The Church Bells of the City of London

(from The Illustrated London News, Nov. 2nd, 1844)

This article is reproduced from The Illustrated London News, Nov. 2nd, 1844
from the copy in the ASCY archives.

Bells for the Hours and Chimes

Every reader of the details of the destruction of the late Exchange must recollect the mention of the chime, which, by a singular coincidence, were playing the air, “There's nae luck about the house," until the flames reached the loft in which were the chimes themselves.

In the new Exchange, chimes have not been forgotten; but they have been constructed with advantages not hitherto attempted in England. Cbimes generally consist of a set of bells, tuned to the modern musical scale, and struck by hammers acted on by a pinned cylinder or barrel, which revolves by means of clockwork. Now, in this instance, Mr. Dent has by the mechanical arrangement of the chimework, succeeded, for the first time in this country, in producing harmony in bells. The airs have been arranged by Mr. E. Taylor, tbe Gresham Profesor of Music; which Mr. Dent has applied on the chime-barrel. The airs are :-

A Psalm tune, by Henry Lawes, the friend of Milton; it is in the key of B flat, so as to exhibit the capability of the chimes to play in different keys.
2. God Save the Queen, in E flat.
3. Rule Britannia.
4. An air selected by Professor Taylor to exhibit the power of the bells.

The key in which the bells are set, is E flat. There are 15 bells., and 2 hammers to several, so as to play rapid passages. There are frequently 3 hammers striking different bells simultaneously, and sometimes 5. The notes of the bells are as follow: -B flat, A flat, G F E flat, D Dflat, C B flat, A A flat, G F and E flat; the first bell, B flat, weighs 4 cwt. 261b., and its cord 8 cwt. 2 qrs. 5Ib.; the four bells, A flat, G F and E flat, weigh severally, 10 cwt. I qr. 9lbs, ; 12 cwt. 2 qrs. 27lbs. 15 cwt. 2 qrs. 14lb; and 23 cwt. 2 qrs. 24lb. The united weight of them is 131 cwt. I qr.

By certain new points of mechanical arrangement the chimes, all irregularity of force is avoided by driving the chime-barrel through wheels and pinions, There are no wheels between the weight that pulls, and the hammer to be raised. The "lifts" on the chime-barrel are all epicycloidal curves, so that the force of the action is as equal as it is possible to produce for the regularity of the music. There are about 6000 holes pierced upon the barrel for the lifts, so as to allow the tunes to be varied at pleasure.

The original intention of having the same numbes of bells (nine) as before the fire has been abandoned, and the number increased to 15. The alteration was at the suggestion of Mr. Dent, who, having visited Brussels and other parts of the Continent to obtain information as to the arrangement of carillons, for which the artisans of Flanders have acquired a well-deserved celebrity, was induced to recommend that the number should be so, that a more harmonious chime might be gained. Professor Taylor advised the committee to increase them to fifteen, which would then allow of playing in three octaves, thereby increasing the melody. They have been cast by Messrs. Mears, the bell-founders in Whitechapel. The largest is also the hour bell, and bears the following inscription :-" Cast for the Royal Exchange in the year of grace 1844; Richard Lambert Jones, Chairman of the Gresham College Committee; Daniel Watney, Master of the Mercers' Company; Ebenezer Trottman, Assistant; William Tite, Architect; Charles and George Mears, founders." The others only bear the words "Royal Exchange, 1844.”

Lever Apparatus for striking the chimes.

Barrel for playing the chimes