The Church Bells of the City of London

ST BARTHOLOMEW THE GREAT, SMITHFIELD

5 bells hung for ringing + clock bell
Weight: 5 cwt approx. in B
Tuning: 1952 Mears & Stainbank
Frame: 1628 local
Upstairs ringing room.
Anticlockwise
Peals
Further reading:
"St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, London, E.C." by R L Byrne. RW 23rd April 1971
"The Priory of St Barthlolomew the Great, Smithfield" by R L Byrne. RW 26th Oct 1973

 

DETAILS OF THE BELLS

Bell

Weight

Diameter

Note

Cast

Founder

1

2 cwt approx. 22" F sharp

c.1510

Thomas Bullisdon

2

2 cwt approx. 24" E

c.1510

Thomas Bullisdon

3

3 cwt approx. 26" D sharp

c.1510

Thomas Bullisdon

4

4 cwt approx. 29" C sharp

c.1510

Thomas Bullisdon

5

5 cwt approx. 31" B

c.1510

Thomas Bullisdon

Clock

3-2-22 25"

1814

Thomas Mears II
1.
Fig1.jpg (2186 bytes) Sancte Bartholomeo Ora Pro Nobis Fig28.gif (2064 bytes)

:


2.
Fig1.jpg (2186 bytes) Sancta Katerina : Ora Pro Nobis  Fig28.gif (2064 bytes)

3.
: Sancta Anna  Fig18.jpg (1403 bytes) Ora Pro Nobis  Fig28.gif (2064 bytes)

4.
Fig18.jpg (1403 bytes) Sancte Iohannes Baptiste Ora Pro Nobis  Fig28.gif (2064 bytes)
5.
Fig1.jpg (2186 bytes) Sancte Petre Ora Pro Nobis  Fig28.gif (2064 bytes)

C. T. MEARS OF LONDON FECIT. 1814.

FRAME

The frame dates from 1628 (when the tower was built) and is a tall cross brace frame. (There is 55"/58" between the top of the sills and underside of the heads.) It appears to be a builder's frame rather than one made by a bellhanger or frame maker. There are long pits on the east end west sides of the tower fo the 2nd (west) and 5th (east). Bells 1 and 3 swing E-W in shorter pits along the north and south walls respectively. The remaining bell swings NW-SW in the middle. Gallows ends are in the NW and SE corners of the frame. One timber with indent is reused to support the floor of the intermediate chamber.

HISTORY

1123

Work began on the church.

c.1510

The present 5 bells were cast by Thomas Bullisdon. He may have cast a greater number, but certainly only 5 survive today.

1539

The priory was dissolved by Henry VIII. The nave was demolished and the monastic buildings were passed to Sir Richard Rich. It is said that 6 bells were passed to St Sepulchre's. It is possible therefore that this church could have had as many as 12 bells in the central tower, making it the earliest known 12 bell tower in the land.

1556-9

A Dominican convent was established under Queen Mary, and dissolved under Queen Elizabeth.

1628

A new tower built at the west end of what remained of the mighty church and the bells were hung in a new frame (which continues to serve the bells).

1666

The church escaped the Great Fire.

1814

A clock bell was cast by Thomas Mears II from the metal of an old sanctus bell belonging to the Priory. It is hung in a turret on the roof of the tower, once swung but now hung dead.

1890

Bells rehung with new fittings by Warners. (A stone tablet in the porch indicates that this was done in 1893, although contemporary reports indicate that the work was concluded by 1891.)

1940

The bells were taken down from the tower and stored at Cleeve Abbey for safety. This was arranged between Mr A. A. Hughes and Dr Francis Eeles FSA.

1952

Bells retuned and rehung by Mears & Stainbank. The new weights were never recorded in the tuning book.

PHOTOGRAPHS & ENGRAVINGS