The Swan Bell Tower   (Home of the Swan Bells)

In 1588 they tolled after England's victory over the Spanish Armada.  They welcomed Captain James Cook home after his great voyage of discovery in 1771.  They have celebrated the coronation of every British monarch since 1727.  Today they toll during my office lunch break.  Hmmm....that time already. 

Time has taken it's own toll over the Swan Bells.  If you are just fresh from reading our article on the Foundation of Perth, you would have figured the  bells have seen a heap more historical action than our city.  There is a simple answer to this historical time twister.  The Swan Bells include the twelve bells of St-Martins-in-the-fields.  They were originally housed in the St-Martins-in-the-fields Church, in Trafalgar Square London, where they rung in the New Year for over 275 years.   The Church of England traded up to a new set in 1988, and gifted the old bells to the City of Perth, as part of Australia's bicentenary celebrations that year.  Gee, thanks guys.

Six additional bells were cast to bring the total up to eighteen.  With a full set of bells and no where to go, the Swan Bell Tower was constructed.  Now housed in this spectacular structure, the bells continue to ring, and be enjoyed to this very day.

The Swan Bell Tower

 

There is nothing like the "peal" thing.

The Belfry.

History records the existence of the bells before the 14th century, and being recast in the 16th century by Queen Elizabeth the 1st.  The bells were again recast between 1725 and 1770.  They rate a mention in the classic nursery rhyme, "Oranges and Lemons": "You owe me five farthings say the bells of St Martins".

The Swan Bells - So this is what all the noise is about.

 

The Swan River looking across to Kings Park.

TThe Swan River and Kings Park as viewed from the Swan Bell Tower.

The Swan Bell Tower is situated on the Barrack Street Jetty, and overlooks the Swan River.  The observation deck provides  panoramic views across Perth Water, and the city skyline.   The serenity of this beautiful vista, is occasionally broken by the noise from those #*!@ bells.  Just joking.

Looking down Riverside Drive and the Swan River shoreline.

 

The serenity of the view is occasionally shattered by the noise from the bells.  Always check the ringing times prior to visiting.

Barrack Street Jetty with the residential suburb of South Perth across the Swan River.

It is even possible to view the bell ringers in action.   Unfortunately the viewing window is so heavily tinted, they appear as shadowy figures, in a sea of darkness.  

The Secret Society of Bell Ringers.

The Ringers at work.

 

View of the Barrack Street Jetty looking across
 
Perth Water to the residential suburb of South Perth.

 

The Swan Bell Tower is one of the largest purpose built musical instruments in the world.  The tip of it's towering glass spire rises a lofty 82.5 metres above the Swan River.  The Swan Bells are hung for "change ringing", meaning it is not possible to play any tunes.  Each bell is rung by a person, in a sequence determined by the conductor.  You only need to do the maths, to appreciate the number of ringing orders possible. 

Bell ringing is a serious business.  The St Martin's Society of Change Ringers, welcomes change ringers from all over the world, to have a friendly tinkle while visiting Perth.  So why not give us a ring, or two.

One of the World's Largest Musical Instruments.

 

One of the World's Largest Musical Instruments, and it still can't play a tune.

Copyright 2007 LifeOnPerth.com