has been
said, “a real bad time for bell-founders,” and several of the important
foundries, as at Bristol, Gloucester, and elsewhere, appear either to
have been closed for a time or died out altogether. The chief cause of
this was doubtless the dissolution of the monasteries, coupled with the
operations of Edward VI’s commissioners, large numbers of bells being
sold or converted into secular property. These were distributed among
the parish churches, and many instances may be traced of second-hand
bells still existing, as at Abberley, in Worcestershire, where there
is an ancient bell from a Yorkshire monastery. It should also be
remembered that very little church-building was done in the latter half
of the century. On the other hand, the statement which has gained some
currency, that the commissioners only left one bell in each parish
church, is not borne out by facts. Many churches still possess three
or even four mediaeval bells which must have hung untouched in their
towers before and since the reign of Edward VI.

But this lapse in bell-founding was not invariable; the foundries at
Leicester, Nottingham, Bury St. Edmunds, and Reading actually seem to
have received a new lease of life, and 1560-1600 is almost their most
flourishing period. This is especially the case at Leicester, where a
well-known family named Newcombe were at work, succeeded by an equally
celebrated founder named Hugh Watts, whose fine bells were deservedly
famous. At Nottingham we have the dynasty of the Oldfields, lasting
from 1550 to 1710; and at Reading a series of founders of different
names, ending in a succession of Knights down to 1700. The Hatches of
Ulcombe, in Kent, were another prosperous family, as were the Eldridges
of Chertsey.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 9._

FORMING THE MOULD.

Part of the Bell Founder’s Window in York Minster.

(See page 16.)]

At Bury St. Edmunds, one Stephen Tonne reigned from 1560 to 1580.
His foundry was, however, destined to yield to the sway of that at
Colchester, which begins with Richard Bowler about 1590, and reached
its culmination between 1620 and 1640, under the great Miles Graye, who
has been called “the prince of bell-founders.” Numbers of his bells
remain in Essex and Suffolk, his masterpiece being, by common consent
of ringers, the tenor at Lavenham, in Suffolk. At Colchester, as in
other foundries, the seven years of storm and stress--1642-1649--while
the Civil War between Charles I and the Parliament raged in England,
practically put an end to bell-founding. Siege and other troubles
certainly hastened the end of old Miles Graye, who died in 1649, worn
out by privation and bodily suffering. His grandson Miles kept on the
foundry until 1686.

Turning to the West of England, we find the foundries at Bristol,
Gloucester, Worcester, and Salisbury still in a flourishing condition.
At Bristol George Purdue, a native of Taunton, was followed by Roger
and William Purdue in the seventeenth century; the latter migrated to
Salisbury about 1655, where he carried on the work of John Wallis and
John Danton. Thomas Purdue, the last of the family, died at Closworth,
in Somerset, in 1711, and on his tombstone are the words--

    “HERE LIES A BELLFOUNDER, HONEST AND TRUE,
     UNTIL THE RESURRECTION, NAMED PURDUE.”

In the West of England their place was filled by the Penningtons
of Exeter, the Evanses of Chepstow, and the Bilbies of Chew-Stoke,
Somerset. The Keenes of Bedford and Woodstock, John Palmer of
Gloucester, and John Martin of Worcester, all did good work in their
day, as did the Cliburys of Wellington, in Shropshire. Another
important Midland firm was that of the Bagleys, of Chacomb, in
Northamptonshire, whose foundry was opened in 1631, and flourished
till the end of the eighteenth century; though in the latter period
its owners became restless, and settled temporarily in London, Witney,
and other places. In the North, York was again the chief bell-founding
centre, and Samuel Smith and the Sellers were famous exponents of the
art; in the East of England we have, besides Miles Graye, first the
Brends of Norwich, then John Darbie of Ipswich, and Thomas Gardiner of
Sudbury.

Several founders between 1560 and 1700 were mere journeymen, who went
about from place to place, doing jobs where they could. Of such was
Michael Darbie, of whom it is said, “one specimen of his casting seems
to have been enough for a neighbourhood.” At Blewbury, in Berkshire, a
local man attempted to recast a bell in 1825. He failed twice, but was
then successful, and placed on his work the appropriate motto, _Nil
desperandum_. Apart from this, it was not at all uncommon for bells to
be cast on the spot, as were Great Tom of Lincoln and the great bell of
Canterbury, or at some convenient intermediate place.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 10._

RUNNING THE MOLTEN METAL.

Part of the Bell Founder’s Window in York Minster.

(See pages 16, 17.)]

In 1684 a fresh start was given to the Gloucester foundry, then fallen
on bad days, by Abraham Rudhall, perhaps the most successful founder
England has known. He and his descendants cast altogether 4,521 bells
down to 1830, and their fame spread all over the West of England, from
Cornwall to Lancashire, and even over the seas. Most of the big rings
of bells in the West Midlands are their work. The foundry finally
came to an end in 1835, when the business was bought up by Mears of
London.

In London itself bell-founding seems to have come almost to an end
between 1530 and 1570. But about the latter year arose one Robert
Mot, who set on foot what is now the oldest-established business of
any kind in England. The foundry in the Whitechapel Road, now only
a short distance removed from its original home, has always upheld
its reputation throughout the three hundred years and more during
which it has been continuously worked. Several of Mot’s bells still
remain in London, and many others in Kent and Essex (Plate 15). In
the seventeenth century the foundry was in the hands of Anthony and
James Bartlet, who cast many bells for Wren’s churches after the Great
Fire. In the eighteenth, under Phelps, Lester, Pack, and Chapman,
successively, its reputation gradually increased, and in 1783 began a
dynasty of Mearses lasting down to 1870. The name is still preserved
by the firm of Mears and Stainbank, though neither a Mears nor a
Stainbank now owns a share in the business. An illustration of their
bells is given in Plate 16.

Their great rivals of modern times, the Taylors of Loughborough, cannot
emulate them in antiquity, though they can still boast a respectable
pedigree, dating from Thomas Eayre of Kettering, in 1731. After moving
to S. Neots, Leicester, and Oxford, the firm finally settled, about
1840, under John Taylor, at Loughborough, where his grandsons now carry
on the business. Illustrations of their bells are given in Plates
17-21.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 11._

THE MORTAR OF FRIAR TOWTHORPE.

(See page 21.)]



CHAPTER III

_Big Bells; Carillons and Chimes; Campaniles_


Bells of exceptional size, styled in Latin _Signa_, are no new
invention of the founder’s art. It speaks much for the skill of the
mediaeval craftsman that he should have been able to cast giant bells
which not only rivalled the _chefs-d’oeuvre_ of our own day, but, as
objects of beauty, certainly surpassed them.

In the twelfth century a “tenor” was added by Prior Wybert to Prior
Conrad’s great ring of five at Canterbury Cathedral, which bell, it is
said, took thirty-two men to ring it. (This was achieved by placing
them on a plank fastened to a stock, by which means it was set in
motion.) It was, however, surpassed by another cast in 1316, in memory
of S. Thomas of Canterbury. This weighed over 3½ tons, but was broken
in the fall of the campanile, 1382, and was replaced in 1459 by a
slightly heavier bell, cast in London, and dedicated in honour of S.
Dunstan. Its successor, a re-casting by Lester and Pack of London, in
1762, stills hangs in the south-west tower, and is used for the clock
and for tolling.

The cathedral of Exeter was furnished with two bells which deserve
the title of great; but one, the tenor of the old ring of seven, does
not strictly come within the limits of this chapter, which deals with
single bells. All these old bells had names, some derived from their
donors, and the tenor was called Grandison, from the bishop by whom
it was given about 1360. Its successor, cast in 1902, by Taylor of
Loughborough, weighs about 3 tons (Plate 18). The other, Great Peter
of Exeter, hangs in the north tower, and was the gift of Bishop Peter
(Courtenay) in 1484. It has been twice re-cast, and the present bell is
the work of the Thomas Purdue mentioned in the previous chapter, dated
1676. The founder attempted to preserve the old mediaeval inscription,

    ~Plebs patriæ plaudit dum petrum plenius audit~

    “The people of the country applaud when they hear Peter’s full
    sound,”

but only found room for the first five words. From the style of the
inscription we gather that it was originally cast at the Exeter
foundry. Its weight is given as 6¼ tons, but according to another
estimate is not more than four.

There is a rival “Great Peter” at Gloucester, and here the original
bell still survives, the only mediaeval _signum_ which we still
possess. It bears the inscription,

    ~Me fecit fieri conventus nomine petri~

    “The monastery had me made in Peter’s name,”

together with two shields, one charged with three bells, the other with
the arms of the abbey. It may have been cast by the monks, as it bears
no known foundry-stamps, but the expression “had me made” seems to
imply otherwise. Its weight is 2 tons 18 cwt. Yet another, but a modern
“Great Peter,” is that of York Minster, cast in 1845, and weighing 12½
tons. It is the second largest church bell in England.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 12._

BELL BY AN EARLY FOURTEENTH-CENTURY LONDON FOUNDER.

With inscription in Gothic capitals. (See page 24.)]

From “Great Peters” we pass to “Great Toms.” Of these there are two
famous examples, one at Lincoln Cathedral, the other at Christ Church,
Oxford. The Lincoln Tom, which hangs in the central tower of the
cathedral, does not appear in records before 1610, in which year it
was re-cast by Henry Oldfield of Nottingham, and Robert Newcombe of
Leicester. It was cast in the minster yard, and weighed 4 tons 8 cwt.
In course of time it was found to be too heavy for the tower, and was
“clocked,” or tied down, as a contemporary journalist describes it,
in 1802: “He has been chained and riveted down, so that instead of the
full mouthful he hath been used to send forth, he is enjoined in the
future merely to wag his tongue.” The result was inevitable, and in
1827 “he” was reported cracked, which led to his being re-cast by Mears
of Whitechapel in 1835.

Great Tom of Christ Church, which now hangs in the tower over the
gateway, originally came to the newly-founded “HOUSE OF CHRIST” from
the despoiled Abbey of Oseney. Six other bells were brought with it,
of which two still hang in the “meat-safe” belfry. Antony à Wood, the
Oxford chronicler, tells us that it bore the inscription:

    IN THOMAE LAVDE RESONO BIMBOM SINE FRAVDE

    “In the praise of Thomas I sound ‘Bimbom’ without guile.”

Thrice unsuccessfully recast between 1612 and 1680, it is in its
present form the work of Christopher Hodson, a London founder, who
placed upon it a long inscription beginning with the words, MAGNUS
THOMAS (“_Great Tom_”). Oxonians will remember the ringing of the bell
every night at nine o’clock.

