Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Overview
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is a bell
Bell (instrument)
A bell is a simple sound-making device. The bell is a percussion instrument and an idiophone. Its form is usually a hollow, cup-shaped object, which resonates upon being struck...

 foundry
Foundry
A foundry is a factory that produces metal castings. Metals are cast into shapes by melting them into a liquid, pouring the metal in a mold, and removing the mold material or casting after the metal has solidified as it cools. The most common metals processed are aluminum and cast iron...

 in Whitechapel
Whitechapel
Whitechapel is a built-up inner city district in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, London, England. It is located east of Charing Cross and roughly bounded by the Bishopsgate thoroughfare on the west, Fashion Street on the north, Brady Street and Cavell Street on the east and The Highway on the...

 in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is a London borough to the east of the City of London and north of the River Thames. It is in the eastern part of London and covers much of the traditional East End. It also includes much of the redeveloped Docklands region of London, including West India Docks...

, in the East End of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. The foundry is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest manufacturing company in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

. The foundry's main business is the bellfounding
Bellfounding
Bellfounding is the casting of bells in a foundry for use in churches, clocks, and public buildings. A practitioner of the craft is called a bellmaker or bellfounder. The process in Europe dates to the 4th or 5th century. In early times, when a town produced a bell it was a momentous occasion in...

 and manufacture of church bell
Church bell
A church bell is a bell which is rung in a church either to signify the hour or the time for worshippers to go to church, perhaps to attend a wedding, funeral, or other service...

s and their fittings and accessories, although it also provides single tolling bells, carillon
Carillon
A carillon is a musical instrument that is typically housed in a free-standing bell tower, or the belfry of a church or other municipal building. The instrument consists of at least 23 cast bronze, cup-shaped bells, which are played serially to play a melody, or sounded together to play a chord...

 bells and handbell
Handbell
A handbell is a bell designed to be rung by hand. To ring a handbell, a ringer grasps the bell by its slightly flexible handle — traditionally made of leather, but often now made of plastic — and moves the wrist to make the hinged clapper inside the bell strike...

s.
The foundry's premises are a Grade II listed building.

The company now known as the Whitechapel Bell Foundry dates back to at least 1570 but a continuous line of master founders in Whitechapel or nearby Aldgate exists since 1420.

The present premises on Whitechapel Road
Whitechapel Road
Whitechapel Road is a major arterial road in the East End of London, England. It connects Whitechapel High Street to the west with Mile End Road to the east and forms part of the A11 road. It is a main shopping street in the Whitechapel area of Tower Hamlets and has a street market...

 date from 1670 and were formerly a coaching inn known as The Artichoke.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Whitechapel Bell Foundry'
Start a new discussion about 'Whitechapel Bell Foundry'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is a bell
Bell (instrument)
A bell is a simple sound-making device. The bell is a percussion instrument and an idiophone. Its form is usually a hollow, cup-shaped object, which resonates upon being struck...

 foundry
Foundry
A foundry is a factory that produces metal castings. Metals are cast into shapes by melting them into a liquid, pouring the metal in a mold, and removing the mold material or casting after the metal has solidified as it cools. The most common metals processed are aluminum and cast iron...

 in Whitechapel
Whitechapel
Whitechapel is a built-up inner city district in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, London, England. It is located east of Charing Cross and roughly bounded by the Bishopsgate thoroughfare on the west, Fashion Street on the north, Brady Street and Cavell Street on the east and The Highway on the...

 in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is a London borough to the east of the City of London and north of the River Thames. It is in the eastern part of London and covers much of the traditional East End. It also includes much of the redeveloped Docklands region of London, including West India Docks...

