[Bell Historians] Reading the national bell register

David Bryant davidbryant at 7St3eXJhZYDhCFtcvhxv0ePRSXW_2ufJ3by_YjYKqoOGbWLfamc2h2PgeFeUpGP5ZGJZhrykWbZ7vWwBoqC5.yahoo.invalid
Sat Oct 11 17:00:26 BST 2008

"My first home tower , Sonning , has 4 Ellis Knight tenors dated 
and under the LIST column of the register "yes" is entered against
each bell . I presume that this is a preservation order . Isnt it the 
case though that any bells of this age have to be preserved intact ?"

Bit late responding to this one, but it's anything pre-1600 which is
automatically listed. In practice anything cast before 1700 is unlikely to
be scrapped but it does happen occasionally - the 1630 9th of the old 12 at
Kettering was scrapped in 2004. Unlike, for example, listed buildings, there
are no legal implications where listed bells are concerned and the lists are
merely advisory.

"If this is not so , are Sonning any more worthy of preservaton than
Ellis's heavier tenors at Reading SMV , Oxford SMV and Bray , also 3
of the 10 at Magdalen College ."

The lists to some extent can be a bit arbitrary due to being put together
over several decades and with input from a number of people. I would guess
that the four at Sonning are listed because they are a set of four
(presumably the tenor was replaced the year after originally cast due to a
fault). If bells form sets like this, they will often be listed in
preference to odd bells by the same founder and of a similar date.

"For another comparison , 5 of the back 6 at Thatcham are listed ( 
Ellis's tenor has been recast ) but the back 6 at Hurst of mixed
earlier dates are not and Fred Sharpe found 2 maiden bells there ."

I would guess that the back six at Hurst are not listed because they are not
a contemporary set. That said, there could well be a case for listing them
anyway. It rather depends on other surviving bells by that founder, and
obviously it isn't desirable to have a large proportion of bells listed. As
it is some counties (I believe Gloucestershire is one) have a higher
proportion of listed bells than is the norm - not because there are more of
interest than in other areas, but because bells have been listed which might
not have been elsewhere.

There often seems to be the assumption that no changes can be made to listed
bells, but this is not correct. It is extremely unlikely that canon removal
would be allowed (except possibly if the canons were badly damaged anyway),
but tuning is not out of the question if a good case can be made for it.
After all, it's better to tune an old bell so that it can continue to form
part of a ring than 'retire' it simply because it's too sharp.


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