THE CHURCH BELLS OF ESSEX
THEIR FOUNDERS, INSCRIPTIONS, TRADITIONS, AND USES

THE REV. CECIL DEEDES & H. B. WALTERS

PRINTED FOR THE AUTHORS, 1909
W. JOLLY AND SONS, ABERDEEN.

PART I : HISTORY OF THE BELLS AND THEIR FOUNDERS

{pp. 25,26}

WILLIAM DAWE.

Before we treat of the bells which are undoubtedly this founder's own work we must consider a group with inscriptions in capitals connected with him by the initial cross, but probably preceding him in point of time ; it is doubtful if they can be his work, but on the other hand we are not justified in assigning them to Langhorne or Wodewarde.
III. (a). Bells with cross Plate X., Fig. 2;1 capitals set B, (Plate IX., Figs. 1-9) used throughout.
This group includes six bells, two of which are in Essex. The laver shield occurs on none of them, but three have the wheel stop, and two others a quatrefoil stop (Plate VIII., Fig. 7) not found elsewhere. In Essex we have the Bradfield bell :

Inscription on Dawe bell at Bradfield
I AM KOG OF THIS FROG WIT GLORIA TIBI DOMINE

and Leyton tenor :

Inscription on Dawe bell at Leyton
DOMINE EXAVDI ORAGIONEM MEVM ET CLAMOR MEVS AD TE VENIAT

The others are the treble at Herriard, Hants (stop Hants, Fig. 10), the 5th at Deopham, Norfolk (wheel stop) and the 4th at Shapwick, Dorset (wheel stop). To these we must add, although it has a new medallion (Plate VIII., Fig. 7) in place of the cross and stop, the larger bell at East Ham :

Inscription on Dawe bell at East Ham
DVLCIS SISTO MELIS VOCOR CAMPANA GABRIELIS

It will be noted that all these bells have interesting inscriptions ; those in English at Bradfield and Shapwick are exceptionally quaint, and all are remarkable for their length. They are clearly a homogeneous group, and it is just possible that they represent Dawe's earliest efforts.2

{p. 130}

SAMUEL KNIGHT (1710-1738).

Samuel Knight, who has already been mentioned in connection with Waylett, was, like Joseph Carter, originally a Reading founder, (1684-1710) who left that town to find a more lucrative position in the Metropolis. Here he originated a business which extended over three generations, lasting nearly to the end of the century, from 1710 to 1781. That he was a founder of considerable repute is clear not only from the long list of his bells, but from the fact that he cast several of the more important rings in London. There are about 90 of his bells in Kent alone, but, strange to say, only four in Essex, and these belong to the extreme end of his career, the treble at Chigwell and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th at West Ham, all dated 1737.
His foundry appears to have been in Shoe Lane, and he certainly lived in the parish of St. Andrew, Holborn, as appears from his will, given by Mr. Cocks ;3 but the 5th at Edmonton, Middlesex, was on its own testimony "made at Stepney" in 1734. He died in 1739. Business appears to have been slow and intermittent during the first few years of his London life, but in 1712 he established a Sussex connection, and from 1716 to 1721, as we have already noted, entered into an arrangement with Waylett. From 1721 to 1732 he cast about eighty bells exclusively for Kent. The last seven years of his life were busy ones in London, and include the rings at Edmonton, St. Saviour's, Southwark, St. Margaret, Westminster, and St. Sepulchre's, Holborn, the three latter of which are deservedly famed even at the present day, though they have all undergone alteration. In his latter years he did not pay much attention to inscriptions, though his Reading bells had often been much ornamented, and is content with his initials and the date, as at West Ham. It is remarkable that his bells are so excellent in tone, as they are often rough castings.

ROBERT CATLIN (1739-1751).

Knight's executor and sole residuary legatee was Robert Catlin, who had already been working under him, and acted as his foreman for the St. Sepulchre's ring, as the 9th bell there informs us. He well sustained his predecessor's reputation, and during a business career of only twelve years cast over 120 bells of which we have record. His bells are pretty evenly distributed over the Home Counties, with again a curious neglect of Essex, where he is only represented now in three towers. In two of these he supplements his predecessor's work, casting the 2nd at Chigwell in 1743 and the 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 8th at West Ham. The ring of five at Bradwell-on-Sea is by him (1744), and he was also the maker of the former 1st, 4th, and 8th at Barking. He frequently indulges in floral devices or a kind of nail-like object by way of stops (as at West Ham), and there are some peculiarities of lettering which he inherited from Knight, such as the use of a 'lower-case' m, n, and u in place of capitals. Little is known of his personal history.

