The Peace Bells

The Peace Bells

The history of the Peace bells goes back to the Victorian era when the Poland Street Hand-Bell Ringers from London, who were associated with the Temperance movement, rang at major meetings of Temperance groups across the UK. After their appearances before Queen Victoria their name changed to the Royal Poland Street Hand-Bell Ringers and subsequently to the Royal Hand-Bell Ringers.

The team comprised five ringers and they rang five octaves of Whitechapel bells. In the 1880Ꞌs when the team was in its heyday, the Royal Hand-Bell Ringers had more bells than a straight five octaves (61 bells) and in 1881, the band purchased a new set from Messrs Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel, London comprising: “…five octaves, chromatic, from C to C, and one note below (B flat), with a selection of duplicates and triplicates (which experience in their art has taught the ringers are necessary for more complicated selections) making the total number of bells 131. The largest bell weighs 11¼ pounds, the smallest 4 ounces.”

The Royal Ringers were in London with their ‘long set’ of 163 bells in the 1880s.  They undertook 4 major tours in Europe in the late 1880s and in 1881 travelled to America, making their debut in Boston. They visited Sweden 1886 and again in 1894 when they gave a concert in a church in Nässjö; the bells were then purchased by the Swedish group Norrländska Time Players, who as the The Peace Bells played them in many world tours from 1945 to 1995.

The bells were later taken over by Fredsklockorna in Nässjö; Fredsklockorna had a long and successful existence doing many overses tours (including attending an HRGB National Rally) and made many recordings. The Peace Bells stop playing in the mid-1990s and have since been stored in a music shop in Nässjö.

Below: Poland Street Ringers and Fredsklockorna