[Bell Historians] Bells filled with ale

Brian Meldon CanewdonBells at 4QsxwaFmpyvfwMVhTAxdwvnnjCVRvStXtl_63qbs7yLC50TtwBInUUxuai3BhbJrxD_P4Dyjc5Nd2O6w3c24FMjN.yahoo.invalid
Mon Mar 7 09:11:33 GMT 2011

In Philip Benton's 1867 `History of Rochford Hundred' he lists the five bells in the tower here at Canewdon. They are incorrectly numbered and with minor errors and omissions from the inscriptions. He lists as the 5th bell as the 1791 4th.  He then states the following:

 `This bell previously to its being suspended was turned upside down in the street, before the Anchor public-house, and filled with beer, with which the rustics made merry.'

Benton did not state his sources and based a lot of his book on previous author's texts dating from the 1740's. He also used the local testimony and some local documents, but inevitably there are several known errors so on it's own the story about the beer in the bell is just that: a nice local tale.

However as I have previously mentioned we have extensive near complete churchwardens accounts, including receipts and invoices from this time and on the same date as the bill for the 1791 4th bell (29th March) there is indeed a payment from the Churchwardens to the Anchor pub for `beer to season the bell'. So in this case it would appear that Benton's tale written over 75 years after the event is probably correct.

Back in 1791 the parishioners and the PCC at Canewdon were obviously well pleased with the two churchwarden's efforts, perhaps they were influenced by the bell full of beer, but a note in the church accounts log book dated Monday February 13th 1792 states that each of the two Churchwardens were awarded a bonus of 6 pence in every pound that they had spent in the preceding year including a special mention of exchanging the broken 4th bell for a new one.

Brian Meldon


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