Oldest Working Church Bells

If you’ve ever been to a church during Christmas or Easter time, you’ve probably heard the church bells ringing during a certain portion of the service. Church bells have been a part of the structure of a church for many centuries now, and continue to exist in the modern world as well.

In this article, however, we’re going to look more closely at some of the oldest working church bells in the world. Let’s dive right into it.

3 Oldest Working Church Bells

3. Old North Church

Location: Boston, United States of America
Period of building: 18th century
Number of bells: 8

Old North ChurchPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

The church bells in the Old North Church in Boston are a set of some of the oldest working church bells in the world. Although this church has existed for a few centuries now, it’s interesting to note that we don’t know very much about the history of these bells.

However, we do know that the bells were actually cast in 1744, in Gloucester, England, and were hung the following year. There is an inscription on one of the eight bells that reads “We are the first ring of bells cast for the British Empire in North America, A.R. 1744.”

Did you know?

The Old North Church bells are currently maintained and rung by the folks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Guild of Bellringers.


2. St. Audoen’s Church, Dublin (Church of Ireland)

Location: Dublin, Ireland
Period of building: 15th century
Number of bells: 6

St. Audoen's Church, Dublin (Church of Ireland)Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

The bells at St. Audoen’s Church in Dublin have also existed for several centuries. Although this church was built in the 12th century, its bells were not cast until the 15th century. This church is named after Saint Ouen of Normandy.

There are six bells in the church at present, but it’s worth noting that they were all cast and fitted at different periods of time, beginning in 1423. Three out of the six bells are the oldest church bells in Ireland. They were rung for different reasons, one of which was to remind people in the town to pray the Angelus, as well as to call people to and from their jobs.

Did you know?

The bells at St. Audoen’s church were not rung between the years of 1898 and 1983. This was because their tower was extremely fragile, which meant that ringing the bell could cause the tower to collapse.


1. St Lawrence Church, Ipswich

Location: Ipswich, Suffolk
Period of building: 15th century
Number of bells: 5

St Lawrence Church, IpswichPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

The bells at St Lawrence Church in Suffolk are the oldest working church bells in the world. Although we do not know when exactly this church was built, we do know that it was constructed in the mid-15th century on Dial Lane. It’s also interesting to note that a small portion of the upper part of the tower was rebuilt by a London firm in 1882.

In terms of this church’s bells, it’s important to note that till date, there have been five of them! These bells were hung from a steel frame, and when they were first cast in 1450, there were only four bells. A fifth bell was later added in 1480. It’s incredibly impressive that these bells have lasted as many centuries as they have, and have not been damaged or modified since they were cast.

Did you know?

The bells at St Lawrence Church are also called Wolsey’s bells. They were named after a cardinal called Wolsey, who lived in the same area as the church.


Conclusion

In this article, we looked at three different churches and their bells that are still functioning today! Since all of the bells mentioned above were cast before the 19th century and continue to work today, it’s incredibly impressive that they have stood the test of time. We hope that you enjoyed reading this article, and that you will visit some of these churches in the future.

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