Hidden history in the belfry
In 1633 Galileo was tried and condemned to life imprisonment by the Inquisition in Rome for his heretic belief that the earth was not the unmoving centre of the universe but rather that it and other planets moved around the sun. In England Charles I reigned, and also in 1633 Samuel Pepys was born. In the same year John Wilnar, at his foundry in Borden near Sittingbourne, cast two of the six bells which now hang in St Alban’s church tower, and they are still rung more than 370 years later.
One of the other four bells was made in 1715 by Matthew Bagley III at his father’s foundry at Upper Moorfields in London. (The following year father and son were among 17 men who died in a dreadful accident whilst casting a cannon.) The other three bells were cast in 1776 and 1777 by Thomas Pack and William Chapman who were at that time master founders at the world-famous Whitechapel Bell Foundry – one of only two bell foundries remaining in Britain today.
People often remark that they enjoy hearing the bells ring out on Sunday mornings, and for Christmas, weddings and other celebrations but, of course, practice must come first! St Alban’s small band of ringers meets for practice most Tuesdays