Flat-topped bells

David Bryant djb122 at y...
Tue Feb 12 13:47:54 GMT 2002

I'm looking for early examples of flat topped bells (i.e. those cast
without canons). In happened on vatious occasions as a result of metal
running short or the canons being defective (e.g. Exeter Cathedral 9th),
but I'm looking for the earliest bells deliberately cast flat-topped.
Jennings, in his history of the Taylor foundry, states that a
flat-topped Taylor bell was exhibited at the Great Exhibition. The two
bells exhibited are now at Scarborough, and in the York Minster SCR
archives we have a picture of the tenor being removed prior to its last
rehang - and it has canons. It is of course possible that the other bell
(3/10) had a flat top, but it seems more likely that if either did it
would be the larger one - anyone any further info on these bells?

The earliest authenticated example I have is the 1852 Taylor tenor at
Leighton, Powys, which John Eisel tells me was cast flat-topped. In the
1860s-80s Taylor's freqently cast the two tenors of a ring flat-topped,
with the rest having canons (St Paul's have canons on 1-8, flat tops on
9-12). They continued this until the early 1890s, when they began
casting all bells flat topped, probably as a result of the introduction
of the cast iron headstock.

I'm currently researhcing for an article on the development and ultimate
demise of canons and their various derivatives (button top, Doncaster
Head, etc) - I'll stick a draft on my website when it reaches a
reasonably complete stage.


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