[Bell Historians] Cowper Congregational Chapel in Dereham
c.j.pickford at talk21.com
c.j.pickford at talk21.com
Sun Sep 26 19:03:56 BST 2021
Little bit of a breakthrough on this. Have looked at online Kelly's
1892 and 1896 directories - descriptions don't mention the tower etc
1904 and 1912 - descriptions mention "tower with clock and chimes"
This suggests that the tower was added and the clock and chimes put up some
time between 1896 and 1904. There's probably a 1900 edition of the
directory, but it isn't online on this site.
Turning to the British Newspaper Archive, I found a report in the Eastern
Daily Press 16 February 1897 stating that active steps were being taken to
add a tower and spire to the church in accordance with the original design,
and to add a clock and chime for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The plans were
approved by the District Council and the Eastern Daily Press of 4 March 1897
noted that "about 36 feet will be added to the height of the unfinished
tower, and a clock and chimes to be added". The plans were by the original
architect, Edward Boardman, and the builder was a Mr. Hubbard. The tower was
completed and the clock in place by 31 July 1897 when the Eastern Daily
Press said it had been "keeping good time for the last two or three days but
the much talked of chimes have not yet been heard"
In the Norfolk Chronicle 19 March 1898 it was reported "The chimes,
consisting of eight tunes, have been completed in the new tower of the
Cowper Congregational chapel. The clock face is to be illuminated by
automatic arrangement." The spire, of course was not built.
The official starting of the chimes on Friday 18 March 1898 was reported in
the Eastern Evening News, Saturday 19 March 1898 - "The long hoped for
chimes, worked automatically by the Jubilee clock, commenced on Friday
afternoon at three o'clock. There are altogether seven tunes - for each day
of the week - and the clock will play one tune every three hours, a change
of tune being effected each day. On Sundays the tune will be "O come all ye
faithful," and it will strongly suggest invitation to attend the services It
is hoped some will embrace the extended solicitation. . [Report of ceremony
etc] . The working of the clock, management of the chimes, &c., has been
entrusted to Mr. G. B, Cooper, High Street"
Unfortunately, I haven't managed to find any reports giving the names of the
makers of the bells. However, the chiming machinery was evidently by Dent. A
note in a report of the town's jubilee festivities in the Norfolk Chronicle,
Saturday 26 June 1897 that "The only disappointment experienced was the
non-appearance of the clock and chimes in the Cowper chapel tower, as they
had been promised by Messrs. Dent and Son, of London, who had the work in
hand for Jubilee-day".
The clock, though, must have been second-hand if it was made in 1833 (as the
style of the mechanism confirms) but not installed here until 1898-8. This
is confirmed by a Jubilee report in the Norfolk News, 26 June 1897, which
indicates its provenance - ". The tower, which was formerly about 35 feet
high, has been carried to height of 70 feet, and is built of rag stone end
white stone in harmony with the general material of the building. the top of
the tower four pretty pinnacles of white stone, eight feet high, have been
erected, the whole effect being most pleasing, and the erection is a great
acquisition to the Market place. In the facade of the tower space has been
left for a large illuminated clock, which was formerly placed in Ellingham
Hall, and it was intended that yesterday morning when the tower was opened
Mr. Alexander should start the pendulum of the clock and thus set the works
in motion. In this they were disappointed, as the clock, which is in the
hands of Messrs. Dent of Ludgate Hill, London, is not yet ready to be
It would be worthwhile for someone local to explore the church records for
the period to see if these clues lead to any more detailed records of what
was done and by whom. There are some missing bits of the story to be filled
in. I've written this as the pieces of the jigsaw have turned up - so please
excuse the lack of polish in the order and presentation of the details.
PS Apologies for top posting earlier (I hadn't spotted that Mike had shared
my first email with the list)
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