Showing posts with label bells. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bells. Show all posts

Thursday, January 13, 2022

A new home for the 1892 Meneely and Co. foundry bell from Ireland's Eye, Trinity Bay.

We had a grand chat yesterday with Mr. Garland Bailey about one of our Registered Heritage Structures, St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Old Bonaventure. Garland and his local committee are working on a plan to see the building find new life in the community. 

One plan is to see the re-use of a historic bell, from the old church in the now resettled community of Ireland's Eye, Trinity Bay.  The bell was cast at the Meneely and Co. foundry at Troy, NY in 1892. 

We've written about the interesting history of the Meneely foundry in an earlier blog post, and there are several Meneely bells in churches across the province. This one is interesting as it shows it was donated/paid for by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and lists the two churchwardens of the day.

It's great to see one being saved, and we will be following the Old Bonaventure project as it unfolds. Photos of the bell below, with an archival image of what the old St. George's Church in Ireland's Eye looked like circa 1950.

St. George's Anglican Church, Ireland's Eye, c1950, Maritime History Archive, PF-317.855

Thursday, February 21, 2019

St. Matthew's Anglican Victoria Jubilee Church Bell, Heart's Delight-Islington

At a recent heritage meeting in the town of Heart's Delight-Islington, I had a chat with Mr. Stan Reid about the old St. Matthew's Anglican Church, and specifically about the old church bell. The church was deconsecrated January 6, 2016, and the future plan is to move the bell to a new bell tower, yet to be constructed in the community.  After the meeting, he sent me a historic photo of the old bell (above).

The bell was cast with the following words:



On the day of the church's 2016 deconsecration - or secularization - Bishop Geoff Peddle wore the pectoral cross that Bishop Jones would have worn. Also used for the ceremony was the same the diocesan crosier — or bishop’s crook — that would have been used by Bishop Jones.

The place of casting indicates the bell was manufactured by the First Meneely Bell Foundry, of New York, which had been established in 1826. There were two competing Meneely bell foundries, across the Hudson River from one another, run by members of the same family.

The ad below for the foundry was printed in the Troy Daily Times May 20, 1891.

According to Sheila MacKenzie Brown's 1981 MA Folklore thesis on bell traditions in NL, there were at that time at least 34 other Meneely bells in local churches, including St. Paul's Church, Harbour Grace, and All Hallows Church, North River. One of the Meneely foundries also cast the fire bell for St. John's, dated 1878.

For more info on Meneely foundries, you can visit the Meneely Bell Online Museum!

Do you have a memory of the church bell in Heart's Delight ringing? Comment below, or send me an email:

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Historic foundry that cast the 1845 Petty Harbour church bell under threat. #SavetheBellFoundry

Here is an interesting little news story in the built heritage and intangible cultural heritage world.  I while back, I blogged about the 1845 Whitechapel bell at St. George's Anglican Church, Petty Harbour.  Back in 1981, the bell had been identified as one of at least seven Newfoundland Whitechapel bells.

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry has a very long and impressive history, and the Petty Harbour St. Andrew’s bell has some very historic counterparts, as the foundry produced such notable bells as Big Ben and the Liberty Bell. The business has been on its present site since the mid 1740s, is one of just two remaining bell foundries in Britain, and the foundry is reportedly the oldest manufacturing company in the UK.

Currently, the building and business are in danger of closing and being turned into a boutique hotel, even though there is a partnership proposal in place by the United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust to keep the site open as a working foundry.

An online petition to save the foundry is rapidly gaining signatures.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

More Newfoundland church bells - The All Saints’ Anglican Church bell in Dildo

Last week, we had a post on the naming and christening of bells, and I included a request for more information about other church bells in the province. You can also read an earlier post about the 1845 Whitechapel Bell at St. George's Anglican Church, Petty Harbour. 

Today, Andrew Pretty wrote me and sent me some information about the All Saints’ Anglican Church bell. He writes,
The original All Saints’ Anglican church was built in 1878. The first bell was purchased in 1904 for the sum of 44£. From the time that the church opened until 1904, the raising of a flag alerted the congregation of services. However, this bell only appears to have been used for just a few years. It appears that there was some dissatisfaction with the bell. It was a cast iron bell as opposed to cast bronze bell which is said to produce a better tone. The bell appears to have been passed along to another church in the New Harbour mission (possibly Norman’s Cove Church) and Rev’d Caldwell subsequently wrote in a church ledger in 1906: “Never have anything to do with iron bells! Warning!” A flag continued to be used until 1956 when a new cast bronze bell was purchased from the John Taylor & Co. Bell Foundry in Loughborough England. The bell was purchased by the C.E.A.A. at the cost of 296£. It rings in the key of “E”, 28” in diameter and was transported across the Atlantic Ocean on the SS Nova Scotia. Since the original All Saints’ Church didn’t have a tower or steeple, a freestanding tower had to be built to house it. Later in 1964, the original All Saints’ Church was replaced by a new building and the old one demolished. The freestanding tower remained (although it was situated over 100ft from the new church) and the bell continued to be used regularly until 1982 when it was replaced with a set of electronic chimes. The tower built in 1956 was demolished in 1992 and the bell sat in the basement of the church until it was hung in a replacement tower in 2010. Even though the church still uses electronic chimes the bell is still rung on special occasions.

Do you have photos, stories, or memories about church bells? Send them my way! Email

Photos courtesy Andrew Pretty. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Bells of Peace - the folklore of ringing, blessing, and naming of bells

This Sunday, November 11th, bells in communities across Canada will chime 100 times as the sun slips under the horizon to mark each year since the armistice. You can read more about that initiative here.

