Bells of Liverpool
Samuel M Austin

St Mary Lowe House, St Helens [RC]
47 bells, tenor 84-2-20

Grid Ref.: SJ509958
Frame & Fittings. All bells hung dead. There is space for the two missing semitones. There are clock hammers on bells: 18, 19, 21, 23 (x2), 25, 26, 28, 30 & 47. The angelus strikes on another bell and there is an exeternal chiming hammer on yet another bell.
Retuning: Never subsequently retuned
Chiming apparatus: Baton Clavier
Sound: A. The sound of the back bells is truly superb but the top bells sound less full
Go: C-. In poor condition but is in the process of being restored.
Details of the Bells












S. Beuno. .




Pra pro Carlol Barrow








Sancte Hugo et Sancte Anna.




Orate pro Thoma Wilkinson








Sancte Albane Protomartyr.




Ora pro Owen Nulty








Sancte Editha et Sancte Francisce.




Ora pro Georgio Munro








Sancte Aidan.




Ora pro Terence Hatton Corrish








Sancte Beda and Beata Bernadette.




Orate pro Bernadette Corrish








Sancte Duntsan.




Ora pro Maria Rawlinson








Jacobe Bell.




Ora pro Jacobo Campbell, R.I.P.








S. Cuthbert.




Ora pro Cuthbert Mercer








Alii Beati Martyres 52 Sacerdotes Regulares (1537-1681)




Orate pro Sara Quin








Beati Martyres 32 Societatis Jesu (1537-1681 A.D.)




Orate pro Alicia Fairhurst








Beati Martyres 148 Sacerdotes Saeculares (1537-1681 A.D.)




orate pro Arturo Almond








Beati Martyres Laici 83 (1537-1681 A.D.)




Editha Walmesley-Cotham








Beate Martyr Ricardo Reynolds,




ora pro Francesca Walmesley-Cotham








Sancte Anselm




ora  pro Jacobo et Helena Taylor








Thoma Bedingfield, Martyr Illustris




ora pro Beryl M. Magee








Beate Martyr Ricardo Whiting O.S.B




ora pro georgio et Helena Vose.








S. Columbane




ora pro Ricardo, Joanne et Elizabetha Hatton








Martyr Illustris Phillipe Howard




ora pro Ricardo et Joanna Corrish








Beate Martyr Joanne Rigby




ora pro anima Elizabetha Devine








Beate Martyr Thoma Garbet S.J.




ora pro Muriel Baron








Joanne Forest O.S.F. Beate Martyr




ora pro Elizabetha Halket








Beate Martyr Roberte Southwell S.J.




Ora pro Agnete it Helena Unsworth








Sancte Margareta Regina




ora pro Lilian Magee








Beata Margareta Pole martyr illustris




ora pro Margareta Magee








Beate Martyr Olivere Plunket




ora pro Henrico Magee








St. Joseph of Arimathea




pray for Catherine Martin








For the Holy Innocents and St. William of Norwich.




"Suffer little children to come unto me" From the Lowe House Infants








Sancte Pauline et Sancte Gerard




orate pro benefactoribus








Sancte Gilbert




ora pro nobis. G & W. & Co.








Sancte Augustine Agliae Apostole




Ora pro Alicia Fairhurst et Sara Quin








O Blessed Sir Thomas More, great Englishman and greater saint




cheerful martyr of Christ.




Pray for Thomas Morris








Thomas Cotham S.J. martyr Invictus "Domine tu plura pro me passus est"




Respice famulum tuum humilem




Bertram Walmesley Cotham








St. Thomas of Canterbury "Adsum sacerdos Dei"




Pray for Emma Middlehurst.








St Winifreda Virgo et Martye




Ora pro Joseph Rigby et Ejus Proli abundantiam caelestium donorum infundi








Ad laudem Beati Johannis Fisher, episcopi et martyris.




Qui morturus exclamabat "In te domini speravi".




Sic etiam pie precatur, Deborah Whittle








St. Theresa "Little Flower of Jesus" and St. Simon Stock




Pray for George and Mary Theresa Munro








In honorem Beati Martyris Edmundi Campion et Sociorum, S.J




"Salvete Flores Martyrum"




By gift of Henry and Edith Whittle








In memoriam Beari Martyris Edmundi Arrowsmith S.J.




