[Bell Historians] Norwich foundry
david at b...
Thu Oct 14 12:29:24 BST 2004
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Bell foundry unearthed
October 13, 2004 12:23
DEVELOPERS ringing the changes on a Norwich building site have unearthed the remains of a factory that once made bells for churches across Norfolk.
Work to demolish a former factory in Ber Street to make way for retirement homes has turned up evidence of its hidden history.
The site, on the corner of Thorn Lane, was once part of the most prolific bell foundry in East Anglia.
Developers McCarthy & Stone are close to completing work on the retirement complex that will comprise 66 apartments over five floors.
But a dig carried out by the Norfolk Archaeological Unit prior to building work starting uncovered a host of treasures that have been preserved for posterity.
Historian Paul Cattermole, a former teacher and now advisor on bells to the Diocese of Norwich, has written a report on the findings.
He said: "The dig yielded many significant ceramic pieces but by far the biggest volume of finds were bell moulds from the foundry, which was most prolific from 1590 to 1660.
"Change ringing originated in East Anglia and Norwich was a centre of excellence. The dig in Ber Street was very important because this is the first site in Norwich where remains on an industrial scale have been found."
Mr Cattermole, who is also author of 'Church Bells and Bell Ringing — A Norfolk Profile', said one of the bells cast at the Ber Street site was on display at the All Saints' Centre, in Westlegate, where many of the bell founders are also buried.
Claire Burrell, of McCarthy & Stone, said: "It was very interesting to talk to Paul about the history of the bell foundry.
"We always try to build sensitively to fit in with the surrounding area, and to respect any history connected with its sites.
"This is particularly important in a city like Norwich where there is so much history.
"Our new development has been designed to blend in with the conservation area and the corner turret will create a focal point for people looking along Ber Street.
"We are hoping to incorporate into the lounge the Brasyer Shield, which was the badge of the Norwich Bell Founders from 1370 to the closure of the foundry in the 18th century."
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