We begin Part 2 of my “Best of Bath Abbey” tour here, on the Abbey’s exterior beside one of the Abbey’s stained glass windows. If you missed the tour’s Part 1: Angels, Kings, and Super Water, feel free to take a peak. We’ll wait for you. Otherwise, onward…
If you look up, you can see the Abbey’s bell tower. That’s where we’re headed next.
This is one of ten bells in the bell tower, each one larger than the next. The largest bell, the tenor, weighing 1.5 tons (think small car), carries the inscription, “All you of Bathe that heare me sound thank Lady Hopton’s Hundred Pound.” Money well spent, I’d say. I learned a few more tidbits on the Tower Tour. For instance, notice the chipped edge of this bell. I thought the Abbey hadn’t done a very good job of taking care of its bells over the years, but in truth, that’s how bells are fine tuned. It’s called chip-tuning.
These bells can be rung in two ways: carillon-style, where the bells are hung “dead” (as pictured and not moving) and change ringing, or English-style, which was introduced to the Anglican community in the middle of the 17th century. To this day, change ringing is limited predominantly to Anglican churches.
When these bells are rung carillon-style, the clapper strikes the bell to produce its sound, which can be heard in the Abbey and near vicinity. Change ringing is when the bells swing in a 360-degree arc. This method produces a much louder sound, able to be heard over much longer distances than carillon-style bell ringing, and is used on special occasions so the whole community can hear.
The white glass behind the Roman numerals on the clock face appears to be one piece, doesn’t it? That’s because the clock was carefully designed. Notice on the clock’s interior the way each radiating metal band was bent or placed to conform to the Roman numeral it’s behind. Not only does this make the face appear seamless, but if a crack appeared in one glass pane, only that pane would need to be replaced. Pretty clever, I think.
Here’s another view of Bath from the Abbey’s roof just beside the clock tower. You might recognize the curved building across the street as the background in the photo of the Rebecca Fountain in Part 1.
I hope you enjoyed the second installment of my “Best Of” tour. Stay tuned for the finale, “Spy Holes, Keystones, and Fresh Buns.”