, in the East End of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. The foundry is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest manufacturing company in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

. The foundry's main business is the bellfounding
Bellfounding
Bellfounding is the casting of bells in a foundry for use in churches, clocks, and public buildings. A practitioner of the craft is called a bellmaker or bellfounder. The process in Europe dates to the 4th or 5th century. In early times, when a town produced a bell it was a momentous occasion in...

 and manufacture of church bell
Church bell
A church bell is a bell which is rung in a church either to signify the hour or the time for worshippers to go to church, perhaps to attend a wedding, funeral, or other service...

s and their fittings and accessories, although it also provides single tolling bells, carillon
Carillon
A carillon is a musical instrument that is typically housed in a free-standing bell tower, or the belfry of a church or other municipal building. The instrument consists of at least 23 cast bronze, cup-shaped bells, which are played serially to play a melody, or sounded together to play a chord...

 bells and handbell
Handbell
A handbell is a bell designed to be rung by hand. To ring a handbell, a ringer grasps the bell by its slightly flexible handle — traditionally made of leather, but often now made of plastic — and moves the wrist to make the hinged clapper inside the bell strike...

s.
The foundry's premises are a Grade II listed building.

Origins


The company now known as the Whitechapel Bell Foundry dates back to at least 1570 but a continuous line of master founders in Whitechapel or nearby Aldgate exists since 1420.

The present premises on Whitechapel Road
Whitechapel Road
Whitechapel Road is a major arterial road in the East End of London, England. It connects Whitechapel High Street to the west with Mile End Road to the east and forms part of the A11 road. It is a main shopping street in the Whitechapel area of Tower Hamlets and has a street market...

 date from 1670 and were formerly a coaching inn known as The Artichoke. The company moved there from smaller premises situated on the north side of the Whitechapel Road. At an earlier date the foundry was located at Aldgate
Aldgate
Aldgate was the eastern most gateway through London Wall leading from the City of London to Whitechapel and the east end of London. Aldgate gives its name to a ward of the City...

.

Traditionally, the foundry has been known by the name of the Master Founder and owner, operating from the 19th Century to 1968 as Mears & Stainbank. It has since operated under the name of Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Notable bells


The foundry has produced a number of famous bells, including many of those in the London churches commemorated in the children's rhyme Oranges and Lemons
Oranges and Lemons
"Oranges and Lemons" is an English nursery rhyme and singing game which refers to the bells of several churches, all within or close to the City of London. It is listed in the Roud Folk Song Index as #3190.-Lyrics:Common modern versions include:...

. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

 is one of the most longstanding customers, the two bells that call people to services dating from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The current ring of ten bells was cast at Whitechapel in 1971.

One of the most historically significant bells cast at Whitechapel is the first casting in 1752 of the bell which was to become known as the Liberty Bell
Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American Independence, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Formerly placed in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House , the bell was commissioned from the London firm of Lester and Pack in 1752, and was cast with the lettering "Proclaim LIBERTY...

. This bell cracked when first rung and it was locally recast prior to its use in the proclamation of American Independence. Whitechapel cast a replacement to celebrate the bicentenary
United States Bicentennial
The United States Bicentennial was a series of celebrations and observances during the mid-1970s that paid tribute to the historical events leading up to the creation of the United States as an independent republic...

 of American Independence in 1976.

Big Ben which tolls the hour at the Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

 was cast in 1858 and at 13½ tons is the largest bell ever cast at the foundry. This bell also cracked due to too heavy a hammer being initially installed. The crack and the subsequent retuning give Big Ben its distinctive tone. A profile template
Molding (process)
Molding or moulding is the process of manufacturing by shaping pliable raw material using a rigid frame or model called a pattern....

 of Big Ben surrounds the entrance door while Big Ben's original moulding gauge is retained near the foundry's furnaces.

Whitechapel supplied peals of 10 bells (later augmented to 12) for Guildford Cathedral
Guildford Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit, Guildford is the Anglican cathedral at Guildford, Surrey, England.-Construction:Guildford was made a diocese in its own right in 1927, and work on its new cathedral, designed by Sir Edward Maufe, began nine years later, with the foundation stone being laid...

 in Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

 in the years following the Second World War, recast and augmented the bells of Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England and forms part of a World Heritage Site....

 to a peal of 14 in 1981, and for the National Cathedral in Washington DC in 1964.

