Untitled Document
      Love's Guide to

The Bells of the City of London


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Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date FounderRetuned
® 1 4-1-326" G 1849 Charles & George Mears, WhitechapelNever
® 2 4-3-2328" F 1849 Charles & George Mears, WhitechapelNever
® 3 5-2-129" E♭ 1849 Charles & George Mears, WhitechapelNever
® 4 5-3-2031" D 1849 Charles & George Mears, WhitechapelNever
® 5 7-1-1033" C 1849 Charles & George Mears, WhitechapelNever
® 6 7-1-1634" B♭ 1849 Charles & George Mears, WhitechapelNever
® 7 9-1-2337" A♭ 1849 Charles & George Mears, WhitechapelNever
® 8 10-0-2139" G 1849 Charles & George Mears, WhitechapelNever
® 9 13-3-643" F 1849 Charles & George Mears, WhitechapelNever
® 10 19-3-749" E♭ 1849 Charles & George Mears, WhitechapelNever

®  - Hung for full circle ringing


Frame Bells Year Maker Material Truss(es) Local
1 All bells 1849 Charles & George Mears, Whitechapel Timber


1846 Building work commenced on the church, designed by Thomas Cundy and William Butterworth. It was completed in 1850.
1847 A bell was cast by Charles and George Mears, placed over the gateway to the school adjacent to the church. It is currently stored within the school.
1849 A ring of 10 bells was cast by Charles and George Mears and hung in a new frame in the tower. The tenor was given by Sir F.A.G. Ouseley. The treble was given a latchet stay.
1850 The new church was consecrated on Tues 11 June by the Bishop of London. Objections were raised by the Churchwardens of St Peter's, Pimlico to the Bishop of London over the frequency with which the bells of St Barnabas were being rung, starting at 6:30 am and repeated at intervals until 8pm. The petition was signed by 300 residents. The Bishop said he would consider the matter. This was one of many complaints about the church, which was seen by many in the community as too Popeish (actually described as "Puseyite")! It is clear that the incumbant was very keen to have bells rung as a symbol of its Puseyite tradition, and wasn't for budging. Newspaper commentators at the time were quite scathing and sarcastic about their use. [1] [2] [3] [4]
1888 "Bell News" described the bells as being "recently rehung".
1965 Following ringing on 11 June, all ringing was barred by the incumbent.
2006 The spire was taken down and rebuilt.
2008 The bearings were cleaned and new wheels were made for the bells by Paul Huckstep. These were an ingeniuous design as they could be taken apart to curry the pieces up the stairs for reassembly in the belfry.
2009 The bells were tried out together on 13 December - their first ringing since 1965.
[1] Newspaper report on consecration of the church. See articles section for report and engravings. "There is a peal of ten bells, the private and personal gifts of private individuals." ( Illustrated London News, Sat 15 Jun 1850)
[2] THE BELLS OF ST. BARNABAS, PIMLICO Mr. Lambert, Churchwarden of St. Peter's, Pimlico, waited on the Bishop of London on Saturday, and presented a petition, of which the following is a copy, on the subject of the bells of St. Barnabas. The petition had been read at the vestry of St. George, Hanover-square, on the previous day, but the memorial could not be entertained before that body:- "Humbly showeth, that it is with great reluctance your memorialists approach your Honourable Board to prefer any compliant relating to the Church, and with every possible respect for the Church fo England, her forms and services, it is the desire of your memorialists to limit themselves to one single grievance, affecting every inhabitant of the district. Your memorialists submit to the consideration of your Honourable BOard that, since the consecration of St. Barnabas Church, they have been exposed to daily annoyance, from the frequence tolling of the public bells of this Church, commencing at half-past six every morning, and repeated at intervals until eight o'clock in the evening. Your memorialists consier that, in a densely populated district, a single bell of moderate power, used at intervals, and seasonable hours, would be suffient for every purpose, without the employment of a multiplicity of powerful bells, producing sometimes a discordance which is alike prejudicial to the invalid, the