[Bell Historians] Spanish bells from Swansea to Chile?

Chris Pickford c.j.pickford.t21 at Ra3WzDNh4xQx94NPUcl121Rok7XAYZSn42efsngNnUpJvMTftTGBSGgH56iRaR2jyJ0mjY1QyRpNMk4q42HXWa7N07qL6LkPhmI.yahoo.invalid
Fri Feb 12 20:23:16 GMT 2010

Now back home, I've checked the description of the Oystermouth (Mumbles) bells in Arthur Wright's "Glamorgan" manuscript. 

He gives the inscriptions on the three Spanish bells.
1. SENOR SAN JOSE R.P.N. ANO DE 1818 (27" diameter)
2. SENOR SAN JOSEPH ORA PRO NOBIS [no date] (29.75" diameter)

The versions here omit the markings, but the treble seems to bear the name of Joseph Huesca - Wright notes that Huesca is the capital of the Spanish province Hesca 35m NNE of Saragoza and has a cathedral and church of San Pedro and San Juan - and the tenor may have been cast by Manuel de ... [Murillo?]

Wright then says: "Large square tower. 3 bells from the Cathedral of Santiago de Chile, presented by Mr. Aubrey Vivian to the Church as Patron. Large wheels & oak frames. Thick rectangular rims. Much ornamented on waist. One large canon each." ... "From Cathedral of Santiago Chili burned down Dec 8 1863 when over 2000 perished owing to the decorations catching fire from the brilliant illuminations during the festival of the Immaculate Conception"

Wright notes that an inscription says the clock was given by Francis Tippins in 1875 and that it is by Leeson & Sons of Coleshill, 1875

He also (and this is where I thought there was confusion) lists the inscriptions of the three previous bells at Mumbles (treble and tenor 1674 and second 1714) as recorded by L.B. Clarence in 1862. He refers to Raven's manuscripts at the British Library (Add.Ms. 37433 (B) 171, 37434 (C) 67 and 37438 (G) 120) - references that might be worth following up

NOW, this is whre it starts to get even more interesting. The Oystermouth bells are evidently not the only ones from Santiago to find their way to South Wales. 

At Hafod near Swansea, Wright notes a blank bell (i.e. no inscription visible from below) of c.25" diameter, "Spanish bell, from its shape. Deep mouldings"

At Neath (St.Thomas) Wright notes a disused bell (25.5" diameter) on the floor at the west end of the nave from St.David's, Neath - "a Spanish bell, resembling those at Oystermouth, Hafod, St.James (Waller Road, Swansea) etc. No inscription, but a deep inscription band" and on the waist a) foliage ornament with two seated figures, and b) a crucifix [illustrated in photographs]. "Probably between 1750 & 1800 & maybe from the Cathedral of Santiago in Chili. It was presented by Mr. H.H. Vivian [inserted - in 1860] to the late Archdeacon Griffiths, then Rector of Neath 

At Swansea, St.James (Waller Road) (built 1867) a bell (28.25" diameter") inscribed SANTA MARIA O.P.N. ANO DE 1818, on waist ornamentation similar to Oystermouth 1 with mark "Joseph Huesca" and "evidently from the same ring". 

Alongside this entry, Wright quotes from an article in the Swansea Post Sweptember 1925 "Some 60 odd years ago the city of Santiago-de-Chili, which the Prince of Wales included in the itinerary of his S. American visit, was burnt to the ground, the Cathedral suffering as did the dwellings. At that period Messrs. Henry Bath & Sons, of Swansea, had wharves and works at Coquimto, where copper and copper ore reached Swansea by the little Cape Horn wind-jammers, & there came into the possession of Messrs Bath one of the bells of the destroyed cathedral, which they sent home to Swansea in one of their ships. So that if people living around St.James's church in Waller Road find the church bell somewhat unmusicalm it is owing to the effect of the heat of the flames at Santiago-de-Chili.

In an addendum, Wright notes: "One of the bells from Santiago Cathedral now hangs in the turret of Christ Church Carmarthen. It was brought to Swansea with its fellow, as I am informed, after the destruction of Santiago Cathedral by fire. It bears ti date nor inscription, is roughly cast, and ornamented with a ball-flower or two and some scroll work in the form of a cross" [I would add that John Eisel's survey of Carmarthenshire mentions that Arcaeologia Cambrensis for 1878 p.269 states that one of the bells from Santiago Cathedral "now hangs in the turret of Christ Church, Carmarthen" but John was unable to gain access to it to verify the details at the time of his survey]

That's all I can find - but the left-hand pages of the volume contain quite a lot of extra material that doesn't sit opposite the relevant main entries on the right-hand pages so it is possible I've missed something. The original manuscripts for Wright's unpublished Welsh Surveys are in the Library of the National Museum of Wales in Cathays Park, Cardiff, by the way. I happen to have a complete copy of "Glamorgan", and I went to the Museum to see the others a couple of years ago.

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