[Bell Historians] The Death Knell for British Founding

Andrew Aspland aaspland at y...
Sat Apr 3 21:00:18 BST 2004

A few thoughts:

The dates seem rather random and more mathematical than historical (where
did they get 1850 from?)! How about:
pre-reformation (of church) c1540
pre-Restoration (of Monarchy) c1660
pre-Revolution (Industrial) c1750
pre-Rediscovery (of bell tuning) c1896
"Modern" bells?

The problems come (as has been mentioned) when listing confers a "must not
touch" status to a bell. I don't suppose it will be long before someone
objects to the removal of a cast in crown staple on grounds of historical

In the diocese of Ripon and Leeds we have approximately 35 pre-reformation
bells, 40 more pre-Restoration bells, 100 more which predate the Industrial
Revolution, then 300 more before modern tuning and 400 modern bells.

We are short of "character" rings from the olden days. Of the 300
pre-modern bells I am struggling to find any that would not be improved by a
trip through the melting pot - perhaps the back six at Knaresborough (P&C
1774) are the exception. Yet the bells at Masham (Harrison 1766) caused
much interest and they are not of "particularly good quality"! Yet at the
same time I would question why anyone would want to recast a modern bell
(even one less than 30 years old!).

Pre 1750 we do not have any "complete rings of four bells by one founder"
and I can only find one instance of three such bells (4, 5 and 7 at Richmond
S Smith 1697).

Am I right in thinking that when the first list was drawn up bell metal was
relatively valuable compared to labour and it was tempting to recast many
bells. These days I would expect that the cost of recasting a bell is
fairly prohibitive compared to that of retaining a bell for re-use. When an
historic bell is found to be unsuitable for use in a ringing peal is its
retention as a service/clock bell economically viable?


More information about the Bell-historians mailing list