student, or the man of business, and detrimental to the owners and occupiers of the surrounding property. Your materialists have hitherto refrained from troubling your Honourable Board, in the hope that the nuisance they complain of might be abated without interference; but they can no longer refrain from entreating your Honourable Board to urge your authority and influence towards redressing the grievance which is the subject of their complaint." The petition in the course of one hour was signed by upwards of 300 persons. The Bishop did not give any immediate reply to the Churchwarden, but said that he would consider the matter. (John Bull, Mon 18 Nov 1850)
[3] Lord Ernest Bruce, and other members of the vestry, inquired whether any measures could be adopted for stopping the bells of St. Barnabas Church, Pimlico from ringing at unseasonable hours? Several Gentlement complained that both rich and poor suffered from this inconvenience of hearing the bells ringing at most unseasonable hours; remonstrances had been addressed to the rev. incumbent, but he heeded them not. After examining various acts of parliament, it was found that the vestry could not interfere. (Bell's New Weekly Messenger, Sun 17 Nov 1850)
[4] THE PIMLICO MARTYRS ... Paul and Barnabas must, however, be a nuisance to people who are unlucky enough to live within earshot of their belfries. For the very bells are enough to make a man turn Puritan. They are big, sonorous bells, and they break out grantically at all hours of the day, and indeed, of the night. They clas and jangle a man out of his second sleep, they drown his voice at breakfast, and they intrude their abominable noise upon him at all hours thenceforth. Not only do they ring for church - and as there are bits and scraps of service always going on, this is often - but signals are made on them, during services and at other times. We were once resident in the neighbourhood, and tried to understand these signals, but gave it up in despair. We believe, however, that a single bell means that the clergyman is putting on a clean shirt - two, that he has taken his hat and umbrella - and three, that the beadle has been sneezing. The bells are "fired," as far as we can gather, when the washerwoman takes away the church lined to the wash; and there is a sort of Puseyite triple-bob major when the churchwardeness has counted it on its return, and the great and "small things" are found to be all right. But there are scores of other things done with the bells, and a month of the mystery fairly rung us out of the neighbourhood, heartily sumpathising with Sir WALTER SCOTT's admiration of a certain parish, which he says, "he should like to have known, and of which it is song:- "Oh! the parish, the parish, the parish, / Oh the parish of bonny Greenfell! / They've hang'd the minister, stick'd the deacon, / Burn'd the kirk, and drunk the bell." All bells in London are a nuisance, which ought to be put an end to; but the Pimlico bells are indictable offenders. For this reason, and having suffered, we are not sorry to see their patrons persecuted a little for much more harmless fooleries. But their persecutors have no great deal of our sympathies for all that. (Weekly Chronicle (London), Sat 28 Jul 1855)


  • "Consecration of St Barnabas Church, Pimlico", (The Illustrated London News) 15 June 1850
  • Photos from before the 2009 restoration

    The ringing room. This ladder was the means of getting into the intermediate chamber.
    Photo: Alan Taylor, 2005

    Disused Ellacombe apparatus rack.
    Photo: Alan Taylor, 2005

    The ringing room.
    Photo: Alan Taylor, 2005

    The clock mechanism.
    Photo: Alan Taylor, 2005

    One of the bells. Note the latchet stay.
    Photo: Alan Taylor, 2005

    Derelict clock weights.
    Photo: Alan Taylor, 2005

    In the intermediate chamber.
    Photo: Alan Taylor, 2005

    Intermediate chamber.
    Photo: Alan Taylor, 2005

    Intermediate chamber.
    Photo: Alan Taylor, 2005

    The belfry with derelict wheels.
    Photo: Alan Taylor, 2005

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 9 Jul 2016

    After the restoration

    Photo: Dickon R Love, 9 Jul 2016

    Love's Guide to the Church Bells of the City of London Page updated: 20 June 2024