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      Love's Guide to

The Bells of the City of London
St Bartholomew the Great

St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield

  • 5 bells hung for full circle ringing and a clock bell
  • Tenor: 5½ cwt approx. in B.
  • Grid Ref: TQ319817
  • Anticlockwise ringing circle
  • Rung from: Upstairs Ringing Room
  • Frame: 1628 Timber Frame.
  • Diocese: London
  • Building Listed Grade: I. Click for Heritage details.
  • Peals rung at the tower

Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date FounderRetuned
® Treble 2 cwt approx.22" F♯ 1510 Thomas Bullisdon1952 Whitechapel
® 2 2¾ cwt approx.24" E 1510 Thomas Bullisdon1952 Whitechapel
® 3 3½ cwt approx.26½" D♯ 1510 Thomas Bullisdon1952 Whitechapel
® 4 4¼ cwt approx.29" C♯ 1510 Thomas Bullisdon1952 Whitechapel
® Tenor 5½ cwt approx.31" B 1510 Thomas Bullisdon1952 Whitechapel
Clock Bell 3-2-225½" 1814 Thomas Mears II, WhitechapelNever

®  - Hung for full circle ringing
 - Hung dead


Frame Bells Year Maker Material Truss(es) Local
Lower 1 1,2,3,4,5 Local Timber

Upper 2 Clock bell



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. [1]
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). [2]
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.
1855 Record of ringing for New Year by the Ancient Society of College Youths. [3]
1890 The bells were 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.
[1] This Church, having in the Bell Tower, six Bells in a Tune, were sold to the Parish of St. Sepulchres; and then the Church being pulled down to the Quire, the Quire was, by the King's Order annexed, for the inlarging of the old Parish Church thereto adjoining; and so was used till the Reign of Queen Mary, who gave it to the Friers Preachers, or Black Friers, and was used as their Coventual Church, until the 1st of our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth. Those Friers were once more put out, and then all the said Church, was wholly as it stood, in the last Year of Edward VI. given by Parliament, to remain for ever a Parish Church to the Inhabitants within the Close, called Great St. Bartholomews. Since the which time, that old Church is pulled down, except the Steeple of rotten Timber, ready to fall of it self. I have oft heard it reported, that a new Steeple should be builded with the Stone, Lead and Timber, of the old Parish Church, but no such Thing was performed. For it is more easy to pull it down, than to set it up and build. The Parish have lately repaired the old Wooden Steeple, to serve their Turn. (A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, John Strype, 1720)
[2] 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 4 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. (Notes from Chris Pickford.)
[3] ST. BARTHOLOMEW THE GREAT, SMITHFIELD. - On New Year’s-eve, Mr. J. Morris, of the College Youths of London, assembled his band of ringers, and ascended the ancient tower of he church of St. Bartholomew, and, fore the first time these sixty years, the old peal rang out the old year and welcomed in the new. The peal has only five bells, the tenor weighing about 12 cwt. (Era, Sun. 7 Jan. 1855)


  • "St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, London, E.C.", Byrne, R L (The Ringing World) 23 April 1971
  • "The Priory of St Barthlolomew the Great, Smithfield", Byrne, R L (The Ringing World) 26 October 1973
  • Old engravings of the church





    Recent Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2018-05-205040 Doubles (5 Methods)
    2010-11-285040 Doubles (6 methods)
    Recent Quarter Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2023-11-121260 Mixed Doubles (3m/3p)
    2023-10-081260 Mixed Doubles (5m)
    2023-09-101260 Mixed Doubles (2m)
    2023-08-131260 Mixed Doubles (3m/1v)
    2023-07-091260 Plain Bob Doubles
    2023-06-111260 Mixed Doubles (3m)
    2022-06-121260 Plain Bob Doubles
    2022-02-131260 Doubles (4m)
    2022-01-091260 Mixed Doubles (11m)
    2021-12-121260 Doubles (3m)
    2020-01-121260 Doubles (1m/2v)
    2019-09-121260 Grandsire Doubles
    2019-02-101260 Doubles (5 Methods)
    2018-12-131260 Grandsire Doubles
    2018-11-251260 Stedman Doubles
    2018-05-271440 Spliced Doubles (2 Methods)
    2017-09-141260 Stedman Doubles
    2017-02-091320 Julie McDonnell Doubles
    2016-05-222016 Doubles (18m)
    2016-02-281260 Grandsire Doubles
    2016-01-241260 Mixed Doubles
    2015-12-011260 Plain Bob Doubles
    2015-09-271380 Doubles (3 Methods)
    2015-08-231260 Mixed Doubles
    2015-04-261260 Doubles (2m)
    Full list of peals on Bellboard here
    Full list of quarters on Bellboard here

    Love's Guide to the Church Bells of the City of London Page updated: 13 October 2019