The Society of Cambridge Youths    Established 1724

 

History of the bells at Great St Mary's.

Great Four bells and a sanctus are mentioned in 1516 and it is believed they were at one time hung in a belfry in the churchyard (1594) until the new church tower was not completed until 1608. In 1611 the four bells were recast into a ring of five and augmented to six probably in 1621-2. Two more bells were added to make a ring of eight in 1667/8 and the lightest two of the old six recast. In 1722/3 Richard Phelps recast these bells and added as much metal again to increase the ring to a heavier ring of ten. The tenor was damaged and required recasting by Pack & Chapman in 1770 and the opportunity was taken to increase the ring to twelve. The new front bells were poor examples especially the treble which was shortly recast in 1773. The eleventh was recast in 1825, the tower restored in 1892, the two trebles recast in 1911 and the seventh recast in 1923 due to damage incurred when celebrating the Armistice in 1918. The final major work involved recasting the trebles yet again and rehanging the bells in a new metal frame. For the first time they were also hung to be rung clockwise. In 1992(?) the 9th cracked during practice ringing and this was repaired (welded) by Soundweld of Lode. The old ring of 12 bells were removed in the April 2009 and in July a new ring of 12 plus a flat 6th were installed by Taylors Eayre and Smith of Loughborough. Most of the old 12 were retained (see below)

 

Details of the 2009 bells

Bell

Weight  

Note

Nominal

Diameter

1  

 4-3-0  

  1771.0

 25.50"  

2  

 5-0-0  

G  

  1578.0

 26.50"  

3  

 4-3-8  

F#

  1476.0

 26.88"  

4  

 5-0-2  

E  

  1324.0

 28.00"  

5  

 5-2-10  

D  

 1175.0

 29.50"  

6  

 5-3-23  

C#  

 1101.0

 30.50" 

7  

 6-3-14  

B  

 989.0

 32.50"

8  

 8-0-0  

A  

 880.5

 34.88"

9  

 10-0-18  

G  

785.5

 38.13"

10  

   12-1-16  

F#

737.0

 41.00"

11  

   17-1-2  

E  

 661.0

 45.38"

12  

   24-1-1  

D

 587.5

 51.00"

6b  

   6-1-0  

C  

 1047.0

 31.50"

 

Details of the pre-2009 bells

Bell Date Founder Dia. Weight  Post 2009
Treble 1952 Taylor 26" 5-0-22 Reused at Eastbourne
2nd. 1952 Taylor 27.5" 6-0-23 Bing reused in augmentation Rosscarbery, Cork
3rd. 1722 Richard Phelps 28.5" 5-1-24 Retained as clock bell
4th. 1722 Richard Phelps 30" 5-3-25 Retained as clock bell
5th. 1722 Richard Phelps 32" 6-3-4 Retained as clock bell
6th. 1722 Richard Phelps 33" 7-1-2 Retained in Sound Chamber 
7th. 1923 Taylor 35" 8-0-10 Being reused in augmentation Woolpit, Suffolk
8th. 1723 Richard Phelps 39" 10-0-22 Retained as clock bell 
9th. 1723 Richard Phelps 42.75" 12-3-24 Retained in Sound Chamber 
10th. 1722 Richard Phelps 44.5" 14-1-16 Retained in Sound Chamber 
11th. 1825 William Dobson 50.75" 20-1-3 Now on display at Wolfson College
Tenor 1770 Pack & Chapman 55.5" 27-0-13 (1) in C# -14  (550.5Hz) Retained as clock bell

 

(1) according to chalk markings on the bell left when worked was carried out by Whites c1997 it is 1379kg (27-0-10)

 

Click here for Details of the inscriptions on the bells.

 

Change-ringing

The bells are used for Change Ringing (sometimes called “English bell ringing''), in which each bell swings in a full circle. In Change Ringing the bells start and end each piece of ringing by ringing in a sequence called “Rounds” starting with the 1st and lightest bell (called the “Treble”) down the scale to the 12th and heaviest bell (called the “Tenor”). Change ringing is based upon ringing permutations of the 12 bells where the order of the bells may be altered by bells swapping their position in the sequence with an adjacent bell in a predefined manner (for example 123456789OET changing to 21436587O9TE).