Eldridge Bell

Bronze church bell cast in 1701 by William Eldridge, last of the famous Chertsey family of bell-founders, almost certainly from Pirbright Church.

Two generations of the Eldridge family of bell-founders worked in Chertsey from about 1619 until 1716. Bryan Eldridge was the son and grandson of bell founders of Wokingham. He died in 1640, leaving his bell house and all his working tools to his eldest son, Bryan, and his house in Guilford Street to his youngest son, William. William later bought no. 25 Windsor Street, now known as Eldridge House, which is stated to have had bell moulds in the cellars which he used for his foundry; however the exact site of their foundry is not known.

The foundry was an important one. Bryan senior made bells there from 1619 to 1638, and the business was carried on by Bryan junior until his death in 1661. It is recorded that in 1884 include the entire peal of 5 bells in Lingfield church dated 1648, and the number four bell at St. Peter’s, Limpsfield cast in 1619 which bears the inscription “Bryan Eldredge made mee’ .

The business was continued by William until his death in 1716. Two of his bells remain in Chertsey at St. Peter’s Church: the sixth bell which bears the inscription “Gulielmus Eldridge me fecit 1712” and weighs 10 cwt. 2 qrs, and 24 lbs, and the tenor bell dated 1670 which was recast in 1859. Another, cast in 1701, probably for Pirbright Church hangs outside the museum entrance.