"Qui animam posuit in testimonium verae fider" A. D. 1628




Exclamans "O Bone Jesu"




Pray for the donors Joseph and Elizabeth Anne Smith also of their daughter Anne








In honorem Sancte Helenae Imperatris "+ In hoc signo vinces"




Pray for the souls of the donors, Helen McManus and Kate Kelly




and for theur sister Marie Joseph




"Sponsa Christi"








Saint George "look down on thine own chosen isle".




Sic Johannes Kean, Alicia Bridge et Jacobus Rawlinson me cantare jubent








Sancte Edwarde rex custodi regnum tuum et vos omnes qui transitis per viam,




orate pro animabus Annae Chisnall, Teresiae Tipping et Joseph Gallagher R.I.P.








Sanctus Patricius Hiberniae Apostolus.




"Ecce Sacerdos Magnus"




Sponsores hujus Campanae Martinus J. Melvin Eques (and others)








In honorem Beati Michaelis Archangeli et Beatae Martyris Margarite Clitheroe




"Quis ut Deus"




Pray for the eternal welfare of the donor, Alice Reynlods Peyton,




for James her husband and for her children John and Dorathea








Laudes sono Sancti Joseph, casti sponsi Virginis Mariae.




"Ite ad Joseph"




To Joseph Swift I owe my voice, May Joseph's gifts make him rejoice








Dedicated to the Twelve Apostles of Our Lord, SS Peter, Andrew, James and John




Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Mathew, James and Jude, Simon and Matthias




By the devoted workers of Lowe House parish.




"In omnem terram exicit sonus eorum"








Ave Maria to our ever Blessed Lady and dear Mother Mary




From her devoted chrildren of St. Mary's Lowe House, and neighbouring parishes




of St. Helens, and of other towns.




"Ecce enim ex hoc beatam ne dicent omnes generations"

*Bells are numbers from lightest to heaviest.

History: Great Carillon for St. Helens

“The bells will come”
(From notes supplied by FR. R. RILEY, S.J.,
Rector of Lowe House, St. Helens.)
Undated article of about 1927

It is not an exaggeration to say that anyone visiting St. Helens would be entirely astonished at the magnificent proportions and massive structure of the new Church of St. Mary, Lowe House, begun in 1922 and now fast approaching completion. The walls of the aisles are at their full height all round, and are only awaiting completion of the arches of the nave, for the roof to be fixed and the superstructure of the clerestory to be raised upon it. The rounded transepts and the apse wall are nearly at their full height all round and will also be shortly be ready for the roof, the tower, already fifty feet from the ground is designed to contain a complete carillon of bells.

A Great Project
A few weeks ago the subject was spoken about as a possible development, though from the beginning the tower was planned for the installation of such a carillon. The scheme, however, has been taken up with such enthusiasm, not only by the congregation of Lowe House, but by Catholics all over the town and outside of it too-that it is confidently stated “The bells will come”
Sixty-two bells is the full complement, comprising four chromatic octaves, the upper octave being duplicated, though still remaining a carillon of forty-nine notes. The great tenor bell (Our Lady’s Bell), note G sharp, is to weigh four tons two cwt., and its diameter is to be six feet four inches. If it becomes necessary through lack of funds, the two large semi-tones weighing respectively three tons ten cwt., and two tones ten cwt., may be added later.

A Complete musical Instrument
A Carillon differs very much indeed from a peal of bells, which usually consists of one octave, whilst the carillon is a complete musical instrument, consisting as in this case of four octaves chromatic, and capable of rendering any music whatever. The carillon is not rung as a peal, but each bell is struck by an inside hammer, worked by wires, and controlled in one of two ways, either by a clavier, or automatically by a specially constructed electro-pneumatic apparatus on the line of a pianola player, perforated rolls being used.
There can be no doubt that such a carillon as Lowe House aspires to would be a wonderful asset to St. Helens, and with the street improvements which are taking place, the planting of trees (along Prescot Road, in Victoria Square and at other localities), the clearing away-all too slowly-of the rubbish heaps which disfigure the entrance to the town, St. Helens will become a place of interest to visitors.
The installing of the carillon in the War Memorial Tower at Loughborough attracts crowds of visitors from far and near when concerts are announced to take place on the bells.