{pp. 140,141}

CHARLES AND GEORGE MEARS (1844-1863).

In 1844 Charles and George Mears took up their father's business. They made several changes in the style of their inscriptions, dropping the old fecit, and dispensing with stops, and sometimes even with the date, as the 3rd at Barking. Most of their bells are simply inscribed

C. & G. MEARS FOUNDERS LONDON

with the date, in a type which has been kept up by their successors There are however some interesting exceptions, such as the 4th at Pebmarsh, in Gothic capitals, and the 4th at Belchamp Walter inscribed :-

C. & G. MEARS FECt. J844

The type used here is derived from John Rudhall of Gloucester, and is used by the Mearses also at Broadstone, Shropshire, and elsewhere in the same year. A diminutive variety of the ordinary type occurs at Emmanuel, Forest Gate, and Colchester St. Mary Magdalene. None of the Essex bells bear anything in the way of inscriptions, though two or three rings in London shew influence of the Catholic Revival, with names of saints, etc., and others have appropriate texts from Scripture. The only rings in Essex are two in the modern churches of Greenstead Green (6 of 1845) and Stanway All Saints (3 of 1845); the total number is 36, amongst which we must not omit to mention the tenor at West Ham, the largest bell in the county. Charles Mears died in 1855, but the style of inscription is kept up for two years longer, until in 1858 George's initial alone appears, with the addition of a 'Co.' in 1862. In the following year George took into partnership Mr. Robert .Stainbank, who gave a fillip to the business which had been declining, and raised it once again to a high pitch of prosperity, George Mears' name occurs on the original ring of six (now eight) at Braintree (1858), and on fifteen other bells, one of which is the fine curfew at Harlow.

{p. 142}

THE TAYLORS OF LOUGHBOROUGH.

Among the other founders whose names are found on Essex bells of the nineteenth century, are a firm of formidable rivals to the ancient Whitechapel foundry, who, if they cannot boast of such a lineage have at least a respectable pedigree.
The name of Messrs Taylor of Loughborough is as familiar in the campanological world as that of Mears and Stainbank, and their reputation has been greatly enhanced since their production of the great ring of twelve for St. Paul's Cathedral in 1877, followed closely by the arrival of Great Paul in 1881. Their connection has, however, always lain more in the Midlands than the south and east of England, and I have only information of some 40 of their bells in Essex, mostly in the north-west corner of the county. In 1905 they cast a ring of eight for St. Mary Magdalene, Harlow. Those recently supplied to Castle Hedingham and Belchamp St Paul's exhibit admirable workmanship, and they have lately taken to adorning their bells with borders and arcading which mitigate in some degree the severity of their up-to-date framework.
The foundry traces its pedigree from Joseph Eayre who, originally in partnership with his brother Thomas at Kettering, set up an establishment at St. Neot's, Hunts, in 1731 ; he died in 1771, and was succeeded by his cousin Edward Arnold, who bequeathed the foundry about 1800 to an old apprentice Robert Taylor. In 1821 Robert, in partnership with his son John, removed to Oxford, where on Robert's death about 1830, another son William came into the business. William Taylor remained at Oxford till his death in 1854, but in 1837 John migrated to Loughborough and there established the foundry which to-day bears his name. Since his death the firm has consisted of his son, Mr. John William Taylor, who died in November, 1906, at an advanced age, and two sons of the latter, Messrs. J. W. Taylor, Jun., and E. D. Taylor.
Their earliest bells in Essex are the two at Cold Norton (1854), and two at High Roothing, on which they give their names as TAYLOR AND SON ; these, and others at Heydon, Wicken Bonant, and St. Mark's, Silvertown, are inscribed in a square thick type, which about 1865 was discarded for a set of plain narrow letters. Recently they have adopted a more effective style of lettering. We should also mention the fine bell of nearly a ton weight supplied to East Ham Town Hall in 1901, and the chime of twelve small bells put up in Lexden church in 1901.


