Coventry (was William Wooding Starmer)

Richard Offen richard.offen at o...
Thu Apr 1 14:13:05 BST 2004

--- In bellhistorians at, "Bill Hibbert" <bill at h...> 
> To respond to the various messages:
> I do have a copy of CP's book on Coventry, it is very well thumbed, 
> I have read it many times. A good book.
> As regards the relative merits of 1774 Whitechapel and 1926 
> Gilletts, the account of the debate in Young's book make 
> reading. There was a good deal of anti-Simpson feeling (Simpson 
> and all that) but there was a clear view from several protagonists 
> that the Coventry bells should be preserved because they were the 
> very best example of their time, even if nowadays one could do 
> better. For example, one proposal from EAY himself was to buy the 
> bells and keep them safe in the hope they could be rehung somewhere 
> else in future, while allowing Coventry to have their Gillett 
> This proposal foundered because Coventry wanted to reuse the actual 
> metal for reasons of sentiment - 'Our bells are not for sale'.
> Since reading Young's book, I have done a detailed comparison of 
> Coventry nominals against the figures I measured at Mancroft the 
> other day. It is quite clear from this comparison that Whitechapel 
> in the 1770s knew exactly what they were trying to do and pretty 
> much achieved it. When I get a bit of time I'll put up a webpage.
> One interesting aspect of the argument in court was the 
> about the tuning of the bells. It is clear from A. A. Hughes' 
> figures that he was judging the bells against Just tuning - by this 
> standard they are almost all very close. The argument was made in 
> court that many of the bells were up to a quarter of a tone flat. 
> The most likely explanation is that they were being judged against 
> equal temperament (though it is just possible that the listener was 
> hearing the primes).
> I felt very much for A. A. Hughes during the court hearing. He 
> states very robustly, in writing, that the bells were of high 
> quality for their date, but at the same time must have been beset 
> Taylors and Gilletts taking his market by producing true-harmonic 
> bells. He eventually admitted in court that were he to cast such 
> bells now he would cast them with octave hums.
> As I said, I now have the nominals of the bells. I don't suppose 
> Gilletts measured the partials before consigning them to 'their 
> fiery ordeal'? Is there any way of finding out?
> Bill H

Try Alan Buswell, he has most of the Gillett tuning figures on a 


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