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Single bell 15-0-843" F♯ 1953 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never

The original ring of 12 bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
Treble4 cwt approx.25½"D♭1719Abraham RudhallNeverDestroyed 1940
24¼ cwt approx.27"E♭1719Abraham RudhallNeverDestroyed 1940
34½ cwt approx.28"F1710Abraham RudhallNeverDestroyed 1940
45½ cwt approx.29¼"G♭1710Abraham RudhallNeverDestroyed 1940
56 cwt approx.A♭1710Abraham RudhallNeverRecast 1736
67 cwt approx.B♭1710Abraham RudhallNeverRecast 1736
78½ cwt approx.34¾"C1710Abraham RudhallNeverDestroyed 1940
810 cwt approx.38¾"D♭1710Abraham RudhallNeverDestroyed 1940
912½ cwt approx.42"E♭1710Abraham RudhallNeverDestroyed 1940
1015 cwt approx.44"F1710Abraham RudhallNeverDestroyed 1940
1121 cwt approx.50"G♭1710Abraham RudhallNeverDestroyed 1940
Tenor28 cwt approx.54½"A♭1710Abraham RudhallNeverDestroyed 1940

Subsequent recasts

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
5 (of 12)6 cwt approx.31½"A♭1736Samuel KnightNeverDestroyed 1940
6 (of 12)7 cwt approx.33½"B♭1736Samuel KnightNeverDestroyed 1940

