Untitled Document
      Love's Guide to

The Bells of the City of London
St Mary Woolnoth

St Mary Woolnoth, Lombard St

Photo: Dickon R Love

  • 2 bells hung for full circle ringing and small bell hung for full circle ringing
  • Tenor: 13½ cwt approx in G.
  • Grid Ref: TQ327810
  • Rung from: Upstairs Ringing Room
  • Frame: Separate timber frames for the small bell and the two main bells. Inscribed Jas Shaw 1841.
  • Diocese: London
  • Building Listed Grade: I. Click for Heritage details.

  • The 3 bells ringing.(Dickon R Love, 28 Nov 2002)

Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date FounderRetuned
® Sanctus Bell 2 cwt approx.20" A 1670 William EldridgeNever
® 1 4½ cwt approx.27¼" F 1672 William EldridgeNever
® 2 13½ cwt approx.41½" G 1670 William EldridgeNever

®  - Hung for full circle ringing


Frame Bells Year Maker Material Truss(es) Local
North frame 1 1841 James Shaw Timber
South frame 2,3 1841 James Shaw Timber


How the bells are tuned


1438 The church was rebuilt on old foundations and consecrated by an Irish Bishop.
1539 Record of payment to clocksmith for keeping the chimes and mending baldrick of the 4th bell. [1]
1552 Record of 5 bells and mention of a chime of sacring bells on a wheel. [2]
1554 Record of the purchase of 2 sacring bells. [3]
1560 Records mention a saunce bell. [4]
1564 Records mention a payment "to a bell founder in hounediche" for trussing the bells. [5]
1567 Records mention the payment to a bellfounder for "the mendinge of the Clapper of the Thirde bell and for hanginge of the bell right in the stocke". [6]
1585 Records refer to paymentr for two stirropes for the tenor. [7]
1595 Records give "Item for a Joice to hould steddy the fourth bell and for taking of the same bell out and putting the iron wedges". [8]
1666 The Great Fire destroyed everything that could be burned, but the north wall and part of the east wall were rebuilt. The remainder was patched up as the parish was eager to gave the church ready for Divine Service.
1670 The service bell and sanctus bell were cast. The parish was united with that of St Margaret Haw.
1672 A smaller service bell was cast.
1708 Record of the 2 bells and the sanctus. [9]
1711 The building was found to be very unsafe, and as it was feared that it might fall, it was pulled down and rebuilt. The bells were retained.
1716 The new church was completed by Nicholas Hawksmoor.
1727 The new church was reopened on Easter Day.
1824 Record of "3 bells".
1841 There is an elaborate inscription on the frame "Jas Shaw 1841" which suggests that either it was constructed in 1841, or some restoration work took place in that year.
1900 The church was reopened.
1908 At this time the bells were rehung with new fittings. [10]
1940 The church was damaged in air raids, but not seriously.
1947 The bells were overhauled by Mears & Stainbank.
2013 A large crack was discovered in the canons of the sanctus bell and all ringing ceased.
2014 Quotations were received from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to restore the 3 bells. A further quotation was received to install a new ring of 8 small bells. Neither of these schemes (to date) have been realised.
[1] (Churchwardens accounts 1539-40)
[2] Item in the steple five great bells and a litill bell wt a clock and a chyme and ropes to the same. (Edwardian Inventory,1552)
[3] (Churchwardens accounts 1554-5)
[4] (Churchwardens accounts 1560-1)
[5] (Churchwardens accounts 1564-5)
[6] (Churchwardens accounts 1567-8)
[7] (Churchwardens accounts 1585+6)
[8] (Churchwardens accounts 1595-6)
[9] 2 bells and the Saints ()
[10] The fine bells of the famous Hawksmoor Church of St. Mary Woolnoth - which stands on one of the most valuable sites London - are now being rehung, owing to their dangerous condition. The church escaped destruction in the Great Fire, and at one time only needed slight restoration by Wren; but later on evident signs of the damage done manifested themselves, and then Hawksmoor, Wren’s famous pupil, was called in, and designed the present edifice. (Islington Gazette, 10 Aug 1908)

Pictures of the church

An old engraving of the church.

The ringing room (tenor rope on left, rung by Paul Carless, with David Baverstock on the treble). Ringing was provided by the Ancient Society of College Youths for the Annual Thanksgiving Service.
Photo: Dickon R Love, 28 Nov 2002

Pictures of the belfry and ringing room

The tenor (at the back) and the middle bell in the foreground.
Photo: Dickon R Love, 28 Nov 2002

And in a separate frame, the treble.
Photo: Dickon R Love, 28 Nov 2002


The church in c.1920.
Photo: Spitalfields Life

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