Untitled Document
St Paul's Cathedral
 

St Paul's Cathedral, Ludgate Hill


Photo: Wikipedia

  • 13 bells hung for full circle ringing forming a ring of 12 and an extra earlier bell, plus 2 quarter chimes, an hour bell and a bourdon
  • Tenor: 61-2-22 in B♭.
  • Grid Ref: TQ320811
  • Rung from: Upstairs Ringing Room
  • Frame: 1878 John Taylor & Co, timber.
  • Diocese: London
  • Building Listed Grade: I. Click for Heritage details.

Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)*
Weight
(Measured 1878)
Weight
(Measured 2000)
Diameter Note Date Founder Retuned
Treble 7-3-98-1-168-1-430⅞" F 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
2 8-2-209-1-159-0-2032½" E♭ 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
3 9-1-610-0-39-3-1234" D 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
4 11-0-911-3-2111-2-2236 5/16" C 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
5 12-2-913-2-1413-1-038 9/16" B♭ 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
6 12-2-2414-0-413-2-1439 9/16" A 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
7 15-3-816-2-2116-1-1843⅛" G 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
8 21-1-1222-1-1821-3-1847 11/16" F 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
9 27-0-1628-0-727-1-2253⅜" E♭ 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
10 29-2-330-2-2229-3-2155" D 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
11 42-3-744½ cwt approx.43-2-061½" C 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
Tenor 61-2-262 cwt approx.61-2-1268⅞" B♭ 1878 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never
The Banger 18-2-2649⅝" C 1700 Philip Wightman, Clerkenwell Never
Quarter 1 12-2-941" A♭ 1707 Richard Phelps, Whitechapel Never
Quarter 2 24-2-2658" E♭ 1707 Richard Phelps, Whitechapel Never
Great Tom 102-1-2282⅝" A♭ 1716 Richard Phelps, Whitechapel Never
Great Paul 334-2-19116¾" E♭ 1881 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough Never

* Source of weight figures: John Taylor & Co

How the bells are tuned

History

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.
c 1350 In the 14th century, a separate bell tower was built on the north-east side of the cathedral and was equipped with 4 bells.
c 1450 In the 15th century the bell tower was pulled down and the bells were scrapped.
1552 Record of 5 bells in the tower. [1]
1561 On 4 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.
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 The foundation stone of the new St Paul's Cathedral was laid on 21 June.
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. The new ring of 12 was opened by the Ancient Society of College Youths on 1 November.
1881 Great Paul was cast by John Taylor & Co. and was at the time (and until 2012) 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 Great Paul was rung for the first time (in Loughborough) on 18 March, and dedicated on 3 June.
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).
2000 Restoration work took place on the frame and fittings by Whites of Appleton. In the course of this work, the bells were weighed in the belfry.
2018 A major restoration of the bells took place by John Taylor & Co, who transported them to Loughborough for cleaning and refitting, but not tuning. The frame was strengthened as part of this work.
[1] Item in the Steeple of belles in number five. (Edwardian Inventory, 1552)

Articles

  • "Great Paul", Collins, Frederick E (The Ringing World) 7 May 1971
  • "The Story of Great Paul Pt 1", Cook, William T (The Ringing World) 14 January 1972
  • "The Story of Great Paul Pt 2", Cook, William T (The Ringing World) 21 January 1972
  • "The Story of Great Paul Pt 3", Cook, William T (The Ringing World) 28 January 1972
  • "Great Paul", Cook, William T (The Ringing World) 31 March 1972
  • "Centenary of St Paul's Bells", Cook, William T (The Ringing World) 3 November 1978
  • "Waiting to release their twelve-voiced power", Editor, based on Pocock, Tom (The Ringing World) 8 June 1984
  • "St Paul's Cathedral Bells - 2000 a special year", Regan, Mark (The Ringing World) 7 April 2000
  • "St Paul's Cathedral Bells Restored", Chilcott, Michael V (The Ringing World) 22 December 2000
  • "St Paul's under wraps", Carless, Paul L (The Ringing World) 12 March 2004
  • "Great Tom of Westminster", Ridley, Christopher (The Ringing World) 17 September 2004
  • "Women's peal at St Paul's Cathedral", Roger, Philip (The Ringing World) 17 August 2012
  • Engravings of the old cathedral


    The spired campanile on the north east side of the old cathedral.
    Photo: ASCY archive

    The spire was destroyed by lightning in 1561 leaving the stub illustrated here.
    Photo: ASCY archive


    Photo: ASCY archive


    Photo: ASCY archive

    1916 engraving representing Old St Paul's as it appeared prior to 1561, with intact spire.
    Photo: ASCY archive

    An illustration of the cathedral with its 150m spire.
    Photo: ASCY archive

    The whole cathedral was destroyed in 1666.
    Photo: ASCY archive

    Old drawings and photographs of the bells


    The tenor bell about to be hoisted into the tower.
    Photo: ASCY archive

    1.- Entrance to the Belfry. 2.- Back View of the Apostles. 3.-Daylight at Last. 4.- A Side Peep going up. 5.- The Bells. Montage entitled: INAUGURATION OF THE NEW PEAL OF BELLS AT ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL
    Photo: The Pictorial World 9 Nov 1878 (ASCY archive)

    Great Paul.
    Photo: Hulton archive

    Great Paul on its way to the Cathedral, carried on a steam trailer.
    Photo: ASCY archive.