History

c 1150 12th Cent Record of a Curfew Bell in the church.
1370 St Bride's was one of the four principal Curfew Churches.
1450 New bells were cast.
1552 There was a record of bells in the tower, but the number cited in the Edwardian Inventory is not legible. [1]
1644 The Churchwardens Accounts records the mending of the 7th clapper, implying that there were 8 bells in the tower, confirmed the following year with a reference to "mending the 8 bells". [2]
1648 One of the bells was recast., costing £11. 18s. 6d [3]
1657 The Churchwardens Accounts make mention of a Sanctus bell when it was rehung. [4]
1666 The church was destroyed in the Great Fire. Some lumps of bell metal are even today preserved in the crypt.
1675 The new church was opened with 1 bell.
1703 The tower and spire were completed. The spire is the tallest in the City: it was 234 ft, but reduced to 226 ft in 1764.
1708 Strype notes the 10 bells in the tower. [5]
1710 A new ring of ten was cast by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester. The bell frame was built by John and Richard Williams of King’s Sutton ... 1710 [6]
1717 11/01/2019 00:00:00 The first ever 10-bell peal was rung here by the London Scholars (Grandsire Caters).
1719 Two treble bells were added to augment the ring to 12, presented by the College Youths and London Scholars. These bells were chained up and only permitted to be used for their practice. [7]
1720 The newly augmented ring of 12 bells was celebrated in the Press. [8]
1725 The first ever 12-bell peal was rung here, by the College Youths (5060 Grandsire Cinques).
1736 5th and 6th recast by Samuel Knight of Holborn.
1827 A new large 30 hour clock was provided by Thwaites, 1827, "to strike the hour on a 30 cwt bell and quarters on two bells". [9]
1868 An article the on bells by Thomas Walesby was published in "Builder"giving inscriptions, mentions the tradition that the trebles used to be kept chained up for the sole use of the College Youths and London Scholars who paid for them, and stated that the present ringers were the Cumberlands who practise every alternate Thursday evening. John Cox was named as steeple-keeper. [10]
1911 Regular ringing ceased and bells were only rung for special occasions.
1923 Ellacombe chiming apparatus was installed.
1938 Last known ringing on the bells.
1940 The church was bombed and the tower gutted. The bells crashed to the ground and broke or were melted.
1941 30/05/2019 00:00:00 The "Ringing World" reported that 'It is intended to replace the destroyed ring of 12 and new concrete floors will probably be placed in the tower before long'. A frame design had been made (by Mears & Stainbank to facilitate placing of rope holes in the concrete floor).
1951 Prebendary Taylor, last Vicar of St Bride's, died. He was a lover of the bells, who had secured what was left of them against the time when they might be recast. Rev'd Cyril M Armitage was appointed as Priest-in-Charge with responsibility for rebuilding the church. On 31 Dec, the remains of bells, formerly thought to have gone missing, were discovered in the former music room in the south east corner of the church. It was believed that Prebendary Arthur Taylor buried the broken bells amongst the ruins to ensure their safety. The entrance to the room had been blocked by large pieces of stone and the timbers of a door had collapsed on the contents. Some of these fragments are now preserved in the crypt.
1952 All the metal that could be found was delivered to John Taylor's - it only weighed 56-3-0. Much had been melted or stolen. Mr Godfrey Allen FRIBA was appointed Architect for the reconstruction of the Church in November.
1953 A decision was taken to acquire one bell and an electronic carillon. The bell was cast by John Taylor & Co. and hung in a new frame in a frame foundation for 12-bells. The bell was cast to the dimensions of the 10th bell of a future ring of 12, to the extent that 10 notches were placed on the bell and fittings. On 27 Feb, an estimate was given to Mr H Cleveland Stevens, Editor of the Daily Telegraph, Church Warden of St Brides (and brother of Church Warden of St Dunstan-in-the-East!) from Taylors for alternative bells of 21, 15 and 13 - cwts (i.e. corresponding with any of St Dunstan-in-the-East back 3 in weight). On 12 Mar, an appeal was launched by the Press Association to provide a Compton Electronic Carillon of 25 notes. The Daily Telegraph was to be the arch critic of this 'unloved instrument'. The estimated cost was £2,000. In April, Taylor's issued an internal memo estimating the cost of recasting the metal recovered with 3 cwts extra into a ring of 8 tenor 15 cwt in F# with all new frame and fittings to be £1,696 installed, or £1,943 if the old metal was sold as scrap and new used; if the F# bell was installed alone (cast from part of old metal) and the remaining metal scrapped there would be £96 credit, but the remaining seven if added later would cost £2,332. All these prices compared reasonably well with the estimate for the Compton 'carillon'. On 5 May, Taylors received from Mr Cleveland Stevens the order for a bell of 15 cwts note F# complete with frame and fittings for full-circle ringing, "to be suitable to form one of the ultimate ring of twelve bells". A frame design was produced by Taylor's, using the Mears rope-holes in the concrete floors. On 28 May, the electronic carillon was inaugurated by The Lord Mayor.
1954 In January, the single F# bell was cast at Loughborough. On 4 April, the bell was hung in the tower, in a cast-iron frame on two girders which could form a part of a future full 12-bell foundation. On 14 April, the single bell was officially rung for the first time, for Canon Armitage's induction as the first Rector of St Bride's. Over the next 3 years during reconstruction work, the four enormous bellchamber windows were bricked up internally leaving a sensibly small louvred sound opening in each about 20 feet above the top of the bell frame; this would allow of the relatively easy installation of sound control and when open disperse the sound evenly at high level.
1957 19/12/2019 00:00:00 St Bride's Church was reconsecrated by The Lord Bishop of London.
c 1975 The bell which had hitherto been rung from the ground floor was taken out of use when the new glazed west doors were put in.
c 1980 The 'unloved "carillon" ' finally broke down and was replaced by an amplified tape-recording. A 'clocking' rope was fitted to the bell by Whitechapel and subsequently an electrically-operated hammer.
