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The Ellacombe Chiming Device

Ellacombe's original sketch of his device

The Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus was invented in 1821 by the Reverend Henry Thomas Ellacombe of Bitton, near Bristol and his "clever workman" Sam Watts. It was designed to allow a set of church bells to be rung by a single person.

With a bell in the "down" position a chime hammer strikes the inside of the bell. The hammer is attached to a rope which is pulled by a ringer some way below the bell. As the bell does not have to be turned and all the chiming ropes are adjacent to each other, one trained ringer can control all the bells.

It is thought the the Revd, Ellacombe was keen to be able to dispense with the services of his bellringers whom he found unruly.

Calstock Ellacombe apparatus in 2018

The Ellacombe device at Calstock was probably installed during the 1952 re-hang, but it had fallen out of use. The chime hammers had damaged the inside of the bells so most had been removed. Only two hammers were still connected at the start of the current project, these were used to toll a single bell during funeral services.

Calstock apparatus in July 2019

Over the last few weeks the Ellacombe has

been stripped down, repainted and varnished. It has now been set back on the wall of the ringing chamber and in due course it will be re-roped. It will not be put back into operation but a new, less aggressive chime hammer will be fitted to one of the bells for use when a tolling bell is needed.


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