RINGING CUSTOMS AND PECULIAR USES OF ESSEX BELLS.

{pp. 145-152}
SUNDAY USES.

The normal pre-Reformation arrangement of services was Mattins at 8 a.m. and Mass at 9 ; but we find in some cases (cf. Kent, p. 122) that the hours were 7 and 8. Traces of the Mattins and Mass bells still exist in some cases, but the usage has been somewhat obscured by the re-introduction of early celebrations. In many of the returns where a bell at 8 a.m. is reported it is not clear whether this refers to the use of a bell for services only or whether a bell is rung independently.
...
For Mattins and Evensong the ordinary usage is of course ringing or chiming for a period varying from 45 to 15 minutes, with, in many cases, 'tolling in' at the end. Usually the treble is rung for the last five minutes, sometimes preceded by the tenor or two bells for five or ten, or the tenor is tolled for 15 minutes. Ringing on some or all occasions is reported in 42 parishes, chiming of two or more bells in 76 others. At Boreham the bells are rung only for Mattins ; at Coggeshall and Saffron Walden only for Evensong ; at Barking sometimes after Evensong. In ten cases the practice is variable or alternating, and at West Ham there is always ringing on 'Corporation' Sunday. At Coggeshall and perhaps elsewhere there is ringing for services (and not at other times) on Great Festivals.
...
FUNERAL USES.

Of all special ringing customs, ancient and modern, these seem to have been the most universal, and are the most generally kept up, though not always as carefully as they might be. The uses include the Passing Bell or Death Knell, rung immediately or at a regular interval not exceeding twenty-four hours after death, which usually comprises tolling at intervals of a minute for half-an-hour to an hour, with "tellers" at the beginning and end, or others methods of denoting age and sex. On the day of the funeral itself, the uses are practically limited to tolling before the ceremony, with occasional chiming or quick ringing on the approach of the procession. This custom, still common in Shropshire, is there known as the joy-bells or ringing home. Sometimes muffled peals are rung for special personages.
...
We now come to the uses of the tellers, for which the normal custom is 3x3 strokes for a man, 3x2 for a woman, including children, usually both at beginning and end of the tolling. This we find practised in about sixty-six parishes. Sometimes 3x1 in addition are tolled for a child, and this occurs in thirty six instances. The following are abnormal as regards the number of strokes in each case :

Arkesden : 4 male, 3 female, 2 child.
Broxted : 4 male, 3 female, 3 child.
Chelmsford : 3x3 male, 3x4 female.
Great Hallingbury : 3x3 male, 2x2 female.
West Ham : 9 male, 7 female.
The same at Pitsea, recently introduced.
Mistley : reported as 3, 2, and 1 only.
Sturmer : 9 male, 8 female.

Wickham St Pauls : 6 male or female, 1 child.

At Horndon on the Hill and Tendring the return is 2x3 male, 3x3 female, but these may be clerical errors.
...
MISCELLANEOUS USES.

The Morning Bell and the Curfew we have already noted as survivals of the old Ave Peals. They are now rapidly dying out all over the country, and barely survive in Essex. But at Harlow both are rung from November 1st to March 25th ; the one at 5 a.m., the other at 8 p.m., and the bell on which they are rung is known as the Curlew Bell, not forming part of the ring. The hour and day of the month are tolled. Similarly at Harwich a morning bell is rung daily at 9 a.m., the Curfew at 9 p m. from November 1st to March 25th. At Dedham a bell is rung at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays. The Curfew is also rung at Wicken Bonant at 8 p.m. (on the tenor), and at Thaxted from September 25th to March 10th, except between Christmas Eve and Plough Monday. Both were formerly rung at Barking, 5 a.m. and 8 p.m., on the fire bell in the Abbey Gateway ; at Newport (4 a.m. and 8 p.m.), and at Wivenhoe (6 a.m. and 8 p.m.) At Thaxted there was formerly a Morning Bell, at West Ham and Saffron Walden the Curfew.
...
PRINCIPAL RINGS IN ESSEX
{only local rings listed}
Place        Weight of  Diam. of  Diam. of  Diam. of   Date and Founder of Tenor
               tenor     tenor      next     treble
RINGS OF TEN
West Ham        28        54        48        28        Mears 1846
RINGS OF EIGHT
Barking         22j       48j       43j       30        Warner 1871
In the following rings of eight the tenor does not exceed 13 cwt. or 42 in. in diameter :
Great Ilford    8         35s
The hour clock bell at Colchester Town Hall weighs 25 cwt ; that at East Ham Town Hall 19 cwt.