    An engraving of the original "Great Tom of Westminster". This was given to St Paul's Cathedral in 1698 by William III. It used to be known as "Edward of Westminster" and weighed 82-2-21. Great Tom itself is virtually inaccessible and impossible to photogr
    Photo: ASCY archive

    Great Paul on its headstock.
    Photo: Jim Hedgcock Collection

    Tolling the Great Bell of St Paul's for the death of the Duke of Albany
    Photo: The Illustrated London News, 5 Apr 1884

    Boring for the Clapper-bolt in Great Paul from the inside and outside.
    Photo: "The Graphic", 20 May 1882: "GREAT PAUL:" THE NEW BELL FOR ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL

    The Removal of Great Paul: Leaving Loughborough for London.
    Photo: "The Graphic", 20 May 1882: "GREAT PAUL:" THE NEW BELL FOR ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL

    Great Paul.
    Photo: "The Graphic", 27May, 1882

    Testing the Great Bell for St. Paul's Cathedral, at Messrs. Taylor and Sons' Factory, Loughborough
    Photo: "The Illustrated London News" - front cover14 Jan 1882.

    Photographs of the NE belfry in 2006


    The "Banger" in a frame above the ring of 12. This was the original bell at St Paul's.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006

    The 9th, donated by the Fishmongers' Company.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006

    The 8th, donated by the Merchant Taylors' Company
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006

    The name of the Prime Warden of the Fishmongers' Company appears on the bell.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006

    A view across the belfry. The 9th is in the foreground
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006

    The 11th, donated by the Grocers' Company.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006

    The treble and 2nd, donated by the Drapers' Company.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006

    The name of the Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company appears on the bell.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006

    The 3rd, donated by the Turners' Company.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006

    The 7th, donated by the Salters' Company.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006

    A view across the belfry with the tenor at the back
    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006


    Photo: Dickon R Love, 7 May 2006

    Photographs of the SE belfry


    Notoriously difficult to photograph, Great Paul swings in its massive wooden frame, barely contained by the tower.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, Mar 2000


    Photo: Dickon R Love, Mar 2000

    The bulky headstock that attaches the bell to the wheel and bearings.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, Mar 2000

    Inside Great Paul.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, Mar 2000

    Great Paul used to be swung by two ringers, one in a pit under each side of the bell. Jim Phillips, then Secretary of the St Paul's Guild, demonstrates how this was done.
    Photo: Dickon R Love, Mar 2000

    This is about the best I could do to photograph the quarter jacks in 2000. One is clearly visible from the ceiling. The other is hidden behind the grating, which at the time was inaccessible. Hopefully some better photographs will be obtained in the futur
    Photo:

    The Dean of St Paul's, Dr John Moses, demonstrates how huge this bell really is. It swings at 1pm every day. While it is the largest bell in the country, it is by no means the loudest, and from outside the cathedral it rumbles quietly inside.
    Photo: ASCY archive

    Photograph of the quarter jacks taken c.1960 with the lip of Great Tom seen above them.
    Photo:
    Recent Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2019-11-205072 Stedman Cinques
    2019-04-225001 Stedman Cinques
    2018-01-015265 Stedman Cinques
    2017-11-115019 Stedman Cinques
    2017-08-065138 Ariel Surprise Maximus
    2017-06-175091 Stedman Cinques
    2017-04-175017 Stedman Cinques
    2017-02-045007 Stedman Cinques
    2017-01-025040 Cambridge Surprise Maximus
    2016-11-125040 Cambridge Surprise Maximus
    2016-09-035350 Stedman Cinques
    2016-06-115090 Stedman Cinques
    2016-04-215090 Stedman Cinques
    2016-03-285021 Stedman Cinques
    2016-01-015042 Cambridge Surprise Maximus
    2015-06-135800 Stedman Cinques
    2015-05-055021 Stedman Cinques
    2015-01-015100 Stedman Cinques
    2014-04-215019 Stedman Cinques
    2014-01-015025 Stedman Cinques
    2013-06-015060 Stedman Cinques
    2013-04-015040 Bristol Surprise Maximus
    2012-09-095067 Stedman Cinques
    2012-08-125029 Spliced Cinques and Maximus
    2012-08-055007 Stedman Cinques
    Recent Quarter Peals
    The most recent performances, according to BellBoard.
    2019-12-011296 Bristol Surprise Maximus
    2019-11-161287 Stedman Cinques
    2019-11-021346 Cambridge Surprise Maximus
    2019-10-081388 Spliced Maximus (7m)
    2019-08-131282 Stedman Cinques
    2019-07-091299 Stedman Cinques
    2019-04-231299 Stedman Cinques
    2019-04-211263 Stedman Cinques
    2019-04-091344 Bristol Surprise Maximus
    2019-02-171311 Stedman Cinques
    2019-02-121299 Stedman Cinques
    2019-01-081323 Stedman Cinques
    2018-12-021301 Stedman Cinques
    2017-12-031346 Cambridge Surprise Maximus
    2017-11-041299 Stedman Cinques
    2017-10-231299 Stedman Cinques
    2017-09-181298 Bristol Surprise Maximus
    2017-07-011313 Stedman Cinques
    2017-06-041344 Bristol Surprise Maximus
    2017-05-141311 Stedman Cinques
    2017-04-231284 Stedman Cinques
    2017-04-161251 Stedman Cinques
    2017-02-141263 Stedman Cinques
    2017-02-061344 Bristol Surprise Maximus
    2017-01-221320 Julie McDonnell New Bob Cinques
    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