Februarys meeting on a relatively mild night for the time of the year was again well attended. Our speaker for the evening was Michael Lee an enthusiastic Campanologist and an amateur Horologist who has researched and written about the 18th century Bell maker Henry Penn.
Michael gave us, through a film made by him, a fascinating insight into the life of Henry Penn, his life and connection to Peterborough and the process of the design and erection of the memorial by Stephen Broadbent dedicated to Henry Penn and his work in the Foundry near the Cathedral.
If you look at the History of Peterborough Cathedral on the Cathedral website there is no mention of any of the Cathedral bells. Yet during the 18th Century, Church Bells were at the heart of any community town or village. They were the timekeepers and for the people of the Parish.
Henry Penn cast a peal of ten bells for Peterborough Cathedral. The bells recast from the old bells in around 1709 the year they were sound tested. Henry only a very young man at the time struggled with tuning the bells and was aided in this task by Theo Hill the Cathedrals Apothecary who was also Master of Music at the Cathedral. The ten bells rang out for a hundred years until the Cathedral sold most to a local Bellmaker. The only surviving bell from Henry Penns time is the Cathedral clock tower bell.
The Voice of the City. This is the name given to the sculptural artwork on Bridge Street between the Magistrate Court and the Rivergate entrance. The main part of the display depicts the 309-year-old Cathedral clock bell in the stages of being Cast. The plume of bronze rising from the top of the bell represents the moment of casting.
Foundry walk from the Magistrates Court the crosses under the road to the Crown court car park is approximately where Henry Penns Foundry was located. The new planter near the river bridge represents the river landing stage where his bell would have been transferred onto barges to be transported to their final destinations.
To find out more about the life of Henry Penn go to. https://www.pennhenry.co.uk
Michael Lee’s book entitled ‘Henry Penn Bell Founder’ Published by Link Publications, Padholm Road Peterborough and can be obtained by emailing – firstname.lastname@example.org