These articles were collated & produced by Walter A Perry © 2008
Although the Sudbury bell founders were independent of each other they do have a common thread back to the Miles Gray foundry of Colchester. Henry Pleasant and a Charles Newman take over the Miles Gray foundry in 1686, when Christopher Miles dies. Newman and Pleasant may well have worked for the Miles Gray family. By 1696 Charles Newman went to Norwich and Henry Pleasant came to Sudbury. The Colchester foundry was now in Mott's ownership.
three this steeple did hold
had three bell founders and three Churches; today there is
only one bell in Sudbury from one of their founders, Henry Pleasant
who cast the third bell in All Saints Church tower. In 1701 he was commissioned
to make a clock for St Peters Church Sudbury. In the contract Henry
was to make it to the highest standard of his craft, with a pendulum,
to maintain it to keep good time. In return Henry was not to pay the
poor rate, other dues to the borough. He would be relived of duties
of the borough as an overseer, constable or other duties. Fifteen aldermen
and notable citizens signed on one part and our Henry signed undertaking
the contract. Henry's clock was replaced in 1820 by a new clock that
was no better than Henrys, although it had the mechanism for striking
the hour. In 1831 T Mears cast a clock bell weighing 3 cwt approx, for
the 1820 timepiece.
THOMAS GARDINER At Sudbury 1709 - 1762 and at the Brocandale foundry Norwich 1727- 1747. He died in 1769 and may well have been a very old man, to allow fifty-three years of bell founding. His career started as a very young man, making him outstanding in casting well over two hundred and fifty nine bells, all are in East Anglia, excepting one in Kent. He may well have worked for Henry Pleasant hence his using his bell inscription letter moulds. A year slipped by from Henry Pleasant's death to his starting up in business in 1709. He may well have resented John Thornton getting the Ballingdon foundry. In 1709 he started his foundry on land between Burkitts and Weavers Lanes. When the site was cleared in 2004 for the new building development, black foundry sand was uncovered, at the lower end of the site, close to the rear of the properties in Gainsborough Street. His other foundry at Norwich was purchased from Thomas Newman, son of Charles Newman, a one time partner of Henry Pleasant, both from the Miles Gray foundry Colchester 1686-1696. The last link that our three Sudbury founders shared. He has left us with some bell inscriptions which help to show us a little of the man.
At Edwardstone in 1709, in his first year as a bell founder, he was engaged to cast two small bells, a treble and second to match in with the existing four bells. A William Culpeck was unhappy about the note of the second bell compared to the new treble, and ignoring the notes of the four original bells. He had the bell recast and to add salt into wound insisted that Thomas inscribe the recast second "Tuned by Wm Culpeck" The following year Thomas was recalled to recast the tenor bell as it was out of tune chromatically, this was the result of the second bell not being tuned to the tenor bell. Thomas recast the bell but savoured sweet justification on last years discourse with William Culpeck, by inscribing the tenor bell with the following verse:-
ty second Culpeck is wrett
18th cent Suffolk dialect;
In the 1980's Edwardstones bells were re-hung, after many years of neglect, wear and tear. Fund raising was pioneered by the Rectors wife Mrs Sarah Titford, (do you remember the Concorde flight as a grand prize). Sadly Thomas Gardiners tenor bell of 1710 was found to be cracked. It was thought that it was to be recast, but was saved by the generosity of Morden College, Blackheath, who now have Thomas Gardiners bell on permanent loan. Sir John Morden founder of Morden College in the 16th century had close links with Edwardstone.
Saints Great Horkesley in 1747 Thomas Gardiner made another of his controversial
bell inscriptions, "William Sadler who was a negligent partner
caused me to be cast by Sudbury Gardiner 1747" What appeared
to have happened was that before 1747, a William Sadler who ran Thomas's
foundry at Sudbury, while he was at his