[Bell Historians] Ancient bells - Chris Pickford's spreadsheet

bill at hibberts.co.uk bill at hibberts.co.uk
Sat Dec 11 13:48:55 GMT 2021

Another bell which I think is missing from Chris' spreadsheet is the treble
at Great Bookham. I have attached a photo, the bell has no inscription.
George Elphick said in a brief article in The Proceedings of the Leatherhead
and District Local History Society Vol. 3 No. 3 1969:

" . . . the treble carries neither inscription or foundry mark. Like the
tenor it has moulded on it horizontal ridges (known as moulding wires) that
are normally above and below the inscription, on the crown and above and on
the edge of the lip. Unlike the majority of bells these bead-like moulding
wires also have set between them raised fillets. This feature enables us to
place this bell as pre-Reformation, for the London and provincial founders
ceased to use the fillet between their moulding wires after the first
quarter of the 16th century.

. . . The treble's canons show a parting line down their sides which proves
that they were moulded from wood patterns. If one examines all the
pre-Reformation inscribed bells within a wide radius of Great Bookham, it
becomes apparent that the various founders used several different sets of
patterns for their canon moulds. They also show certain characteristics in
their work such as favouring wide or narrow fillets and casting their bells
to certain proportions. When all these factors are taken into consideration
the smaller or treble bell appears to have been cast at the London foundry
early in the 15th century, and has some characteristics of William and
Robert Burford's work, which covers 1371-1418."


The bell is 68cm in diameter with nominal 1296.5Hz and sounds quite sweet
for its age.


The current bellframe probably dates from 1675. I have attached a photo of a
curved brace from a previous frame, also noted by Elphick, reused as part of
the supporting timbers. Until I had it corrected, the church guide book
described this brace as a re-used ships timber :-)




Bill H




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