The Church Bells of the City of London

ST BRIDE, FLEET STREET

1 bell, formerly 12 bells
Tenor: 15-0-8 in F sharp
(formerly 28 cwt approx, in D flat)
Frame: 1953 John Taylor & Co.
(formerly 1710)
Never subsequently retuned
Upstairs Ringing Room (2nd floor)
PEALS

This is one of the most important bell towers in the history of campanology. In this tower, the first ever 10-bell peal was rung in 1717 and the first ever 12-bell peal in 1725. The church and bell foundry went to great lengths to ensure that the installation of the single bell in the tower was consistent with it being the 10th of a future 28 cwt ring of 12. Let us hope that one day a full ring will be a reality.

DETAILS OF THE BELL

Bell

Weight

Diameter

Note

Cast

Founder

Single Bell

15-0-8 43" F sharp

1953

John Taylor & Co.
1. (border)  CURFEW (border)
PEACE AND GOOD NEIGHBOVRHOOD :
GOD SAVE THE CHVRCH AND QVEEN : 1953 :
PROSPERITY TO ENGLAND :
PROSPERITY TO ALL OVR BENEFACTORS.
JOHN TAYLOR & CO.
LOUGHBOROUGH
FOUNDERS
1953

THE LOST RING OF 12

Bell

Weight

Diameter

Note

Cast

Founder

1

4 cwt approx. 25?" A flat

1719

Abraham Rudhall

2

4? cwt approx. 27" G flat

1719

Abraham Rudhall

3

4? cwt approx. 28" F

1710

Abraham Rudhall

4

5? cwt approx. 29?" E flat

1710

Abraham Rudhall

5

6 cwt approx. 31?" D flat

1736

Samuel Knight

6

7 cwt approx. 33?" C

1736

Samuel Knight

7

8? cwt approx. 34?" B flat

1710

Abraham Rudhall

8

10 cwt approx. 38?" A flat

1710

Abraham Rudhall

9

12? cwt approx. 42" G flat

1710

Abraham Rudhall

10

15 cwt approx. 44" F

1710

Abraham Rudhall

11

21 cwt approx. 50" E flat

1710

Abraham Rudhall

12

28 cwt approx. 54?" D flat

1710

Abraham Rudhall
1. PROSPERITY TO ALL OVR BENEFACTORS A % R 1719 (border)
 
2. PROSPERITY TO ALL OVR BENEFACTORS A % R 1719 (border)
 
3. MICHAEL EVANS PREB : OF WESTMINSTER VICAR OF ST BRIDES  (tree) 1710 (tree)
 
4. A % R 1710
 
5. JOHN v BOCKING v THOMAS v COLBORN v CHVRCH v WARDENS v J736 v S.K. v FECIT v
 
6. v ABRAHAM v PAGE v THOS v KETTERICHE v PHILIP v ROBINSON v COMMON v COVNCIL v MEN v S.KT v FECIT v 1736 %
 
7. ABRA : RVDHALL BELLFOVNDER 1710  (border)
 
8. PEACE & GOOD NEIGHBOVRHOOD GOD SAVE THE CHVRCH & QVEEN 1710
 
9. PROSPERITY TO ALL OVR WORTHY BENEFACTORS. A : R % 1710  (border)
 
10. ABRA : RVDHALL OF GLOVCESTER BELLFOVNDER  (border)
 
11. PROSPERITY TO ENGLAND. MR ANDREW RAGDALE MR JOHN JACKSON (2 trees) MR JOHN HATHAWAY MR JOHN GRAINGER CHVRCHWARDENS. 1710 (border)
 
12. A. R. 1710 (border)
 

HISTORY

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.
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.
1710 A new ring of ten was cast by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester.
1717 11th Jan 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.
1725 19th Jan 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.
1911 Regular ringing ceased and bells were only rung for special occasions.
1923 Ellacombe chiming apparatus was installed.
1938 The bells were last rung.
1940 29th Dec The church was bombed and the tower gutted. The bells crashed to the ground and broke or were melted.
1941 30th May 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 Death of Prebendary Taylor, last Vicar of St Bride's, a lover of the bells, who had secured what was left of them against the time when they might be recast. Appointment of Rev'd Cyril M Armitage as Priest-in-Charge with responsibility for rebuilding the church.
1951 31st Dec 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.
1952 Nov Mr Godfrey Allen FRIBA appointed Architect for the reconstruction of the Church.
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.
1953 27th Feb Estimate 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).
1953 12th Mar Appeal launched by Press Association to provide 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.
1953 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'.
1953 5th 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.
1953 28th May The electronic carillon was inaugurated by The Lord Mayor.
1954 Jan The single F# bell was cast at Loughborough.
1954 4th 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.
1954 14th April The single bell was officially rung for the first time, for Canon Armitage's induction as the first Rector of St Bride's.
1954-7 During reconstruction work the four enormous bellchamber windows were bricked up internally leaving a sensibly small louvred sound opening in each about 20' 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 19th Dec. 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.

GALLERY

bride_fleet07.jpg (21634 bytes) bride_fleet08.jpg (39549 bytes)
  One of Wren's first ideas for the steeple. The present font cover is now based on this design. The final design appears spectacular with St Paul's Cathedral in the background.
 
   
Picture in 1922 (from Spitalfields Life)    
Photo ASCY archive
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 destroyed, together with the peal boards recording the very birth of peal ringing on higher numbers.
The remains of the bells are sifted by firemen. The remains of the bells in the rubble.
Photo DrL 14th May, 2001 Photo DLC
  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. 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 window to allow the bells to be heard without offence.
Photo DrL 14th May, 2001 Photo DrL 14th May, 2001 Photo DrL 14th 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. An enhanced close up of the inscription. It uses phrases from several of the former ring of 12. 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 DrL 14th 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. 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. St Bride's as seen from the top of St Paul's Cathedral.  The other black foreground spire is St Martin, Ludgate Hill.