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Thomas Lester

Four bells made by Thomas Lester, who was foreman to Richard Phelps of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in the east end of London and who succeeded him in the business, still remain at Westminster Abbey. Originally the fourth but today the eighth of the ring this bears the inscription:

THOMAS LESTER OF LONDON MADE ME AND WITH THE REST I WILL AGREE 1743. RECAST 1971

(This is F sharp and just over 14cwt. [hundredweight]).

The Sanctus bell records:

RICHARD PHELPS T LESTER FECIT 1738.

The tenor bell (over 30cwt. and in D) originally came from St Michael's Cornhill apparently and the inscription reads:

REMEMBER JOHN WHITMELL ISABELL HIS WIFE AND WILLIAM RUS WHO FIRST GAVE THIS BELL 1430. NEW CAST IN JULY 1599 AND IN APRIL 1738. RICHARD PHELPS T: LESTER FECIT. RECAST 1971. WHITECHAPEL BELL FOUNDRY LONDON.

"THO' LESTER MADE ME 1742" is the inscription on the bell which was originally in the gable of the south transept until it was taken down in the 19th century during restoration of the church. It was on display for many years in the Abbey Museum but is now on display in the new Jubilee Galleries in the Abbey triforium.

Further reading

Thomas's will, as bell founder of St Mary's, Whitechapel, is at The National Archives

See the history of the Abbey bells

Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Location

Triforium

Thomas Lester
Lester bell with larger 14th c. bell

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Thomas Lester
Lester bell with larger 14th c. bell

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

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