St Thomas of Canterbury, Brentwood
St. Thomas of Canterbury Bell Installation
The original ring of 8 bells was donated as a gift by people of the parish to the memory of Rev. C. A. Belli. The fund also benefitted by the scrap value of two bells from the previous church. The Bishop of St Albans dedicated the installation on 18 October 1887.
The bells were made by Mears & Stainbank of London, (now known as Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd.). A copy of their Works’ Daybook shows the cost to have been £566 9s 6p plus a further £100 for the frame. The tenor bell weighed 19cwt. 3qtrs. and at that time the whole installation was the heaviest in south Essex and the sixth heaviest in the County.
Each bell is inscribed in Latin in two bands around its waist.
The upper inscription records the bell founder and year of manufacture.
Mears & Stainbank of London in 1887.
The lower inscriptions on the treble, record the details of the then Incumbent and Church Wardens.
Vicar (Carolus Grinstead) and Church Wardens J. G. Quennell, M. D. and C. J. Wallis..
The lower inscriptions on the 2nd to 7th bells are the verses of Ps. 150, but in reverse order, beginning on the 7th.
Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his highest sanctuary: praise in the firmament of his power
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
Finally, the tenor is inscribed with a dedication to those who generously paid for the tower and the bells.
Caroli Almeric Belli, (in memoriam), Edward Howley Palmer and Ellen Louisa Boreham.
The first peal, (Kent Treble Bob Major), on the bells was rung on 3 November 1888 in 3 hours 14 minutes by members of the Essex Association. A further 163 were rung on the original bells before their restoration.
By the late 1990’s it was acknowledged that the installation required major refurbishment. Following lengthy discussions with English Heritage and the Chelmsford Diocese Advisory Committee Bell Adviser, work started in July 2008. The bells initially went to the Whitechapel for cleaning and re-tuning before transporting to Nicholson Engineering Ltd. for modification. They were re-installed in the original but strengthened two-tier cast-iron frame. The project was completed by Christmas 2008 and rededicated in March 2009.
The total project cost was approximately £85000. The generous support given by so many people made the whole project possible. The principal doners were the estate of Mrs. Gladys Osborne (deceased), Mr. James Baker, The Essex Association of Change Ringers, The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and SongCycle.
The first peal on the refurbished bells (Yorkshire Surprise Major) was rung on 31st October 2009 in 3 hours 3 minutes by members of the Essex Association.. As at May 2015 further two peals have been rung.
The original headstock and canon
The refurbished tenor bell
Weights, dimensions and tuning
Practice nights are on Thursday evenings between 7.45 and 9.00pm.
Carved stone commemorative boss at head the spiral staircase.
By Christopher Bailey