[Bell Historians] Southwark cathedral

David Cawley dcawley at w...
Tue Jan 25 17:12:23 GMT 2005

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This looks as if it beginning to beg the question, "How accurate is a bell =
weight anyway; and, though interesting, does it matter?" I remember Alan Hu=
ghes addressing the meeting of Bells Advisers etc arranged by the CCC in No=
vember 2003, and he made the point along the lines that some bell historian=
s were obsessed with bell weights! The 19thC and later bell historians - i=
ndeed, most until Fred, did not concern themselves overmuch with them. Bell=
diameters were considered of greater importance.=20

The cynic will say, yes and they got most of those wrong too. But I have co=
me across cases where contemprary researchers have queried measurements I h=
ave obtained; and vice-versa. One can usually be more precise in the surrou=
ndings of a bell foundry.....unless the bell is not round!

As to weights, we all know that reputed weights frequently exceed the recei=
ved ones. But "given" weights of quite modern vintage are sometimes at vari=
ance with what is later measured. Take certain bells from Canterbury Cathed=
ral old 12 as sent out from Whitechapel and as received in 1981:

Treble (1923) 6-0-16; 6-0-18 (+2) Doncaster head; independent staple
2nd (1923) 6-1-15; 6-1-18 (+3) Doncaster head; independent staple
3rd (1802) 6-3-24; 6-3-16 (-8) 6 canons on; staple drilled out
4th (1892) 7-1-0; 7-1-14 (+14) 6 canons on; staple drilled out
5th (1855) 7-1-17; 7-1-8 (-9) 6 canons on; staple drilled out
8th (1855) 10-2-25; 10-2-7 (-18) 6 canons on; staple drilled out
Tenor (1951) 32-0-6; 32-0-6 () Flat head, independent staple but a piece we=
ighing 2 lb knocked out of / ground from lip.

In the end it just goes to show that it depends whose scales you are using,=
and how accurate they are.=20

There was another case I remember, at Ash-by-Sandwich, Kent where Mears & S=
tainbank recast the tenor in 1927. The new bell weighed 21-1-18. In 1978, T=
aylors tuned and rehung the bells and augmented to ten. After tuning, the w=
eight of the tenor has increased to 21-3-0 !

Cyril Johnston sometimes did very odd things with weights when displaying =
his framed bell records.

The answer to David's question about the amount to be allowed for when cons=
idering a bell whose cast-in staple has been removed will depend not only o=
n the size of the bell but also that of the staple - as we know some care v=
ery large with huge roots buried in the crown of the bell, the removal of w=
hich is attended with difficulty and danger, especially if undertaken in th=
e tower.


----- Original Message -----=20
From: David Bryant=20
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com=20
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 3:17 PM
Subject: RE: [Bell Historians] Southwark cathedral

>I agree entirely. It's sad that it is no longer possible to quote nice,
>exact weights for all the bells, but the plain and simple truth is that =
>front six have not been weighed in their current form.

In fact, surely the weights of 8,9,10,11 aren't going to be correct any m=
either. Removal of the cast-in staple and drilling of a centre hole will=
have reduced the weight by a noticeable amount, specially with the larger=
bells. How many pounds would this remove from a bell as large as the 11th=


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