The Oldest Bell in Chicago

On Sunday, December 10th, the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Chicago celebrated the 40th anniversary of the installation of their single bell. This is no ordinary bell, however. This bell was bought from St. Mary’s Parish Church in Everton, Bedfordshire, England. Misfortune for St. Mary’s meant a welcome opportunity for the Church of Our Saviour. Lightning struck the tower of St. Mary’s in 1974, and all five bells toppled out of the tower. In order to raise funds to re-mount just one of the bells, the church decided to sell the other four. Meanwhile, the vestry of the Church of Our Saviour was searching for a way to honor the Reverend J. Wilson Reed on his tenth anniversary as rector. The junior warden was notified of an ad in The Ringing World placed by the church to sell their four bells. One of the bells soon became a gift to the rector and installed in 1976.

This bell dates all the way back to the late 16th century. This could be the oldest bell in Chicago! Of course, with no complete inventory of all the bells in Chicago, we can never be sure.

It’s nice-looking, despite the bright blue-green patina (due to air pollution). The inscription reads Johannes Dien hanc campanam fecit (John Dien cast this bell). And a nice sound too.

Thank you, Joan Flanagan, for inviting me!

Church of Our Saviour
Bell in Church of Our Saviour
Church of Our Savior
Bell-shaped cookies for reception

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