Many churches across the world have bells cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, including: Armenian Church, Chennai
Armenian Church, Chennai
The Armenian Church, Chennai, constructed in 1712 and reconstructed in 1772, is one of the oldest churches of the Indian subcontinent. It is famous for its belfry of six. The Church, also called the Armenian Church of Virgin Mary, is located on the Armenian Street, Chennai, South India.Michael...

, Liverpool Cathedral
Liverpool Cathedral
Liverpool Cathedral is the Church of England cathedral of the Diocese of Liverpool, built on St James's Mount in Liverpool and is the seat of the Bishop of Liverpool. Its official name is the Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool but it is dedicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin...

, St Dunstan's, Mayfield
St Dunstan's, Mayfield
St Dunstan's, Mayfield in Mayfield, East Sussex was founded in 960 CE by St Dunstan, who was then Archbishop of Canterbury. It is reported as being originally a log church which lasted until it was replaced by a stone structure in the 12th century by the Normans. In 1389 this church was virtually...

, St Dunstan's, Stepney
St Dunstan's, Stepney
St Dunstan's, Stepney is an Anglican Church which stands on a site which has been used for Christian worship for over a thousand years. It is located in Stepney High Street, in Stepney, London Borough of Tower Hamlets.-History:...

, St Mary-le-Bow
St Mary-le-Bow
St Mary-le-Bow is an historic church in the City of London, off Cheapside. According to tradition, a true Cockney must be born within earshot of the sound of the church's bells.-Bells:...

, Cheapside
Cheapside
Cheapside is a street in the City of London that links Newgate Street with the junction of Queen Victoria Street and Mansion House Street. To the east is Mansion House, the Bank of England, and the major road junction above Bank tube station. To the west is St. Paul's Cathedral, St...

 and St Stephen's Anglican Church, Newtown
Newtown, New South Wales
Newtown, a suburb of Sydney's inner west is located approximately four kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district, straddling the local government areas of the City of Sydney and Marrickville Council in the state of New South Wales, Australia....

 and St James' Church, Sydney both in New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, Australia.

Master founders at Whitechapel


The names on this list are those that are cast into the surface of Whitechapel bells of different dates. Prior to Robert Mot, in 1574, the sign of three bells was often cast to indicate that it was a Whitechapel (or Aldgate) bell.
  • 1420 Robert Chamberlain of Aldgate
  • 1426 William Chamberlain
  • 1456 John Daniel
  • 1470 John Daniel's Successor
  • 1487 IW
  • 1500-1515 Thomas Bullisdon
  • 1506-1522 William Culverden
  • 1523 Thomas Lawrence
  • 1538 John Owen
  • 1553 Thomas Kempe
  • 1574 Robert Mot
  • 1606 Joseph Carter
  • 1610 William Carter
  • 1616 Thomas Bartlet
  • 1632 John Clifton
  • 1640 Anthony Bartlet
  • 1675 James Bartlet
  • 1700 Richard Phelps
    Richard Phelps (bell-founder)
    Richard Phelps was born in Avebury, Wiltshire, England. Phelps was a bell-founder, or a maker of bells, primarily for churches. He was master of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London from 1701 to 1738, and is best known for his large bell, Great Tom, in the steeple of St Paul's Cathedral in...

  • 1735 Phelps and Lester
  • 1738 Thomas Lester
  • 1752 Lester and Pack
  • 1769 Lester, Pack and Chapman
  • 1776 Pack and Chapman
  • 1781 Chapman and Mears
  • 1784 William Mears
  • 1787 William and Thomas Mears
  • 1791 Thomas Mears I
  • 1805 Mears and Son
  • 1810 Thomas Mears II
  • 1844 Charles and George Mears
  • 1861 George Mears and Co
  • 1865 Mears and Stainbank
  • 1873 Robert Stainbank
  • 1884 Alfred Lawson
  • 1904 Arthur Hughes
  • 1916 Albert Hughes
  • 1945 Albert and William Hughes
  • 1950 Albert, William and Douglas Hughes
  • 1964 William and Douglas Hughes
  • 1972 William, Douglas and Alan Hughes
  • 1993 Douglas and Alan Hughes
  • 1997 Alan and Kathryn Hughes

  • External links