Among other great bells of historical interest we may mention that
which hangs in the south tower of Beverley Minster. It survived from
mediaeval times until so recent a date as 1902, when it was re-cast by
Messrs. Taylor of Loughborough the weight being no less than 7 tons
(Plate 19). The old bell was probably cast at Leicester about 1350, and
bore some of the most beautiful lettering ever designed by mediaeval
craftsmen (Plate 36). Another of Messrs. Taylor’s great works is the
great bell of Tong, in Shropshire (Plate 20), originally given by Sir
Harry Vernon, in 1518, to be tolled “when any Vernon came to Tong.”
It was recast in 1720, and again in 1892, its present weight being 2½
tons. It was dedicated to SS. Mary and Bartholomew.

Another great mediaeval bell, only recently recast, deserves mention
here, though strictly speaking, the tenor of a ring, and not a
_signum_. This is the magnificent tenor at Brailes, in Warwickshire,
richly ornamented with shields, crowns, and other devices, cast by
John Bird of London, about 1420. It bore a beautiful inscription taken
from an old Ascension Day hymn. Greatly to the credit of the local
authorities, the inscription and ornaments were exactly reproduced
from the old cracked bell on its successor, an admirable piece of work
executed in 1877 by Messrs. Blews of Birmingham. The bell weighs about
2 tons.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 13._

BLESSING THE DONOR OF THE BELL.

Part of the Bell Founder’s Window in York Minster.

(See page 26.)]

Among great modern bells the hour-bell at Worcester Cathedral, cast
by Taylor in 1868, and weighing 4½ tons, deserves special mention,
as does a bell at Woburn, Bedfordshire, the work of Mears and
Stainbank of London, in 1867, weighing nearly 3 tons. The former bears
an inscription taken from Ephesians v. 14, and the letters used are
copied from those on the beautiful Lincolnshire fifteenth-century
bells mentioned in the previous chapter (p. 32). But the chief
masterpiece of recent founding is Messrs. Taylor’s “Great Paul” at
S. Paul’s Cathedral, which holds the reputation of the largest bell
in England (Plate 21). It has, however, a rival in the hour-bell of
the same cathedral, which has a more lengthy history. There was once
at Westminster a famous bell known as “Great Tom,” which hung in a
clock-tower opposite Westminster Town Hall, but was removed to S.
Paul’s at the end of the seventeenth century. This bell was famous for
its connection with the story told of a sentinel at Windsor Castle in
the reign of William III, who was accused of sleeping at his post. He
defended himself by stating that he had heard the Westminster bell
strike thirteen at midnight, and this brought about his acquittal.
Though the truth of the story has often been doubted, the striking
thirteen is, mechanically, quite possible. It is said that this bell
was originally given by Edward III in honour of the Confessor. On the
way to S. Paul’s it was cracked by a fall, and eventually it was recast
by Richard Phelps, of Whitechapel, in 1716 (Plate 22). It now hangs
in the south-west tower, and is used for striking the hour, and for
tolling at the death of various great personages. Its weight is 5 tons
4 cwt.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 14._

STAMPS USED BY LONDON FOUNDERS.

Ornamental Cross used by Henry Jordan of London (1460).

With the words “ihu merci ladi help” and trade mark of William
Culverden of London (1510-20), with the words “In d’no co’fido” and a
rebus on his name. (See pages 29, 106.)]

Great Paul is the masterpiece of Messrs. Taylor, “one of Loughborough’s
glories,” says Dr. Raven. It hangs in the same tower, below Phelps’
bell, and weighs 16 tons 14 cwt., the diameter at the mouth being 9½
feet. It was cast in 1881, and simply bears the founders’ trade-mark
and the words (said to have been selected by Canon Liddon) from 1
Corinthians ix. 16:

    VAE MIHI SI NON EVANGELISAVERO

    “Woe unto me if I preach not the Gospel.”

It is used for a few minutes before Sunday services, and at certain
other times.

A description of S. Paul’s bells is hardly complete without an allusion
to the great ring of twelve cast by Taylor in 1877, and placed in the
north-west tower, the tenor weighing over 3 tons. They were given by
the City Companies and the late Baroness Burdett-Coutts. In addition
there are a “service bell,” cast in 1700, and two quarter-bells of 1717
for the clock.

Among other great London bells are the ring of ten at the Imperial
Institute, cast by Taylor in 1887, and the tenors of the rings at
Southwark Cathedral, S. Mary-le-Bow, S. Michael, Cornhill, S. Giles,
Cripplegate, and other famous towers; those mentioned are all from
rings of twelve, and weigh 2 tons or more.

The old campanile at Westminster, built by Edward III, originally
contained three “great bells”; it was pulled down in 1698, and we have
followed the history of one of these bells, but the others disappeared.
They had no successor until 1856, when the late Lord Grimthorpe (then
Mr. Denison), an enthusiast for clocks and bells, designed a great bell
for the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. It was called “Big
Ben,” either after Sir Benjamin Hall, who was then First Commissioner
of Works, or after a noted boxer of the time named Benjamin Brain. Its
original founders were Messrs. Warner of London, but being sounded
in Palace Yard with a hammer, for the amusement of the public before
being hung, it was very soon cracked. In 1857 a new bell was cast by
George Mears of Whitechapel, from an improved design, and containing
less metal. Its weight is given at 13½ tons. Shortly after its casting
Big Ben gave way, but after being quarter-turned, could be once more
utilized for striking the hours. Its tone, however, is anything but
satisfactory, and one is forced to the opinion that these excessively
large bells, very difficult to cast and awkward to manipulate, are apt
to prove great mistakes.


CHIMES

Sets of chimes, or arrangements for playing tunes on bells, existed in
England even in mediaeval days; but they are nowadays regarded as a
speciality of Belgium, and the famous carillons of Antwerp, Bruges, and
Mechlin are well known to many a traveller. But it is not our province
to speak of these, and it may be of some interest to see what use has
been made of such arrangements in England.

Dr. Raven, in his fascinating book, _The Bells of England_, tells us
that the machinery of the carillon was a recognized thing in the
middle of the fifteenth century, and quotes from the will of John
Baret of Bury St. Edmunds, who died in 1463, and gave directions for
the playing of a _Requiem aeternum_ for his dirge at noon for thirty
days after his death, and on each “mind-day,” or anniversary, to be
continued during the octave. The sexton was also to “take heed to
the chimes and wind up the pegs and the plummets” as required. The
music of this _Requiem_, we are told, only compassed five notes, and
must have been somewhat wearisome to the good people of Bury. In old
churchwardens’ accounts, as at Ludlow or Warwick, we find frequent
references to the repair or upkeep of the chimes.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 15._

BELL BY ROBERT MOT OF LONDON (1575-1600),

The first owner of the Whitechapel Foundry, where it had been for some
years preserved, but is now broken up. (See page 40).]

The principle of the carillon is similar to that of a barrel-organ
or musical-box, implying a barrel or drum, set with pegs, and set in
motion by being connected with the mechanism of the clock. The pegs, as
they turn, raise levers which pull wires in connection with the hammers
which strike on the bells. With the ordinary eight bells of an
English belfry it is obvious that only a limited choice of tunes within
the compass of an octave is possible, and that they can only be played
in one key on single notes. The Belgian carillons have sometimes forty
or fifty bells in communication with a key-board like that of an organ,
and tunes can therefore be played on them in harmony. There are a few
carillons of this type in England, the best known being at Boston, in
Lincolnshire, and at Cattistock, in Dorset, but usually the ordinary
bells are employed, as at Worcester Cathedral and in many towns.

At the Reformation chimes largely died out, but with the Restoration
they revived, and we hear of them at Cambridge, Grantham, and
elsewhere. Another kind of chime which may here be mentioned is that
employed for striking the quarters for the clock. Here, of course,
no mechanism is required beyond the connecting-wire which raises the
hammer and drops it on the bell. Of such chimes the best known are the
Cambridge Quarters, put up in Great S. Mary’s Church in 1793. They were
composed by Dr. Jowett, the Regius Professor of Laws, assisted by the
composer Crotch, who was then only eighteen. The latter is said to have
adapted a movement in the opening symphony of Handel’s “I know that my
Redeemer liveth,” for the purpose.

The practice sometimes adopted nowadays of playing hymn tunes on bells
by means of ropes tied to the clappers is a miserable substitute for
the mechanical contrivance. It not only causes agonies to the musical
ear by the unavoidable occurrence of false notes, but is only too
likely to lead to the destruction of the bells altogether, as the
result of the “clocking,” of which I shall have more to say later.


CAMPANILES

We have seen that it is the normal rule in England for bells to be
placed in towers forming part of the structure of churches; or
rather it should be said that towers for containing the bells were
regarded as an essential feature in the construction of a church from
the Saxon period onwards. Over the greater part of the Continent the
same also holds good; but in Italy we find detached bell-towers, or
campaniles, to be of frequent occurrence. The most familiar examples
in that country are the campanile of S. Mark’s at Venice, and that
built by Giotto at Florence. There are many others in Northern Italy,
especially at Bologna, and at Ravenna, where the churches are of great
antiquity.[3]

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 16._

A RING OF EIGHT BELLS.

Recently cast at the Whitechapel Foundry for Uckfield, Sussex. (See
page 41).]

Nor are such campaniles altogether unknown in England. In mediaeval
times they were attached to several of our cathedral churches, as,
for instance, Old S. Paul’s, Chichester, Salisbury, and Worcester.
The bells of Old S. Paul’s were traditionally gambled away by Henry
VIII in 1534, and the campanile at Worcester did not survive the
Reformation; but that at Salisbury, a most picturesque structure, with
a wooden upper storey and spire, was wantonly destroyed in 1777 because
the bells were misused! That at Chichester alone remains, a fine
Perpendicular erection, at the north-west angle of the cathedral (Plate
24). At King’s College, Cambridge, a noble peal of five bells hung in a
low wooden belfry on the north side of the chapel, which was destroyed
when the bells were sold and melted down in 1754 (Plate 25).

Detached towers are not uncommon features of our parish churches in
some parts of England, particularly in Herefordshire and Norfolk. The
best examples are at Berkeley, Gloucestershire; Ledbury, Herefordshire;
West Walton, Norfolk; and Beccles, Suffolk. Some churches, again, can
only boast wooden detached belfries of moderate height to hold their
bells, as at Pembridge in Herefordshire, Brooklands in Kent, and
East Bergholt in Suffolk (Plate 26). The belfry at the last-named
place is no more than a mere shed, and more than one story is told in
explanation of the absence of a tower to the otherwise imposing church.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 17._

THE 9TH BELL OF LOUGHBOROUGH PARISH CHURCH.

Cast by the Taylors of that town. (See page 41.)]



CHAPTER IV

_Change-Ringing_


One of the chief uses made of church bells in modern times is not
strictly a religious use, though it is more or less associated with
the Church’s seasons, particularly with Sundays and Christmas Day. But
it has always been recognized that the secular use of bells, within
certain limits, is permissible, as will be further seen in the next
chapter.