The Home of the Carillon
The Continent is the home of the carillon, and it is calculated that there are over 130 in Belgium, Holland and France. No church in England yet possesses a carillon, though there is a small one at Mostyn House school chapel at Parkgate, one at Cadbury’s factory at Bournville and the large one at Loughborough. In Ireland the Queenstown and Armagh Cathedrals have beautiful carillons, installed by Messrs Taylor of Loughborough, to whom the Lowe House work will probably be entrusted.
Though the number of bells is great, and the large bells of such size, the carillon is no way oppressive to the hearing, as a peal may become at close quarters. Indeed, a properly constructed bell tower roof is made to open, in order that the sound may escape upwards and be diffused.
In the Lowe House scheme the carillon is to be installed as a memorial for the centenary of Catholic Emancipation from penal laws, which will be celebrated in 1929. Each bell is to bear the name of one or more of the English saints or martyrs, to ring out to God on that day a glad thanksgiving for the gift of the Faith handed down from the days of Paulinus, Patrick and Aiden, who preached Christianity in England, Ireland and Scotland.

Meeting the Cost
Well wishers to the scheme are being invited to offer a bell or to help defray the cost of some of the larger and more expensive bells. The price of the twenty largest bells rises from £100 to £1,200, the latter figure being the price of the great tenor bell, which is to be dedicated to Our Lady. Clients of Our Lady are invited to contribute £1 “shares” towards the cost of this grand bell. In the event of its being presented by a benefactor, the “shares” are to go to the next biggest bell, which will be dedicated to St. Joseph.
In the Lowe House Parish “Messenger” the rector promises that in the case of the larger bells donors will be given the privilege of having their names inscribed upon the bell, as well as the dedication to the saint chosen. To anyone wishing to make a practical thanks-giving offering this scheme will surely commend itself. Of course even in the case of the smaller bells, the name at least of the donor will be inscribed.

Two Years to Complete
The remaining forty-two bells of varying weight, cost from £100 to £30 each. Some of the smallest will cost even less. Already fifteen bells, the largest costing £266 and three others costing over £100 have been presented by benefactors, and subscriptions keep coming in. The reason for putting the scheme forward at this time is because the bell founders will require nearly two years to complete such a carillon.
There in undoubtedly something fascinating in the bold scheme proposed. there can be no doubt that great efforts will be made all over Catholic England, Ireland and Scotland to celebrate the centenary of Catholic Emancipation in 1929, and our rejoicing could scarcely manifest itself in a more fitting and public way that the ringing out from such a carillon, from bells each dedicated to one of our country’s saints or martyrs, a grand Thanksgiving to God for the Faith which is ours.

A Contrast to Penal Days
Especially fitting does such a memorial seem when we remember that by the Penal Laws no bell was allowed to be rung from any Catholic steeple, and should the St. Helens venture succeed no belfry in England will have peal or carillon to equal it. With the noble tower they have at Lowe House an opportunity denied most modern churches.
Most Catholic homes will be by that time equipped with “wireless” and all will be able to listen in the quiet of the evening to the grand chorus of thanks from our island’s saints rising up to heaven. Sincerely we hope this scheme, origination from the most Catholic town in England, will be realised. They have a big task before them.
Many will be quite unable to secure the privilege of an entire bell for themselves of family, but Father Riley assures us that he is most ready to receive the assistance of any who, by small “thank-offerings” would like to have a share in the “Great Thanksgiving Carillon”. The more “Catholic” i.e. the more “Universal” it is the better the memorial.

