The “Carswell Memorial Chimes”,
were cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, London, England, and
were dedicated in 1924. Mr. Thomas Edgar Houston, of Cincinnati,
donated the “Chimes” and “Tower” in memory
of Mrs. Houston’s parents Edward and Rebecca Carswell, two
of the founding members of the original St. George’s parish.
Alas by definition
the bells of St. George’s Memorial are chimes, not a carillon,
but we do not tell everyone. A carillon is a set of bells consisting
of 23 or more bells. A chime is a set of, from 8 to 22 bells. Nevertheless
the bells over the years have been identified by the citizens of
Oshawa as the carillon at St. George’s Memorial and so it
locally remains the carillon, a much beloved instrument, to the
Glory of God.
Fall of 2005
is the date of this annual chronicle (commenced in 2003) and it
should be noted that a history is never ending and it is hoped that
historian chimers of the future, or others, will continue to chronicle
the times that shape the “Carswell Memorial Chimes”
in an annual chronicle.
The Chimes were
officially unveiled and dedicated on November 9th 1924.
the folk to church in time...we chime.
When joy and pleasure are on the wing...we ring.
When from the body parts the soul.... we toll.
This short history could not have been gathered without
the valuable assistance of St. George’s Archivist Ruth Park.
Early history and quote of the bells are from the parish history
“St. George’s Our Heritage” by Kathleen M. Rose
Of our fifteen bells,
fourteen are fixed, as per the accompanying pictures, while the
15th, the tenor bell is free swinging. See “Big Ed”
below. This is the final bell that calls us to worship.
is very difficult to get an actual picture of the “Carswell
Memorial Chimes” An array of bells, without walls is shown
to the left.
There are 15 bells in
the “Carswell Memorial Chimes”, an octave and a half
in the diatonic scale, with four semi-tones. As mentioned above,
the Keynote bell is in the tenor. This bell is the ringing, or free-swinging
bell, the balance of the bells being fixed in their cradle. The
tenor bell is engraved to the memory of Mr. And Mrs. Edward Carswell
who were original members of this parish.
On each face of the church
tower are four sets of louvers, sixteen in all. Some partially open,
some closed to keep out the pigeons, rain, etc. Because they are
in a fixed unequal position the sound of the chimes is slightly
distorted and directional. In a perfect world each vertical row
of the eight louvers would be individually, electrically, controlled
through a variety of positions, being fully closed when chimes are
not being played or being played by chimers in training, to a variety
of open positions depending upon the occasion.
Below is a picture of
“Big Ed” the Tenor free-swinging Bell of the Carswell
Chimes. Donated in memory of Mr. Edward Carswell a founding member
of the parish of St. George’s. Like most “Tenor”
Bells it is given a name. There is “Big Ben”, thirteen
and a half tons, in the Westminster Houses of Parliament. Then there
is “Big Paul”, the largest in the commonwealth at sixteen
tons and “Big Tom” at St. Paul’s Cathedral in
And then there is Oshawa's
and St. George’s “Big Ed” weighing in at 5759
pounds, almost three tons.” Big Ed" is keyed in “B”
Given the weight of all
of the bells it is not surprising that the tower is as massive at
and his friends turned 80 years old in 2004. During the intervening
years their “voices” have been heard across Oshawa over
5000 times on Sundays, Christmas, Easter Week, Weddings funerals
etc. calling to the parishioners of St. George’s. One can
only despair at the feathered company that the bells have been host
to over the years. The feathered ones have certainly left their
15 bells in the “Carswell Memorial Chimes” are currently
ranked among the top ten chimes in Canada.
Below are some of “Big
Ed’s” tinnier friends in their fixed state.
The Whitechapel Bell
Foundry, Mears and Stainbank, London, England cast the bells in
They also have
feathered friends who visit from time to time.
Within the bell
tower, in the first chamber, one finds a set of stairs, climbing
at a steep angle, some 56 steps in all, passing through the second,
the ringing chamber, and on up to the third, the chiming chamber
wherein the “Clavier” is located. Given that each chamber
is the equivalent of two stories, it is a long way up.
For over eighty
years generations of parishioners, since 1924, the chimers have
climbed these long stairs to ring the chimes to world.
Note the free swinging
rope, which is used to ring “Big Ed” in the call to
worship or to toll for those parishioners who have departed this
life. This is the ringing chamber.
This picture was taken
some years ago and is of the original stairs.
Unfortunately, as time
did pass, the stairs gradually aged and fell into disrepair to such
an extent that it became a very perilous ascent, which was scary,
and a descent, which was terrifying, for the chimers.
A consequence of which
was the number of parishioners who volunteered to play the chimes
diminished, sometimes down to one person. In the nineties when the
stairs were at their most perilous it was Donna Matsushita, the
Chime Master from 1990 to 2002, who kept alive the spirit of the
bells. In 1996-98 Mrs. Helen Hind donated the necessary funds, in
memory of her husband Lionel Hind, to replace the chime stairs,
in the hope that it would lead to a revival of a core of chimers
within the parishioners of St. George’s. Such a revival is
currently (2004) underway. It is hoped over the next few years to
build the chimers group up to twelve. Parishioners are encouraged
to chime in.
Because of the vastness
of the chiming chamber a small inner cabin has been built which
houses the clavier, and that can be heated in the winter, much to
the comfort of the chimer.
(keyboard) below is made of oak containing the baton handles of
the one and a half octave. This clavier, made by the I.T. Verdin
Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, was placed in the Tower in 1988, replacing
the original clavier. The Clavier is arranged in an open key.
Also in the
cabin is a “peg-chiming barrel, which was first invented in
the 14th Century. The introduction of the weight-driven clock mechanism
in the 14th century led to this invention. By the 17th century over
500 chimes in Europe utilized this method. Late in the 18th century
a chime of 10 to 20 bells playable from a keyboard, the clavier,
or chime stand, became fashionable. From about 1850 to 1930 hundreds
of these devices and the “pegged chiming barrels” were
imported to the United States and Canada. These barrels had few
technical changes from the late 18th century to the middle of the
St. George’s “pegged
chiming barrel”. J. W. BENSON LTD., London, England, Clock
and Carillon Makers made this. 1923. No. 770. It is one of the largest
built, up to that time, being some eleven feet long with a diameter
of two feet six inches. There are over 3400 steel pegs located on
the drum. The pegs tripped levers, on the side of the drum, which
in turn were wired to the hammers, which in turn struck the bells.
It is very similar to
a music box, except it, as you can see it is gargantuan in size.
St. George’s Memorial “pegged” drum was “wound
up” using the large handle on the left, while selection was
done by the smaller wheel adjustment on the right. Onward Christian
Soldiers: Rock of Ages: Coronation Hymn: Fight the Good Fight: Abide
With Me, and Four Groups of Changes
Unfortunately the “pegged
chiming barrel” is currently out of service.
One of the most famous
“chiming barrels” is used to play the “Westminster
Chime” for “Big Ben” the E-D-C-G. Which was written
by Cambridge University student William Crotch, in 1793 originally
for St. Mary’s Church, Cambridge, but adopted by the clock
tower in the Houses of Parliament, London, in 1859
Memorial Chimes of St. George’s have announced the Sunday
services, special celebrations of the church, sounded joyously at
the weddings of our parishioners, have tolled at the loss of our
loved ones. The chimes have chimed to celebrate the return of our
servicemen from the perils of war, conflict, and peacekeeping. The
chimes have been a rallying point for our congregation over the
years, and, hopefully, will continue to do so for many years to