Plaster Casts

We have plaster casts of seven interesting and ancient ringing bells in the locality of Edinburgh and Central Scotland. It is thought that they were made by Italian “artists” brought to Edinburgh for this purpose.

1 Edinburgh Netherbow

[taken from the information tablet accompanying the cast]
Interesting Discovery
An interesting discovery has been made at the Dean Orphanage in Belford Road – thanks to Mr Barnett of the City Chambers Museum. On examination the bell, which hangs behind the clock tower there and chimes the hours, proved to have the following inscription: -
Soli Deo Gloria Michael Burgerhuis M(e) F(ecit) Ad
Sacros Coetus Convocandus Middleburg Zelandoram
Fusam Publicis Sumptibus Summa Aedis Divi Aegidii
Arce Iocandam Curarunt senatus Populusque Edinburghensis
Calendis Octobris Ao Dni 1621
It also bears the device of a thistle, the City Arms, and the Scottish motto
“Nemo me impune lacessit”
The legend – “The Council and People of Edinburgh caused me to be placed at the topmost tower of the house of St Giles’” – is clear evidence of the bells’ intended destination. Maitland writing of the year 1621, says: - “Three bells were made at Campvere in Zeeland for the town’s use; two whereof for St. Giles’ church and the third for the Netherbow Port.” Is this then one of the bells referred to? It is true that it was cast, according to the inscription, at Middluburg, not Campvere; but these were neighbouring towns in Zeeland, Campvere being the port. And we know that the clock at the Dean Orphanage is the identical stone-faced clock that in former days graced the steeple of the Netherbow Port. An interesting field for conjecture is opened up.

The bell and a carved stone plaque from the gate of the Netherbow have been reinstated in the bell tower of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, High Street, Edinburgh

2 Seton Collegiate Church (East Lothian)

In the course of the ‘Rough Wooing’ 1543-1547, Seton Church, like many others, suffered. Hertford’s forces stole the bell and organ of Seton Collegiate Church and parts of the church were burned. The theft of the bell ensured that the faithful could no longer be called to prayer and even if they did attend at the correct time, their songs of praise could not be accompanied by organ music.
For a short time the church was used as a parish church and in 1577 the 7th Lord Seton had this bell cast in Holland for the incomplete church steeple. It bears the inscription:

Lord George Seton

together with the Seton crest. The original is now cracked and is on display in the church.

3 Edinburgh St Giles (vespers bell)

[taken from the information tablet accompanying the cast]

It was discovered hanging in a dark corner of the tower at the time of Dr Chamber’s restoration of the church. (19th C). Refitted with a clapper, it was used for some time to announce the services, but ultimately it was taken down as being too precious to run the risk of damage. It is now on view in the Cathedral at a spot near the R. L. Stevenson memorial. The Vesper Bell has the following inscription: -
“O Mater Dei: Memento Mei: Anno: D. M.: IIII:LIII.”
Dr Chambers ascribed the date to 1504, the last numeral having been illegible or unnoticed. But for some time it has been recognised that the “D” with the small”i” above it is part, not of the date but of “Anno Domini,” the accepted date being therefore 1452. The bell weighs one and a quarter hundredweights, and stands thirteen and a half inches high with a diameter of 19 inches.
In the belfry of St.Giles to-day three bells still hang, forming the chiming apparatus for the clock. The two smaller ones date from the beginning of the eighteenth century. The inscription on one reads “Robertus Maxwell me fecit, Edimburgi in company Anno 1728,” preceded by the names of Archibald Macaulay, Lord Provost and others. The second is dated 1706, and bears the City Arms and the names of Sir Patrick Johnson, Lord Provost and others. Both were probably made at Meikle’s foundry in Castlehill, though Meikle himself died in 1704. Maxwell was his assistant and probable successor.

4 Stirling Holy Rude (5th)

Cornelius Ouderogge of Rotterdam, Holland, cast this bell in 1657. It is 29 ins diameter and 25 ins high. It is 4-1-26 in C and now forms the fifth of a ring of six bells installed by John Taylor & Co in 1970.






5 Linlithgow St Michael (tenor)

This is 34 5/8 ins diameter, height 31 ins. Founder unknown – cast <1542?





6 Glasgow Tollbooth (in store)

[taken from the information tablet accompanying the cast]
Cast of ancient bell, which till 1881 formed part of the chime in the steeple of the Tolbooth of Glasgow. This fine bell stands 2 feet 1 inch high with a crown of 71/2 inches, and across the mouth it has a diameter of 2 feet 73/4 inches. On one side it has, in a medallion, a mitred Episcopal figure; and on the opposite side in a similar medallion a shield with griffins rampant as supporters with a flying griffin in the centre. Between this is on one side a crowned female figure with a sword and a book, and on the others side a male figure in a flowing robe bearing a long crucifix. Underneath an ornamental belt on the shoulder is the legend:
(Katherine, I am cast by Jacob Waghaven, in the year of our lord 1554)
The bell has obviously not been cast for Glasgow, and must have been obtained second-hand, probably from Holland. The Tolbooth, which was built in 1626, had a bell in its steeple from the first; there is no evidence that any bell was at that time purchased for the new building. The tollbooth of 1626 replaced an older municipal building, the Praetorium, that dated at least from 1454. In 1576 the council added to the Praetotium a “foir-werk” which seems to have included a steeple or belfry, for at the same time they ordered for it a “Knok” and a bell. In the 1626 Tolbooth, a new “knok” was provided, but bells do not wear out like “knoks” and there can be little doubt that the bell obtained in 1576 was that set up in 1626, which continued there till 1881, and which is now deposited in the Kelvingrove Museum. The bell hung alone until after the Restoration, and in 1663 the Town Council resolved that the city should have “ane paill of belles to be made in Holland, and to have the toune’s armes fixit on them.”
6 June 1918 (W.S.S)


7 Perth St John (bourdon – 28cwt)

Peter Waghevens of Mechlen, Holland cast this bell in 1506. It weighs 28-0-10. It hung as a single bell at St Johns Church, Perth until it became Bass or Bourdon bell of a 35-bell carillon installed by Gillett & Johnston of Croydon in 1935. The carillon is played regularly on Sundays & weekdays.