SALON NO.98: London Bells
Ringing the Changes

7.00pm Thursday 24th November 2022

The Horse Hospital


There are 48 churches and places of worship  within London's square mile.  43 have bells which have played an extraordinary role in the life, history and folklore of the city.

Admission: Tickets £8.00/ £10.00 in advance only HERE


For hundreds of years the city churches were the tallest structures in the city allowing them an unobstructed transmission of sound. As well as the calls to worship, bells rang the closure of the city gates, curfew calls and regulated local Londoners day, life and identity. The most famous instance is of course Bow Bells - London folklore dictates those born within its range are true Cockneys.

Bell ringer and bellfry archaeologist DICKON LOVE comes to the salon to give a glimpse into their extraordinary life - past and present

THE WHITECHAPEL BELL FOUNDRY was Britain's oldest manufacturing company, stablished in 1570, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.  
It made some of the most famous bells in history, including those in St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Bow Bells for St Mary-le-Bow, the original Liberty Bell - an icon of American independence - and new bells for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics. 

The site, which is steeped in local history, survived the Blitz  but in 2021 Campaigners lost a long fight to save the foundry: from being turned into a boutique hotel ringing the death knell to 450 years of London history

CHARLES SAUMAREZ SMITH will consider the history of the Foundry, its sale to a New York-based property developer, the international campaign to retain its use as a working foundry and why it may have failed.

DICKON LOVE is an active bellringer in the City of London and is a Past Master of the Ancient Society of College Youths, who are responsible for ringing the bells at the major towers in the City. He is Tower Keeper/Captain at St Magnus the Martyr, St James Garlickhythe and St Mary Woolnoth. he is author of the extraordinary online archive'Love's Guide to the Bells of the City of London'

CHARLES SAUMAREZ SMITH  was Director of the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and, from 2007 to 2018, Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts.  He lives in Stepney and writes about architecture for The Critic.

Our new home, THE HORSE HOSPITAL, is a unique Grade II listed not for profit, independent arts venue within the only existing unspoilt example of a two-floor, purpose-built stable with public access in London. 

Built in 1797 by James Burton. the shell is constructed with London Stocks whilst the interior features a mock cobbled re-inforced concrete floor and ramps with slats to prevent the horses from slipping. Each floor has 5 cast iron pillars and several original iron tethering rings.