The Church Bells of the City of London



A ring of 12 bells plus an additional service bell hung for ringing, Great Paul (bourdon), Great Tom (hour bell) plus 2 quarter jacks.
Tenor: 61-2-12 in B flat
Frame: 1878 John Taylor & Co.
Never subsequently retuned.
Grid Ref.: TQ319811
Upstairs Ringing Room

North West Tower


  • Ring of 12 bells
  • Additional service bell hung for ringing

South West Tower


  • Great Paul (bourdon)
  • Great Tom (hour bell)
  • 2 quarter jacks
1087 The building of St Paul's Cathedral began.
1222 A central tower and spire was built rising to a height of 520 feet. 5 bells were placed in the tower.
1240 The building was largely completed.
14th Cent. A separate bell tower was built on the north-east side of the cathedral and was equipped with 4 bells.
1561 4th June The spire was struck by lightning, destroying the bells. The spire was never rebuilt nor the bells replaced, the Dean and Chapter rather relying on a single bell.
15th Cent. The bell tower was pulled down and the bells scrapped.
1666 The Great Fire of London damaged St Paul's so much, it could not be restored. The fire also probably destroyed any bells that were there.
1675 21st June The foundation stone of the new St Paul's Cathedral was laid.
1698 William III gave the tower and bells from St Stephen's Chapel in the Palace of Westminster to St Paul's. The largest, originally called "Edward of Westminster" later became known as "Great Tom" or "Westminster Tom". It weighed 82-2-21.
1699 Great Tom cracked after it fell off its carriage en route to St Paul's.
1700 A bell was cast by Philip Wightman and hung in the North West tower.
1707 Two quarter bells were cast by Richard Phelps.  A contract (dated 15th Nov. 1706) was made with Phelps and the clockmaker Langley Bradley.
1708 Great Tom was recast by Philip Wightman and hung as the hour bell in the South West Tower. It weighed 73 cwt approx.
1709 The casting of Great Tom was a failure, and it was recast by Richard Phelps.  The old bell was 82-2-11.  The new bell was 96cwt approx.
1716 This casting of Great Tom had also failed, so it was recast again by Richard Phelps.
1717 Walters states that the quarter jacks were recast by Richard Phelps, however this seems unlikely given that they bear the date "1707" (info to be confirmed by a site visit). Walters estimated the bells to be 13cwt and 35cwt approx.
1878 A ring of 12 bells was cast and hung in the North West tower by John Taylor & Co.
1878 1st Nov. The new ring of 12 was opened by the Ancient Society of College Youths.
1881 23rd Nov. Great Paul was cast by John Taylor & Co. - the largest bell in the country. It was originally hung with a wooden headstock. There were  four ropes on the, two each side, falling behind each other in each case. Two were fitted at the top of the wheel and two at the usual place; the former were drawn out to clear the others.
1882 18th Mar. Great Paul was rung for the first time (in Loughborough).
1882 3rd June Great Paul was dedicated.
1891 Great Paul was rehung on a new headstock. A wooden wheel was supplied to replace the levers in use previously, and the bell and frame were moved higher in the tower to make room for the new clock. John Taylor supplied the headstock and the wheel.
1971 Great Paul was fitted with the present two iron wheels. They and the motors were supplied by Breviet-Mamias of Gagny, France (subcontraced by John Taylor).
An illustration of the cathedral with its 150m spire.
Note also the spired campanile on the north east side (enlarged here too).
1916 engraving representing Old St Paul's as it appeared prior to 1561, with intact spire.
The spire was destroyed by lightning in 1561 leaving the stub illustrated here.
The whole cathedral was destroyed in 1666.