PART II
THE INSCRIPTIONS ON
THE CHURCH BELLS OF ESSEX,
WITH THEIR HISTORY AND USES,
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER BY PARISHES.

{pp. 276-280}

HAM, EAST.
St. Mary Magdalene.
1 + 1 bells.

1. Inscription on Large bell at East Ham

(36 in.

DVLCIS SISTO MELIS VOCOR CAMPANA GABRIELIS

2. C. & G. MEARS FOUNDERS LONDON 1849
(19 in.


Large bell about 1380 ; by a predecessor of W. Dawe. The stop (Pl. VIII., 7), which also serves as an initial cross, does not occur elsewhere, but the lettering (Pl. IX.) is the same as at Bradfield and Leyton. Dr. Raven suggested that SISTO was a mistake for CISTA, 'a hive of sweet sound.'
Pits for three. The smaller bell is seldom used. On New Year's Eve 1905 a 'peal' was produced on the large bell by striking the upper part with two hammers while sounding the clapper. The result may or may not have been musical, but it is to be hoped that this beautiful old bell will not again be subjected to such barbarous treatment.
T.R.E. 1552. 'In p'mis in the steple iiij great bells. The first wayeth by estimation viijc pounds the second wayeth by estimation xijc: pounds the thyrde wayeth by estimation xyjc pounds the fourth wayeth by estimation xxc pounds. It. a little bell re'sued to warn the people at the begynnyng of dyvyne s'vice by estimation one pound.' (Essex Arch. Trans. N.S. ii. p. 244).
The minute books of 1738 mention a payment to Thomas Worthen on June 6th for mending the bells, £4. 9s. 0½d. On July 1st, 1782, the Vestry "finding that the bells were dangerous, gave a Mr. Ripley power to have three replaced, providing the expense did not exceed the value of the cracked bells, which was estimated at £45. 15s. 10d." In 1784 a special vestry was held to consider the fate of the bells, and a resolution was passed authorizing Mr. Wilson, the churchwarden, to get the value of the bells, or a portion of it, from the bellfounders, Messrs. Patrick and Osborn. The firm however having gone bankrupt, the Parish got nothing, and the bells of East Ham church were lost for ever. (Home Counties Mag. IX., July, 1907, p. 211). This does not quite square with the facts, as one of the three bells was retained, and is still safe and sound !
Morant (i. p. 15) : 'In the Tower are three Bells.' Muilman (iv. p. 267) : '3 bells.'
See also Essex Arch. Trans. ii. p. 109; Ecclesiologist, xxv. p. 345.
There are in this parish two chapels-of-ease; ST. JOHN BAPTIST, built 1866, and containing one bell of 28½ in. diameter supplied by Warner in 1864 ; and ST. BARTHOLOMEW.
At the TOWN HALL is a bell by Taylor of Loughborough, put up in 1901, and weighing 19¾ cwt.

HAM, EAST.
St. Alban, Upton Park.
One bell.

1. MEARS & STAINBANK, FOUNDERS, LONDON, 1903.
Cross on bell at St. Alban, Upton Park

On waist:-

TO THE GLORY OF GOD
A THANK OFFERING
FOR A YEAR OF UNITED WORK
AMONG THE LEPERS OF ROBBEN ISLAND
D.G.
(26½ in.


Weight 4 cwt. 13 lbs. Church built within the last few years.

HAM, EAST.
St. Stephen, Upton Park.
One bell.

One bell of 1893, weighing 3 cwt. 3 qrs., supplied by Mears and Stainbank, with no inscription beyond the founder's name and date. Church built 1887.

HAM, EAST.
All Saints, Forest Gate.
One bell.