Great Day for Lowe House

Bishops Consecrate Great Carillon
Crowd of 12,000 witness Ceremony
The Scenes Described
(By our Catholic Correspondent)
The reporter, St Helens, Friday, July 26th 1929

Sunday was a great day in the history of Lowe House Church. The carillon bells for the new temple was consecrated in the presence of 12,000 people, the ceremony being performed by his Grace, Archbishop Downey, and his Lordship Bishop Dobson of Liverpool, who were welcomed with a fanfare of trumpets and a roll of drums by the buglers and drummers of the 5th Prince of Wales’ Volunteers, under Drum-Major Coulter, mingled with the applause of the crowd.
The streets in the neighbourhood were beflagged, the Papal colours floated from the dome of the new church, and the Union Jack waved from the tower. Hundreds witnessed the ceremonies from the flat roof to the Parish Hall, while a group of men gazed down on the procession from the dizzy heights of the new tower.
The carillon consists of forty-seven bells. It is the largest and most complete church carillon ever consecrated in Great Britain of the United States, and each bell is named after an English Saint of Martyr. The carillon is in celebration of the Catholic Emancipation.
A greater crowd than 12,000 was expected and preparations has been made accordingly. Stewards wearing Papal colours, were posted at every entrance to the church and grounds, and a parking station for motor coaches near the Oxford Street entrance was established. Ambulance men were in attendance, and the schools and Parish hall were converted into huge refreshment booths. The great heat, however, and the anticipations of a record crowd being in attendance, doubtless prevented many thousands from attending.

The Crowd Swelters
The heat was almost unbearable. A scorching sun beat mercilessly down on the crowd, and only the ladies in their gossamer summer frocks seemed to be at ease. Many of the stewards converted their white handkerchiefs into turbans, and thus obtained a measure of relief from the sun’s rays, but there could be little doubt that the clergy in their vestments felt the warmth to be very distressing.
An hour before the ceremonies were timed to begin, the crowd began to arrive. The Sutton Manor Prize Band was amongst the earliest arrivals. Playing a lively march, they paraded up North Road and filed into the playground, where they mounted a platform, and entertained the gathering with hymn selections and excerpts from operas. A reminder of the record crowd of 50,000 that attended the laying of the foundation stone of the new church a few years ago, was contained in the grounds exhorting the crowd to “beware of pickpockets”. On the occasion of the foundation stone laying, a number of crooks from other towns managed to mingle with the crowds and several pockets were relieved of their wallets.

Fr. Riley and the Microphone
Fr. Riley then approached the microphone and addressed the fathering. “I am not used to the workings of this instrument,” he said,”Can you hear me?” “Yes,” replied voices from the back of the crowd.
“I want to explain to you,” said Fr. Riley “what is next going to happen. His Grace, the Archbishop, is now going on to the roof of the new church, and from there he will give Benediction. Afterwards you will sing “Faith of our Fathers”, and then, I hope you will walk round the bells and read the inscriptions. Perhaps you will notice there is a small collection box in front. (Laughter) We have got the bells and we have got a great deal of money to pay for them. But we have not got it all. We have to get it today. Our Lady’s bell is still in debt, and St. Patrick’s bell is grievously in debt. That should not be so. I want to tell you that in order to add the finishing touch to the carillon we need an instrument that is played electrically, which we cannot yet afford to obtain. So don’t think we have finished yet.
I would like to tell you the meaning, briefly, of what we are doing today. We are celebrating the centenary of Catholic Emancipation. Three years ago when this centenary began to be discussed, it struck me that we had a unique opportunity here in St. Helens of celebrating it-celebrating in not in a mere ephemeral manner, but in a way that would last through the centuries by installing in the tower of our new church a carillon of bells, each one dedicated to an English saint or martyr. These would ring out for all time our thanksgiving to God for our freedom from terrible penal laws, and for our freedom to practice our religion. I broached the subject to our own congregation, and I tried also to let people outside the parish know something about it. I would like to say that by far the most contributions have come from the people of St. Helens. They have done it themselves, making very great sacrifices, and they deserve that I should pay them this little tribute.”

Shamelessly Robbed
“Remember, Catholic emancipation means something very wonderful to us. It means we are celebrating the memory of those gallant men, English gentlemen and English ladies, who laid down their lives in testimony to their faith, in order that they might pass the faith down to us who come after them. They did it with their eyes open, knowing full well the cost.
They gave up fortune, home, happiness, yea, even life itself, so that the faith may be handed down to us, and they went to the scaffold with a prayer on their lips that England might come to understand and return to the faith of which she was being so shamelessly robbed. It was nothing less than robbery, and historians are beginning to realises it. And now we ask our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament to bless us and our country and all those gathered here today.”
The archbishop’s procession then proceeded to the roof of the sanctuary, where, at the alter of repose, Benediction was given by the Archbishop.
As the hour of three approached the Archbishop proceeded to the old church where he was welcomed by the men’s sodalities and he vested.