Change-ringing is, as we have already noted, an entirely modern
introduction, and is, moreover, confined to England. In pre-Reformation
days we hear of guilds of ringers, as, for instance, at Westminster
Abbey, in the reign of Henry III, where the brethren of the guild
appear to have enjoyed their privileges since the time of Edward the
Confessor. In smaller monastic or collegiate establishments clerics in
minor orders were often entrusted with the duty of ringing the bells,
as at Tong, in Shropshire (cf. Plate 30). But this kind of ringing was
in no way scientific, nor were the fittings of the bells adapted for
ringing in the strict modern sense.

The accompanying diagram (Plate 27; compare also Plate 28), showing the
way in which a modern bell is hung, will serve to explain the method
now adopted for ringing proper, as opposed to chiming. The headstock,
or wooden block to which the top of the bell is firmly fixed (so that
the bell cannot move independently of it), revolves by means of brass
pivots, known as the “gudgeons,” in a socket made in the top of the
framework. One of these pivots forms the axle of a large wooden wheel,
half the circumference of which has a groove for the rope, one end of
which is fixed in it, the other passing through a pulley down into
the ringing-chamber. In mediaeval times half-wheels only were used,
but the complete wheel seems to have been introduced by the fifteenth
century, and single bells were “rung” in the sixteenth. Peal-ringing,
as we know it, cannot be traced before the seventeenth.

The essential feature of ringing in peal is that the bell shall perform
an almost complete revolution each time the rope is pulled, starting
from an inverted position. To prevent its falling over again at the
conclusion of the stroke, a vertical bar of wood or iron, known as
the “stay,” is fixed to the side of the stock, which is checked by a
movable bar in the lower part of the frame, called the “slider.” It is
clear that in the course of each revolution the clapper will strike
the side twice. Before the invention of the wheel, the bell was merely
sounded by means of a lever connecting the rope with the stock, as is
still done in ringing small bells, either as “ting-tangs,” or when hung
in an open turret.

Before the peal can be started, the bells must be rung up or “raised”
to the inverted position, which the ringer achieves by a series of
steady strokes, each pull increasing in length until it is balanced;
at the end of the peal this process is reversed. When bells are
merely chimed they are not “raised,” but the rope is pulled each
time sufficiently to allow one stroke of the clapper. By means of an
ingenious apparatus invented by the late Canon Ellacombe, this can now
be done by one man if necessary, the muscular effort required being
reduced to a minimum.

But change-ringing is a real science, and entails long and assiduous
practice and considerable muscular exertion. It is, in fact, one of the
best forms of physical exercise conceivable, and must have proved a
godsend in that respect to many men whose opportunities would otherwise
be limited.

Its elementary principle is, of course, that the bells should be
rung in succession, but in a varying order. The method in which the
succession varies is the foundation of the various forms known vaguely
to most of us as Grandsire Triples, Treble Bob-Major, and so on. They
are founded on a recognized arithmetical basis, that of permutations,
or the number of arrangements possible of any given number of objects.
We know that three letters or numbers can be arranged in six different
ways:

                          123 132
                          231 213
                          312 321

Thus, on three bells, only six changes can be rung so as to vary the
order each time, and we must then begin over again. With four bells we
have a choice of twenty-four changes, which might run as follows:

                    1234 3124 4321 4213
                    2134 1324 4312 4231
                    2314 1342 4132 2431
                    2341 3142 1432 2413
                    3241 3412 1423 2143
                    3214 3421 4123 1243

This method is known as “hunting the treble up and down,” and was
invented by Fabian Stedman, a Cambridge printer, who printed in
1667 the earliest treatise on change-ringing. If the above table is
carefully observed, it will be seen that the first bell, or treble,
shifts its place by one each time, backwards or forwards, while the
other three only change six times in all; in other words, if the treble
was omitted it would be a peal of six changes on three bells.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 18._

THE TENOR BELL OF EXETER CATHEDRAL, CALLED “GRANDISON.”

Recast by Taylor, 1902. (See page 44.)]

When we come to rings of five, six, or eight bells, these changes are,
of course, capable of greater variety. On five bells we may have 5
times 24, or 120 changes; on six, 6 times 120, or 720; on eight bells,
40,320; and so on. But in actual practice it is very rare to have more
than five or six thousand rung, even if there are eight or more bells;
about 1,600 changes can be rung in the course of an hour, and two to
three hours’ consecutive work is as much as an ordinary ringer is
capable of accomplishing. The essential feature of each set of changes
is to bring the bells round to the order in which they started; as they
would naturally do in the peal given above.

The result of the introduction of systematic and organized
change-ringing was that companies or societies of ringers were very
soon formed. So early as 1603 we hear of a company known as the
“Scholars of Cheapside,” formed in London. In 1637 was founded a famous
London Society, that of the “College Youths,” probably a revival of
the one just named; its name is derived from some connection with Sir
Richard Whittington’s College of the Holy Ghost, near Cannon Street.
It was to them that Stedman dedicated his _Tintinnalogia_, the work
already mentioned. There is still an energetic “Ancient Society of
College Youths,” but it is not certain whether it can trace an actual
descent from the older society. Another well-known ringing society is
that of the “Cumberland Youths,” originally “London Scholars,” who
changed their name in 1746 in compliment to the victor of Culloden.

Before leaving the subject, may I venture here a protest against
the absurdities perpetrated by the artists of Christmas cards and
illustrated magazines, in the attempt to render the form of a bell
and the method in which it is rung? It is certain that few can ever
have visited either belfry or ringing-chamber! Plate 29 gives a more
truthful rendering of the method of ringing.

It may be fairly claimed as one of the far-reaching effects of the
Church Revival that the conditions of our belfries and the conduct of
our ringers will compare very favourably with what it was some forty or
fifty years ago. Where the more accessible portions of the fabric were
given over to dirt and neglect, and slovenliness was the chief feature
of all ordinary forms of worship, it was hardly surprising that the
towers and their internal arrangements were neglected, and frequently
given over to more secular uses.

Nor was this merely a result of the general laxity and indifference of
the “dead” period in the Church. There are not wanting signs that in
the seventeenth century the standard of discipline among ringers was
not high. We may recall how John Bunyan, at one time an enthusiastic
member of the ringing company of Elstow, was constrained to abandon the
pursuit, along with other enjoyments, as not tending to edification.
That conviviality reigned in the belfry in those days is shown by
the use of ringers’ jugs, some of which still exist, in which large
quantities of beer were provided, and by the frequent entries in parish
accounts of money spent on beer for the ringers. One of the bells at
Walsgrave, in Warwickshire (dated 1702) has the inscription:

    “Hark do you hear?
     Our clappers want beer,”

evidently intended for a gentle hint that the ringers suffered from
thirst!

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 19._

“GREAT JOHN OF BEVERLEY.”

A fourteenth-century bell recast by Taylor, with old lettering
reproduced. (See pages 49, 116, 155.)]

At the same time there was a feeling that the actual ringing should
be properly carried out, which finds vent in the numerous “Ringers’
Rules,” mostly dating from the eighteenth century, which may be seen
painted up on the walls of our belfries. They all follow very much on
one pattern, and one of the best versions is at Tong, in Shropshire,
which may be given as an example--

    “If that to Ring you doe come here
     You must ring well with hand and eare.
     Keep stroak of time and goe not out;
     Or else you forfeit out of doubt.
     Our law is so concluded here
     For every fault a jugg of beer.
     If that you Ring with Spurr or Hat
     A jugg of beer must pay for that.
     If that you take a Rope in hand,
     These forfeits you must understand.
     Or if that you a Bell ou’r-throw
     It must cost Sixpence e’re you goe.
     If in this place you sweare or curse,
     Sixpence to pay, pull out your purse:
     Come pay the Clerk, it is his fee;
     For one that Swears shall not goe free.
     These laws are Old, and are not new;
     Therefore the Clerk must have his due.”
                         GEO. HARRISON, 1694.

It is satisfactory to note that the rule against swearing was very
generally included, though possibly honoured more in the breach than
the observance; but it is probable that the objection to wearing a
hat was more on the grounds of inconvenience to the ringers than of
irreverence.

As late as 1857, the Rev. W. C. Lukis, one of the earliest writers on
church bells, complained of his own county, Wiltshire, that “there
are sets of men who ring for what they can get, which they consume in
drink; but there is very little love for the science or its music; and
alas! much irreverence and profanation of the House of GOD. There is
no ‘plucking at the bells’ for recreation and exercise. Church-ringers
with us have degenerated into mercenary performers. In more than one
parish where there are beautiful bells, I was told that the village
youths took no interest whatever in bell-ringing, and had no desire to
enter upon change-ringing.”

Although less money is available nowadays for payments to ringers on
special occasions, it may be feared that these remarks still hold good
to some extent. But in other respects there is undoubted improvement.
We do not now hear of “prize-ringing,” or ringing in celebration of
a victory in the Derby or in a parliamentary election, and if our
ringing-chambers do not always reach a high standard of decency, there
is a marked improvement in the character and behaviour of the ringers
themselves.



CHAPTER V

_Uses and Customs of Bells_


An old monkish rhyme sums up the ancient uses of bells as follows:--

    “Laudo Deum verum, plebem voco, congrego clerum;
     Defunctos ploro, pestem fugo, festa decoro;
     Funera plango, fulgura frango, sabbata pango;
     Excito lentos, dissipo ventos, paco cruentos”:

which may be rendered in English:--

  “I praise the true God, I call the people, I assemble the clergy;
   I mourn the departed, I put to flight pestilence, I honour festivals;
   I knoll for burials, I break the power of the lightning,
                                                    I mark the sabbaths;
   I rouse the sluggard, I disperse the winds, I calm the bloodthirsty.”

These lines will be familiar to readers of Longfellow’s _Golden
Legend_; but some of the uses mentioned belong to a time when bells
were thought to have a magic power over the forces of nature, and a
category of modern uses embraces many others here ignored.

The modern uses of bells naturally fall into two main
divisions--religious and secular, or quasi-religious uses. By the
former I mean the ringing of bells for divine service, and, in
particular, for the festivals of the Church, and their use at weddings,
funerals, and other events of life with which the Church is naturally
concerned. Other uses, again, though now purely secular, had once a
religious meaning, such as the Curfew and Pancake bells. More secular
uses are those of the Gleaning bell and the Fire bell, of bells rung
for local meetings or festivities, or in commemoration of national
events.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 20._

THE GREAT BELL OF TONG CHURCH, SHROPSHIRE.

Recast by Taylor, 1892. (See page 49.)]

The only allusion to bells in our Prayer Book is in the Preface, which
directs that the minister “shall cause a bell to be tolled thereunto
a convenient time before he begin, that the people may come to hear
GOD’S Word, and to pray with him.” This was, of course, the original
purpose for which bells were applied to an ecclesiastical use, and by
virtue of which they are reckoned among the “Ornaments of the Church.”
It is, therefore, the rule that every place of worship within the realm
of the Church should have at least one bell, and in England at any
rate there are not more than half a dozen parishes where the rule is
ignored. The fifteenth Canon similarly enjoins the ringing of a bell on
Wednesdays and Fridays for the Litany.

