Tour of St. Simon & St. Jude Church

12. THE BELL


A local saying:-
"Thrup poor people
Sold the bells to build the steeple."

There is only one bell now, there had once been three bells in the tower, but when the tower fell down in on Monday 22 Dec 1729 only the first of the three bells, which it had contained, was put up again; the second and third being sold to defray the expenses of re-building the tower.

The weight of the largest bell (which was broken,) was 4cwt. 2qr. 18lb. and was purchased for Fenny Stratford Chapel, at £40 10s. On the second and third bells were inscribed, "God save our King, 1620." They were early examples by James Keene.

The one remaining bell is by Johanna, widow of Richard Hille, c.1440.

The Death Knell would have been rung for about twenty-five minutes, unless a longer time was specially ordered, about three strokes in two minutes. Tellers: three blows = a male, two =a female. For a funeral, minute tolling for about twenty-five minutes previously.


Business Women - The Bell Founder

by Caroline Barron

The outlook for women after the Black Death was by no means completely grim. London and York have records – mainly wills – revealing that substantial numbers of women were involved in successful businesses. As Wealth becomes contested, wills reveal that women were sharing in the competition. They could train as apprentices as a Femme Sole (unmarried) or a Femme Couvert ( married). When they had fulfilled their apprenticeship young women would often go into service and marry later.

Wives of artisans and merchants would often be as involved in the business as their husbands. Men needed to marry in order too run a workshop – it was once they were married that they were deemed enough of a man to do so. Their wives would be responsible for the staff, train apprentices and manage accounts etc. When their husband died they often took over the running of the business and it flourished under them.

The custom of London said that when a man died, his widow was expected to take over and train the apprentices. If she was not prepared to do this it was her responsibility to find someone else to do it. The law also said that when a man died his widow was to become a citizen of London and can have economic privileges that go with it.

Joanna Hill was married to a bell-founder in London. When he died, she took over the business. The bells which have survived from the foundry business reveal that Joanna made her mark on the bells when she took over after her husband’ death. Where previously only his crest was shown, now there is another mark added which is her mark. She was proud of her work and wanted to mark it as coming from her business. The will of her husband, when compared to hers, reveals that the business flourished under her leadership. Her business was run by a woman again 20 years later because records at Faversham reveal that when one of Joanna Hill’s bells cracked, her successor who was also a woman ran repairs on it.


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