[Bell Historians] ringing at st Botolph Aldgate before 1966

Revd David Cawley davidl.cawley at btinternet.com
Fri Feb 19 23:52:02 GMT 2021

I think that I can add one or two things to Aldgate after WW2. The rest 
you can find on Dickon's site, as Ted Steele suggests. I think I 
provided the more recent details to that site, also the photographs.

Warners' Bell Foundry was only a short distance - closer than 
Whitechapel, and it is not surprising that they undertook the partial 
rehanging in 1890. At the time, and right up to 1965 the bells hung 
right up behind the louvres. The 1966 rehang brought the bells down 14 
feet. I remember Bill Hughes of Whitechapel saying that he would like to 
have brought them down further, into the present ringing chamber, and 
the bells would then be rung from the 1st floor.  He was quite surprised 
by the amount of movement following the rehang.

St Botolph's is not listed amongst "Towers where the Society is engaged" 
in an ASCY rule book of 1911. Just round the corner, Christ Church 
Spitalfields, then a very heavy 8, were so listed.

Although the bells are rung from the original 2nd floor, the ceiling was 
brought down several feet to create a 'dead' space and to reduce the 
draught of rope.

I was working at The Royal London Hospital 1964-5 and used to serve 
regularly at the altar in St Botolph's. I suggested to the Rector that a 
bell should be rung for services, and with his agreement I used to go 
along to the church to do just that. The various bells of the front five 
got turned over one at a time during subsequent months. The ringing 
chamber was a dirty place, but all the ropes were in position, having 
been fitted just after the war. Above, the sixth bell was lying at a 
crazy angle within its pit, a gudgeon having broken. The late Jack 
Phillips told me that it occurred during ringing for a wedding in 1958.

When Albert Hughes died in 1964, I arranged to toll the tenor (then 
reputed to weigh 28 cwt) as the cortege passed. I rang it up, set it and 
rung it full circles for the best part of an hour. Hard work!

It was at this time that the parish was actively considering restoration 
of the bells, but by 1964 their thoughts were turning to hanging them 
dead in the old frame for electrical chiming. The 'last straw' was the 
discovery that the 6th was cracked in the head and the price for 
recasting was considerable. There was also a strong feeling that "we'll 
never get the ringers".

Enter Phil Corby, and it is to him that we owe the ringing peal  rather 
than the chime which was being envisaged. Whitechapel did a super job 
tuning them. Sadly, the tower movement was not cured, the fault of the 
tower rather than the bell installation.  Phil arranged that bands from 
the ASCY, SRCY, ULSCR, and MCA should ring on successive Sundays, a rota 
that was adhered to until the MCA took over the running of the tower. 
There was even enough money to permit the addition of the electronic 
chimes for the weekday services!

I think it  can safely be said that all the bells were ringable and rung 
right up to 1958, and the collapse of the 6th in that year effectively 
marked the end - until 1966.

David Cawley

------ Original Message ------
From: "oliver Lee" <oliverbellringer at outlook.com>
To: "bell-historians at lists.ringingworld.co.uk" 
<bell-historians at lists.ringingworld.co.uk>
Sent: Monday, 1 Feb, 2021 At 18:41
Subject: [Bell Historians] ringing at st Botolph Aldgate before 1966

Hi, there
For the last couple of days or so I have been carrying research about 
various London towers and what their ringing situation would have been 
during the 1930s, so far I haven’t really been able to unearth anything 
about the state of affairs  at Aldgate, what really puzzles me is that 
it seems to have been a fairly active tower right up until the late 
1890s when several quarter peals of grandsire where rung. However it 
seems from about 1899 to about the 1950s there seems to have been no 
record  of any ringing taking place which makes me think that they may 
well have been unringable (no doubt to the notable tower movement and 
the ancient pack and chapman frame), additionally I am also curious to 
know weather  the ringing chamber has always been at  it’s current 
location or was somewhere else prior to the rehanging
Oliver lee

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