[Bell Historians] Lulls in bellfounding activity

Richard Smith richard at ex-parrot.com
Tue Dec 29 02:53:11 GMT 2020

I've been analysing the Dove database looking statistical 
trends in year in which surviving bells were cast.  I'm only 
including in the analysis bells where a precise date is 
known to avoid bias from estimated dates.

The number of surviving datable bells starts to climb 
rapidly at the start of Elizabeth's reign and within a 
decade it is clear this is not a statistical anomaly. 
Unsurprisingly levels have varied over the centuries since 
then, and there are some interesting trends which I'm still 

One of the most striking features of the data is that there 
are five or six periods since Elizabethan times when 
founding has dropped off significantly.  Some are obvious, 
but not all of them, and that's the purpose of this email. 
The six periods in question are:

  (a) 1642-1646
  (b) 1688-1692
  (c) 1794-1802
  (d) 1832-1838
  (e) 1914-1918
  (f) 1940-1945

Four of these are wars: (a) is the first phase of the 
English Civil War; (c) is the French Revolutionary Wars; (e) 
is the First World War; and (f) is the Second World War. 
It is easy to see how these would have lead to decreased 
bellfounding activity.

However I'm at a complete loss to know what the other two 
are.  1688 is, of course, the year of the Glorious 
Revolution, but I struggle to see why that have a pronounced 
effect on bell founding.  I have even less idea what the 
1832-38 dip could be.  Possibly they are not genuine 
declines in founding but instead represent periods where 
fewer bells were cast with dates or where an above average 
number have been lost.  The latter could happen if the dips 
coincided with a prolific yet poor founder who was preceded 
and followed by better founders, but there's no obvious 
candidate.  C & G Mears were a decade later!

Can anyone offer any insight?


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