[Bell Historians] St Clement Danes

David Cawley dcawley at w...
Fri Apr 2 14:44:47 BST 2004

In response to A. Taylor, here is chapter and verse, in a letter to Prebendary Wellard, Rector of St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe who was considering havingthose bells taken down (as they were):

"Mears & Stainbank WhitechapelBell Foundry
15th May 1941

Dear Prebendary Wellard

St Andrew Undershaft

These bells are a ring of six, Tenor weighing about 12 1/2 cwt. The 5th wasrecast in 1650 by Bryan Eldridge of Chertsey, and the other were cast here, the Tenor and 3rd in 1597, the 4th in 1600 and the treble in 1669.

[The cost of dismantling and lowering] storing them at the base of the tower would be £43. 10. 0

After what happened at St Clement Danes, I am wondering whether it would not be safer to leave the bells against one of the outside walls. St Clement Danes bells were stored at the base of the Tower and the mass of burning timber which fell lodged on them last Saturday night has resulted in serval of them becoming cracked. 

Take another case, St Andrew's, Holborn. These bells are fitted with iron headstocks,adn hung in an iron bell-frame. The Tower is gutted right throughbut the bells are still hanging in their framework, although every bit of the timber made fittings is destroyed. The bells are however cracked, due to the heat.

It is because of these two cases that I am wondering which is the greater risk, i.e. inside the building from fire or outside from H.E. I am inclined to think the former is the greater risk.

Yours sincerely,


It was Mr W. A. Hughes who informed me that Mears took the St Clement Danesbells down and that they were buried beneath the tower; also that water was played on them. Whether or not the latter staement is accurate, it is clear from A.A.H.'s letter that the bells were already down and stored.                   

I have a copy of the picture of which Richard speaks, taken following the destruction of St Clement Danes on May 10th, 1941. It shows some the bells (on iron stocks) with the clock and Oranges and Lemons chiming mechanism heaped on top of them.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: alan taylor 
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com 
Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2004 11:37 PM
Subject: [Bell Historians] St Clement Danes

DLC wrote

St Clement Danes (Westminster) were taken down and buried - but water was
hosed onto the spot when the church was blitzed "to cool them down"....... 

Not quite correct. The bell frame was destroyed and the bells crashed to the
ground. Eight of the bells had been visible cracked and the remaining two
were suspected of hairline fractures. To prevent pilfering, a brick shed was
constructed in the base of the tower and the bells buried in sand within it.

Alan Taylor

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