Aldbourne Heritage Centre

New Acquisition – Robert Wells 5 Bell Belfry Set

This is a set of 5 Robert Wells bells mounted in a belfry for use on a heavy horse or cart. We already have a number of 4 bell sets, but aset of 5 bells is something we had not seen before. Having bought them from that online auction site and arranged for a courier to collect & deliver them we have had the added bonus of finding they sound particularly nice. Many such set clang, but these have a very please high tone ring to them. Once we can open again they will be on display and you can visit to hear them.

The top is decorated with a leather surround with stars painted onto it. There are a couple of historic patches to the leather so it must have seen quite a bit of use.

Bell sets such as this served a purpose very similar to a lorrys “bleep bleep vehicle reversing” message, they made sure that everyone knew the horse and cart were there, though I imagine the carter must have got a bit fed up with them!

5 thoughts on “New Acquisition – Robert Wells 5 Bell Belfry Set

  1. Congratulations on this purchase. Nice to see that the collection is expanding. Would they have been fitted to the horse’s collar or to the wooden cart frame? At this large size would they have been for a double team?
    Are there any old photos of this type of bell set in use? Thanks.

  2. there is a lovely set in the Hereford museum archive store, unless they have sold them, although I do not know the manufacturer. I have 5 belfries by Robert Wells and a belfry with 2 large Wells rumbler bells in. 3 of the belfries came from the same source and were part of one team set. for reference try ‘Horse Bells by Terry Keagan et al a national horse brass society publication which often comes up on ebay and elsewhere for a few pounds.

  3. further to the above the set in Hereford, which the staff could not find a couple of years ago when I enquired, are by Robert Wells and illustrated in Horse Bells as above. there are 10 bells in ascending lines within a triangular frame. they look like a high days and holidays set when decorated wagons took the Sunday school outings to the nearest town or, if really lucky to the sea side. this was often the only time children got to go outside of their village. my father remembered going to the Methodist church in Droitwich as a young boy in the 1920s because it had the best outings. they used the coal lorry which was a first world war ex army truck instead of the horse and wagon.

  4. Just to let you know that a set of horse belfry with 3 bells is coming up for auction on Saturday June 19th with Paul Bebb in Bishop’s Castle. It is just one of 5 sets which my late brother Alan Cheese bought. He was very involved with Heavy Horses in his younger days as a museum curator at Shugborough and was a great friend of Josh Holland of Edingale. If you have any contacts who may be interested, please do spread the word and we will sell the other sets at some point.

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