Methods of ringing the bells for service depend largely on the number
of bells available and the possibility of collecting ringers together;
and the ringing of peals at these times is comparatively rare.
Ordinarily, where there are more than two, the bells are chimed for
periods varying from ten minutes to half an hour on Sundays, while on
week-days a single bell perforce suffices, tolled haply by the parson
himself. In many places it is the custom to toll the largest bell
for the last few minutes before service begins; this is known as the
“Sermon Bell,” and was originally meant to indicate that a sermon would
be preached. Or the smallest bell is rung hurriedly, as if to warn
laggards, and this is called the “ting-tang,” “priest’s,” or “parson’s”
bell. Some of these little bells bear the appropriate inscription,
“Come away make no delay.” The use of a sermon bell is said to date
from before the Reformation.

In many parishes it used to be an invariable custom to ring a
single bell, or chime several, at eight o’clock on Sunday morning;
this, however, has lost its original significance since the general
introduction of early Celebrations. In former times the regular hour
for Mattins was at eight, followed by Mass at the canonical hour of
nine, and though such an arrangement of services soon came to an end
after the Reformation, the bells which used to announce them were
continued even down to the present day. There are still not a few
parishes where a bell is rung at nine as well as at eight, even when
there are no early services.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 21._

“GREAT PAUL.”

Cast by Taylor, 1881. Now hanging in the south-west tower of S. Paul’s
Cathedral. (See page 52.)]

In pre-Reformation days most churches possessed, besides the regular
“ring,” several smaller bells, which are described in inventories as
“saunce” or “sanctus” bells, “sacring bells,” and so on. Their uses
are sometimes confused nowadays, but were clearly defined. The sanctus
bell, or saunce, usually hung in a turret or cot on the gable over the
chancel arch, and was intended to announce the progress of the service
to those outside who could not come to church. It was rung at that
point in the Sarum or English rites of the Eucharist when the singing
of the _Sanctus_ or “Holy, Holy, Holy,” just before the Canon of the
Mass, was reached; whence its name. The sacring-bell, on the other
hand, was much smaller, and hung _inside_ the church, usually on the
rood-screen. It was rung at the end of the Consecration Prayer, or
“prayer of sacring” (Plate 30), and announced the completion of the act
of sacrifice. The Reformers made a dead set against these practices,
but it is difficult to see that much superstition was involved therein,
and the revival in modern days of the “sacring bell” in the form of a
few strokes at the time of the consecration has more to recommend than
to condemn it.

A few sacring bells still exist, hanging on rood-screens, in East
Anglian churches, as at Salhouse and Scarning (Plate 31), and one at
Yelverton, in Norfolk, has just been restored to its old position.
Ancient sanctus bells are more numerous, and a few still hang in their
original cots, as at Wrington, in Somerset, and Idbury, in Oxfordshire
(Plate 32). They have mostly been fixed in the towers and used as
“ting-tangs.” The majority have no inscription on them, but there are
notable exceptions in some of the Midland counties.

The only other “Sunday use” to which I have to draw attention is the
ringing of a bell _after_ services. This is, or was, sometimes done
with the object of notifying a service in the afternoon; but it is
known in some places, as at Mistley, in Essex, as the “Pudding Bell,”
it being supposed that it was intended to warn housewives to get ready
the Sunday dinner! Some writers have thought that this midday bell is
really a survival of the midday _Angelus_, or _Ave_ bell; but it is
more likely to date from the bad times of non-residence and irregular
services.

The ringing of bells on festivals is more particularly associated with
Christmas and the New Year, though the latter is a secular rather than
a religious occasion. The Christmas bells have been a favourite theme
with poets, great and small, and the best-known lines on the subject
are in Tennyson’s _In Memoriam_, said to have been composed by him on
hearing the bells of Waltham Abbey, in Essex (Plate 33).

    “The time draws near the birth of CHRIST;
     The moon is hid; the night is still;
     The Christmas bells from hill to hill
     Answer each other in the mist.”

And again:

    “The time draws near the birth of CHRIST;
     The moon is hid, the night is still;
     A single church below the hill
     Is pealing, folded in the mist.”

The more famous stanzas, beginning:

    “Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
       The flying cloud, the frosty light:
       The year is dying in the night;
     Ring out, wild bells and let him die.

     Ring out the old, ring in the new,
       Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
       The year is going, let him go;
     Ring out the false, ring in the true,”

refer rather to New Year’s Eve.

On New Year’s Eve the old year is rung out and the new year in, in
many parishes. Sometimes one bell only is tolled until the clock
strikes twelve, in other cases the bells are rung muffled, i.e., with
the clappers wrapped round to deaden the sound, these being uncovered
at midnight, when a merry “open” peal bursts forth. Either practice is
to be preferred to that of ringing consecutively before and after the
hour, which obscures the significance of the performance.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 22._

THE OLD “GREAT TOM” OF WESTMINSTER.

Recast by Philip Wightman in 1698. From an old drawing, made before its
recasting by Phelps in 1716. (See page 53.)]

A muffled peal is sometimes rung on the Holy Innocents’ Day, a custom
said to be kept up still in Herefordshire; and in addition to the
Greater Festivals, the Epiphany, All Saints’ Day, S. Andrew’s Day, and
S. Thomas’s Day, have been or are still specially honoured. Ringing
on the last-named occasion, which is kept up in several Warwickshire
parishes, appears to be associated with the distribution of local
charities. But ringing on “superstitious” occasions, not mentioned in
the Book of Common Prayer, is forbidden by the 88th Canon.

Another day of the Church’s year with which bell-ringing is associated
is Shrove Tuesday, on which day the Pancake bell is rung in some places
at eleven o’clock. Two bells are generally used, the sound of which is
supposed to resemble the word “pancake.” The origin of the custom is
to be found in the calling of the faithful to confess their sins and
be “shriven” at the beginning of the Lenten fast. That pancakes were
associated with this day is due to the fact that butter was forbidden
during the whole of Lent. It was always the Church’s rule that the
bells should be silent during that season--at least that there should
be no peal-ringing in Lent, and no bells used at all during Holy Week;
and this is now generally observed.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 23._

THE BELFRY OF BRUGES.

(See page 62.)]

Except in the case of royalty we seldom now hear of bells being rung
to usher mankind into the world; but they have always been associated
with the rejoicings of a wedding ceremony, and in some parts, as in
Lincolnshire, are even rung at the putting up of Banns. But their use
at the time of death is even more universal.

The passing bell originally sounded as a summons to the faithful
to pray for a soul just passing out of the world; but it has now
degenerated into a mere notice that death has taken place, and as it
is rung (to suit the sexton’s convenience) some hours after death,
or even on the following day, the name has ceased to be appropriate.
It appears to be one of the oldest of all uses of bells, and is said
to have been rung for S. Hilda, of Whitby, in 680. Unlike most other
customs it received the strong approval of the most ardent reformers,
and in the churchwardens’ accounts of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries there are often long lists given every year of money received
from parishioners “for the Knell.” The sum paid was usually fourpence.
The 67th Canon directs that the passing bell shall be tolled, “and the
minister shall not then slack to do his last duty.”

When the Knell is rung, it is a frequent practice to indicate the age
or sex of the deceased. The former is done by tolling a number of
strokes answering to the years of his or her life, or more vaguely by
using the largest bell for an adult and a smaller for a child. Sex
is sometimes similarly indicated, but more usually by what are known
as “tellers,” a varying number of strokes for male or female, and
sometimes also for a child. The commonest form is three times three for
male, three times two for female; and sometimes three times singly for
a child; but some parishes keep up curious variations of this rule. The
old saying “nine tailors make a man” is really “nine tellers,” or three
times three.

The knell with the tellers is sometimes repeated at funerals, but more
frequently the tenor bell is tolled at intervals of a minute, becoming
more rapid when the corpse appears in sight. In some country districts
the bells are or used to be chimed at this time, and in Shropshire this
is known as the “joy-bells,” or “ringing the dead home.” In olden days
a hand-bell or “lych-bell” was rung before the corpse on its way; this
is still done at Oxford at the funeral of any University official.

Bells were largely used in mediaeval times to mark the hours of
the day, even before the introduction of clocks. In the monastic
establishments they were naturally rung at the canonical hours of
twelve, three, six, and nine, for the services of Mattins, Lauds,
Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. It has been suggested
that this is the reason why chimes are usually played at these hours,
where there are carillons.

But one of the best known uses of bells for this purpose is the Curfew,
which was often accompanied by a corresponding bell in the early
morning. We have usually been taught that the Curfew or “cover-fire”
was a tyrannical and unpopular enactment by William the Conqueror, and
therefore a purely legal and secular institution. There is, however,
evidence that it was in use long before at Oxford, where King Alfred
directed that it should be rung every evening (as it is still); and
William probably only made use of an existing custom for the beneficent
purpose of guarding against fires.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 24._

  _Photo by_]                       [_J. Valentine &. Sons._

THE CAMPANILE OR BELL-TOWER OF CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL. (See page 64.)]

But it has also been suggested that the Curfew was in its origin a
bell with a religious as well as a secular significance, namely the
Ave bell, or Angelus, which was rung in the early morning and the
evening, usually at 9 a.m. and 5.30 p.m., and also at midday, and at
the sound of which every one was expected to repeat the memorial of the
Incarnation or “Hail Mary.” Some have thought that bells dedicated to
the angel Gabriel were specially devoted to such a purpose; but this
is doubtful, though the old Curfew bell at S. Albans still bears such
a dedication. At Mexborough, in Yorkshire, a bell is rung morning,
noon, and evening, obviously a survival of the Angelus bell.

The Curfew bell seems to have appealed especially to poets, even to the
American Longfellow, and the puritan Milton, who in _Il Penseroso_ says:

    “Oft on a plat of rising ground
     I hear the far-off Curfew sound
     Over some wide-watered shore
     Swinging slow with sullen roar.”

Compare the opening line of Gray’s _Elegy_:

  “The curfew tolls the knell of parting day.”

The morning bell, whether an Ave bell or not, is seldom now rung, but
may be heard at 5 a.m. at Ludlow, and at Nuneaton and Coleshill in
Warwickshire. One of the old bells of S. Michael’s, Coventry, now at S.
John’s Church in that town, has the inscription:

    “I ring at six to let men know
     When to and from their work to go. 1675.”

The Curfew bell, though alas! growing rapidly rarer, may be heard at 9
p.m. all the year round in our two University towns; and is also rung
at eight at Ludlow, Pershore, Shrewsbury, and in Warwickshire. But it
is now usually confined to the winter months, from Michaelmas to Lady
Day, or an even shorter period. In some places the day of the month is
tolled afterwards, as at Cambridge; at Oxford 101 strokes are given,
representing the number of persons on the foundation of Christ Church.

Of purely secular uses of bells space forbids me to say much. The
Gleaning bell used to be rung in many parishes during harvest, morning
and evening, to signify to the people when gleaning was allowed. With
the decay of agriculture in England this use has almost died out,
especially in the midlands, but it is still kept up in corn-growing
parts, as in the north of Essex.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 25._

THE OLD CAMPANILE OF KING’S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.

