[Bell Historians] Council for the Conservation of Bellfoundries (CCB)

David Bryant david at b...
Tue Apr 27 10:46:01 BST 2004

> There is an interesting 'half-way' point in the late 16th and early 17th
> century here. Roger Purdue I certainly cast bells in Bristol, usually when
> only a single bell was required. Peals were cast at a temporary foundry
> near the church, which may also have been used for other nearby churches;
> Melkdham/?Lacock, Highworth and Hannington are two that are known. The
> foundry may have been the churchyard, but certainly at Devizes a barn was
> rented for the purpose.

Several of the Purdues did it. Richard I and Roger I are known to have set up a foundry at Nynehead in Somerset and cast bells for there and one or more other local churches. Thomas (two generations down the line - I forget who's grandson he was) cast five large bells for Exeter Cathedral in the precincts, because of the difficulty in moving them (the largest is the clock bell of about five tons). I'm sure this pattern will be seen all over the country. Richard I also worked as an itinerant for a time.

I don't have concrete evidence of this, but I would think that the practice of casting near the church is likely to have endured longer in hilly areas where moving bells would be very difficult. Even in 1922, Taylor's rehung the tenor at the remote dales village of Arncliffe in situ, fitting it with cast iron headstock. This is contrary to their usual practice of taking bells to Loughborough for refitting, and I would assume this is because transporting the bell (which weighs about 15 cwt) would have been difficult even then.

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