[Bell Historians] Royal Exchange, London

Chris Pickford c.j.pickford at t...
Fri Jun 27 10:36:12 BST 2003

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I feared that this would take some time, and it has! But the results are q=
uite interesting. Basically, the situation seems to be as below - and I co=
nclude that this bell was actually a reject or "scrapper" rather than one o=
f the original set. But it's by no means certain, so I'll be happy to rece=
ive comments and corrections.

Forest Hill - although known as Christ Church, Sydenham, at one stage - is =
a red herring. There was a separate church at Sydenham with this dedication=


The 1844 "Royal Exchange" bell now at All Saints seems to be the bell of 3-=
3-20 invoiced by C. & G. Mears on 21 December 1844 to "The New Church, Syde=
nham". I cannot identify the church with certainty, but by 1887 this bell =
was at what was by then known as Christ Church, Sydenham - a building with =
a complicated history which began as a Nonconformist chapel and became an A=
nglican chapel of ease to St Michael's, Sydenham, after 1873. It must have =
been transferred from Christ Church to the new All Saints (1901-3) early in=
the C20th. The bell described in Stahlschmidt at Christ Church is, however=
, clearly the one noted by GPE at All Saints in 1974 and now under discussi=


However, the bell is dated 1844 and the Whitechapel daybooks seem to indica=
te that it was supplied to a church in Sydenham in December of that year. =
The first Royal Exchange bells were supplied in August 1844 and inaugurated=
in November. They remained in the tower until the middle of 1845, when th=
ey were all returned to the foundry. The new and larger replacement set was=
invoiced and opened in October 1845. We do know that some of the original =
bells were exchanged in the meantime - a letter of 4 December 1844 refers t=
o Mears's men "coming tomorrow to fetch away another bell" - as there was a=
protracted dispute about the correctness of the tuning. This, of course, =
eventually led to the full replacement of the bells in 1845.


The present weight of the Sydenham bell (3-3-13) is much closer to the weig=
ht of the Sydenham "New Church" bell of December 1844 (3-3-20) than it is t=
o the smallest of the 1844 Royal Exchange chime (4-0-26) as invoiced out in=
August 1844. I therefore conclude that this was a reject - or one of the=
bells exchanged between August and December 1844 - rather than one of the =
original set. I don't know, but my impression is that the "fuss" was about =
the clock bells rather than those only needed for the chime, and I guess th=
at the 4-0-26 "treble" was not one of those that were exchanged. So, I thi=
nk this was probably a "scrapper" - rejected and put on one side before the=
first complete set left the foundry.


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