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The original ring of 8 bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
Treble5 cwt approx.D1700Abraham RudhallNeverRecast 1718
25½ cwt approx.C♯1700Abraham RudhallNeverRecast 1740
37-2-2433½"B1700Abraham RudhallNeverDamaged 1940
48½ cwt approx.36½"A1700Abraham RudhallNeverDamaged 1940
512-1-2039½"G1700Abraham RudhallNeverDamaged 1940
612 cwt approx.F♯1700Abraham RudhallNeverRecast 1750
715-2-0E1700Abraham RudhallNeverRecast 1750
Tenor22-2-2450½"D1700Abraham RudhallNeverDamaged 1940

Subsequent recasts

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
Treble (of 8)5-0-829½"D1718Richard PhelpsNeverDamaged 1940
2 (of 8)5½ cwt approx.31"C♯1740Thomas LesterNeverDamaged 1940
6 (of 8)12¼ cwt approx.41"F♯1750Robert CatlinNeverDamaged 1940
7 (of 8)15½ cwt approx.45.5"E1750Robert CatlinNeverDamaged 1940

The new 1951 ring of 8.

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
Treble5-2-829"E♭1951John Taylor & Co.NeverScrapped 1971
25-3-130"D1951John Taylor & Co.NeverTransferred to Stirling Winery
36-2-1131½"C1951John Taylor & Co.NeverTransferred to Stirling Winery
47-2-1734"B♭1951John Taylor & Co.NeverTransferred to Stirling Winery
59-2-737"A♭1951John Taylor & Co.NeverScrapped 1970
611-0-1339"G1951John Taylor & Co.NeverTransferred to Stirling Winery
714-1-1743"F1951John Taylor & Co.NeverTransferred to Stirling Winery
Tenor21-0-1448½"E♭1951John Taylor & Co.NeverScrapped 1970

Details of the 8 bells now hanging in Sterling Winery, Calistoga, California

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned Fate
Treble4-3-1427½"F1971John Taylor & Co.NeverNew bell
25-1-028½"E1971John Taylor & Co.NeverFormer treble, recast
35-3-130"D1951John Taylor & Co.NeverFormer 2nd
46-2-1131½"C1951John Taylor & Co.NeverFormer 3rd
57-2-1734"B♭1951John Taylor & Co.NeverFormer 4th
68-2-1736"A1971John Taylor & Co.NeverFormer 5th recast
711-0-1339"G1951John Taylor & Co.NeverFormer 6th
Tenor14-1-1743"F1951John Taylor & Co.NeverFormer 7th