[1] "... [illegible]e belles and a little bell all hangynge in the steple" (Edwardian Inventory, 1552)
[2] 1644 April Paid to Mr Storvord (?) for mending the 7 bell clapper 3s 8d; 26 Mar 1645 Paid [ ] for mending the 8 bells £1. 04s (Churchwarden Accounts)
[3] 2 Aug 1648 Paid to the Bell ffounder for a Bell as appearing on bill 11:18:06 (Churchwarden Accounts)
[4] For new hanginge the Saintes Bell 5s (Churchwarden Accounts)
[5] This Church of St. Bridget, or St. Brides, is large, and well built, since the great Fire, when it was wholly destroyed. In the Steeple are ten Bells, which are esteemed as tunable as any in the City. (A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, John Strype, 1720)
[6] 13 April 1710 Ordered that in case Mr.Jackson ye senr Church Wdn. can procure Money by Subscriptions wch with the Note from ye Chamber of London will be sufficient to pay for a good peal of tenn bells The Nominacion of a bellfounder shall be left to Dr. Birch; 22 August 1710 Noted and ordered that Mr. Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester be the Bellfounder to Cast the Peale of Bells for this Parish, he being the person whom Dr. Birch decd. Nominated as appears by his Letter to the Revd. Dr. Beauhen one of the Prebendary’s of Gloucester; 26 September 1710 Mr. Wilson one of the Committee appointed to treat with Mr. Rudhall of Gloucester about Bells, informed this vestry that they had made proposals to the said Mr. Rudhall which he had thought fitt to agree to, which proposals this vestry being made acquainted with the question was putt whether the vestry do approve of and will comply with the said proposals made by the Committee And Itt was voted and ordered that the said proposals be agreed with and that the Vestry Clerk write to Mr. Rudhall to come to London to perfect the said Agreement; 10 October 1710 Ordered that the Church Wardens article with Mr. Rudhall for a peall of Tenn Bells and that they shall be indempnifyed by the parish on account thereof. Ordered that the Bells shall be approved of by Mr. Weldon and the organists of St.Paul’s and Westminster Abbey; 31 March 1711 [Rules for ringing – not copied out] Ordered that no person shall be suffered to chip or alter the tune of the bells unless by Mr. Rudhall’s Especiall Direction (Vestry Minute book 1703-14 (Ms 6554/3))
[7] Abraham Rudhall of the City of Gloucester, Bell-Founder, who, some Years since, cast the famous Peal of ten Bells for the Parish of St. Brides, London, has lately cast two Trebles to make the same a Peal of 12, it being the first Peal of the Number, upon which Changes have been rung in England, and notwithstanding the many Difficulties which attended the Undertaking (which may be truly call’d the Masterpiece of all his Labours) He has completed the same beyond the Expectation of those who had the greatest Opinion of his Abilities (Advert in Evening Post, Thurs 24 Dec. - Sat 26 Dec. 1719)
[8] Mr. Mist, BY constantly reading your Journal I find you a Man of Probity, which gives me hopes of a Place for this in your next; because it is to do Justice to the greatest Artist in the World, in the Way of Bell-Foundry; I mean Mr. Abraham Rudhall, sen. of the City of Gloucester, who (notwithstanding same [sic] of his Enemies of the same Business, who find they can make but little Progress whilst he or his Son live, have industriously reported they are both dead, whereas they are both alive, and in perfect Health) hath lately performed the greatest Piece of Work ever known, by Casting two Bells for St. Bride’s Church, which, being added to the Ten he formerly cast, make a compleat Peal of Twelve, which, according to the best Master in Musick and Ringing, exceed all others. It is hoped this ingenious Man may live to fill many vacant Steeples with his excellent Harmony, so pleasing in the Ears of all Honest Men, and Lovers of Church-Musick. I am, Sir, Your very humble Servant, Bellarmine Soundwell (Weekly Journal or Saturday’s Post, Sat. 9 Jan. 1720); MR. ABRAHAM RUDHALL, the famous Bell-Founder at Gloucester, who has given more Proofs of his Dexterity in that Art than any of his Predecessors ever did before him, which his own Works in so many Parts of England can testify, especially the noble Peal of 12, which he has lately perfected at St. Brides, which may justly be counted the standard Peal of England for the Time to come, and will remain as an everlasting Monument of Praise due to that most ingenuous [sic] Artist, which Number of Bells is such an Addition and affords so much Variety of Musick, that no Instrument whatsoever has receiv’d so great an Improvement, which Improvement however is abundantly help’d by the Charming Air and musical Notes peculiar to Peals of Mr. Rudhall’s casting, there being as much Difference in the Tones of Bells as to Music, as there is between a Bartholomew Fair Fiddle of a Groat, and a Cremona Fiddle worth a hundred Guineas. (Advert in Evening Post, Tues 12 Jan. - Thurs. 14 Jan. 1720); MR. ABRAHAM RUDHALL, the famous Bell-Founder at Gloucester, who has been so often reported to be dead, is to the great Mortification of the Authors of those Reports, still alive in perfect Health, who has given more Proofs of his Dexterity in that Art than any of his Predecessors ever did before him, which his own Works in so many Parts of England can testify, especially the noble Peal of 12, which he has lately perfected at St. Brides, which may justly be counted the standard Peal of England for the Time to come, and will remain as an everlasting Monument of Praise due to that most ingenuous [sic] Artist, which Number of Bells is such an Addition and affords so much Variety of Musick, that no Instrument whatsoever has receiv’d so great an Improvement, which Improvement however is abundantly help’d by the Charming Air and musical Notes peculiar to Peals of Mr. Rudhall’s casting, there being as much Difference in the Tones of Bells as to Music, as thee is between a Bartholomew Fair Fiddle of a Groat, and a Cremona Fiddle worth a hundred Guineas. (Advert in Evening Post, Thurs 14 Jan. - Sat. 16 Jan. 1720) (Transcripts per JCE, May and June 2011)
[9] Thwaites & Reed catalogue of 1902 also mentions a clock for St.Bride’s Church, Fleet Street (Thwaites & Reed daybook, MS 6788/6 - 15 March 1827)
[10] ("Builder" 22 Aug 1868 p.629)

