History of Chertsey’s Bells

There are eight bells, the tenor weighing approximately one ton.

The treble, second and tenor are inscribed by G. Mears and dated 1859, but the tenor, cast in 1670 by Bryan(?) Eldridge of Chertsey (maybe in itself a recasting of an earlier Chertsey Abbey bell), was recast by Mears at the expense of Angela Burdett-Coutts, of the famous banking family, and by her specially named “Shoshannim“. No. 3 was cast by R. Phelps in London in 1730 and is inscribed to two benefactors, Arthur Onslow and Thomas Scawen. No. 4 is by Lester and Pack of London it is now used for ringing the curfew from Michaelmas to Lady Day (29 September to 25 March).

Manning and Bray’s “The History and Antiquities of Surrey” (c.1811) records the fact that the curfew was rung, as now, at 8pm on weekdays but also on Sunday mornings at 8am on the largest (tenor) bell. The practice of the 8am ringing of the tenor curfew has been discontinued, but the 8pm week-night ringing is still exactly as described in the 1811 book with the exception that we now use the 8cwt Lester and Pack bell from 1856 rather than the 10cwt Abbey bell. This is primarily to avoid over-use of this precious medieval bell. No curfew is now rung on Saturday nights. It also states that “William Eldridge made mee” was the inscription on the 1670 tenor.

About the fifth it is likely that it is a bell from the ruined Chertsey Abbey cast in 1310 and recast circa 1380 following the collapse of the Abbey tower: it is inscribed in crowned Lombardic capitals +Ora menta pia pro nobis Virgo Maria. This bell did perhaps toll for Henry VI when in 1471 his murdered corpse was borne up river from London for temporary burial at Chertsey prior to removal to Windsor by Richard III. No. 6 was founded in 1712 by William Eldridge, a Chertsey founder, whose house is next to The Swan inn opposite the church and who had a foundry in Chertsey, possibly in Guildford Street: the seventh, the “Armada bell” was made in 1588 by Robert Mot of London.

TrebleE5-2-24“Sing we merrily unto God our strength”
G. Mears founder London 1859
2D#6-2-0G. Mears founder London 1859Whitechapel
3C#7-2-0“Prosperity to all our benefactors especially Arthur Onslow Esq. and Thomas Scawen Esq. Knights for this county”
R. Phelps fecit 1730
4B8-0-0“James Berryman and William Yeowell churchwardens 1756”
Lester & Pack of London fecit
5A10-2-0“+ Ora menta pia pro nobis Virgo Maria”
Chertsey Abbey c.1380 (recasting of 1310 bell) (Wokingham)
c. 1380
6G#12-2-24“Gulielmus Eldridge me fecit 1712 TB. TS.”
William Eldridge, Chertsey, 1712
7F#14-2-0“Robertus Mot me fecit 1588”
The “Armada Bell” made in London in 1588
TenorE20-0-14“Angela Burdett Coutts whom God preserve named me Shoshannim at whose expence I was recast 1670 1859. Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth peace, Goodwill towards Men”
G. Mears founder London 1859