The ringing and use of bells has a long heritage here in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and one of the intriguing parts of our bell history was the naming and christening of bells used in churches.

According to Sheila MacKenzie Brown’s 1981 Folklore MA thesis “The Church Bell Tradition in Newfoundland: A Reflection of Culture Change,”:
...when bells were first placed in the tower they were blessed before being used liturgically, the term 'baptised' also being used for the ceremony in the Christian religion. In his book "Questions Asked by Protestants Briefly Answered" Rev. M. Phillips describes the ceremony in the following manner:

Amid beautiful prayers the bells are washed with holy water, that they may become a pure agency in the worship of God. They are anointed with oil for the sick in the form of a cross, then seven times outwardly with the same oil, and seven times inwardly with holy chrism. The sevenfold unction with oil and chrism signify the fountains of grace flowing through the seven sacraments to which the bells call us. Thymia, incense and myrrh are burned under the bell. This fumigation symbolises the fragrance of prayer to which the bells call us. The gospel of Mary and Martha is read because the bells call us to the one thing necessary: the hearing of God's word. A name is then given to the consecrated bell, because by their respective names the bells are distinguished from one another and are placed under the protection of a patron saint.

In 1984, Cape Broyle resident Alphonsus O'Brien wrote down his remembrances of the local church bell, and gave a copy to the Rev. F. A. Coady. Here it is, as written by Mr. O'Brien:

Cape Broyle Church Bell 
This Bell came to Cape Broyle in August 1907. Its weight was 500 pounds.
It was blessed and baptized on September 25th 1907. The sponsors were James and Bridget Coady my grandfather and grandmother. The bell was named Lawrence in honour of our parish priest Rev Lawrence Vercker. It was blessed by Archbishop Howley. This bell was erected for use in May 1908. It was erected about fifty ft from the church which is now the parish community centre. It was erected on poles 20 ft high set in concrete foundations. The bell at that time gave great sound on a fair day it could be heard for about 4 miles. It remained in this place from 1908 to 1922. Then a new foundation to replace the old one on a concrete foundation only about 10 feet high. The sound of the bell on the new foundation was not as loud as before the movement was issued by Rev Father Maher.
In 1927 the Bell was put in the tower of the church. It was set up by James Rice issued by Fr William Ryan. The bell remained in the old church tower from 1927 to 1947 when the new church was built. Then Rev Fr M Kennedy had it moved in Oct’ 1947. John Hoyles the carpenter who built the new church set it up North of the road to the Priests House. The ringing of the Bell brought Joy to all the People and reminded them to come to mass. 
The bell served Cape Broyle for over 70 years and is no longer in use.
Alphonsus L O’Brien 78 years old

Andrea O'Brien in our office notes that the top photo here shows the "old" church he refers to circa 1950s. (photo courtesy Ronald J O'Brien). The photo below shows the present day church with bell to the right between the Sacred Heart and Blessed Virgin statues.

Do you know of a historic bell still ringing in your community? Let me know a bit about it, or send me a photo, and we'll showcase it in a future post!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The 1845 Whitechapel bell at St. George's Anglican Church, Petty Harbour

C & G Mears Founders London bell at Petty Harbour - cast circa 1845

We paid a visit to St. George’s Anglican Church in Petty Harbour this morning, to have an initial meeting about compiling an architectural and oral history of the building. While there, we explored the belfry, and took a few photos of the building’s historic bell.

The church is the third Anglican church on the site. The first, St. David’s, was built in 1829. It was replaced by St. Andrew’s in 1845. Fire destroyed the second church in 1934. The new cornerstone was laid May 31, 1937, and the church opened for services in 1939.

The bell appears to be the original bell for the second church, St. Andrew’s. According to Sheila MacKenzie Brown’s 1981 Folklore MA thesis “The Church Bell Tradition in Newfoundland: A Reflection of Culture Change,” the St. George’s bell was cast (or purchased) in 1845.

The bell is cast with the foundry’s mark “C & G Mears Founders London.” The name C & G Mears was one of many names used by the company now operating as 'Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd.” The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is Britain's oldest manufacturing company, having been established in 1570 (during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I) and being in continuous business since that date. The Petty Harbour St. Andrew’s bell has some historic counterparts, as the foundry produced such notable bells as Big Ben and the Liberty Bell.

The bell is one of seven Newfoundland Whitechapel bells noted in Brown’s 1981 thesis. At that time, the remaining six identified were: a 1846 bell cast for an unnamed Anglican church in St. John’s; the 1852 bell for the Anglican church in Hermitage; the 1931 bell for the United Church in Twillingate; a 1932 bell for the Anglican Cathedral in St. John’s; the 1952 bell for the Anglican Church in Seldom-Come-By, Fogo; and the 1962 bell for the Anglican Church in Daniel’s Harbour.

View of the bell from underneath

Following the 1934 fire, the bell was re-used in the current church. The bell is still rung each Sunday to announce the start of service at St. George’s. Service starts at 11:15 (to allow time for the officiating priest to finish their service at St. Paul’s Anglican in the Goulds).

View of the wheel mechanism that aids in the ringing of the bell. 

View of St. George's Anglican Church from the hill behind the church, showing the belfry. The four-sided spire and corner finials are tin; note the original decorative railing between the finials, 3/4 of which is now missing.  The bell is housed in the tower behind the louvered opening.