Cathedral Bells

The Cathedral Bells

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Cathedral Ringers Guild, please email or call (305) 456-8851.

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral’s bells were cast in 1983 by Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London and installed in 1984 (see the picture to the right of the bells after their casting at the Whitechapel Foundry.) Whitechapel is one of the most well-known foundries in the world, having casted historic bells like Big Ben, the Liberty Bell, and the bells of Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

There are eight bells in Trinity's ring, sounding an octave of the F major scale (see the list of bells below). Each is named after someone associated with the Cathedral at that time. Each bell was marked on inside with its destination, number, note, and weight (hundredweight-stone-pounds) to prevent any mixups.

The bells are installed in a radial bellframe, one of only a half-dozen in the world. This circular configuration maximizes the stability of the bell tower and minimizes the effect of each bell’s motion on the others.

The Tower

The tower was dedicated in 1984 and structurally renovated around 2006. It is attached to the main body of the sanctuary by a side chapel. In the photo at right:

  • The ringing chamber is the room with the round-topped glass windows, at the third-story level.
  • The fourth story is the windowless intermediate chamber, which moderates the sound of the bells for the ringers.
  • The bell chamber is at the fifth-story level of the gabled extensions on each side, which were included to provide room for the bells.
  • Above the gables are louvers that can be electrically opened to let out the sound of the bells.

The tower’s narrow cross-section meant that the bell chamber had to be extended on each side to give room for the bells, giving the tower a cruciform silhouette. A radial bellframe was a necessity in order to reduce the horizontal forces generated by the swinging of the bells to a level that the narrow tower could withstand.


Planning, Building/Casting, and Dedication 

On Maundy Thursday of 1970 two church members, Josephine and James Patterson, spoke to the then-Dean, The Very Reverend George McCormick, of their wish to make a gift to the cathedral. The Dean had read of change-ringing bells and suggested that their gift take that form. During the next day’s Good Friday services another church member, Robert Bell, mulled over the high-rise buildings going up around the Cathedral and independently concluded that the addition of a bell tower and adjoining chapel along Bayside Drive would delineate a quiet courtyard garden in the open area by the sanctuary. He persuaded local developer Tibor Hollo to donate the tower.

In December 1983 Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London founded the eight bells, in two castings. Each bell is named after someone associated with the cathedral, including Josephine (#7) and Jim (#6) Patterson, donors of the bells, Bob (#8) Bell, who persuaded Tibor Hollo to donate the tower, and Dean George (#4) McCormick. The bells were installed in the as-yet-unfinished tower by Whitechapel’s Trevor Bailey, who was also teaching a group of local novice bellringers.

The bells were dedicated on Sunday 2 December 1984 (see the date carved in the Tenor bell's wheel in the picture to the right). Trevor Bailey, a group of ringers from Washington National Cathedral, and individual ringers from New York City and Boston’s Old North Church climbed two extension ladders to get to the ringing chamber. The Washington ringers rang a quarter peal of Stedman Triples for the morning service, and a mixed band rang a quarter peal of Cambridge Major for the afternoon service of dedication. The Washington ringers included current ringers Susan O’Neill, Quilla Roth, and Neville Withington.