Destroyed in the eighteenth century. It contained five large bells.
(See page 64.)]

Ringing has always been customary--at least since the Reformation--on
secular anniversaries, such as the birthday or Coronation Day of the
Sovereign, or on the occasion of great victories. It was also very
common at one time on Restoration Day (May 29th), and Gunpowder Plot
Day (November 5th), but--perhaps since their removal from our Prayer
Book--these occasions are becoming more and more ignored. Ringing on
November 5th is, however, still common in Warwickshire. Another day on
which ringing was often practised was that of the parish feast, usually
corresponding with the patronal festival, or day on which the original
dedication of the church was honoured.

It is or has been a tradition in some places that in cases of fire
the church bells should be rung backwards; and elsewhere a bell was
specially devoted to this purpose. At S. Mary’s, Warwick, there is a
small fire bell dated 1670, which, however, is not now hung; and there
is a well-known one at Sherborne, in Dorset, dated 1653, with the
inscription:

    “LORD, quench the furious flame;
     Arise, run, help, put out the same.”

The large and small bells of the Guild Chapel, Stratford-on-Avon, are
also intended to be rung in cases of fire.

The ringing of daily bells, especially at night, is often accounted
for by stories of people who found their way when lost, or were
delivered from nocturnal dangers, by hearing the bell of some church.
Instances of this are scattered all over the country, and there are the
Ashburnham bell at Chelsea, the great bell of Tong in Shropshire, and
others which were originally given in commemoration of such events,
with the object of keeping up the ringing for the benefit of other
wanderers.



CHAPTER VI

_The Decoration of Bells and their Inscriptions_


Most of us are probably aware that it is usual for bells to bear
inscriptions, be it only the date or name of the maker; but few who
have not actually examined bells for themselves may have discovered
that they are often richly or effectively decorated. We do not as a
rule find them as highly ornamented as foreign bells, which often
have every available space covered with inscriptions, figures and
devices, or borders of ornament; but to some the greater soberness
of the English method may seem preferable. Nor is this practice of
ornamenting bells confined to the more artistic age before the
Reformation. Some of our most richly decorated bells belong to the
seventeenth century or even later (see Plate 38); and it is only the
character of the ornamentation which is changed.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 26._

THE “BELL HOUSE” IN THE CHURCHYARD AT EAST BERGHOLT, SUFFOLK.

(See page 64.)]

In point of fact the earliest bells are usually the plainest, and
the mediaeval craftsman contented himself with devoting his skill to
producing elegant and artistic lettering, beautiful initial crosses,
or ingenious foundry marks (Plates 14, 36). The latter were introduced
about the end of the fourteenth century, when, as we have seen in an
earlier chapter, the guild of braziers or “belleyeteres” were more
regularly organized. Those used by Henry Jordan (see page 29) are good
examples; as are the shields of the Bury and Norwich foundries (page
30). In the West and North of England such devices are rarer; but
badges, such as the Bristol ship, or the Worcester “Royal Heads,” take
their place. One or two of the London founders use the symbols of the
four Evangelists (Plate 34). A favourite device is the merchant’s mark,
a kind of monogram, or the rebus, a pictorial pun on the founder’s
name. John Tonne, who worked in Sussex and Essex about 1520-1540,
decorated his bells in the French fashion, with large florid crosses,
busts and figures, and other devices (Plate 35).

Initial crosses are almost invariably found on mediaeval bells, and
their variety is endless, from the plainest form of Greek cross to the
elaborate specimen shown on Plate 36, which is found in the Midland
counties. The words were frequently divided by stops, varying from a
simple row of three dots ⠇ to such devices as a wheel, a rosette, or an
ornamented oblong panel. Impressions from coins pressed into the mould
are by no means uncommon.

But often the chief or sole beauty of a mediaeval bell is its
lettering. In the fourteenth century this is invariably composed of
capital letters throughout, of the ornamental form known as Gothic or
Lombardic (Plate 36). Towards the end of that century the black-letter
text used in manuscripts was introduced into other branches of art,
such as brasses, and thus also makes its appearance on bells. But
the initial letter of each word is still executed in the old Gothic
capitals, and such inscriptions are known as “Mixed Gothic” (Plate
37), later ones of the sixteenth century being more strictly styled
“black-letter,” where no capitals are used. The change, however, was
not universal, and many of the foundries in the West and North of
England preferred to adhere to the capitals down to the Reformation;
while even in London, as at Leicester, Reading, and elsewhere, there
was a distinct revival of inscriptions in capitals during the sixteenth
century.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 27._

Diagram showing method of hanging a bell for ringing (see page 68).

  A.  Wheel with rope attached.
  B.  Headstock.
  CC. Straps or Keys.
  D.  Cannons (modern form).
  E.  Stay.
  FF. Gudgeons.
  G.  Brasses (in which the gudgeons revolve).
  H.  Slider.
]

The reign of Queen Elizabeth is usually regarded as a period of
transition, and there was, before the general introduction of modern
Roman lettering, a time when no general rule was observed. Some
founders used Gothic capitals; others black-letter; others again,
nondescript ornate capitals difficult to classify; while the Roman
lettering, introduced about 1560-70, gradually ousted all the older
styles from favour, and with very few exceptions became general about
1620. The use of older lettering and stamps by many founders during
this “transition” period is noteworthy. The Leicester founders were
especially addicted to this practice, and among other old stamps
bought up the beautiful lettering and ornaments used by the Brasyers,
of Norwich, in the fifteenth century. Henry Oldfield of Nottingham
(1580-1620), and Robert Mot of London (1575-1608), may also be
mentioned under this head.

I have said that seventeenth century bells were often very richly
decorated; and the ornamental running borders or elaborate arabesque
patterns which separate the words of the inscriptions or surround the
upper and lower edges of the bells, surpass in that respect anything
attempted in mediaeval times (Plate 38). Thomas Hancox of Walsall
(1620-1640) adorned his bells with reproductions of mediaeval seals;
and as late as the beginning of the eighteenth century the Cors of
Aldbourne, in Wiltshire, bought up a lot of pieces of old brass
ornaments from which they used to decorate their bells. At Malmesbury
and Tisbury in that county they have left bells covered with figures of
cherubs, coats of arms and monograms, a medallion of the Adoration of
the Wise Men, and other curious ornaments. Most of these founders, such
as John Martin of Worcester, Oldfield of Nottingham, and Clibury of
Wellington, used trade-marks with their initials, and a bell or other
device.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 28._

PEAL OF EIGHT BELLS (TENOR 16 CWT.) FOR ABERAVON CHURCH, GLAMORGANSHIRE.

This is an example of an ordinary English peal constructed for
change-ringing and shows some of the bells “up,” ready for ringing. In
this case the frame and stocks are of iron and the bells are without
cannons.]

Seventeenth-century Roman lettering, although plain, is often most
effective and artistic; capitals are almost always used throughout,
and small Roman letters are very rare. It is not until the middle of
the next century that it was replaced by the dull mechanical printing
types which are characteristic of the present day. But since the Gothic
revival several modern founders have re-introduced capital letters of
the old style with good effect; notably the Taylors of Loughborough.
Nowadays, however, there is little attempt at ornamenting bells;
not only the usual inscription-band on the shoulder, but the whole
surface of the bell is utilized for immortalizing local officials and
celebrities. On a bell recently cast for a church on the outskirts
of London are given the names, not only of the Vicar, Bishop, and
Archbishop, but of the Prime Minister, Member of Parliament, and
Chairman of the District Council!

So far little has been said about the inscriptions placed on bells; but
as these form one of the most interesting features of the subject,
they demand some little attention.

The earliest inscriptions, those of the fourteenth century, were
usually in Latin, and very simple in form. We find merely a name such
as IESVS or IOHANNES, or such phrases as CAMPANA BEATI PAVLI, “the bell
of blessed Paul,” or IN HONORE SANCTI LAURENCII, “in honour of Saint
Lawrence.” More rarely, the founder’s name, as--

  ~MICHAEL DE VVYMBIS ME
  FECIT~

  “Michael de Wymbis made me.”

  ~ION ME YEYT~

  “John cast me.”

Other forms of inscription soon became common, especially the simple
invocation to a saint--

  “Sancte Petre (or ‘Sancta Katerina’) ora pro nobis.”
  “Saint Peter,” or “Saint Katherine, pray for us.”

By one founder, whose theology was somewhat confused, the Holy Trinity
itself was similarly invoked--

  “Sancta Trinitas ora pro nobis.”

He should have said “miserere nobis,” “have mercy upon us,” as in our
Litany.

What are known as “leonines,” or rhyming hexameter verses, are also
very popular, such as--

    ~IN MULTIS ANNIS RESONET CAMPANA IOHANNIS~

    “For many years let the bell of John resound.”

    ~VIRGINIS EGREGIE VOCOR CAMPANA MARIE~

    “I am called the bell of Mary the excellent Virgin.”

    ~MISSI DE CELIS HABEO NOMEN GABRIELIS~

    “I have the name of heaven-sent Gabriel.”

    ~VIRGO CORONATA DUC NOS AD REGNA BEATA~

    “Crowned Virgin, lead us to realms of bliss.”

    ~SUM ROSA PULSATA MUNDI KATERINA VOCATA~

    “I am the rose of the world, when struck, called Katherine.”

Most frequent of all is the Angelic salutation (_S. Luke_ i. 28):

    ~AVE MARIA GRACIA PLENA DOMINUS TECUM~

sometimes found in an English form as--

    “~HAIL MARY FUL OF GRAS~”

    (“Full of grace”).

There are said to be altogether seventy different forms of dedication
to the Blessed Virgin. She is by far the favourite saint with
bell-founders, though S. Katherine (possibly on account of her emblem
the wheel) was their special patron. On the whole the dedications
correspond fairly to those favoured for churches; but we note that
S. Andrew, S. James, and S. Paul, are rarely found, whereas S. Anne
and S. Gabriel are more common. We must not expect to find bells
necessarily dedicated to the patron saints of their churches; it is
in fact exceptional, and possibly the name was determined by that of
some guild or chantry. Where they are the same it is usually the tenor;
but the old ring of five at S. Bartholomew, Smithfield, has the treble
dedicated to that saint.

Among texts of scripture are also found

  SIT NOMEN DOMINI BENEDICTUM

  “Blessed be the Name of the Lord” (_Job_ i. 21).

  IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDEORVM

  “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews”
  (_S. John_ xix. 19).

  BEATVS VENTER QVI TE PORTAVIT

  “Blessed is the womb that bare thee” (_S. Luke_ xi. 27).

But such texts become commoner in the seventeenth century. An early
post-Reformation example is at Hannington, Northants:

  LOVE HORTETH NOT (_Rom._ xiii. 10).

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 29._

RINGERS AT S. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL RINGING A PEAL ON NEW YEAR’S EVE ON THE
TWELVE BELLS. (See page 75).]