Church consecrated 20 May, 1886.

HAM, EAST.
St. Edmund, Forest Gate.
One bell.

Church built 1901.

HAM, WEST.
All Saints.
Ten bells.

1. ROBERT CATLIN FECIT 1752
(28 in.


2. THE RINGERS GAVE 20 POUNDS TOWARDS TWO TREBBLES TO MAKE X BELLS. RT CATLIN 1752
(30 in.

3. Inscription on West Ham Bell No.3
(33 in.


4. As the last ; no coins.
(34 in.


5. As No. 3 ; both coins large.
(38 in.


6. REVD WM. CROPLEY VICAR MORRIS BAILEY SEBASTIAN WEYERMAN SAMUEL BURFORD CHURCH WARDENS Inscription on West Ham Bell No.6 THOMAS MEARS OF LONDON FECIT 1795
(40 in.

7. ROBERT CATLIN FECIT 1752 Inscription on West Ham Bell No.7
(42 in.


8. PROSPERITY TO THIS PARISH Inscription on West Ham Bell No.8
(44 in.


9. REVD ABEL JOHN RAM VICAR. FRANCIS DACRE SEPTIMUS MORRIS HUNTLEY : PERFECT CHURCH WARDENS. 1852. I WARNER & SONS FOUNDERS LONDON
(48 in.

10. C. et G. MEARS LONDINI FECERUNT

On the waist:-
ABEL JOHANNES RAM VIC
CAROLUS CURTIS ARM
ALFREDUS MASON ARM
JOHANN KNOWLES ARM
 
ECCLES
CUSTODES

A.D. 1846


(54 in.


Tenor 28 cwt., note D; the largest and heaviest bell in the county. In good ringing order.
The 3rd, 4th and 5th are by Samuel Knight. The objects on the 7th and 8th seem to be square-headed nails. The 9th is the earliest bell cast by the present firm of Warner and Sons, at any rate in Essex.
The Rev. W. Cropley (6th bell) was Vicar 1775-1804; the Rev. A. J. Ram from 1845 to 1868 (see Fry, Hist. of E. and W. Ham, p. 193).
The Inventories here are defective.
Morant (i. p. 21) and Muilman (iv. p. 261) give '6 Bells.' But the present 2nd shows that there were certainly ten in 1752. Probably Samuel Knight cast a ring of eight in 1737, of which Catlin recast two (the present 7th and 8th), adding the two trebles. The first pealboard given below shows from the number of changes rang that in 1737 there must have been eight bells.
In the Vestry Minutes for 1587 (25 June) occurs the following entry :-
Item that the Sexton do from the ffeast of Saint Mychell the arkangell vntyll the anon' of Saint mary the virgin Ring the iiijth bell at iiij of the clok in the morning & viij at night, as hertoffor hath been accustomed and shall continually sett & keep the clok going at dew tyme & ho's as hertoffor hath been accostomed. (East Anglian N. and Q. ii. p. 340).
The Curfew was still rung in 1864-65.

Customs :-

Death Knell when requested ; tellers 9 for a man, 7 for a woman.
On Sundays, chiming for service at 8 a.m. and for all services on 2nd and 4th Sundays; on 1st and 3rd a peal is rung before morning and evening service, and also on 'Corporation Sunday.'
Ringing on New Year's Eve, Christmas Day, Easter Day and Whitsunday ; for weddings by request.
Curfew formerly (see above).
The following peal-boards are in the ringing-chamber.
    1) 21 Nov. 1737. 15120 Bob Major in 8 hrs. 40 min.
    2)  6 Apr. 1828.  7001 Grandsire Gators in 4 hrs. 21 min.
    3) 13 July 1828.  5040        do.       in 3 hrs. 24 min.
    4) 17 Nov. 1883.  5000 Treble Bob Royal in 3 hrs. 31 min.
    5)  3 May  1884.  5067 Stedman Gators in 3 hrs. 25 min.
    6) 22 Feb. 1896.  5057 Grandsire Gators in 3 hrs. 28 min.
See also Church Bells, 30 Nov. 1872.
Best thanks to Rev. Canon Pelly, Vicar, and Rev. H. W. Reindorp, Assistant Curate.

