THE IMPERIAL INSTITUTE BELLS

From the Supplement to The Graphic, 13th May, 1893

Ringing the first peal after the Institute was declared open by Her Majesty.

The new peal of bells at the Imperial Institute is a distinct artistic gain to London, since they are as perfect a set of bells as has been swung in the metropolis for many a long year. The hearts of all lovers of bell-music, especially, will rejoice for the opportunity this peal affords of hearing bells as they should be heard. Our capital has many good bells, but the fault in nearly all London bells is that they are too low. To this disadvantage may be attributed much of the want of sympathy that exists in what is matter of real beauty, and which might prove, if understood, a source of real enjoyment. I am aware that bell-music is not by all considered as an altogether unmixed blessing, but many hearts will be turned when this new peal is heard – under conditions which alone are essential to a favourable appreciation of the campanologist’s art.

The tower in which they have been silently waiting to send forth their first joyous message is 300 feet high. It looks down upon the tops of the Albert Hall, the Natural History Museum, and other stately buildings; so the bells’ tones are not likely soon to be seriously interfered with by the encroachments of bricklayers. These new bells are at a higher altitude that any other peal of bells in the United Kingdom, being swung in a chamber 200 feet above the level of the ground-floor of the building; and their tones, instead of clashing one with the other and their harmonics becoming hopelessly intermixed, will dissolve with exquisite effect in the surrounding air.

As has already been publicly stated, the peal is the Jubilee gift of an Australian lady, Mrs. E. M. Millar, of Melbourne, to the Prince of Wales. It consists of ten bells, named after the Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Duke of Connaught. An inscription on the eighth bell sets forth that the bells are to be known as the “Alexandra” peal. This lettering reads as follows: “The peal of which this bell forms one was, by the special permission of the Princess of Wales, names after Her Royal Highness.” The largest bell is the tenor, swung in the centre of the frame, with her – all bells are properly feminine – satellites round her. She bears the inscription “Victoria T.I., 1837-1887.”