Sometimes a bell bears a prayer for its donor, or for his soul, as at
Goring, Oxfordshire--

    ~ORATE PRO PETRO EXONIENSE EPISCOPO,~

    “Pray for Peter, Bishop of Exeter.”

This was Peter Quivil, Bishop about 1290. Or at Bolton-in-Craven,
Yorkshire--

    ~Sc’e Paule, ora pro a’i’abus Henrici Pudsey et Margarete consorte
    sue~

    “St. Paul, pray for the souls of Henry Pudsey and Margaret his
    wife.”

In these cases we are enabled to gain a clue to the date of the bell,
a piece of information rarely found given in mediaeval times. Henry
Pudsey, for instance, died about 1510. There is an interesting bell at
Aldbourne, in Wiltshire, dated 1516, with a prayer for the souls of
Richard Goddard of Upham, his two wives and his children. It is said
that this is the only known record of his double marriage, though the
family is an old one, well known in those parts.

English inscriptions are very rare, but when found are often very
quaint, as at Snowshill, in Gloucestershire--

    “~IN NAME OF TRINITE; GILLIS~ [Giles’] ~BELLE MEN CALLE ME~”;

or at Alkborough, in Lincolnshire--

    “~JESU FOR YI MODIR~ [the Mother’s] ~SAKE SAVE AL YE SAULS THAT ME
    GART MAKE~ [had made] ~AMEN~.”

The Reformation brought about a great, though not an immediate but
gradual, change in the character of bell inscriptions. We often find
about this time the whole or a portion of the alphabet; and it has been
supposed that the founder wished to use his old stamps, but was afraid
of giving offence by adhering to the old style of inscription, and so
arranged the letters in a fashion to which none could object! But
right through the Reformation period, the reign of Elizabeth, and the
ensuing Stuart period, it is by no means rare to find the old formulae
repeated. It is possible that ignorant founders reproduced them when
recasting bells, without realizing their meaning, or that they trusted
to the inaccessibility of belfries, not to be found out! Still the fact
remains, not only that more “Popish” inscriptions were left intact by
Reformer and Puritan on bells than on any other part of the fabric of
churches, but also that prejudice and fanaticism here seems to have
played a smaller part. Yet there are indications of Protestant zeal on
the part of some seventeenth-century founders. Tobie Norris of Stamford
(1603-1626) is fond of proclaiming--

    NON SONO ANIMABVS MORTVORVM SED AVRIBVS VIVENTIVM

    “I sound not for the souls of the dead but for the ears of the
    living”;

and William Purdue of Bristol, in 1678, perhaps with the fear of James
II’s advent to the throne before his eyes, gives vent to the prayer:

    LORD BY THY MIGHT KEEP US FROM POOPE AND HYPOCRITE,

at Stanley S. Leonard, Gloucestershire.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 30._

THE RINGING OF THE SACRING BELL BY A CLERK IN MINOR ORDERS.

From a Manuscript in the British Museum. (See pages 68, 88).]

For the most part the inscriptions of this period are, when not merely
churchwardens’ names, coloured with a piety which finds vent in quaint
and homely expressions, such as “FEARE GOD,” “IESVS BEE OVR SPEED,” “IN
GOD IS MY HOPE.” They remind us of the bells of Rylstone, in Yorkshire,
of which Wordsworth says:

    “When the bells of Rylstone played
     Their Sabbath music--_God us ayde_--
     Inscriptive legend, which I ween,
     May on those holy bells be seen.”

He was, however, unfortunately misinformed, as the true inscription (on
one bell) was, “In GOD is all.” Other attempts are more ambitious,
such as--

    I AM A CRIER IN THE HOUSE OF GOD COME AND KIP [keep] HOLI,

at Witcomb, Gloucestershire (1630), or--

    BE MECKE AND LOLY TO HEARE THE WORD OF GOD,

at Chichester Cathedral (1587). Some of these inscriptions are on bells
by John Wallis of Salisbury, of whom it has been said, “If we estimate
him by his works he was a great man; and if we take his laconic
epigraphs as an index of his heart, he was a trustful, thankful,
religious character.” They are, at all events, characteristic of the
sober and straightforward piety of the days of George Herbert and
Bishop Andrewes. Three more characteristic expressions of the period
are largely used by the Nottingham founders:

    “I sweetly toling men do call to taste on meate that feeds the
    soule.”

    “All you who hear my roaring sound repent before you lie in ground.”

    “My roaring sound doth warning give that men may not here always
    live.”

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 31._

SACRING BELL HUNG ON ROOD-SCREEN, SCARNING CHURCH, NORFOLK. (See page
88).]

Other founders, like Tobie Norris, already quoted, preferred to use
Latin. Another favourite of his is--

    NON CLAMOR SED AMOR CANTAT IN AVRE DEI

    “The sound that reacheth GOD above
    Is not a clang but voice of love.”

A very beautiful Latin inscription, and most remarkable for the time
when it was composed (1651), is on the tenor at Stockton, Salop; it
runs in English--

    “Glory in the highest to GOD the FATHER, SON, and HOLY GHOST;
    William Whitmore, Knight, patron and restorer of this church, now
    called to the Church triumphant, vowed and designed me for the use
    of the Church militant.”

More quaint than edifying are the following, found at Thatcham in
Berkshire--

  1. I AS TREBIL BEGIN
  2. I AS SECOND WIL SING
  3. I AS THIRD WIL RING
  4. I AS FORTH IN MY PLACE
  5. I AS FIFT WILL SOVND
  6. I AS TENNAR HVM ALL ROVND.

We pass from these to others of the same period, which show a sad
falling-off in poetry and sentiment. Early in the seventeenth century
the deplorable habit of self-advertisement was begun by the Newcombes
of Leicester, who invented the distich--

    BE YT KNOWNE TO ALL THAT DOTH ME SEE
    THAT NEWCOMBE OF LEICESTER MADE ME.

This is adopted, but not improved, by later founders, as by Henry
Farmer of Gloucester, who, on a bell of 1623, at Throckmorton, in
Worcestershire, proclaims--

    BE IT KNOWNE TO ALL THAT SHALL VS SEE
    THAT HENRIE FARMER MADE WE 4 OF 3.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 32._

ANCIENT SANCTUS BELL (FOURTEENTH CENTURY).

In its Original Cot over the Chancel Arch of Idbury Church,
Oxfordshire. (See page 88).]

Worse depths are reached by Richard Keene of Woodstock on two bells at
Brailes, Warwickshire. On one is--

    IME NOT THE BELL I WAS BUT QUITE ANOTHER
    IME NOW AS RIGHT AND TRUE AS GEORGE MY BROTHER.

On the other--

    I’LL CRACK NO MORE NOW RING YOUR FILL
    MERRY GEORGE I WAS AND WILL BE STILL.

This style of inscription is even more characteristic of the early
eighteenth century; and we find at Meriden, in Warwickshire--

    WHEN MY FIRST AND THIRD BEGIN TO RING
    MY THIRD WAS BROKE BEFORE WE ALL DID SING.

There is a pun here on the name of the founder, William Brooke. An even
worse punster is Henry Pleasant of Sudbury, who at All Saints’, Maldon,
placed on four of the bells the following effusions--

  (1) WHEN THREE THIS STEEPLE FIRST DID HOLD
  (2) WE WERE THREE EMBLEMS OF A SCOLD
  (3) NO MUSICK THEN BUT NOW [YOU] SHALL SEE
  (4) WHAT _PLEASANT_ MUSICK SIX WILL BE.

Joseph Smith of Edgbaston, another would-be poet, has several
inscriptions of this class, as at Alvechurch, Worcestershire--

    IF YOU WOULD KNOW WHEN WE WARE RUNN
    IT WAS MARCH THE 22, 1711 [i.e., “seventeen-one-one”].

Yet another type of vulgarity is to be found at Bakewell, Somerset--

    BILBIE AND BOOSH MAY COME AND SEE
    WHAT EVANS AND NOTT HAVE DONE FOR ME.

When we reach the middle of the century a change comes over the
inscriptions, though hardly one for the better. The frivolous doggerel
rhymes are replaced by prim, though not always decorous, couplets
which seem to be thoroughly characteristic of that period. In fact, so
greatly was Methodism feared by the correct and worldly churchmen of
Georgian days that we actually find on a bell at Welwyn, Herts.--

  PROSPERITY TO THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
  AND NO ENCOURAGEMENT TO ENTHUSIASM.

The most typical specimens, however, are on the bells of the London
founders at this period--

    AT PROPER TIMES OUR VOICES WE WILL RAISE
    IN SOUNDING TO OUR BENEFACTORS’ PRAISE.

    WHEN FEMALE VIRTUE WEDS WITH MANLY WORTH
    WE CATCH THE RAPTURE AND WE SPREAD IT FORTH

    MAY ALL WHOM I SHALL SUMMON TO THE GRAVE
    THE BLESSINGS OF A WELL-SPENT LIFE RECEIVE.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 33._

TOWER OF WALTHAM ABBEY CHURCH, ESSEX.

The Bells of which inspired Tennyson’s well-known lines. (See page 90).]

The last-named was composed by a Shropshire schoolmaster, who also
devised verses of the same type for bells in his own church of High
Ercall. One example may be given--

    WHERE MEANDRING RODEN GENTLY GLIDES
    OR TURNE’S PROUD CURRENT FILLS ITS AMPLE SIDES
    HENCE MEDITATION VIEWS OUR CALM ABODE,
    HEALS THE SICK MIND, AND YIELDS IT PURE TO GOD.

The Rudhalls of Gloucester, who were typical “Church and State” men,
usually place on their tenor bells the familiar couplet--

    I TO THE CHURCH THE LIVING CALL
    AND TO THE GRAVE DO SUMMON ALL.

Perhaps the worst specimen of the taste of this period is to be found
at Hornsey, in Middlesex--

    THE RINGER’S ART OUR GRACEFUL NOTES PROLONG;
    APOLLO LISTENS AND APPROVES THE SONG.

Doubtless this seemed appropriate enough to an age which adorned its
tombs and churchyards with cupids, urns, and such-like pagan emblems.

Other examples of this kind from the provinces are--

    THE PUBLIC RAISED ME WITH A LIBERAL HAND;
    WE COME WITH HARMONY TO CHEER THE LAND [Stroud].

    ALL YOU OF BATH THAT HEARE ME SOUND
    THANK LADY HOPTON’S HUNDRED POUND [Bath Abbey].

Some inscriptions again are of historical interest, such as at Child
Okeford, Dorset, where, in 1648,

    GOD BLESS KING CHARLES

was actually placed on a bell by a founder who must have had the
courage of his convictions! It need hardly be pointed out that the
royal cause was just then at the depth of unpopularity. The eight bells
of S. Helen’s, Worcester, bear the names of Marlborough’s victories in
Queen Anne’s reign, with an appropriate couplet in each case. Other
bells, such as the great bell of Glasgow Cathedral, and the tenor of
Stepney, London, record their own history from mediaeval times down to
their latest re-casting.

