A set of bells for chiming was placed in the tower of The Church of Saint Martin's-in-the-Fields in 1889.  There were eight bells installed in the tower then and an additional bell was added in 1902.  These bell are hung from beams and do not swing.  They are played from a chime stand in the ringing room of the bell tower. The bells are rung very rarely usually on Palm Sunday and the Great Vigil of Easter.

Change Ringing Bells

In the 1970's Robert Coughlin, a parishioner at Saint Martin's, noted that the bells had not been rung in many years.   Bob began an interest in reviving the bells for use and recruited several people to ring the chime each Sunday.  Bob also had an interest in English Change ringing.  Soon the church purchased a set of hand bells and a group of bell ringers began meeting to ring in the late 1970's.  About 1978 Bob organized a fundraising dinner at Saint Martin's to begin the drive to get change ringing bells in the tower at Saint Martin's.  The fundraising drive dinner was a great success attracting many bell ringers from the tower of New Castle, DE and even as far away as Boston.  That Sunday the bell ringers helped to pull on the chiming ropes to ring changes.

The initial intent was to convert the bells in the chime into the change ringing bells.  However, after consultation with a structural engineer,  it was found that the chime's bells were too heavy to be used.  The tower could not support their weight swinging full circle.  If change ringing was to happen at Saint Martin's this would have to involve a new set of bells.

Robert Coughlin began to work diligently to gather the people and resources together to fund the casting and installation of the new bells.  Initially the project was received coldly by some on the vestry and even by the rector at the time, the Rev'd Frank Griswald.  Only after persuasion by Mrs. Griswald did Rev'd Griswald agree to support the bells.  When visiting the church in 1999, after becoming presiding bishop, Bishop Griswald told this story when receiving a memento from the president of the guild of change ringers.

The bells were cast by the famous Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, the maker of many notable bells including the Liberty Bell and Big Ben. The bells were hung by Willian Theobold master bell hanger for Whitechapel.  The bells were dedicated by Bishop Lyman Ogilby on June 8, 1980. On April 6, 2002 the bellsí original clappers were replaced with new ones cast by Eayre and Smith of London, with the work being carried out by members of the Philadelphia Guild of Change Ringers.  To see pictures of the clapper installation, click here.

Since the bells installation, Philadelphia has become an important center of Change ringing with many events happening attracting ringers from the eastern seaboard and from the world around.

The bells comprise an octave in the key of D and are dedicated to holy people from the British Isles.


Hundreds weight






186 lbs.


Dunstan, patron saint of bellringers



188 lbs.


Lady Julian of Norwich



200 lbs.


Margaret of Scotland



228 lbs.


Nicholas of Little Gidding



268 lbs.


David, missionary to Wales



286 lbs.


Patrick, missionary to Ireland



398 lbs.


Augustine, missionary to England



512 lbs.


Columba, missionary to Scotland