[Bell Historians] heavy tenors

A Willis zen16073 at z...
Wed Oct 29 09:13:22 GMT 2003

-----Original Message-----
From: jimhedgcock [mailto:jameshedgcock at h...]
Sent: 28 October 2003 19:01
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Bell Historians] heavy tenors

--- Both old and modern bell founders have not always been totally
honest in describing the weights of the bells that they have
supplied. After all, what do you do to check their honesty?

Weights and Measures Acts have been in force since the time of Richard II,
and it was in the interest of both parties, whether clothier and tax man or
bellfounder and churchwarden, to ensure that the measure/weight was
accurate. Hence the many entries in Churchwardens' accounts on the line of
'expenses to Bristol to see the bell weighed'. I beleive one founder (?a
Bilbie)had a bell taken out of the tower because he rightly suspected that
he had not been paid enough. Bell metal was expensive, especially tin whose
price was controlled by the Pewterers Company for a long time.

I think some confusion about weights arises because of a tendency to weigh a
bell with the clapper, as Thomas Blackbourn of Salisbury was said to do.
The L&J tenor at Holy Trinity, Bradford, was said by William Gifford to
weigh 30-3-14 after re-hanging by Blackbourn in 1891. Taylors weighed it at
30-0-25, and reduced it to 29-2-26 on tuning in 1998. When it was cast in
1882 the churchwardens paid for 32 cwt of metal @ 42/- the cwt, a total cost
of £67 4s It was lathe and chip-tuned which must have reduced the weight.
Given the churchwarden at the time if there had been any suspicion of
overcharging, he would have complained very forcefully indeed.

Anne Willis

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