History

1382 Church built.
1543 The Churchwardens wer paid the enormous sum of £500 for "A change of bells and ye underweight of ye same".
1552 Record of 5 bells, a sanctus bell and a clock bell. [1]
1666 Church partially destroyed in the Great Fire.
1668 Church rebuilt by Wren.
1683 Church rebuilt.
1699 Spire completed to the height of 180ft".
1700 A ring of 8 was cast by Abraham Rudhall.
1702 The bells were given great acclaim in "The Post Boy". [2]
1718 The treble was recast. The first ever peal of major (Oxford T B Major) was then rung here on 27 Dec by the Union Scholars.
1746 The second was recast.
1750 The 6th and 7tn were recast.
1817 The body of the church was taken down and rebuilt. Work was completed in 1821. The bells were restored and hung in new timber two-tier frame by Thomas Mears II.
1821 The Church clock was supplied by Moore of Clerkenwell with two 5 foot dials.
1824 Record of 8 bells.
1836 The bells were described in The Times as "well toned", but with questionable maintenance. [3]
1859 A D Tyssen mentions a clock bell or a priests bell.
1904 The bells were rehung in a cast-iron frame all on one level by Mears & Stainbank.
1941 On 10 May, the church gutted during a bombing raid. The bells were seriously damaged and three crashed to the ground. The rest were taken down and stored in a vault until 1951.
1951 A new ring of 8 bells was cast for the preserved tower. Clearly there were 2 goes at casting the 2nd as the discarded bell (30") was put into stock and ended up at St Vincent de Paul, Southmead, Bristol in 1955. All inscription was chipped off apart from the Taylor foundry mark.
1953 Bells hung in the tower. Since the rest of the church was not rebuilt to buttress the tower, there was significant oscillation when the 8 bells were rung. Therefore, after the initial try out, the bells were only rung singly each year pending the rebuilding of the church. This was not to happen, so the octave remained silent for many years.
1960 The parish was united with All Hallows, Barking by the Tower.
1966 Permission was finally given to ring the octave on 10 May, and ringing took place in the tower on several occasions from this date. No peals however were ever rung on them, and the only quarter peal to be attempted was lost.
1970 The fate of the bells was decided on 26 Nov by the church authorities, the bells were rung for the last time on this date. (The last touch was Stedman Triples.) Dismantling began the following day. It was completed on 6 Dec and the fine tenor was smashed up in the tower as it wouldn't go through the bell hole in the plaster vault which was smaller and circular. A day or two before, a lorry had hit a bollard and clipped Taylor's truck, catching the headstock of the 5th and tipping the bell off on to the cobbles breaking it into pieces. The bells were sold back to their founders for £2,544. Shortly afterwards, the bells were moved to Sterling Winery, Calistoga in California, USA (the treble and 5th were recast and a new treble added).
[1] Item v greate Bells and a saunce bell. Item a clocke bell. (Edwardian Inventory,1552)
[2] Whereas Mr. Abraham Rudhall of the city of Gloucester, bell-founder, was lately employed to cast 8 bells for the Parish Church of St. Dunstan's in London. This is to give notice that he has performed his contract to the universal satisfaction of the gentlemen of the said Parish, and in the opinion of the ablest judges has made them the best peal of bells in all England. (The Post Boy, 25 July 1702)
[3] A very iron-toned peal of eight, a disgrace to the beautiful piece of architecture they occupy, tenor 24 cwt., in E. Sextoness the steeple-keeper, appoints a deputy, who some time back was a femail, a Mrs. Spranger, and she had a deputy. The appendages of these bells have been often damaged. (The Times, 26 Feb 1836)

Articles

  • "The Lost Bells of London (6) St Dunstan-in-the-East", Cook, William T (The Ringing World) 23 February 1973
  • "The Lost Bells of London", Not known (The Ringing World) 23 March 1973
  • "The Last Word in Every Respect. . .", Cawley, David L (The Ringing World) 20 October 1978
  • "The best peal in England ... The Last Word in Every Respect Part 1", Cawley, David L (The Ringing World) 25 February 2010
  • "The best peal in England ... The Last Word in Every Respect Part 2", Cawley, David L (The Ringing World) 16 December 2011
  • Early pictures of the church



    Photo: David Cawley collection


    Photo: ASCY collection

    Following the blitz, the bells lay forlornly at the base of the ruined tower. The metal was saved and earmarked for a new ring of bells to be cast in Loughborough. This picture was taken in July, 1941.
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    Floodlit in 1930.
    Photo: David Cawley collection


    Photo: ASCY collection


    Photo: John Pladdys collection


    Photo: ASCY collection

    The church in 1910.
    Photo: Spitalfields Life

    The church in 1910.
    Photo: Spitalfields Life

    The church in 1911.
    Photo: Spitalfields Life

    The interior of the church prior to destruction in the War.
    Photo: John Pladdys collection

    Engraving
    Photo: John Pladdys collection


    Photo: ASCY collection

    The ruins of the church during and after the War


    On 10th May, 1941, the church was destroyed by bombs leaving only a shell. Fortunately the tower and spire survived, although there was structural damage and the bells were damaged.
    Photo: John Pladdys collection

    While 5 of the bells were saved, the treble, 5th and tenor were smashed up.
    Photo: David Cawley, 1970

    The bombed out church as it appeared in 1949.
    Photo: David Cawley collection

    The spire was taken down and rebuilt as part of the rennovation of the church. This unusual picture, taken in 1950, is of the church without its celebrated spire.
    Photo: David Cawley collection.