A curious form of inscription found on seventeenth-century bells, and
sometimes revived at the present day, is the chronogram, where the
date is given by Roman letters of a larger size than the rest of the
inscription, as at Clifton-on-Teme, Worcestershire--

  HENRICVS IEFFREYS KENELMO DEVOVIT,

where the letters MDCLVVVIII in numerical order read as the date 1668.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 34._

SYMBOLS OF THE FOUR EVANGELISTS.

Used as stamps by London bell-founders of the fifteenth century. (See
pages 106, 108.)]

It is one of the many debts that we owe to the Church Revival of the
last century that such desecrations of our bells as quoted above are
now a thing of the past. If our modern bells are often very dull
affairs as regards their decoration or inscriptions, we can at least
be thankful that profanity and frivolity have disappeared. Though as
I have already noted, a tendency to self-advertisement is still too
apparent, there has been a great change in the last fifty years, and
the improvement in the choice of inscriptions is most marked. Those
to whom such things are a concern have begun to realize that a bell
is a vehicle of history, and that, therefore, its history should be
duly recorded and preserved. But what is of far more importance, they
have also learned to look upon it as an instrument destined for GOD’S
service--as one of the “Ornaments of the Church”--and therefore just as
deserving of honour as any other furniture of GOD’S house.



CHAPTER VII

_The Care of Bells_


It has already been pointed out that our bells deserve to be treated
with care and reverence as much as any other part of the church
fabric, because they not only have their historic interest, but are
closely connected with our acts of worship and religious rites. I
wish, therefore, in my concluding chapter, to offer a few suggestions
as to their proper treatment. And when we speak of the bells in this
connection we must not forget the belfries also.

Some fifty years ago the Rev. W. C. Lukis, whom I have already had
occasion to quote, called attention to the disgraceful condition of
many Wiltshire belfries, in words which were by no means too strong
for the occasion. He pointed out that the neglect of the bells not only
led to their becoming useless, but also endangered the whole fabric of
the tower, and eventually did mischief to the parishioners also, who
either had to do without their bells or pay for the repairs. Many of
the towers were in so dangerous a state that the bells were forbidden
to be rung, and though this may have been partly due to the vibration
caused by change-ringing, for which, of course, the towers were not
originally built, the evils were, in his opinion, due much more to
neglect on the part of the churchwardens, who were responsible for the
care of the bells.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 35._

BELL BY JOHN TONNE, A FOUNDER OF HENRY VIII’S TIME (1520-1540).
Ornamented in the French fashion. (See page 108).]

“Bells,” he says, “require very constant attention to keep them in
ringing order.” Therefore it is not the use of the bells, not even
change-ringing of the most violent description, which destroys the
bells and endangers the belfries; but simply neglect or carelessness.
It must be borne in mind that bells are enormously heavy, and are yet
required to move and revolve with perfect ease, and to be hung with
perfect balance and adjustment of all their parts. Any temporary or
amateurish repairs will probably end in doing more harm than good; nor
will an occasional use of oil or new ropes supply all that is wanted.
Above all, the frame-work must be kept clear of the walls of the tower,
or the vibration will inevitably destroy it.

There is another matter to which the same writer calls attention,
which, if not a source of danger to the bells, may often be so to
those who visit them, and which in any case is a disgrace to those who
have the House of GOD in their care. I allude to the condition of the
staircases or ladders by which the bells are approached. “Generally
speaking,” says Mr. Lukis, “the dark, winding stone staircases (when
they have any) leading to them are dirty, worn, and difficult to tread;
and when you have secured your footing, you suddenly come upon a
huge heap of sticks, straws, feathers, and other rubbish, the patient
and laborious work of indefatigable jackdaws. When the towers have
no stone staircases, the bells have to be reached by a succession of
crazy ladders, planted on equally crazy floors. Why should towers be so
desecrated? Are they not as much a portion of the church as any other
part?”

These words, at the time they were written, were doubtless true of the
majority of belfries in the country; but I fear there are still not a
few of which the same may be said. I have been into many a belfry, in
which, on raising the trap-door admitting me to the bells, I have been
forcibly convinced, by the showers of accumulated filth descending upon
me, that they have literally not been visited for years! In justice
it may be said that where proper access to the bells exists this is
seldom the case. At the worst, the bottom of the staircase is made the
receptacle for brushes, dust-pans, and candlesticks, or such-like
necessary articles. But why should not proper access be provided in
_every_ case? Even the solitary tinkler in a small and elevated turret
sometimes requires attention; and even if the casual visitor to a
belfry must not always expect to be considered, it is surely reasonable
that the parish official whose duty it is to care for the bells should
not find obstacles placed in the way of reaching them. There are very
few churches, not reckoning those where the bells are hung outside,
in which a permanent ladder might not be fixed, where there is no
possibility of a staircase. And this, whether of wood or iron, need not
be either an expensive or unsightly object; but it should be stout and
sound if of wood, and always fixed firmly at top and bottom.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 36._

SPECIMENS OF GOTHIC CAPITAL LETTERS.

Both sets are reduced to about half size. (See pages 32, 49, 109.)]

I have said that, on the whole, the last fifty years have seen a great
improvement in the treatment of bells and belfries; but only so lately
as 1897, a recent writer, a keen ringer and expert in all relating to
bells, had occasion to re-echo Mr. Lukis’ complaints. He points out,
however, that the Central Council of Ringers, then recently formed, is
doing excellent work by its reports on bell-hanging and similar matters.

Some of these remarks of Mr. A. H. Cocks, in his great work on
Buckinghamshire bells, are so admirable and so instructive that I
cannot forbear to quote them. He devotes himself to finding out the
reasons _why bells crack_; and his conclusion is that such a thing
_rarely happens except from sheer neglect_. Further, that while the
sexton and ringers may be entrusted with the actual care and use
of the bells, the real responsibility lies, in the first place,
with the incumbent of the parish, and, in a lesser degree, with the
churchwardens. The incumbent, it should be remembered, has the legal
right of granting or refusing access to the bells, and of saying when
they shall or shall not be rung.

“If all incumbents,” he says, “would remember that bell-hangings
are _machines_, even if not quite so complicated as a steam-engine,
and that all machines want a _little_ attention, the lamentable
and disgraceful state of many of the belfries would cease; and
we bell-hunters would no longer get the almost stereotyped,
semi-apologetic statement, on making our request for the key, ‘I’m
afraid you will find a great mess up there, but, to tell you the truth,
I have never been up to them.’” As he aptly points out, ringers, who
usually visit towers where the bells are ringable and everything in
order, know little of these neglected places; but it is the incumbent’s
duty to know what goes on under his supposed charge; and if he refuses,
the authority of rural deans and archdeacons should step in to arouse
him to his duty.

Let every incumbent, then, who “has never been up,” determine to visit
his bells. He will doubtless find his trouble repaid, if they bear
interesting inscriptions or devices; and if he finds the attempt
attended by risk of life or limb, let him be persuaded to renew worn
steps or broken ladder-rungs. If he finds the belfry or staircase full
of animal and vegetable rubbish, let him take the simple but necessary
step of fixing wire-netting over the windows, and cleanliness, once
attained, should be easily preserved.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 37._

SPECIMENS OF “MIXED GOTHIC” LETTERING

Used by Henry Jordan of London (1460). Reduced to about two-thirds
size. (See pages 29, 109.)]

And now as to the cracking of bells, and how to prevent it. Bells may
crack either at the top, or “crown,” or at the rim, or “sound-bow,”
where the clapper strikes. The former is usually due to defective
methods of hanging, which cannot be explained without becoming too
technical; but the latter comes from a very simple and avoidable cause.
Moreover, a bell cracked at the crown does not thereby lose its tone,
and may last for years in that condition; but if cracked at the rim
it is immediately and hopelessly ruined. If, again, the cannons, or
metal loops by which the bell hangs from the wooden stock, should be
broken, the bell may be kept sound by boring holes in the crown and
bolting it to the stock. But in making this latter suggestion I do not
wish to commend--rather to protest against--the practice of modern
bell-founders, who do this in all cases, instead of using cannons.
They are supported by the ringers, who say it makes the bell swing
more easily; but it is a barbarous practice, and destroys the whole
appearance of the bell.

Of all dangers which beset our unfortunate bells, by far the worst is
the objectionable, but only too common, practice of “clocking,” as it
is called. Against this, no protests can be too strong. The reason is a
very simple one. “Clocking” consists in tying the clapper to the rope
in order to make the bell sound more easily and with little effort on
the ringer’s part. Now, this gives the clapper very little play, and it
strikes continually on one place at very short intervals. This checks
vibration and prevents the effect of the stroke from spreading, and is
a sure cause of cracking at the rim sooner or later. Yet all over the
country it is constantly being done, and on a recent visit to Essex it
was my experience in tower after tower. Worse than that, I found the
bells in several cases actually hung “dead,” the stocks being fixed to
the frames, so that any swinging was impossible.

“Clocking” is, unfortunately, no new practice, as we hear of it at
Reading three hundred years ago; but would that modern churchwardens
would take the same view of it that the good Joseph Carter,
churchwarden of S. Lawrence and bell-founder, did then. He got the
vicar to draft a resolution that, “Whereas there was, through the
slothfulness of the sexton in times past, a kind of tolling the bell
by the clapper-rope, it was now forbidden and taken away, and that the
bell should be tolled as in times past and not in any such idle sort.”
In London alone twenty-eight large bells in the principal churches
were cracked by “clocking” between 1820 and 1860.

Even the ordinary clock-hammer, striking on the upper side of the rim
of the bell, often has the same effect; and for the same reason. But
in both cases there is a remedy, if put in hand at once and after
consulting a good bell-hanger, namely, that of “quarter-turning,” or
turning the bell round through one quarter of its circumference, so
that the clapper may strike on a place at right angles to the old one,
if that has become worn.

[Illustration:                                               _Plate 38._

PART OF A SEVENTEENTH CENTURY BELL BY HENRY OLDFIELD OF NOTTINGHAM.

The lettering is an imitation of mediaeval types, but the ornament is
characteristic of the later period. (See pages 106, 112).]

If, however, a bell has once become hopelessly cracked, there is no
remedy but recasting into a new one; though it is said that a cracked
bell in Dorset was successfully repaired by a Norwegian artificer
about fifteen years ago, and where he has succeeded, others may yet.
Nevertheless it is only too common for bells to be re-cast when there
is no necessity. Perhaps one bell is broken, or it is desired to
increase the number of the bells, and the founder, with a pardonable
eye to business, suggests that all the old bells should be melted down,
in order to have an entirely new ring, guaranteed in tune with each
other. And thus disappears many an interesting and valuable old bell,
perfectly sound and well-toned. It does not follow that because a bell
is old its tone is inferior to a new one, or that it cannot be fitted
into a new ring. Rather, the contrary is the case, and tone improves
and mellows with age.

