THE BELLS, THE BELLS
The original peal of 8 bells was presented to St. Thomas' by Rev. R. Cattley in 1852. A fire in the tower on 11th February 1912 destroyed them. However, 6 were recast and replaced later that year. The final 2 bells were added in 1926 to complete the octave.
In the church Year Book of 1928 - 29 there is an article which states that, 'the eight bells are cast of best quality bell-metal, copper and tin alloy and are accurately tuned to equal temperament on Messrs. Taylor's special "true harmonic" system, which, stated briefly, means that the overtones, or harmonics, of the bells are controlled so as to bear a definite musical relationship to the fundamental tone; this ensures great sweetness and purity of tonal effect'.
The note and weight of each of the eight bells is as follows :-
NOTE WEIGHT IN Cwt APPROX WEIGHT IN Kg
12 cwt 3 qrs 7 lb
9 cwt 0 qrs 22 lb
7 cwt 0 qrs 2 lb
5 cwt 2 qrs 24 lb
4 cwt 1 qrs 6 lb
3 cwt 2 qrs 5 lb
3 cwt 1 qrs 7 lb
3 cwt 0 qrs 0 lb
The peal is hung stationary (i.e., not to swing) in a steel framework, and the bells are played by one person by means of a Chiming Apparatus from a manual. (See photos below)
Two of the bells bear an inscription as follows.
The one on the Largest Bells reads :-
A PEAL OF BELLS WAS PRESENTED TO THIS
CHURCH IN 1852 BY REV. R. CATTLEY, CURATE
OF THIS PARISH.
DESTROYED BY FIRE, 11TH FEBRUARY, 1912.
RECAST BY JOHN TAYLOR & CO., LOUGHBOROUGH.
ERNEST B. SAVAGE, VICAR.
A. M. JACKSON, CHURCHWARDENS.
GOD BLESS THIS CHURCH AND PARISH
Whilst the inscription on the smallest bell reads :-
THE TWO SMALLER BELLS
TO COMPLETE THE OCTAVE WERE
PRESENTED IN 1926 BY HIS WIFE
AND FAMILY IN MEMORY OF
CHURCHWARDN OF THIS CHURCH, 1919 to 1926
N. J. POOLE, VICAR
E. P. BROADHEAD, CHURCHWARDENS.
In The Manx Church Magazine of 1891 it is reported that the Rev. Richard Cattley was curate of Onchan 1851 - 1854 but was living in Douglas and assisting the Rev. W Simpson, chaplain of St. Thomas'. In 1852 his son was born and as a thank Offering he presented the Peal of Bells.
The report also states that two years later he, 'met with such marked discourtesy from a Customs House Officer on the pier, he could not contemplate the risk of a repetition - so left the Island permanently, although he was building a house in Victoria Road at the time, as a residence'.
He later became a Minor Canon of Worcester Cathedral. He died in 1903 and at the hour of his funeral at Worcester, one of the Bells of St. Thomas' was tolled.
(A more detailed account of the original 1852 peal of bells can be found towards the end of this page).
Video of St. Thomas' Tower Bells and Clock
The following poem written by "A Visitor" about the St. Thomas' Church Bells was printed in "The Manx Sun" Newspaper on September 18th 1880 with the following letter :
Sir, - It was my good fortune when in Douglas to hear the beautiful bells of ST. Thomas's Church rung - so justly admired for their sweet notes. I have listened to many pleasant peals in Cathedral and village Church tower, but few have filled the air with sweeter music than the bonny bells of Douglas. If the enclosed lines on the above are worthy a place in your valuable paper, they are at you disposal.
Thanking you for your favours,
I am, yours faithfully,
Sept 13, 1880 A VISITOR
THE BELLS OF ST. THOMAS'S CHURCH, DOUGLAS, ISLE OF MAN.
What bells are those whose welcome music sounds across the bay,
And on the height of Banks's (sic) Howe tell of the Sabbath Day?
The sun far in the western sky smiles on the sea at rest,
'Tis eventide, and all is still upon the ocean's breast.
How sweet the notes come o'er the bay borne on the evening air;
Their heavenly peals in sweetest tunes proclaim the hour of prayer
Along the slopes and cliffs surrounding Douglas loam,
Like songs of angels sweet and clear filling each pleasant home.
And through the narrow winding streets built in olden times,
Right in the heart of Douglas, how sweet the welcome chimes
Float round about the cottages where contentment dwells,
Giving joy to many a heart, ye bonny Douglas bells.
And in the chamber of the sick, where silence reigns around,*
Sufferers forgot their weary pains whilst listening to your sounds;
There is a charm in your sweet notes that pain and anguish quells,
Your soothing strains allay their pains, ye sweet-toned Douglas bells.
How pleasant to the mariner must you music be
When wafted by the passing breeze your tunes float out to sea
And greet him as he nears the port where wife or sweetheart dwells,
'Tis then with merry heart he hails the peal of Douglas bells.
Sweetly ring ye glorious bells, and let your music roll
Through the ancient Market-place (sic) cheering many a soul,
Inviting to the house of prayer stranger and native born,
With your ever welcome peals upon the Sabbath morn.
Adieu, dear bells, I leave you now for home and fatherland,
Though fain I still would linger on Mona's lovely strand,
And listen to your heavenly peals rung on the Sabbath Day,
Reaching over Douglas Town and far across the bay.
(* "The chamber of the sick" refers to the original Noble's Hospital at the top of Crellin's Hill which is now the Manx Museum building).