HAM, WEST.
St. Matthew.
One bell.

Church built 1896.

HAM, WEST.
St. Thomas.
One bell.

Church built 1891.

HAM, WEST.
Holy Trinity, Canning Town.
Six bells.

A new ring of six (tenor 7¼ cwt.) provided in 1887, replacing one bell of 4 cwt. supplied by Mears and Stainbank in 1869.
Church built 1868.

HAM, WEST.
St. Gabriel, Canning Town.
One bell.

Church built 1879.

HAM, WEST.
Emmanuel, Forest Gate.
1 + 1 bells.

1. THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME EMMANUEL.

On the sound bow :- C. & G. MEARS LONDINI FECERUNT DECEMBER 1851
(38 in.


2. On the sound bow :- C. & G. MEARS FOUNDERS LONDON 1852

Weight of larger bell 9¼ cwt. Church built 1852 ; the bells hang in a central turret.

HAM, WEST.
St. James, Forest Gate.
One bell.

Church built 1881.

HAM, WEST.
St. Mark, Forest Gate.
One bell.

Church built 1893.

HAM, WEST.
St. Saviour, Forest Gate.
One bell.

Church consecrated 1884; one small modern bell.

HAM, WEST.
St. Mary, Plaistow.
One bell.

Church built 1864; a bell of 8 cwt., diam. 35 in., supplied by Messrs. Warner about 1898.

HAM, WEST.
St. Andrew, Plaistow.
One bell.

Church built 1871.

HAM, WEST.
St. Peter, Upton Cross.
One bell (?).

Church built 1893.

HAM, WEST.
Stratford, St. John.
Three bells.

1. THOMAS MEARS OF LONDON FECIT 1835
(24 in.


2. THOMAS MEARS OF LONDON FECIT 1835
(29 in.


3. THOMAS MEARS OF LONDON FECIT 1835
(36 in.


Lettering on 1st very small, except the initials, which are ordinary size.
Church built 1836.

HAM, WEST.
Christ Church, Stratford.
One bell.

Church built 1852.

HAM, WEST.
St. Paul, Stratford.
One bell.

Church built 1865 ; a bell of 25½ in. diam. supplied by Warner in that year.

HAM, WEST.
St. Mark, Victoria Docks.
Two bells.

1. TAYLOR & Co FOUNDERS LOUGHBOROUGH 1862.
(22½ in.


2. The same.
(24 in.


Lettering thick and square, as at Heydon ; not like Taylor's later lettering.

HAM, WEST.
St. Luke, Victoria Docks.
One bell.

Church built 1874.

HAM, WEST.
Ascension, Victoria Docks.
One bell.

Church built 1903.

HAM, WEST.
St. Cedd.
One bell (?).

Church built 1904.

{p. 305}

ILFORD, LITTLE.
B.V.M. and St. Thomas of Canterbury.
One bell.

1. J. WARNER & SONS LONDON 1861
(22 in.


Weight : 2 cwt. Note E.
T.R.E. 1552. 'Itm. more of bells thone of 1 li waight and thother of iij score pound.' . . . . 'Now here we have made accompt and presented all saving one bell rope and a ladder to clime up to the bells wi all.' (Essex Arch. Trans. N.S. ii. p. 240).
Morant (i. p. 28) : 'A wooden cupola contains one Bell.' Muilman (iv. p. 296) : '1 bell.'

ILFORD, LITTLE.
St. Barnabas, Manor Park.
One bell.

Church built 1901.

ILFORD, LITTLE.
St. Michael, Manor Park.
One bell.

Church built 1898.


Footnotes:

1. The cross figured by Stahlschmidt (Kent, fig. 9 = Plate IX., Fig. 12) appears to be in some cases an inaccurate version of this, in others the same cross but in a lozenge instead of an octagon.
2. Stahlschmidt, writing to Kaven, about 1888, was of the same opinion.
3. Bucks., p. 137.

Plates:

Plate VIII. 1-5. J. LANGHORNE'S LETTER AND STOP. Plate IX. STAMPS USED BY WILLIAM DAWE. Plate X. STAMPS OF W. DAWE, WODEWARD, AND J. BIRD.