[Bell Historians] [EXT] Lulls in bellfounding activity

Robin Canniford rcan at unimelb.edu.au
Tue Dec 29 03:47:28 GMT 2020

Hi Richard,
This is an interesting problem.
Some of these, especially the 1830s dip could involve an assemblage of causes related to industrialization. Copper prices were falling at this stage I think, so material prices are probably a dead end. However, financial investment was in the thrall of new machines, new towns, and new markets. Worth considering also is the role of the changing population centres/densities during this time. This might have led to changes in how and where bells were being commissioned. Clues might emerge from a check of the locations (or kinds of locations) where bells were being sited / or stopped being sited during this period. A question could be: if we disaggregate the available data into regions, do we continue to see that dip across new-urban / rural locations during this period, or are the more rural sites in the South West/ East Anglia etc. continuing to commission bells at a different rate to the industrialising regions?
Just a thought...
Cheers, Robin


University of Melbourne

´╗┐On 29/12/20, 1:55 pm, "Bell-historians on behalf of Richard Smith" <bell-historians-bounces at lists.ringingworld.co.uk on behalf of richard at ex-parrot.com> wrote:

    UoM notice: External email. Be cautious of links, attachments, or impersonation attempts

    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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