The Foxearth and District Local History Society

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Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Bell-Founders of Sudbury

HENRY PLEASANT, John Thornton, and Thomas Gardiner were bell-founders in Sudbury.
Henry Pleasant worked at Sudbury from 1694 to 1707, he was noted for the punning rhymes which he placed on his bells. On a bell which he cast for All Saints Church, Maldon, Essex, he placed this—
" When three this steeple long did hold They were the emblems of a scold, No music then, but we shall see What Pleasant music six will be."
When he recast the 6th bell at St. Nicholas Church, Ipswich, this couplet was placed on it,
" Henry Pleasant have at last
Made me as good as can be cast."
Pleasant cast a great number of bells for Essex and Suffolk churches; his foundry was first situated near the timber yard in King Street, but was afterwards removed to Hospital Yard, and eventually to Curds Lane. In theParish Register of St. Peter's is this entry, "Catrina, the wife of Henry Pleasans was buried March 11, 1673." After Pleasant's death the foundry was carried on by John Thornton (from 1708 to 1720) and Thomas Gardiner (1709—1759). Thornton was for a time associated with John Waylett at Sudbury. Gardiner removed to Norwich in 1745, but returned to Sudbury in 1754. His earliest efforts were not fully appreciated, and when he cast the second bell at Edwardstone, a local genius, one William Culpeck, otherwise to fame unknown, disagreed with him as a "want-wit," then no uncommon term of reproach, as we know from the Pilgrim's Progress, and humbled him by compelling him to cast on that bell these words, " Tuned by William Culpeck 1710." But a quarrel with a founder is like a quarrel with a newspaper editor, and Gardiner had his revenge of the last word on casting the tenor bell for the same church, when he inscribed
"About ty second Culpeck is wrett Because the founder wanted wett
Thair judgments ware but bad at last
Or elce this bell I never had cast.
Tho Gardiner."
This serves to perpetuate both Gardiner's triumph and the local Suffolk dialect at the beginning of the 18th century. There are 82 of his bells in Suffolk' alone, besides a great number in Essex.


(From Hodson's History of the Borough of Sudbury 1896)

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