Fabian Stedman is considered by many as the founding father of Change Ringing. He helped write and then published a treatise on Change Ringing in 1668 titled Tintinnalogia. He then went on to write Campanologia in 1677 in which, amongst others, he expounded the origins of his Grandsire Method and Stedman’s Principle. This Principle of Stedman Doubles is rung on 5 bells but which can have a 6th bell ringing last in each sequence of changes. This Method has, over the years, been developed so that it is possible to ring 16 bells such as at St. Martins in the Bull Ring in Birmingham.
He was born in Yarkhill, Herefordshire, in 1640 where the local church is St. John the Baptist which has 8 bells. He became a member of The Scholars of Cheapside and practised at St. Mary-le-Bow. When this Society disbanded he became a member of The Ancient Society of College Youths in 1664 at the age of 23.
The Patron Saint of Bell Ringers. He was born in AD 909 and died in May AD 988. He was Abbott of Glastonbury, Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of London and then Archbishop of Canterbury.
He was a much loved priest attending to the spiritual needs of his people, promoting peace throughout the land, and restoring churches. By being concerned with the architectural fabric of the Church allowed his creative side to experiment with and develop the design and forging of bells. It was his success in this and the subsequent importance given to the role that the sound of bells had amongst communities across the land that endeared him to bell ringers which lasts to this day. He is buried in Canterbury Cathedral and is acknowledged on the right hand side of the High Altar. He was later canonised and his Feast Day is May 19th.
The monasteries originally established foundries for themselves with St. Dunstan a leading light on the craft but the first commercial works were founded in East London in 1570. This was the Whitechapel Foundry which is considered the oldest manufacturing company in Britain. Its work has continued unbroken in the creation of bells of all sizes with a short break during the war when they had to divert their skills to producing armaments. The largest bell ever cast was Big Ben which weighs 13 and half tons. The world’s first peal of 16 change ringing bells was installed by the Foundry in 1991 in St. Martin’s, Bull Ring in Birmingham.
The original foundry was consumed by the Great Fire and so the present buildings date from 1670 and are now Grade II listed. The longevity of the foundry is such that they have celebrated 400 years of existence during which time twenty seven monarchs have reigned. The Whitechapel Foundry now has a worldwide fame creating bells for cathedrals and churches all over the world. It has played a hugely important role in the evolvement of casting, the technology of hanging the bells and in the manner in which they are rung.
JOHN TAYLOR & Co
The first connections to bells was by a Johannes de Stafford who was a bell founder in the 14th Century. The Taylor family bought the business in 1784 and it has been based at its present site in Loughborough since 1839.
Some of the more famous bells it has cast from the foundry have been ‘Great Paul’ for St. Paul’s Cathedral, ‘Great George’ for Liverpool Cathedral which is the second largest bell in Britain, and ‘Little John’ for Nottingham cast in 1928. This foundry is now the largest bell foundry in the world.