[Bell Historians] Oil for bell bearings in parish records

Gareth Davies charollais at gmail.com
Fri Sep 24 11:04:21 BST 2021

A quick search through my records for the Cambridge churches shows that oil for the bells (oil, oile, oyl, oyle) was a regular expenditure in every set of surviving churchwardens accounts. I have about 250 instances recorded up to 1900, the earliest being in 1587 at Great St Mary’s. That is still relatively few given the years covered x 14 churches.

It doesn’t seem to have been an annual item of expenditure, though I suspect that other purchases are hidden within more general entries such as ‘extra expenses’ incurred by the sexton, bellringer or steeple-keeper.


> Is this lack of mention of bell oil common, or is this case unusual?
> Richard Johnston
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