The Current Bells

Bell Weight Note Dated Founder
14-3-25A1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
2 5-1-23G1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
35-3-2F#1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
46-0-16E1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
56-2-11D1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
66-3-24C#1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
77-1-8B1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
89-0-5A1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
912-1-9G1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
1014-2-20F#1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
1120-1-23E1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
1229-1-1D1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
#25-0-15G#1988Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd
Sanctus5-1-26D#1725Abraham II Rudhall

History of the bells

The first ring of 12 bells dates back to May 1727. The following March there was a ringing match between the Society of College Youths and the Society of London Scholars. On the 14th the Scholars set a record by ringing the longest 12 bell peal - 6000 Grandsire Cinques. The next day their rivals rang 6134 in the same method. There is no account of what the parishoners thought of this contest!

In the 1750s the Society of Union Scholars, who had rung at St Martins since 1736, disbanded and a split in the College Youths between the juniors and seniors resulted in the senior branch making the church their home. In 1788 they disbanded, and the juniors came to St Martins. They stayed until 1849 when they moved to Southwark. The vacancy was filled shortly afterwards by the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths. It has been our headquarters ever since - for over 150 years.

The bells of 1727 remained at St Martins for many years (although the trebles were recast in 1758 and the tenor was replaced in 1726 owing to it crashing to the floor due to a broken gudgeon). Despite a re-hang in 1912, they were difficult to ring, partly due to being hung too high. In 1984, the decision was taken to replace the bells with a new ring and planning began. A new home was found for the old bells when the Australia and New Zealand Association of Bell Ringers asked if they might mark the Australian Bicentenary in 1988 by transporting the bells to the University of Western Australia in Perth, and hanging them in a purpose built tower. Renison Goldfields Consolidated Ltd sent to London 12 tonnes of Australian copper and tin to provide the new bells and fund raising by the Cumberlands began. By June 1988 the new bells, cast by Whitechapel Bell Foundry, were ready.

Key Dates

1727
The first ring of 12 bells at St Martin's date back to 1727.

14th March 1728
Longest peal on 12 bells
6000 Grandsire Cinques
rung by the London Scholars.

15th March 1728
Longest peal on 12 bells
6134 Grandsire Cinques
rung by the Society of College Youthes.

1736
Society of Union Scholers make St Martins their headquarters.

1750
Senior branch of the College Youths make
St Martins their headquarters.

1726
Tenor is replaced to it crashing to the floor when a gudgeon breaks.

1758
Trebles are recast

1788
Senior branch of the College Youths dispand and the Junior Society makes it their headquarters

1849
Society of College Youths leave St Martins to make Southwark Cathedral their headquarters

1849
Society of Cumberland Youths make St Martins their headquarters

1984
Decision is taken to replace the bells... Planning begins

1988
The bells were transported to Australia to mark the Australian Bicentenary

June 1988
The bells are cast

1999
SRCY celebrate
150 years of St Martins being their headquarters