Warners in Zanzibar

George Dawson George at d...
Wed Dec 1 09:33:44 GMT 2004

I'm sure David Cawley, who provided the Warner catalogue print will comment.
What we now need is someone to do Church Bells of Zanzibar to measure all
the diameters, do a tonal analysis on them and locate all the displaced


> Thanks, George! Your article is very helpful. However, at the risk
> of belabouring the obvious, I'm going to stick my neck out and add
> some comments and speculations of my own.
> Warner's drawing must have been done with a bit of artistic license -
> the multiple rows of 5 small bells on the upper level don't show
> enough variation in size. (Also, the perspective is visibly
> inconsistent.) Given the inscriptions which George has recorded from
> the original (not readable on the scanned image on the Web), this
> must be an approximate depiction of what was shipped to Zanzibar,
> probably fully assembled. The arrangement appears to have been 4
> rows of 5 bells on the upper level, and two pairs of big bells with a
> single slightly smaller bell on the lower level. More likely, the
> upper level was 5-5-5-4 while the lower was 2-2-2.
> What we see in the belfry photo is at least three levels of
> bell-carrying timbers, apparently dissociated from Warner's original
> supporting structure, probably reduced in length to fit into the
> belfry, installed in a rather haphazard manner. (I can't help but
> wonder why no one associated with the original project thought to
> make sure that the bell frame would fit into the tower at the
> destination.)
> At the lowest level is a row of three bells, with clapper-like
> internal chiming hammers mounted on a separate frame board,
> presumably original to Warner. (The rightmost hammer, however,
> appears to be a local replacement!) At the same level is an empty
> timber, approximately parallel to the first, which once held four
> bells (though three of the holes were re-drilled to change the
> spacing); but there's no visible evidence of support for chiming
> hammers for them.
> At the middle level is a row of two bells, at least one of which has
> its chiming hammer on a jury-rigged piece of board. At the same
> level is an empty timber for three bells (one hole re-drilled),
> clearly not parallel to the first. Again there is no visible
> evidence of support for their chiming hammers.
> At the top level is a single bell, hung approximately in the center
> of a timber that's crossways to the two levels below. There's no
> chiming hammer visible, but possibly there's an external clock hammer
> mounted on the short wide plank atop the center of the empty
> mid-level timber. There's another cross-timber at the same level,
> but it's not clear whether it ever held a bell - perhaps it just
> supports the edge of a small platform below the clockroom access
> hatchway.
> The perspective of the photograph makes it difficult to determine the
> relative sizes of the different levels of bells. But from their
> arrangement I would guess that the largest is at the top (as an hour
> bell) while the three smallest are at the bottom. These three must
> have come from the upper level of the original frame, leaving at most
> three which could have come from the lower level of the original
> frame. If so, then we're not seeing the "largest five" of the
> original 25 (though these five may now be connected to the lowest
> five positions on the chiming machine).
> The irregular black splotches on the ceiling are probably oil residue
> from years of over-enthusiastic oiling of the clock in the chamber
> above the belfry. (From what is or isn't visible in the belfry,
> access to the clock must be awkward, to say the least!)
> From the photo of the cathedral, the belfry (below the clock faces)
> appears to have two levels of three lancet openings on each side.
> That matches what we can see in the belfry photo, so it seems
> unlikely that there were any additional levels of bells that we can't
> see. There could have been one, now entirely empty, at about the
> height of the photographer's shoulders above the belfry floor; and
> there could have been an additional bell timber one or both of the
> two lower levels against the wall which is just out of the picture at
> the top. But that's pure speculation.
> What we can say (as George has summarized) is that there is clear
> evidence that at least 13 bells were hung in the tower at one time,
> and that only six currently remain. I'm tempted to be disappointed
> not to have more photos, especially of the chiming machine; but I'm
> delighted to have this much information. So thanks for putting it
> all together, George!
> I would welcome any additions or corrections to my interpretation of
> the evidence, particularly details from CJP's index of Warner's work.
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