[Bell Historians] Re: Thaxted (was Oakham etc)

David Cawley dcawley at w...
Sun Jun 13 20:21:55 BST 2004

On Thaxted, I think that the legend has multiplied with the years. G&J - from whom Cyril had already parted company - were instructed to recast 3, 4 and 5 which they did early in 1949 (the 5th is dated 1948). Donors (The People of Thaxted; The Morris [dancing] Ring; The Patron) had been found. The resulting bells must be among the finest examples of bell moulding and decoration ever.
The 5th probably has the longest inscription on an 8 1/2 cwt bell ever!

However, within a year the 7th (by Gardiner in 1734) did crack all round the shoulder most likely for the reasons Richard states. It was recast with 1 1/2 cwt extra metal in 1950. It is again highly decorated, but the style of the inscription is simpler. Significantly there is no name of a donor.

Michael Howard personally designed the bells and their ornament. I bet Wally Spragget tuned them; perhaps his notebook (at WBF) tells us something about these bells.

I think I mentioned this before, but in case not: St Nicholas, Leicester, bourdon bell. Cast weight 28-1-12; tunings 6-1-12; despatched weight 22-0-0; invoiced weight 22-0-14 (also the weight in the Estimate); framed notice weight 20-3-14 !
You pays your money and you takes your choice.15 partials tuned. And the recently-restored clapper (a massive composite steel affair) fell to bits yesterday! 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Richard Offen 
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com 
Sent: Saturday, June 12, 2004 5:29 AM
Subject: [Bell Historians] Re: Oakham and Pythagorean tuning

--- In bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com, "nigelsdtaylor" 
<nigeltaylor at k...> wrote:
> Cyril Johnston tended to cut heavily into the corner of the 
> as this is the most responsive area for flattening the 2nd partial 
> (Cyril called it the "strike"). Unfortunately, he sometimes made 
> area too thin.

Legend has it that this is exactly what happened when Gillett's tried 
to tune the old bells at Thaxtead, Essex. Overzealous tuning of 
the "strike" resulted in several bells being parted off at the 
crown! After this incident, G & J only tuned the nominals of old 
bells (tuned at the soundbow) to avoid such a disaster happening 

G & J were certainly not afraid to remove metal from their new bells 
however. Looking at the tuning figures for Bromley, which Dickon 
has recently extracted from the Gillett records in Croydon Library, I 
noticed that the tenor had over 3 cwt of metal taken out of it during 
the tuning process - an amount you might expect from tuning a 3 or 4 
tonner, but not a 15 cwt bell! For all that, it ended up as a very 
fine and well tuned (including upper partials) bell however!


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