[Bell Historians] Day of Eye

David Cawley davidl.cawley at ...
Sun Jul 14 20:51:36 BST 2013

Yes, Matt. I remember that when I was Norwich's DAC Bells Adviser one was never far from a Day of Eye job, and very good bellhangers they became.

I would say that from c1880 onwards their work is splendidly massive and robust. They clearly preferred - as did all bellhangers of the period (except JT & Co after 1887) - to make wood frames, characterized by the use of jack-braces which were otherwise going out of fashion. They could work in iron especially where there were constraints of space: the frame at Quidenham, Norfolk (8) is an example.
It is interesting that in the excerpt from correspondence over Barford which Peter Trent gives, the work involved using a wooden single-bell frame, and fittings, made in 1884 by Moore, Holmes & Mackenzie. 

It would be interesting to know the nature of the relationship between Day and MHM. Through the kindness of the Hughes family I was able during my Norwich years to go through the correspondence book of the latter firm, now preserved at Whitechapel. Although thev first 100 pages (up to 1881) are missing there is nothing in the subsequent period to indicate any connection; and the style of workmanship between the two firms is strikingly different. One wonders about the conversation if ever the Day men and the MHM partnersa ever rang together!

Features of Day's work include having his bells cast (originally by Warner, later by Mears) with a full complement of traditional canons -they did not even use Doncaster heads, to my knowledge - also the provision of cast-in crown staples, long after others had discarded them. Their later bearing housings are often stamped with "DAY / EYE" and about 1900 they adopted the square "Eye" trademark which was cast upon the bells which Mears provided for them. One also finds their names on supporting ironwork, and sometimes their frames have fine carved inscriptions, as at Wymondham Abbey.  

I would say that their restorations were sometimes not up to the standard of their complete installations. There are a number of frames that had seen better days even by the time they came to restore them; some were sitting on very old foundation beams, a problem which Days did not always adequately address, and there was the perennial problem of those which were too high in the tower. 

The earliest attributable Day rehang I have come across is at Broome, Norfolk, now unringable, a poor job of the 1860's, using the old frame.  The last job of theirs which I personally advised on is at Happisburgh, Norfolk, of 1924: here he put in a splendid 8-bell frame, all new fittings for the five old bells (two of them recast by Mears) and provided a treble. The frame remains, now holding 8 bells, the trebles provided and the others rehung a few years ago by Taylors.

No doubt Chris Pickford will give us "chapter and verse" - but I thought that you and other list members might be interesated in these observations made from personal acquaintance.

And yes, they did cast at least one bell of their own, a tinkler for St Helen's Church, Silfield, Wymondham. We rescued it when St Helen's closed and for years it was in the ringing room at the Abbey. I believe it is now at the Abbey's other daughter church at Spooner Row.

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