Downside Abbey, Bath, Somerset

The Benedictine Abbey Church

United Kingdom

An order has been placed for work to be undertaken on the two bells in the Abbey’s Bell Tower. The smaller of the two, the “monastery bell”, is to have its electromagnetic hammer replaced, together with a new programmable controller unit and its surrounding supporting steelwork will be restored. Great Bede, the abbey’s 5 ton bourdon bell, will be rehung in the tower on a massive new cast iron headstock designed for slow swing chiming. Its other fittings will modified as necessary to fit the new headstock, and it will also have its side tolling hammer overhauled and its electrical controls upgraded. A new programmable unit will be supplied and fitted.

N.B. This bell was originally cast for Beverley Minster in 1900 and was named Great John. In 1901 Beverley Minster ordered a 7.5 ton bell, one note deeper in tone and their 1900 bell was sold to Downside Abbey and renamed “Great Bede”. Note also that the original headstock as photographed at Taylor’s was replaced with a new one before the bell was hung at Downside.

N.B. This project is now on hold after the Benedictine Order relocated and vacated the chapel and monastery buildings. The project will progress once new ownership and responsibility are finalised.


  • Our engineers have completed the first phase of the restoration work involving the supporting steelwork. The casting of the headstock and couterbalanced clapper has been outsourced to a specialist cast iron founder and casting is underway.
    The new massive cast iron headstock has been cast.
    The headstock has been fettled and is being painted.
    The new gudgeons have been turnedvand are ready to be fitted.
    The headstock is being drilled to take the bell bolts.
    Work to the headstock has been completed and it is ready for dispatch.
    We await further instructions from the trustees of the new owners of the buildings.