Our mission is soon drawing to a close. Since time immemorial, bells have signaled the opening and/or closing, so it seems appropriate that we visited the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Whitechapel has been making bells since 1570 (some say 1420) and the foundry makes bells just as they were made over 500 years ago. Small ones, big ones, low tones, high tones…they made the Liberty bell and the 13 1/2 ton bell that chimes in London’s Big Ben.
The bells are cast from molten bronze (copper-tin) in a mold that is made of a loam material that consists of sand, clay, horse manure and goat hair. About the only change in the process from medieval times and church friars is the use of electronic equipment to test the pitch and resonance and a huge jig bore machine to remove material to tune the bell.
Buckets of (L to R) manure, clay, sand, sand, goat hair.
Small hand bells are made in the same way as the large cathedral bells, one at a time only polished and prettied…. as our tour guide said, “If they look good, they must sound good.” The bells we played at Christmas last year came from Whitechapel. A set of 12 bells on offer (that means on sale) go for £2,875 or about $4,700.
So unless I squeeze in another blog or two, here’s our ‘closing bell’. Turn your sound way up and listen.
Wishing you the best of everything.......
Elder & Sister Watts