Old North’s Bell Ringing Tradition
Old North Church houses the oldest set of change ringing bells in North America. These eight change ringing bells were cast by Abell Rudhall in Gloucester, England in 1744 and installed here in 1745. The bells were restored in 1894, and then were mostly idle. They were restored (again) in 1975 with the help of Geoffrey Davies, of Simon W. Robinson Lodge in Lexington, for the Boston Bicentennial celebration. They have been rung regularly ever since.
In the bell ringing chamber today hangs a copy of a 1750 charter in which the guild agreed upon a democratic organization of the tower and its bell ringing practices. Interestingly, Paul Revere is the second signature on that contract. He was a bell ringer at Old North when he was 15 years old! The tradition of a volunteer bell ringing guild continues today with volunteer ringers of all ages from around the Boston area, who are members of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Guild of Bellringers, loosely affiliated with MIT. The Guild is open to all with a passion for change ringing. Ringing follows the 11 am service at approximately noon every week. For more information about the Guild or to become a bell ringer, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To visit the bell ringing chamber and learn more about Old North’s bells, take a Behind-the-Scenes Tour on your next visit!
The Eight Bells of Old North Church
Sound:(Treble) F, Weight: 5 cwt, 2 qr, 4 lbs, Inscription: Abel Rudhall of Gloucester, cast us all, Anno 1744.
Sound: (Treble) E, Weight: 5 cwt, 2 qr, 6 lbs, Inscription: Since generosity has opened our mouths, our tongues shall ring aloud its praise. 1744.
Sound: (Treble) D, Weight: 6 cwt, 1 qr, 3 lbs, Inscription:The subscription for these bells was begun by John Hannmock and Robert Temple, Church Wardens, Anno 1743; completed by Robert Jenkins and John Gould, church Wardens, Anno 1744.
Sound: (Treble) C, Weight: 7 cwt, 1 qr, 3 lbs, Inscription:William Shirley, Esq., Governor of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England. Anno 1744.
Sound: 7 cwt, 1 qr, 21 lbs, Weight: (Treble) B flat, Inscription: God preserve the Church of England. 1744.
Sound: (Treble) A, Weight: 8 cwt, 1 qr, 24 lbs, Inscription:We are the first ring of bells cast for the British Empire in North America. A.R. 1744.
Sound:(Treble) D, Weight:10 cwt, 2 qr, 24 lbs, Inscription:This Church was founded in the year 1723. Timothy Cutler, DD, the first Rector, A.R. 1744
Sound:(Tenor) F, Weight: 13 cwt, 3 qr, 5 lbs, Inscription: This peal of eight bells is the gift of a number of generous persons to Christ Church, in Boston, N.E. Anno 1744. A.R