Casting dates

Harper, Andrew (Andrew) andrewharper at
Thu May 4 13:11:02 BST 2006

I saw the recent correspondence relating to casting dates (I think it came out the Stavanger thread but I may be wrong on that) and would like to raise a question or two on that line in relation to our bells.  St Mary the Virgin has a wonderful set of 8 bells that were cast by Abel Rudhall in 1756 (although the treble and tenor were recast by Taylors in 1902), with a tenor of 18.5 cwt.  As this year is their 250th anniversary I decided to do some research to find out what I could about the bells, but in particular; when in 1756 were they installed so we could mark the occasion with a peal and were there any bells before these 8.   I managed to find two Churchwarden's books in the Glos Records Office, one from 1956 and the other from 1756 onwards and the 1956 book recorded the celebration of the 200th anniversary in October of that year although I was unable to corroborate that .   However, when I checked the 1756 onwards account book I found a number of entries specifiying payments to people in relation to the bells.  In 1756 a single individual was paid for taking the bells to and from Glos, and in 1757 one person was paid for 3 waggons (sic) for taking the bells to Glos and another person from bring them back from Glos.  One can assume from this entry that at least 3 bells were being taken to and from Glos in 1757, possibly more.  Unfortunately, non of these entries were individually dated.  There was another entry in the income side of the 1756 account book describing an omitted payment to ringers and this was dated 26th May.   There were also payments to the ringers for a number of years, again undated, but each around the £3 mark.   I assumed that this was a yearly fee for ringing and was probably paid at the end of each year.  There were also some other payments to ringers for special occasions such as the King of Prussia's victory (I believe this referred to the King of Prussia's victory over the Austrians in October of 1756 although there may have been other victories in later years).

All this evidence leads me to believe that there were some bells at St Mary's before 1756 although it is impossible to say how many.  It also leads me to believe that these bells were re-cast by Rudhall (as the entries specified taking the bells to and from Glos) but I am puzzled by the fact that bells do state, via the inscriptions, that they were cast in 1756 and not a mix of 1756 and 1757).  Can anyone through any light on this?  Was it normal practice in those days to re-cast bells or to provide new ones?   I am aware of other recent correspondence on the term re-casting does not necessarily mean melting the bells down and using the same metal to cast new ones.   In fact, the pre and post 1902 weights of our bells are available and the pre 1902 weights of the treble and tenor were lighter than they are post 1902 so indicating that additional metal must have been added or completely new bells were supplied.

In case  you are wondering, I intend, in the absence of other information, to celebrate the bells anniversary with a peal in Oct.


Andrew Harper
Tower Captain
St Mary the Virgin


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