Bilbie/Rudhall bells

Andrew Bull a_m_bull at
Mon Nov 24 20:05:28 GMT 2008

The Rudhalls seemed to get worse as they went on, but I don't think they
were ever outstanding for tone. Llangybi in South Wales, where I learnt to
ring, had a 9 cwt six of 1712, that were sufficiently well in tune that
Taylors did not tune them when they rehung the bells in 1902. They were
"topped 'n' tailed" in 1907, the 4/6 being recast, so we have a mix of
untouched Rudhall and true-harmonic Taylor. The old Rudhall bells are quite
acceptable bells of their type, and the octave sounds well, covered as it is
by a particularly fine Taylor tenor.


In contrast, the 1782 Thomas Rudhall six at Michaelston-Y-Fedw were truly
appalling before Mr. Higson's boys worked their magic on them. Two bells
were over a semitone sharp, and the tenor had a very sharp and very loud
hum. I can only assume that the idiots at Cadw who originally insisted that
they not be retuned had never heard the bells. The 1808 23 cwt John Rudhall
tenor at Berkeley, Glos, is a rather sour-toned bell with a loud hum note
206 cents sharp of the octave. At least this bell has a prime only 5 cents
flat, but the bell makes an interesting contrast with the far less strident
old-style tuning of the three 1842 Thomas Mears bells in the ring.


For the period, I consider that the Evans foundry of Chepstow cast better
bells. The six at Cwmdu, which were left untuned when Eayre & Smith rehung
them, are - to my ears anyway - a very pleasant old-style six, and the
decision not to retune them was the correct one. David's comments on the
Bilbies are interesting, as they were direct competitors to Evans, as the
well-known inscription at Backwell bears testament.


Andrew Bull 



From: bellhistorians at [mailto:bellhistorians at]
On Behalf Of David Bryant
Sent: 24 November 2008 15:25
To: bellhistorians at
Subject: RE: [Bell Historians] Ludlow

There are some very good bells by the Billbies and (especially) the
Rudhalls, but equally I can think of some pretty dire ones. In particular,
the Cullompton branch of the Bilbie family, and the last Rudhall (John) are
not noted as casting decent-sounding bells.


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