[Bell Historians] standards of research

Susan Dalton dalton.family at v...
Sun Sep 14 18:36:58 BST 2003

Re content and layout of entries in bell surveys, I am indeed grateful for
all the kind things that people have said about the two-thirds of my Dorset
efforts that have been published so far. Part 3 is nearly complete but is
waiting for (i) the bellhanging/hangers section to be illustrated, (ii) an
index to be compiled and (iii) a few other bits and pieces. I note wryly
that one or two of the subscribers to this E-list who have expressed
opinions about the book have neither read nor bought it, which does not help
the precarious business of financing the printing of the final Part!

Although I am committed to the same layout for Wiltshire (Part 1 of which is
well on the way), I do commend Chris Pickford's policy which is to separate
inscriptions from the rest of the tabulated data, putting just the founder
and date of the bell in that position. This saves space and adds clarity:
some inscriptions are extremely long (the new bell at H T Bradford on Avon
is a case in point!) and others do not include the founder or date.

Re comments about the sound of bells, before anybody else chastises me for
what I said about Bagshot, may I point out that the adjectives quoted were
derived verbatim from my personal site notes of March 1971 which somebody
has somehow pirated! They were never intended for publication: you may
have observed that Bagshot is not in Dorset and I have yet to do a 'Bells
and Belfries of Surrey'. The back six bells there, incidentally, sound the
way they do because Warners cast them to their usual profiles in 1883 and
G & J attempted to retune them to Simpson standards in 1914. In Dorset I
have tried to ensure that what I have said in print is no more subjective
than it has to be, and gives readers a flavour of what the bells actually
sound like, both individually and collectively in a ring.

However much one tries to avoid prejudice or bias, experience will
inexorably lead one to expect better-sounding bells from John Wallis of
Salisbury than Thomas Wroth of Wellington, from William Dobson of Downham
Market than Thomas Gardiner of Sudbury, from Taylors in 1898 than in 1878,
and so on. But each individual case should be judged on its merits. Chris
P sort-of accuses me of having a 'strong dislike of a couple of founders'.
Well, maybe and maybe not. I readily concede that Thomas Mears II, of whom
I could hardly be expected to have an exalted opinion after ringing all
those times during the 1960s and early 70s at Chelsea, Shadwell, Bermondsey
(the old ring) and elsewhere, produced some enjoyable sounds, especially
where there has been some retuning since. E.g. Edlesborough, and most of
the old eight at East Grinstead. And T Mears's back bells at Staunton
Harold (ha!) don't sound bad either.


>From: "A Willis" <zen16073 at z...>
>To: <bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com>
>Subject: RE: [Bell Historians] standards of research
>Date: Wed, Sep 10, 2003, 3:45 pm

> So what do people think? Is there any way we can set and encourage standards
> in research?
> David
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