St Albans Bells

Replaced 2010

By Susan Hall

The bell in the foreground is not for St Albans
Jill Rudd
Number 10 bell called Jacobus
Jill Rudd
One of the larger bells
Jill Rudd
Eight of the thirteen bells
Jill Rudd
Another photo of the eight
Jill Rudd
Three of the Abbey bells
Jill Rudd

During 2010 the bells at St Albans Cathedral were replaced. The project had been 40 years in gestation. Here are some of the reasons why and some pictures of the new set of thirteen bells when they were at Whitechapel.

The bells themselves no longer gave a good peal in E flat, they had deteriorated slowly over time. The bell ropes were increasingly difficult to pull and correspondingly the bells more difficult to ring. The bell frame needed restorative work and improvements needed to be made within the bell ringing chamber.

The project would ensure St Albans Cathedral has a bell ringing facility that will match those of other catherals.

In addition to the bells the Cathedral took the opportunity to make some health and safety improvements in the tower, principally, installing emergency lighting on the stairway, making sure the doors fitted and closed properly, installing a fire detection system within the bellfry and some repairs to the tower roof.

The project

An outline summary of the project is as follows:

Dismantle the 12 existing bells, fittings and upper steel bell-frame

Dispose of the fittings and old steel framework as scrap

Sell the four smallest bells

Design and construct a steel bell-frame to house the eight larger bells, to become static chime bells for the carillon and the clock, in the SE quadrant of the Belfry to stand on the belfry floor

Install a new electronic control box for the carillon, to replace the existing mechanical linkage system

Cast a new ring of 13 bells in the key of E and to 1920s Gillet & Johnston profiles – these will be slightly smaller and lighter than the current ring

Provide completely new change ringing fittings for the 13 bells

Renovate and refurbish as necessary the existing timber bell-frame

Construct and install new steel bell frame to support five of the new 13 change ringing bells to be built up from the base of the existing timber frame to replace the previous upper steel bell-frame

Make up all new fastenings for replacing the existing fastenings within the timber bell–frame, as well as new pit end bracings to replace those removed in 1935.

Install the new ring of 13 bells – five into the new upper steel bell-frame and eight into the existing timber bell-frame.

The casting of the new bells began in January at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London; the photos were taken in February 2010 by Tewin bell ringer Jill Rudd whilst on an organised tour of the foundry.

Naming the bells

The thirteen bells were each named by the Cathedral and was sponsered through donations by groups or individuals. Each donor asked that their bell be inscribed with a personal message or motto.

The names on the bells are in latin with Albanus being the tenor and the rest being given an apostles name.

BellNameDate castBellfounder
TenorAlbanus2010Whitechapel
11thPetrus2010Whitechapel
10thJacobus2010Whitechapel
9thAndreas2010Whitechapel
8thIoannes2010Whitechapel
7thIudas2010Whitechapel
6thSimon Zelotes2010Whitechapel
5thMatthaeus2010Whitechapel
4thMatthias2010Whitechapel
3rdBartholomaus2010Whitechapel
2ndJacobus Alphaei2010Whitechapel
TrebleThomas2010Whitechapel
Sharp 2ndPhilippus2010Whitechapel

Consecration

According to custom, bells are consecrated by the bishop of the diocese, so on Saturday 4th September 2010, a celebratory service was held at the Abbey.

The thirteen bells arrived days before and the bells were lined up down the centre of the nave. Bishop Alan sprinkled the bells with holy water, anointed them with oil and asked each donor “what name does this bell bear” finally the bells were incensed.

In October the bells were hoisted into the Norman tower of St Albans Abbey.

This page was added on 16/11/2010.

Comments about this page

  • In the Herts Advertiser of 21 April was an article to say thet the bells will be rung for the first time for the Easter Sunday service.

    By Susan Hall (11/05/2011)

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