Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New Home at last!

I picked up the frame today together with clapper and fittings. So now here it is installed in its new home. It makes a fine sound but will be rung only on special occasions. Mind you, the postman cannot resist ringing more than one bell on arrival so I guess the 'new' one will be too much for him to resist.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Visited Steve the fabricator today. The frame is almost ready. I confirmed I would fix the bell using a 16mm eye bolt from which the clapper would hang. As a temporary arrangement which might be all I ever do I will hang a chain from the eye bolt and link to a 60mm wrought iron ball. Steve had a suitable iron ball to which he will weld loops for the chain and a lanyard. The whole clapper arrangement will cost less than £5! A lot cheaper than a bespoke clapper which would be required if the bell was installed in a building for regular use. The frame is to be sent for black powder coating this week and should be ready for collection soon. Masonry drills and bolts for fixing to concrete paving have been acquired so I am ready for intallation when I get the call to collect.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bell Frame

Visited New Forest Fencing this week. Told them I was thinking of mounting my bell on a pair of hardwood posts. They advised me to consider a frame made of boxed steel. I met the Fabricator or metal worker. He suggested a simple frame that could be bolted to the paving made from 70mm square steel posts welded on to square steel bases. The bell would be secured by an eye bolt from which the clapper could hang. I agreed that he should make the frame which I will collect in about 2 weeks. I now need to obtain a clapper. A professionally made bespoke clapper which would be required if the bell was to be installed for regular use in a building would be expensive. For the time being I just want a simple clapper arrangement that will allow me to ring the bell occasionally. So I am on the look out for a suitable clapper!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Stolen goods?

An interesting reply from Beaumont School:

Dear Peter,

Many apologies for the delay in replying. Whilst the bell could originate from this School (founded 1888) my guess is that it is more likely to have come from Beaumont College, our one-time senior School, closed in the 60s and now a Hayley Conference Centre. Having said that I recall mention that we were a bell short at one stage (as you can tell I am no expert at this) and, indeed, we took delivery of a new one last year (see photo). I will try and do some more research on this and come back to you.


Tim Blad

So was there a missing bell? Is it mine?

To be continued........

Thursday, October 26, 2006

In transit!

Phoned a local bell hanger. I have decided to mount the bell with a fixed headstock onto a pair of hardwood posts so that it can stand outside my front door under the porch. A new clapper with a lanyard and the bell can ring out again. Meanwhile it has moved to just inside the front door awaiting its trip to the bellhanger. Maybe in a week or two.

Monday, October 23, 2006

St John's Beamont School

A google search included the following:


The plans for St John’s Beaumont were drawn up by the famous Architect, J F Bentley, who later went on to design Westminster Cathedral. Unlike so many preparatory schools, it was purpose-built, originally for 60 boarders, and was opened in 1888. Its name is taken from St John Berchmans, a young Jesuit who was canonised in that year.

This looks promising. I will contact the school to see if I can get some information about the bell.

Croydon Library does its stuff!

Dear Peter

I have found the relevant entry in the Bells Register (our ref: AR1/1/1) and 1024 appears in sequence. The entry reads:

Date: Sept 1887
No: 1024
Size: 16”
Note: C#
Description: (blank)
Weight: (blank – 3 – 14)
Where sent: Beaumont Preparatory School
Date: Sept 17 87

Your next job of course is to find out where Beaumont Prep School was; I don’t think it was in Croydon!

Yours sincerely

Chris Bennett
Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service
Croydon Clocktower
Katharine Street
Croydon CR9 1ET
Tel: 020 87605400 x61112
Fax: 020 82531012

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cleaning the bell

This bell is a challenge. I will have to get a frame to be able to ring and display it. First things first, it has to be cleaned and go somewhere. After checking out tips on cleaning bronze I settled for soap and water and good old elbow grease using Autosol metal cleaner. For a first go it's come up quite well. I first thought I would leave the bell on the porch outside my front door. Then sitting in my study where I keep my main bell collection I spotted a vacancy under my desk. That's where it can stay while I consider my next move. Must clean that mark on the carpet!

Gillett & Co

In the reign of William IV, William Gillett set up as a clock maker. By 1844 he had started production in Croydon where his company was to become one of the largest bell foundries in the world. Gillett was eventually joined by Charles Bland and then Arthur Johnston. The company was known variously as Gillett & Bland, Gillett & Co, Gillett Bland & Co and Gillett & Johnston which still trades in Portsmouth although bell founding ended in 1955. By the 1920s the company employed more people than any other bell foundry in the world. Extensive records are kept of Gillett bells in Croydon Library. My bell was made in 1887 and was numbered 1024. I contacted the Archivist and he has agreed to find out the building where the bell was first hung.

My biggest yet

Browsing Ebay, I found this old bell for sale. It had a buy it now option. I did some research on Gillett & Co. I was hooked. I committed to buy at the fixed price. Turned out that the seller lived in Portsmouth. Just an hours drive. The following day I collected it. These are some photos that appeared on Ebay. The bell weighs 70 pounds, is 16 inches diameter and 13 inches high.