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Church Bell

  • The top of the bell, cast and installed in 1841. Cast in East Medway, Massachusetts by George H. Holbrook. Shows solid oak headstock. Counter-weighted with a granite slab and iron bars, which were put in to slow the swing of bell. Weighs 1200 pounds.

  • Holbrook, born in 1767, apprenticed under Paul Revere and was considered one of the three major bell founders in America at the time.

  • There are three ways to make the bell ring:

  1. The clapper that rings the bell weighs 125 pounds. The clapper being properly balanced is key.

    This is performed by pulling down on the rope to the left of the door leading from the vestibule to the sanctuary. This moves the bell and allows the clapper, hung inside the bell, to catch up with the swinging bell and strike the inside of the bell. The clapper and bell become synchronized. Once both are moving, the bell will ring on its own.  The key to ringing the bell is the timing of the clapper hitting the bell. Bells are cracked when the clapper hits out of sync.

    The movable hammer hits the bell.
  2. This performed by pulling the rope in the vestibule ceiling to the right of the front door. This causes a movable hammer to strike the outside of the stationary bell once and the bell “tolls”. The bell can be struck any number of times, depending on the message the bell ringer wishes to announce.
  3. This again performed by the hammer that strikes the outside of a stationary bell with a precise number of strikes, coinciding with the hour of the day shown on the clock faces.   This hammer is controlled by a cable, pulled intermittently, by the clock mechanism located above the bell
  • 1827 bell ringing: The bell was rung to call for town meetings, presidential elections, fire alarms, calls to worship, emergencies, news. Three quick strokes meant a child died, three quick strokes repeated twice denoted a woman died. Three quick strokes repeated a third time denoted a man had died. Age of person was struck with brief pauses between strokes.

  • 1980 Linda Wolford, a bell expert from Boston inspected bell and said we must replace sagging headstock. In 1984, Whitechapel Bell Foundry of London made the headstock and related bearings, along with a new clapper, for $6500. However, Linda identified a clapper problem. The first one wasn’t synchronized with the bell, due to a casting error. It was decided to recast the clapper and a new one was sent from London.