Articles

  • "The Lost Bells of London (1) St Bride's Fleet Street", Cook, William T (The Ringing World) 15 December 1972
  • "The Lost Bells of London (1) St Bride's Fleet Street", Cook, William T (The Ringing World) 22 December 1972
  • "O Rare Ben ... Remembering Benjamin Annable", Love, Dickon R (The Ringing World) 24 March 2006
  • Pictures and engravings of the church


    One of Wren's first ideas for the steeple. The present font cover is now based on this design.
    Photo: DLC collection

    The final design appears spectacular with St Paul's Cathedral in the background.
    Photo: DLC collection

    Shown here is the Seal of St Bride: the Celtic Cross of St Brigit and the Curfew Bell, the successor of which is now the sole occupant of the tower.
    Photo: DLC collection


    Photo: DLC collection

    St Bride's as seen from the top of St Paul's Cathedral. The other black foreground spire is St Martin, Ludgate Hill.
    Photo: Dickon R Love

    Picture in 1922
    Photo: Spitalfields Life

    Photographs during the war


    29th December, 1940 A sad sight indeed. The church ablaze as a result of enemy action. The ensuing fire spreads its destruction up the tower and creates temperatures so hot that Rudhall metal streams out of the windows. This historic ring was completely d
    Photo:

    The remains of the bells in the rubble.
    Photo: DLC collection

    The remains of the bells are sifted by firemen.
    Photo: DLC collection


    Photo: DLC collection

    Photographs from the belfry


    An enhanced close up of the inscription. It uses phrases from several of the former ring of 12.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 14 May 2001

    The bell in the "up" position in natural light. The frame sits upon a foundation for a future ring of 12 bells. The louvres have already been bricked up in readiness for variable sound control that would be necessary for a new ring of bells.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 14 May 2001

    Today, a single bell with all the fittings and framework required for full circle ringing (including a hastings stay) is found in the belfry. Here the rope is being adjusted on the wheel before it is rung up.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 14 May 2001

    From the same ringing room that the first peal on 10 bells and the first peal on 12 bells was ever rung, the single bell is now rung. The floor is made of concrete as part of the preparations to strengthen the tower for a new ring.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 14 May 2001

    Looking up at the ceiling in the ringing room, 12 rope holes have been cut (according to the design of Mears & Stainbank) to accommodate the future ring of 12.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 14 May 2001

    The belfry was restored with a replacement ring of bells in mind. As so many offices had grown around the church, the architects had the foresight to include the belfry sound control when restoring the belfry. The louvres were bricked up leaving a smaller
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 14 May 2001
    Recent Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2019-09-155056 Coniston Bluebird Delight Major
    2019-09-155088 80th Birthday Delight Major
    2019-09-155040 Cambridge Surprise Royal
    2019-09-155032 Vorlus-Snorlus Alliance Major
    2019-09-155040 London No 3 Surprise Royal
    2019-09-155007 Stedman Cinques
    2019-09-155950 Stedman Cinques
    2019-09-155040 Gillett Alliance Major
    2019-09-145040 Cambridge Surprise Royal
    2019-09-145019 Stedman Caters
    2019-09-145152 Yorkshire Surprise Major
    2019-09-145088 Bristol Surprise Maximus
    2019-09-145040 Cambridge Surprise Maximus
    2019-09-145148 Spliced Maximus (8 Methods)
    2019-09-145040 Spliced Surprise Minor
    2019-09-145120 Spliced Surprise Major
    2019-09-145000 Bristol Surprise Royal
    2019-09-145184 Spliced Surprise Major (2m)
    2019-09-145056 Plain Bob Major
    2019-09-145040 Cambridge Surprise Royal
    2019-09-145040 Cambridge Surprise Royal
    2019-09-145088 Lessness Surprise Major
    2019-09-145040 Grandsire Triples
    2019-09-145040 Doubles (three Methods)
    2019-09-145160 Bristol Surprise Royal
    Recent Quarter Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2019-09-151260 Grandsire Triples
    2019-09-151296 Carlisle Surprise Minor
    2019-09-151296 Cambridge Surprise Minor
    2019-09-151260 Doubles (3m)
    2019-09-151344 Little Bob Major
    2019-09-151260 Doubles (5 M/V)
    2019-09-151280 Yorkshire Surprise Major
    2019-09-151320 Spliced Surprise Royal (4m)
    2019-09-151320 Plain Bob Doubles
    2019-09-151260 Doubles
    2019-09-151344 Lessness Surprise Major
    2019-09-151344 Plain Bob Major
    2019-09-151260 Grandsire Doubles
    2019-09-151296 Cambridge Surprise Minor
    2019-09-151320 Treble Dodging Minor
    2019-09-151260 Plain Bob Triples
    2019-09-151260 Grandsire Triples
    2019-09-151250 Yorkshire Surprise Major
    2019-09-151260 Chilham Treble Place Doubles
    2019-09-151270 Doubles
    2019-09-151264 Plain Bob Major
    2019-09-151295 Plain Bob Minor
    2019-09-151260 Plain Bob Triples
    2019-09-151260 St Simon's Bob Triples
    2019-09-151274 Minor (2m)
    Full list of peals here
    Full list of quarters here

    Love's Guide to the Church Bells of Kent Page updated: 16 September 2019