But when all else fails, and re-casting is absolutely unavoidable,
let me plead that some faithful record of the old bell may be kept.
At least the old inscription may be preserved, as to their credit was
often done by the seventeenth-century founders, on the new bell. This
practice, I note, is increasing, and deserves every commendation. But
there is an even more excellent way. The inscription may be copied in
exact fac-simile on the new bell (with, of course, an indication of the
new date), as has been successfully done in many instances, notably
by Blews of Birmingham on the old tenor at Brailes, Warwickshire,
and in other cases by Mears and Stainbank and by Taylor (see Plate
19). Or, again, the inscription-band may be cut out and kept in the
church, or used as the ring of a candelabrum. This has been done at
Chester-le-Street, in Durham; West Bergholt, in Essex; and elsewhere.
It at least preserves what is of special interest and beauty. Or,
lastly, the old bell may be kept in its entirety, as a relic of the
past, in some part of the church. This has been done, to the great
credit of the parish authorities at Wingrave, in Bucks; Batcombe, in
Dorset; Barrow Gurney, in Somerset; and Swyncombe, in Oxfordshire. This
may perhaps be a counsel of perfection, as it entails the sacrifice
of the money allowed for the old metal; but it is certainly the most
praiseworthy course, even if it is too much to expect from a poor
parish.

I plead, therefore, in conclusion, first for clean and accessible
belfries; secondly for orderly ringing-chambers; thirdly for due care
and attention to the bells and their fittings; and last, but not least,
for the preservation of all old and interesting bells, not only to earn
the gratitude of the casual antiquary, but to show that their historic
value, and the services they have so long and faithfully rendered,
receive due appreciation.



FOOTNOTES:

[1] For an illustration of bells in a frame, see Plate 28.

[2] An early London bell is illustrated on Plate 12.

[3] The belfry of Bruges is shown in Plate 23.



INDEX


  Aldbourne, Wilts, foundry at, 112;
    bell at, 120.

  Alfred the Great introduces Curfew, 98.

  Angelus bell, 98.


  Bagleys (founders), 37.

  Bartlets (founders), 40.

  Belfries and bell-turrets, 6, 8, 62 ff.;
    condition and care of, 75, 139 ff.;
    and see Campanile, Tower.

  Bell, Derivation of word, 1.

  Bell-founders, 8, 21 ff.;
    monastic, 21;
    in London, 22, 24, 28, 40;
    of 14th century, 24 ff.;
    of 15th century, 28 ff., 106;
    Elizabethan, 33, 111;
    of 17th-18th centuries, 34 ff., 111;
    itinerant, 37;
    modern, 41, 44 ff., 150, 154, 155.

  Bell-founding, see Casting.

  Bell-metal, Composition of, 10.

  Bells, Introduction into Church, 2;
    earliest use in England, 4, 8;
    early methods of ringing, 5;
    dedication of, 6, 117;
    earliest existing, 9;
    early dated, 9, 30, 32;
    methods of casting, 10 ff.;
    decoration of, 14, 28 ff., 49, 50, 52, 105 ff.;
    tuning of, 18; foreign, 32;
    of exceptional size, 43 ff.;
    inscriptions on, 45, 48, 50, 55, 114 ff.;
    modern methods of hanging and ringing, 68, 75;
    ancient uses of, 81;
    modern uses of, 82 ff.;
    for Church services, 84 ff.;
    for festivals, 89;
    for death and funerals, 95;
    to mark time, 97;
    secular uses of, 101;
    proper treatment of, 139 ff.;
    cracking of, how to prevent, 148;
    preservation of, 154.

  “Belleyeteres,” 22, 24.

  Bergholt, East, Suffolk, Belfry at, 64.

  Beverley Minster bell, 49.

  Bird, John, (founder), 50.

  Blews (founder), 50, 155.

  Brailes, Bells at, 50, 130, 155.

  Brasyers, (founders), 30, 111.

  Bristol, foundry, 22, 28, 30, 36.

  Bunyan, John, 76.

  Bury St. Edmunds, foundry, 28, 30, 33, 34;
    chimes at, 58.


  Cambridge, Ringing at, 60, 61, 101;
    chimes at, 64.

  _Campana_, 2.

  Campanalogy, the science of bell-ringing, 2.

  Campaniles, 56, 61 ff.

  Canterbury, Bells at, 8, 43.

  Carillons, 57 ff.

  Carter, Joseph, of Reading, 151.

  Casting of bells, 12 ff.

  Caversfield, Oxon., Bell at, 9.

  Changes on bells, 72.

  Change-ringing, Introduction into England, 67;
    method of, 68 ff., 75.

  Chimes, 57 ff., 97.

  Chiming, 5, 70, 84;
    at funerals, 97.

  Chichester Cathedral bell-tower, 64;
    bell at, 125.

  Christmas, Bells at, 89.

  Chronograms, 136.

  Cliburys (founders), 37, 112.

  “Clocking” of bells, 150.

  Cocks, A. H., quoted, 146.

  Colchester, Foundry at, 33.

  Cope of bell-mould, 2, 13.

  Copgrave, Johannes de, (founder), 26.

  Cors (founders), 112.

  Corvehill, Sir W., (founder), 22.

  Coventry, Bell at, 100.

  Cracking of bells, 146, 148 ff.

  Crotch, Dr., 61.

  Croyland, Bells at, 4, 6.

  Culverden, William, (founder), 29.

  Curfew bell, 97 ff.

  Customs of bells, 81 ff.


  Danyell, John, (founder), 29.

  Darbie, Michael, (founder), 38.

  Dates on early bells, 9, 30, 32.

  David playing on bells, 6.

  Divine Service, Ringing for, 84.


  Ely Cathedral, Bells of, 26.

  Exeter Cathedral, Bells of, 8, 44.


  Farmer, Henry, (founder), 128.

  Festivals, Bells used at, 89, 92.

  Fire bell, 103.

  Founders, see Bell-founders.

  Founding of bells, see Casting.

  Foundries, 22 ff.


  Gleaning bell, 101.

  Gloucester foundry, 22, 25, 26, 38;
    bell of Cathedral, 45.

  Goring, Oxon., Bell at, 24, 120.

  Graye, Miles, (founder), 34.


  Hancox, Thomas, (founder), 112.

  Hodson, Christopher, (founder), 49.


  Idbury, Oxon., Bell at, 88.

  Incumbents, Duties of, 146.

  Inscriptions, how produced, 14;
    on great bells, 45, 48, 50, 55;
    mediaeval, 115 ff.;
    post-Reformation, 122 ff.;
    of 18th century, 130 ff.;
    modern, 114, 138, 154;
    of historical interest, 135;
    importance of preserving, 154.


  Jordan, Henry, (founder), 29, 106.


  King’s Lynn, Foundry at, 25.


  Leicester, Foundry at, 25, 28, 33;
    and see Newcombes.

  Lettering on bells, 10, 109, 111.

  Lincoln Cathedral, Bell of, 46.

  Lincolnshire, Early dated bells in, 32.

  London (founders), 22, 24, 28, 40;
    early ringing in, 8, 74;
    bells in, 52 ff., 136.

  Loughborough foundry, 41;
    and see Taylor.

  Ludlow, Bells rung at, 58, 100, 101.

  Lukis, Rev. W. C., quoted, 79, 139.


  Mearses (founders), 40, 48, 56.

  Mears and Stainbank (founders), 41, 52, 155.

  Milton quoted, 100.

  Monastic bell-founders, 21.

  Mot, Robert, (founder), 40, 111.

  Moulding of bells, 13.


  Newcombes (founders), 33, 46, 128.

  New Year’s Eve, Ringing on, 90.

  Norris, Tobie, (founder), 122, 127.

  Norton, Stephen, (founder), 25.

  Norwich, Foundry at, 28, 30;
    and see Brasyers.

  Nottingham, Foundry at, 25, 28, 33, 34;
    and see Oldfields.


  Oldfields (founders), 34, 46, 111, 112.

  Oxford, Bells and ringing at, 48, 97, 98, 101.


  Pancake bell, 93.

  Passing bell, 95.

  Phelps, Richard, (founder), 40, 53.

  Prayer Book, Mention of bells in, 82.

  Purdues (founders), 36, 45, 124.


  Raven, Dr., quoted, 53, 57.

  Reading, Foundry at, 28, 33, 34;
    see also, 151.

  Reformation, Effect of, on bell-founding, 32, 109, 121, 122, 124.

  Ringers, Guilds and Societies of, 67, 74;
    clerical, 68;
    behaviour of, 75, 79;
    rules for, 78.

  Ringing, Methods of, 5, 43;
    early mention of, 5, 8;
    modern, 67;
    and see Change-ringing.

  “Rings of bells,” 4, 5.

  Rudhalls (founders), 38, 134.

  Rylstone, Yorks., Bells of, 124.


  Sacring bell, 88.

  Salisbury, Foundry at, 28, 36.

  Sanctus bell, 86.

  Sermon bell, 85.

  _Signa_, 43 ff.

  Stedman, Fabian, 72, 74.

  Sundays, Ringing on, 84 ff.


  Taylor & Co. (founders), 41, 44, 49, 50, 52, 53, 55, 114, 155.

  Tellers, 96.

  Tennyson, quoted, 89.

  Tong, Shropshire, Great bell of, 49, 104;
    ringing at, 68;
    ringers rules at, 78.

  Tonne, John, (founder), 108;
    Stephen, 34.

  Towers, detached, 64;
    and see Belfries.

  Towthorpe, Friar William, 21.

  Trade-marks, 28 ff., 106 ff.

  Tunnoc, Richard, (founder), 16, 26.


  Uses of bells, 81 ff.


  Waltham Abbey, Bells at, 25, 90.

  Warwick, Ringing at, 58, 103.

  Westminster, Bells of, 52, 56.

  William the Conqueror, 98.

  Worcester, Bells of Cathedral, 9, 25, 50, 136;
    foundry at, 30;
    carillon at, 60;
    campanile at, 62;
    bells of S. Helen’s, 136.

  Wordsworth quoted, 124.

  Wymbishes (founders), 24.


  York, Bell-founder’s window at, 16, 26;
    mortar at, 21;
    foundry at, 22, 25, 26, 37;
    Great bell of minster, 46.


              A. R. MOWBRAY AND CO. LTD., PRINTERS, OXFORD


    +--------------------------------------------------------------+
    | Transcriber’s Notes                                          |
    |                                                              |
    | All inconsistencies were left unchanged, like:               |
    |                                                              |
    | Bellfounder -- Bell-founder                                  |
    | framework -- frame-work                                      |
    | recast -- re-cast                                            |
    | recasting -- re-casting                                      |
    |                                                              |
    | The following changes have been made:                        |
    |                                                              |
    | p. 6 “pourtrays” replaced by “portrays”.                     |
    | p. 159 “,” removed.                                          |
    | p. 159 “,” replaced by “.”.                                  |
    |                                                              |
    +--------------------------------------------------------------+





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