Bell casting in churches etc.

john ketteringham john.ketteringham at n...
Tue Dec 24 14:16:47 GMT 2002

I reproduce the following from Lincolnshire Bells and Bellfounders :

"It was quite usual, in the Saxon and medieval periods, for bells to be cast
locally and often within a church building. A bell casting pit dated to
circa 980 was found inside the Old Minster at Winchester and another of
similar date inside Hadstock church. A bell casting pit was found at the
base of the tower inside Winteringham church which dates from the early
thirteenth century. Bell casting pits were also found inside the church at
Wharram Percy, the palace chapel at Cheddar and at St Oswald’s Priory,
Gloucester. In Burton Pedwardine church there is a stone core of a
medieval bell mould and fragments of a late sixteenth century bell mould
were found in Wide Bargate, Boston.

At St Peter’s church, Barton on Humber there was a Norman bell casting pit
in the nave and a late medieval one at the base of the tower. Presumably
all these bell casting pits were set up by itinerant bell founders.
Perhaps in some cases bells were cast for other churches in the locality.
Evidence for bell founding dating from the late sixteenth century was found
when excavations took place at the West Gate of Lincoln Castle. This may
well be where Robert Quernbie and Henry Oldfield set up a temporary furnace
in 1593 when they cast four bells for Lincoln Cathedral and in the same year
two bells for St Michael’s on the Mount, Lincoln and two more for
Ruskington. When, in 1623, Augustine Bowler recast the fourth bell in St
Hugh’s tower at Lincoln Cathedral he
set up a temporary furnace in the hallway of the Deanery and James Benson
was employed for two days to repave the hall at a cost of 2s!

The inscription on the second bell at Horncastle St Mary confirms that, when
Henry Penn cast five bells here in 1717 the casting was done locally. In
1734 Daniel Hedderly cast five bells in the Castle Garth in Winterton."


When Augustine Bowler recast a 27 cwt bell at Lincoln Cathedral in 1623 a
temporary furnace was built in the hallway of the Deanery! Repaving the
hall after the casting took two days at a cost of 2s.

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