Pouring in
Meanwhile the crowd continued to pour into the grounds from entrances at North Rd., Crab St., and Oxford St. In the playground the forty-seven bells were displayed on a platform of girders, which has been whitewashed. Each bell was neatly tied with ribbons and colours of yellow and white - the Papal hues. Close by the bells was a specially erected platform for the reception of the Archbishop, the Bishop and attendant clergy. On the tables were set out Missals and the articles used in the act of consecration.
A Steward gave directions to the crowd through a microphone and the message was caught up by the loud speakers and conveyed to the fringes of the assembly. Many looked upwards to the figure of a man who was perched precariously on a corner stone of the summit of the new tower which loomed high above. The crowd on the flat roof of the parish hall has thickened and many of them had brought parasols and umbrellas as a protection from the sun’s rays..
The drummers and buglers, who had mounted the walls of the sacristy, stood to attention, awaiting the coming of the Archbishop. The sponsors stood by the bells, and the children of Mary, wearing veils and medals, issued from the parish hall and ranged themselves round the platforms. They were followed by the choir (under Mr. W. Dennett) and the Men’s Sodalities, wearing their regalia, and the Knights of St. Columba. Included in the procession were a large number of schoolboys, wearing red and white sashes.

A Dramatic Entrance
Suddenly came a roll of drums and a fanfare of trumpets, and the Archbishop appeared. He was greeted with an outburst of applause from all parts of the gathering. Fr. Hayden, the marshal, was here, there and everywhere directing the movement of the crown and procession. The cross-bearer and acolytes slowly proceeded towards the bells. The Archbishop walked beneath a canopy, upheld by Messrs. Taylor, Collins, Webster and Fishwick. The Archbishop and the Bishop with their attendant clergy, then ascended to the special platform set aside for them, and the ceremony of consecration began. The Bishops were accompanied by Fr Myler (Sacred Heart), Fr. Riley S.J. (Lowe House), Fr. Rogerson (Windleshaw), Fr. Roberts (Preston), Fr. Clarke, Fr, Coffey (Peasly Cross) Fr. Fitzgerald (St. Therasa’s) and Father Linus. The ceremony of consecration then proceeded, the choir chanted psalms with great solemnity, and the sweet smell of incense rose on the air. Archbishop Downey consecrated the great bell of Our Lady (four and a half tons), and Bishop Dobson the St. Edward bell, which will be used every day to call people to Mass. Following this all the bells were blessed.
Many amateur and professional photographers were busy securing pictures of the ceremony, but Archbishop Downey was too fatigued by the heat and his recent journeys to address the assembly.

The Great Clock
The clock, the gift of Messrs Pilkington Bros., of St. Helens, it the work of Messrs. Pots of Leeds, and is a perfect piece of mechanism. On the dial of the clock the hours are marked by the eleven letters of the hymn “SALVE REGINA” in English - “Hail (Holy) Queen - the 12th hour being designated by a crown. Letters and crown are all in gold mosaic, the work of Messrs. Craven & Dunhill, sunk into a plain stone dial.
The dedication of the Church to Our Lady, of course, suggested this device. For the same reason the clock chimes on eight bells of the carillon at the quarters and hours*, a portion of a 12th century “Salve Regina” hymn tune, arranged by Fr. A. Gits S.J.
Mechanism has also been introduced by which the clock automatically sounds the Angelus at 7 a.m., 12 noon and 6 p.m.. In order not to disturb the townspeople at night, the clock ceases to chime after 11 p.m. beginning again at 6 a.m.
The clock was set going by Mr. Austin Pilkington on March 30th 1930

* The clock strikes the hours on the Tenor.



With thanks to the Local Studies Department at ST HELENS PUBLIC LIBRARY

The Great Clock - Extract from:


Researched by John R. Knox, St Helens, October 1996,

Weighs of bells researched by, Samuel M. Austin, January, 2000