Carillons in Connecticut

OTHER CONNECTICUT CARILLONS


There are ten true carillons in Connecticut (in addition to at least thirty chimes, tower bell instruments with less than twenty-three bells). None of these carillons uses electricity to strike the bells; playing actions are completely mechanical. Listed from oldest to newest.

1998 Summer Carillon Concerts in Connecticut


St. James Episcopal Church, Danbury Click on picture for JPEG image (15k)

The 25 bell Ella S. Bulkley Memorial Carillon is the oldest carillon in Connecticut, and is also the first carillon made in America. It began as a chime of 15 bells cast in early 1928 by Meneely & Co. of Watervliet, NY. Meneely & Co. was the first (and until recently, the only) American foundryto tune its bells to carillon bell standards. Another foundry with the Meneely name, The Meneely Bell Co., was located directly across the Hudson River in Troy, NY, and was run by cousins of the original Watervliet foundry. The Troy foundry never tuned its bells.

Later in 1928 the Meneelys wanted to demonstrate that they could make a well-tuned carillon, and convinced the donors at St. James to allow them to place 8 additional bells in the tower to make a complete a carillon. If the donors didn't like them, Meneely would remove the additional bells and the donors wouldn't have to pay for them. Since the bells are still there, we can assume they liked them. Two more bells were added in 1936 to bring the number to 25 bells. The carillon was renovated in 1987. The heaviest bell in a carillon is called the bourdon, and its weight is an important characteristic of an instrument. Danbury's bourdon weighs 2,500 lbs.

There is a summer concert series, Wednesdays at Noon during July.

Canterbury School, New Milford Click on picture for JPEG image (18k)

The 23 bell Jose M. Ferrer Memorial Carillon is the smallest carillon in Connecticut, as well as one of the oldest. This carillon was cast by the English foundry of Gillett & Johnston, Croydon, England. It was installed in the tower of the Chapel of Our Lady in 1931. This is an excellent example of the small carillons for which Gillett & Johnston were noted. The carillon is only played for special occasions; there is no concert series. The bourdon bell weighs 1,120 lbs.

University of Connecticut at Storrs Congregational Church Click on picture for JPEG image (16k)

The 31 bell Dunham Memorial Carillon is the only example in this country of something common in Europe. The carillon itself is owned by the University of Connecticut, but placed in the tower of a local church. Mr. Dunham left a considerable amount of land to the school, and the carillon was purchased as a memorial. The school had no suitable tower, so the carillon was placed in the church tower which was being built in the center of campus at the time. In Europe, many carillons are owned by the town or city, but placed in church towers.

This carillon was cast by the same Meneely foundry that made the Danbury carillon, and is their last full carillon. The foundry was started in 1826 by Andrew Meneely, who learned his trade as an apprentice to Benjamin Hanks, a clockmaker and bell founder of Mansfield, so there is a strong local connection with this carillon. The bourdon bell weighs 2,800 lbs.

There is a summer concert series. The carillonneur is David Maker, a member of the Trinity Guild. Photograph by David Maker; used with permission.

Trinity College, Hartford Click on picture for JPEG image (20k)

Three carillons were cast for Connecticut in 1931, one by each of the three major foundries of the time. Canterbury School by Gillett & Johnston, UCONN by Meneely, and the original 30 bell Trinity carillon by Taylor, which is the only one of the three foundries still casting bells and making carillons.

Click here for the schedule of the Plumb Memorial Carillon Concerts.


First Presbyterian Church, Stamford Click on picture for JPEG image (15k)

The 56 bell Maguire Memorial Carillon is the product of two foundries. It began as a 36 bell carillon cast in 1947 by Gillett & Johnston. It was a gift to the people of Stamford from the Nestle Company for the warm reception Nestle received when it temporarily located its world headquarters in Stamford during WWII.

In 1968, the French foundry Paccard recast the top 15 G&J bells and added 20 more to make the present instrument (it is sometimes necessary to recast bells when adding to an instrument to provide a better match between old and new bells). The bourdon bell weighs 6,830 lbs.

There is a summer concert series, 7pm on Thursday evenings during July and August. The carillon is also played weekly after services. George Matthew, Jr., is the carillonneur.

St. Mark's Episcopal Church, New Canaan Click on picture for JPEG image (15k)

The 30 bell Dana-Barton Carillon by Paccard replaced a 13 bell Meneely of Watervliet chime in 1962. The bourdon bell weighs 3,130 lbs.

There is a summer concert series and the carillon is played regularly; Hedley Yost is the church's Director of Music.


First Church of Christ Congregational, New Britain Click on picture for JPEG image (20k)

The 37 bell Philip B. Stanley Carillon was cast by the Dutch foundry of Petit & Fritsen, who also made the free-standing tower containing it. The bourdon bell weighs 1,400 lbs.

There is a summer concert series.


Yale University, New Haven Click on picture for JPEG image (18k)

The 54 bell Yale Memorial Carillon is the heaviest carillon in Connecticut, and, like the Trinity College carillon, was cast by the John Taylor & Co. foundry of Loughborough, England. It began as a 10 bell chime cast by Taylor in 1921 and installed when Harkness Tower was built. In 1966, 44 bells by Taylor were added to make it a full carillon. This necessitated removing all the original bells from the tower and installing a completely new frame and playing action. The addition was made possible by a gift from Florence Marcy Crofut, who also gave the money to enlarge the Trinity College carillon.

The carillon is played on a daily basis by the Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs, and there is a summer series with concerts on Fridays at 7:00pm from June 21 to Aug. 16.

First Church of Christ, Congregational, West Hartford Click on picture for JPEG image (11k)

Like several other carillons in Connecticut, the 50 bell Stearns Carillon began as a smaller instrument, in this case with bells from the same foundry. The original 24 bell carillon was cast by the Whitechapel foundry of London, England, and installed in 1969. It was rebuilt and enlarged with 26 additional bells in 1985 (no bells were recast). This is the lightest carillon in Connecticut, with a bourdon of only 870 lbs.

The summer concert series is held Tuesday evenings in July at 7:00pm. A concert of chamber music in the church often precedes the carillon concert. The carillon is regularly played for services.

Simsbury United Methodist Church Click on picture for GIF image (14k)

The newest carillon in Connecticut is the 55 bell Foreman Carillon installed in 1986. The bells were cast by the Petit & Fritsen company of the Netherlands, but the instrument was designed, built and installed by the I.T.Verdin Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The bourdon bell weighs 4,730 lbs. Drawing from Simsbury United Methodist Church bulletin; used with permission.

There is a concert series Sunday evenings in July.


Except where noted, all photographs by Norman F. Bliss -- all rights reserved.

1998 Summer Carillon Concerts in Connecticut


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Created 5/10/96 by Norman F. Bliss, Updated 4/27/98