Gillett and Johnston (half-muffling a bell)

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,205
210
63
Surrey
Country
Region
Perhaps a bit off topic even for the Horological Miscellany forum but to me clocks and bells go together like bread and butter. After all, even the word clock comes from the French "cloche" which means bell. I think this might be of some interest as the bells concerned are cast by Gillett and Johnston who also made tower clocks and domestic clocks. Gillett and Johnston were (and still are) based in Croydon, UK and this tower is in South Croydon. The bells were cast in 1912. Gillett and Johnston no longer cast bells but they do maintain tower clocks in churches and public buildings.

Video #1 shows me inside the tenor bell (of 12) testing a half-muffle. Full-muffling is only done for the death of the Sovereign. Video #2 shows me ringing the half-muffled tenor. The bell is in D and weighs 30 Cwt (1.5 Imperial tons).

The occasion is the National ringing of bells half-muffled at 12 noon BST on Saturday 10th April 2021 following the death of HRH Prince Phillip Duke of Edinburgh.

Oh and in my pocket is a chronograph, minute repeater for good measure.

IMG_6634.jpeg IMG_6635.jpeg


 
Last edited:

PatH

NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Dec 5, 2014
2,145
1,599
113
Texas
Country
Region
Very interesting. Thank you for sharing, svenedin
 

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,205
210
63
Surrey
Country
Region
Very interesting. Thank you for sharing, svenedin
You’re welcome. The English style of ringing bells is unique in the world. Elsewhere bells are simply swung or hit with hammers. Bells hung for "change ringing" however are first "pulled up" by swinging the bell higher and higher until it can be "set" upright. This is achieved by way of stays. Once the bell is set it can stay there indefinitely in the upright position until the ringer chooses to ring it. There are two strokes, hand stroke and back stroke and the bell can be set at either. Without stays English change ringing could not have developed and there would be no Whittington chimes (Whittington comes from church bell ringing). We would instead have bells just swinging and randomly colliding notes as they do in Europe. Whereas in the UK each bell ringer can control his bell to follow another bell precisely. Stays also allow ringers to ring heavy bells without great effort (subject to good bearings of course).

This explains better than I can: Full circle ringing - Wikipedia

and Change ringing - Wikipedia

Stephen
 
Last edited:

T.Cu

NAWCC Member
Sep 26, 2020
134
15
18
Country
Region
Thanks! I wonder if it is ever "fully muffled"? Great to see that huge bell.
 

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,205
210
63
Surrey
Country
Region
Thanks! I wonder if it is ever "fully muffled"? Great to see that huge bell.
Yes fully muffled only for the death of the King or Queen. It certainly is a big bell. I was inside it to attach the leather muffle to the clapper. There are considerably bigger bells of course but this is reasonably big for a UK peal of bells rung the English way.
 
  • Like
Reactions: T.Cu

novicetimekeeper

Registered User
Jul 26, 2015
10,949
876
113
Dorset
Country
Region
I was a campanologist in my youth. Haven't rung a church bell for nearly half a century.
 

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,205
210
63
Surrey
Country
Region
I was a campanologist in my youth. Haven't rung a church bell for nearly half a century.
We are always desperately short of ringers, you could ring again! I learned at about age 12 I think but what with career and many other things I have never been able to devote enough time to it to be particularly good.
 

novicetimekeeper

Registered User
Jul 26, 2015
10,949
876
113
Dorset
Country
Region
We are always desperately short of ringers, you could ring again! I learned at about age 12 I think but what with career and many other things I have never been able to devote enough time to it to be particularly good.
When I got married in 86 in Wimborne Minster I wanted the bells rung in my wife's village Litton in Somerset, and my local where I was a choirboy and onetime ringer in Hampreston in Dorset. 3 churches at the same time. I only found out later that they had to bring additional ringers in as Hampreston and Wimborne Minster pulled from the same pool of ringers.
 

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,205
210
63
Surrey
Country
Region
When I got married in 86 in Wimborne Minster I wanted the bells rung in my wife's village Litton in Somerset, and my local where I was a choirboy and onetime ringer in Hampreston in Dorset. 3 churches at the same time. I only found out later that they had to bring additional ringers in as Hampreston and Wimborne Minster pulled from the same pool of ringers.
That is a most extraordinary coincidence. The bells of Wimborne Minster are the "sister set" of St Peter's South Croydon. Wimborne was originally a 10 cast by Gillett and Johnston and the tenor is 29 Cwt in D vs South Croydon 30 Cwt in D. They are almost totally identical and both have been subsequently augmented to 12 bells (by adding 2 trebles). Wimborne actually has 13 bells now enabling the ringing of a light 8. Both were cast in 1911, as far as I know South Croydon first (actually hung and dedicated 1912). However, I am not absolutely sure which peal of bells came first. They are said to be some of the best sounding bells in the UK, largely the result of scientific tuning principles developed by Cyril Johnston and his introduction of a vertical tuning lathe in 1905 (it is like a huge turntable with the bell mouth uppermost). I saw that tuning lathe at the Whitechapel bell foundry in 1999 (they bought it when Gillett and Johnston stopped making bells). I have also been fortunate enough to see bells cast, again at the Whitechapel bell foundry.
 
Last edited:

novicetimekeeper

Registered User
Jul 26, 2015
10,949
876
113
Dorset
Country
Region
Locals would be distressed with your choice of spelling, but my longcase by Joseph Bowles made in the second half of the 18th century clearly says Winbourn, I have a second my him and a watch signed for Spurrier , all three are of a similar date have the same spelling.
 
  • Like
Reactions: svenedin

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,205
210
63
Surrey
Country
Region
Locals would be distressed with your choice of spelling, but my longcase by Joseph Bowles made in the second half of the 18th century clearly says Winbourn, I have a second my him and a watch signed for Spurrier , all three are of a similar date have the same spelling.
Spelling corrected! There is a river not far from me called the Bourne hence my confusion. Also a river Bourne in Dorset!
 

novicetimekeeper

Registered User
Jul 26, 2015
10,949
876
113
Dorset
Country
Region
In Hampshire streams are called bournes, in Dorset they are called bornes.

One of the rivers in Wimborne is now called the Wim but it was the Win.
 

Les harland

Registered User
Apr 10, 2008
1,624
164
63
Hertfordshire England
Country
Region
Novicetimekeeper
If you decided to go ringing again you would be welcome back
Some things have changed, a lot hasn't
For example going down the pub after ringing, it is thirsty work
There can be a lot of history up a Church tower for example bells which date back to the 1500s
You should get chance to see the Church Clock, anything up to 250 years old, close up
 

Forum statistics

Threads
165,515
Messages
1,440,868
Members
86,275
Latest member
danny_foskey
Encyclopedia Pages
1,101
Total wiki contributions
2,873
Last edit
Weekly News 7/7/19 by Tom McIntyre