St Peter Port Town Church; St Helier, St Thomas RC

David Cawley dave at
Mon Aug 7 23:54:22 BST 2006


1. I have a good number of colour prints of the old installation before removal, and when I have the owner's permission I will scan one or two general views to the Moderator.

2. The 1913 ring was actually exchanged for the 1736 bells. The frame was reused and the fittings of the former ring were affixed to the latter with minimal alterations. The result was curious, even interesting, but hardly significant, let alone worthy of the Town Church. It is clear from various sources that the principal object of the 1913 work was to provide a chime; the only thing new other than the bells was the chiming apparatus. The other fittings being then still usable allowed of attempts to ring the bells. The development of the art of ringing in the Channel Islands after 1970 had clear implications for the Town Church and these were carried out in 1994 with the objective to aim at nothing less than excellence. Both Whitechapel and Taylors quoted for such a job, and the 4' 0 1/2" Taylor eight in Eb, in a wooden frame was selected.

3. As to the 1913 ring, six of the bells were used in casting a part of the new one. The treble is preserved at Castle Cornet, the second at Taylors' Museum. Their tonal qualities may be objectively examined in both places. The 7th had more inscription than quoted by FS.  As to the frame, it seems that the bellhanger was not unaware of the layout of a typical English bellframe of the time, with each pair of bells (1/8; 2/3/; 4/5; 5/7) swinging at right angles to the next pair. FS says the trebles were ropes opposed; in fact they were like the others unopposed. List members will be familiar with examples, many of later date than FS suggests. The fittings were of English type components but French style and manufacture, as one of the postings suggests. I think that a member of the Brocard firm came over to England to see how it was done. It would be interesting to know where. He then interpreted them in French style, like the bells. The result of these labours is known to the few who either overcame the difficulties of ringing there or came to view a campanological curiosity. The result of the work carried out in 1994 is a complete restoration of the tower and a fine toned ring of bells which should serve the Town rather longer than its two predecessors. 

4. John David informs me that the clock bell, which eluded Fred Sharpe (and myself) on our visits, is currently on the ground, and although much eroded because of its exposed normal position is nevertheless confirmed to be by J-B Brocard 1736; it is not one of the eight of that year, but was cast especially for its current (interrupted) purpose.


List members who do not know may like to be aware that the heavy five swinging bells (1/2 by Cornille-Havard, 3,4,5 by Paccard, nos 1,3,4,5, 8 of 8) are currently at Taylors Eayre & Smith. Some of the bells will be slightly tuned and all new balanced swinging fittings provided. The frame of the trebles will be rearranged. The bells will be electrically free swung with machinery more robust than the previous two installations. The bells were originally rope swung, the first electrical motors going in c1945 and the second lot in 1980. 

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