CHIMES

A Long Tradition

photo of Gary Thomas playing the tower chimes photo of Kay MacLeod playing the chimes

Gary Thomas playing St. Peter’s tower chimes.

Kay MacLeod playing the chimes


The magnificent set of bell-tower chimes have been an important feature of St. Peter's since the early days of the last century. People of varying ages aspire to regain the chiming skills of the past.

The Dedication

St. Peter’s chime of bells was installed in 1905 to celebrate the Jubilee of the present building and to serve as a memorial to several past parishioners.

There is a plaque in the Narthex, which reads:

TO THE GLORY OF GOD
AND TO COMMEORATE THE
OPENING OF THIS CHURCH
On OCTOBER 15, 1854.

THE BELLS IN THE TOWER WERE
INSTALLED AS A JUBILLEE OFFERING, 1905

MEMORIAL BELLS
WERE IN MEMORY OF

The Father and Mother of H.S. Black
Henry Covert
George Wilgress
Harriett G. Spragge
Michael and Mary Cruso
The Wife and Son of Lt. Col. Floyd

William Herbert & Gordon Wilson
George Morse Boswell

Bishop Bethune and Canon Stennett
Mary S.F. Ley

Notes from the Foundry at the time of Installation

At the time of their installation, the manufacturer gave this quite glowing and stoutly self-confident description of the bells:

CHIME OF TEN BELLS

The Bells are in the key of F, by the Founders’ Imported Instruments, thus:

F G A B¨ C D E¨ E F G

This Chime of Bells has a wide range in playing capacity, in fact, the number of tunes that can be played upon this set of bells is practically unlimited, as there are thousands of tunes within its range.

These bells are doubly attuned so that the same fullness, tone-richness and brilliancy is obtained throughout the entire set. If anything should occur to injure any of the bells, new ones can be promptly made by the founders to accurately replace them without making any tests of the uninjured ones in the tower.

The total net weight of the bells alone is over 7,500 lbs. And with the frame, mountings and complete appliance will aggregate over 10000 lbs.

A Chime of Bells should not be a mere aggregation of so many notes, but should be in every sense a set of sweet, musical, mellow-toned bells, a pleasure to hear and a blessing to the community. Not clangy, but a musical joy, soft and sweet. Such is the special aim and effort of this Foundry in every set of bells manufactured, and their success is the wonder of every purchaser.

HOW CHIMES ARE PLAYED

The chiming stand contains ten levers corresponding to the bells. It is made of quartered oak, highly polished in antique finish. The playing connections are a combination of chains, rods and adjustable bars. This makes a thoroughly strong, not too stiff or too elastic actions, that is reliable throughout, and will remain in good order for many years.

The action is noiseless, prompt and firm, and affords a very satisfactory modulation. A quick stroke—not a mere push—and the note rings out clear, prompt and sweet from the belfry above, without any jar on the tower.

Costs then and now

The original cost of the entire installation was $3,300.00. One would be lucky to purchase even one single small bell for that amount now! In 1980 the estimated value was about $65,000.

In an amusing note on the style of the bells’ erection, the builder said that “by this method of mounting, the expense of maintaining them in proper condition is less that $10.00 per year for all time. Would that the manufacturer was still in business and we could hold them to that, for a good technician would now cost several hundred dollars a day.

An Historical Note

Although ten bells were originally installed in the Chime, there are now eleven. The added bell (the B-natural) must have been added before 1952, for that is the year in which the Menelly Founderies went out of business, and the addition does appear to have been made by the original manufacturer.

(per Gordon Slater)