Poetry of Bells

Many church bells had inscriptions on them, often with wishes of good will, or blessings on the parish, petering out in the 19th century often with the names of the bell founder and the church officers who instigated or paid for the bells. This is from Highways & Byways of Lincolnshire, of a bell from Gretford church, five of whose bells were from Peterborough Cathedral. The 5th is dated 1831, and the following were written on it by General Johnson,

‘Twas not to prosper pride and hate

William Augustus Johnson Gave me,

But peace and joy to celebrate;

And to call to prayer to heaven to save ye.

Then keep the terms, and e’er remember,

May 29 ye must not ring

Nor yet the 5th of each November

Nor the crowning of a king.

The author claims not to understand why this was on the bell, but it is clearly a protest about the religious practices being hijacked by politics: 5 November is Guy Fawkes, 29 May Oak Apple Day, the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.


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