    Photo: John Pladdys collection

    Following the blitz, the bells lay forlornly at the base of the ruined tower. The metal was saved and earmarked for a new ring of bells to be cast in Loughborough. This picture was taken in July, 1941.
    Photo: David Cawley collection


    Photo: John Pladdys collection

    New York Bureau: "Because many of the City's churches remain filled with debris and buried treasures as municipal demolition workers must concentrate on business and residential bombed areas, the Revd Dr Frederick C Oliver, of the church of St Dunstan-in-
    Photo: John Pladdys, 7 May 1941

    New York Bureau: "In the bomb-scarred ruins of the church of St Dunstan-in-the-East, Idol Lane, London, services are held as part of the National Day of Prayer."
    Photo: John Pladdys, 9 Aug 1942

    The 1951 bells in the tower and ringing


    This photo was taken on the occasion of the first ringing on the new eight bells since the time of their installation. It is 10th May, 1966 and David Cawley is seen here inspecting the belfry. The 4th is in the foreground and the second behind.
    Photo: David Cawley collection, 10 May, 1966

    The tenor bell in 1966
    Photo: David Cawley

    John Pladdys ringing at St Dunstan's.
    Photo: John Pladdys

    Bells 1,2,5,7 and 8.
    Photo: John Pladdys

    The removal of the bells in 1971


    There was to be no rebuilding of the church and the authorities decided that the bells had to go. The bells were taken out of the tower one by one.
    Photo: David Cawley, 1970

    The 7th being lowered through the vault.
    Photo: John Pladdys

    In Sterling Winery, Calistoga, California


    The bells are now hung for swing chiming in a turret in the winery.
    Photo: Brian P Diserens


    Photo: Brian P Diserens


    Photo: Brian P Diserens

    The church in the 2000s.


    The empty belfry.
    Photo: John Pladdys collection

    The bell hatch as it was in 2007
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 2007

    The door to the former ringing room.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 2007
    Recent Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2019-11-195040 Pontefract Surprise Royal
    2019-11-195024 Vicissitudinous Delight Major
    2019-11-195040 Spliced Surprise Minor (22m)
    2019-11-195088 Danesburgh Surprise Major
    2019-11-195005 Stedman Caters
    2019-11-195088 Falmouth Surprise Major
    2019-11-185040 Avon Delight Maximus
    2019-11-185024 Yate Delight Major
    2019-11-185040 Surprise Minor
    2019-11-185040 Surprise Minor (7m)
    2019-11-175004 Stedman Caters
    2019-11-175040 Grandsire Triples
    2019-11-175040 Spliced Surprise Minor (41m)
    2019-11-1710240 Spliced Surprise Major (40m)
    2019-11-175184 Ytterbium Surprise Major
    2019-11-175088 Yorkshire Surprise Major
    2019-11-175152 Cambridge Surprise Major
    2019-11-175002 Triton Delight Royal
    2019-11-175130 Grandsire Caters
    2019-11-175040 London No 3 Surprise Royal
    2019-11-175088 Yorkshire Surprise Major
    2019-11-175152 Barnes Surprise Major
    2019-11-175152 Turramurra Surprise Major
    2019-11-175100 Centennial Alliance Major
    2019-11-175040 Cambridge Surprise Minor
    Recent Quarter Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2019-11-191296 Cambridge Surprise Minor
    2019-11-191272 Kingston Treble Bob Minor
    2019-11-191280 Mixed Doubles
    2019-11-191320 Arley Surprise Minor
    2019-11-191260 Plain Bob Minor
    2019-11-191282 Woodspring Surprise Royal
    2019-11-191320 King Edward Surprise Minor
    2019-11-191260 Minor (3m)
    2019-11-191320 Danbury Delight Minor
    2019-11-191296 Hitcham Delight Minor
    2019-11-191260 Grandsire Doubles
    2019-11-191280 Bristol Surprise Major
    2019-11-191344 Plain Bob Major
    2019-11-191260 St Clement's College Bob Minor
    2019-11-191280 Spliced Minor
    2019-11-191260 Doubles
    2019-11-191280 Ealing Surprise Major
    2019-11-191344 Plain Bob Major
    2019-11-181280 Yorkshire Surprise Major
    2019-11-181260 Plain Bob Minor
    2019-11-181296 Cambridge Surprise Minor
    2019-11-181260 Doubles (2m)
    2019-11-181260 St Simon's Bob Doubles
    2019-11-181259 Grandsire Caters
    2019-11-181280 Painswick Surprise Major
    Full list of peals on Bellboard here
    Full list of quarters on Bellboard here

    Love's Guide to the Church Bells of Kent Page updated: 19 November 2019